27 Jan San Francisco – the Gay Capital of the USA
When you think of iconic LGBTQ destinations around the world, one of the first places that spring to mind is probably San Francisco. This most bohemian of bohemian cities has a long and illustrious history with the LGBTQ community and gay culture. So in this Sherpa Diary post we’re going to delve into this culture in a bit more detail and find out the best LGBTQ places to visit in San Francisco.
Before we get into today’s post, you may also be interested in some of other posts exploring LGBTQ hotspots, such as the gay scene in Milan. And of course, when travelling to the USA the thorny issue of medical costs, should an emergency arise, is never far from most people’s minds. That’s why we’ve written a post telling you everything you need to know about travel insurance for the USA.
First, a Bit of History
San Francisco has been synonymous with gay culture for more than a century. In fact, its first gay bar of note The Dash opened in 1908. During World War I, the gay community in San Francisco was bolstered by the US navy’s practice of discharging gay servicemen in port cities, with many of these men settling in the city.
The general permissiveness of San Francisco’s culture enabled the gay scene to flourish throughout the mid century and was bolstered by other counter-cultures such as the beat generation. This resulted in the city being described as the gay capital of America as early as 1964. Later developments included the election of Harvey Milk in San Francisco as the first openly gay politician in America, and important campaigning within the city which led to the eventual legalisation of same sex marriage in California.
Welcome to The Castro District
San Francisco’s gay centre has historically been centred in The Castro District, referred to simply as The Castro, for short. It was one of the first gay neighbourhoods in the USA, slowly establishing itself with its new identity in the 1960s and 1970s. The epicentre is Castro Street, which is decked out in rainbow flag street art and home to dozens of gay bars and clubs.
Other Gay Neighbourhoods of San Francisco
As more and more people have flocked to San Francisco over the last few decades, the gay community has spread out across many other neighbourhoods. This includes Noe Valley, Bernal Heights and the Mission. All of these places are worth exploring when you’re in the city, as they all have a unique atmosphere and vibe.
Things to do in the Gay Capital of the USA
To get your bearings in the city, this 2 hour Castro walking tour will give you a crash course in the areas history and the role it played in the gay rights movement.
Once you’ve got your bearings, the next stop should be the Rainbow Honour Walk, otherwise known as the gay walk of fame. Located in the Castro, this features bronze plaques sunk into the pavement, which honours notable lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals from around the world that have made a significant difference to society.
Next up is the GLBT museum in Castro. This is first stand alone museum of gay history and culture in the USA. And in celebration of one of San Francisco’s most historically important public figures, visit the Harvey Milk Plaza, also in Castro.
For nightlife, you’re spoiled for choice! Here’s a list of the top 10 most recommended gay bars, nights and clubs in San Francisco:
- The Mix
- Twin Peaks Tavern
- The Cafe
- Q Bar
- Badlands SF
- Latino Night at The Café
- Foggy City Dancers
- 500 club
- Elbo Room
- Little Minsky’s Burlesque
Travel Insurance for San Francisco
Remember; if you’re going to San Francisco buy comprehensive travel insurance so you’re not stung by any unexpected surprises.
Being handed a bill for tens of thousands of dollars because you forgot to buy travel insurance is a holiday you would remember forever, for all the wrong reasons!
Here at Coverontrip we provide a range of travel insurance policies for San Francisco and the USA, with prices starting from just £5.52 for 5 days cover for a 25 year old. So a get a quote now and see how much you can save with Coverontrip.