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Rainbow crosswalk in the Castro
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10 LGBTQ+ spots in San Francisco worth honoring this Pride month

Ten museums, bars and cultural landmarks to check off your big gay bucket list in San Francisco.

Written by
Matt Charnock

San Francisco – home of the country's first openly gay elected official (Harvey Milk), birthplace of the rainbow flag, the first city in the United States to legalize gay marriage and host of the best damn Pride parade in the country—remains a major LGBTQ+ epicenter. (They don't call it the 'gay capital of the world' for nothing.) And queerdos from all over the planet still flock to San Francisco's Castro neighborhood to explore the city while being their most eccentric, authentic selves. 

As the city begins to reopen this summer (just in time for Pride month!) it's nearly businesses as usual in SF. Restaurants and bars are welcoming patrons again and the creative community of drag queens and artists has begun throwing impromptu events around the city. Plus, many of the local landmarks on this list remain steadfast symbols of the LGBTQ community's resilience and ability to bounce back from hardship. So whether you're here in June or not, honor SF's storied gay history at these museums, bars and cultural landmarks. 

LGBTQ+ spots to visit in SF

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Dubbed 'the gay Smithsonian,' the GLBT History Museum is the country's foremost archive of historic queer artifacts. The GLBT Historical Society, the group behind the museum, maintains an extensive collection of materials from 1850 to the present with a specific focus on the LGBTQ+ communities of San Francisco and northern California. The museum is planning to reopen soon, but you can still see special exhibits, like 2020’s 50 Years of Prideonline. 

In 1972 Twin Peaks Tavern was the first gay bar in America with floor-to-ceiling windows – meaning patrons weren’t hidden from outside view. Located on the corner of Castro and 17th streets – the entrance to the Castro, the city’s LGBTQ+ neighborhood – those windows have seen a lot of history. Now, the landmark bar offers more than a dozen beers on tap and an assortment of classic cocktails with a side of excellent people watching from the first or second floor. 


A walk across the city’s most colorful crosswalk is a must-do, especially during Pride month. In September of 2014, San Francisco installed rainbow crosswalks at four different intersections in the Castro, all of which are considered gay heritage landmarks in the city, dedicated to gay civil rights activism. Take a walk to the 18th and Castro Street intersection to see San Francisco’s Rainbow Honor Walk.

4. Orphan Andy's

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Open 24 hours and seven days a week, Orphan Andy’s is the place to be after a night out in the Castro. With more than 40 years in the business, the late-night diner is helmed by married partners Bill Pung and Dennis Zieball, who gave the iconic eatery a recent revamp during the pandemic. Cuddle into a booth to sit below the corona of rainbow-colored fluorescent lighting and enjoy a patty melt and milkshake. 


The National AIDS Memorial Grove, known more commonly as just The Grove, is situated at the de Laveaga Dell in eastern Golden Gate Park. The 10-acre monument is dedicated to the millions of Americans who’ve been touched, in some way, by AIDS and serves as a place to gather and heal, find hope and remember the lives lost. The Grove was officially designated a national monument in 1996, and the site underwent a recent renovation to make it a timeless landmark for generations to come. 

There’s no marquee more famous in San Francisco than the one that wraps The Castro Theatre. The movie palace, which became San Francisco Historic Landmark number 100 in September 1976, has remained shuttered throughout the pandemic but has found a second life as a place to catch street performances outside the ticket booth. The film house plans to reopen before its 99th birthday later this year.


Tucked away in an easily overlooked pocket of greenery off Market Street, fifteen waist-high triangle monoliths sit inside a park that’s smaller than 4,000 square feet. It’s America’s first landmark remembering the homosexual men persecuted in fascist Europe between 1933-1945. Each triangle represents 1,000 men and together the pylons form a triangle, facing the Rainbow Flag. The Pink Triangle Park was dedicated and officially opened on the United Nations Human Rights Day in 2001. 

Gay bar The Cinch exudes old-school divey charm: It's unassuming yet inviting, dripping in queer nostalgia and slings affordably priced, heavy-handed drinks. Inside, pool tables and pinball machines fill the small space. Come summer, the smoking-friendly backyard patio comes alive with patrons and their dogs, live music, drag shows and more. 


This lesbian-owned tattoo shop prides itself on being tourist- LGBTQ- and POC-friendly, as well as allowing the half-dozen artists who work there to keep the majority of their earnings. Whether it’s a simple line piece or a more complicated tattoo on your mind, the Castro Tattoo shop is the queer-friendly space to ink up your epidermis.

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Opened in 2009, Frances remains a destination-worthy restaurant for farm-fresh food made with ingredients straight from the local farmers market. The compact spot, which serves Cali-cuisine, is famous for its short menu, seasonal offerings and hard-to-get tables. Still temporarily closed, the restaurants plans to reopen this summer and debut a new parklet, where the eatery's famous bacon beignets can be enjoyed without guilt underneath the San Francisco sun. 

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