The Castro picture
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Key Info

The Castro

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.4scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

If you want to explore San Francisco's rich gay and lesbian culture, the Castro neighborhood is its beating heart. Not only is the Castro the center of the city's LGBTQ community, but it's considered by many to be the gay capital of the world. And once you learn the Castro's history, it's easy to see why. In the 1970s, the Castro was home to Harvey Milk, California's first openly gay public official and one of the first in the USA. His steadfast efforts in the gay rights movement not only earned him the title the "Mayor of Castro Street," but his political efforts helped put San Francisco at the forefront of the gay rights movement. His former camera shop, Castro Camera, that also served as his campaign headquarters, still stands on Castro Street and now serves as a Human Rights Campaign retail shop.

Visitors found the Castro laid-back, fun and above all colorful, citing its friendly residents, plentiful amenities and striking aesthetics as its best assets.The neighborhood is lined with picturesque Victorian homes, previously built by immigrants who moved to the Castro in the 19th century seeking cheap land (the area was once a dairy farm). Travelers say a stop at Harvey Milk's old camera shop is a must, even if there is only a plaque commemorating his presence there now. Those wanting to delve further into the neighborhood's history should head on over to the GLBT Museum on 18th street. The unmissable Castro Theatre, situated along the neighborhood's main drag, is another neighborhood gem and a registered city landmark.

The neighborhood is also lauded for its lively dining and nightlife scene. Visitors recommended a visit to the delectable Hot Cookie, located on the same street as the Castro Theatre. There are also multiple 24-hour eateries available and as expected, loads of gay bars, including the Twin Peaks Tavern, considered a classic in the neighborhood. However, there are no bars in the Castro dedicated to lesbians. While the Castro is consistently praised for its overall safety, those traveling with kids might want to be mindful of the number of sex shops present in the neighborhood. 

Getting to the Castro is easy: You can take the F-Market & Wharves street car line, which picks up at many points of interest including Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf and Market Street near Union Square. Adult fares for a streetcar ride are $2.25 and $1 for youths and seniors. For more information about how to get to the Castro, consult the SFMTA

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#1 Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge's vaulting, orange arches amidst the rocky seascape of the San Francisco Bay have made it one of the West Coast's most enduring symbols and the city's most popular tourist attraction. The bridge's name, "Golden Gate," actually refers to the body of water it spans (the Golden Gate Strait that connects the Pacific Ocean with the San Francisco Bay), and was built to make travel between San Francisco and Marin County an easier feat. 

There are plenty of great spots to capture a snap of the majestic bridge. But if you want a truly postcard-worthy shot, head to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point, situated high on a hill overlooking San Francisco. If you have extra time, make sure to explore the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The actual span of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area encompasses multiple places in San Mateo (south of San Francisco), San Francisco and Marin Counties (Alcatraz and Muir Woods included), but notable parts of this recreation area can be found just a stroll away from the Golden Gate. From the bridge, travelers will find some scenic, bayside trails, some of which lead to secluded beaches, including Kirby Cove and Black Sands Beach. If you really want a trek, journey to the Point Bonita Lighthouse for sweeping views of the bay, found at the very tip of the Golden Gate Strait.

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