City of Love

49 Reasons San Francisco Is The Gay Mecca

Where else in the world can you find a gay “beach” in a beautiful park overlooking the city and located right next to the gayest ‘hood on earth? On Sundays, Dolores Park, above, transforms into a seen-and-be-seen hotspot and one of the many reasons we’re proud of the gay mecca.

Just in time for San Francisco Pride, GayCities has teamed up with the San Francisco Travel Association to bring you 49 Places That Make Us Proud. From the Levi’s Store in the Embarcadero to the Lookout Bar in the Castro, these spots offer something unique you just can’t easily find anywhere else in the world.

If you are visiting the City by the Bay during Pride month, whip out your smart phone and check in to any of the 49 Places using Facebook, Foursquare or the GayCities iPhone app and unlock on-the-spot prizes like a drink, museum pass or maybe even an ice cream cone (served from a cutie, pictured right, of course).

One extra lucky grand prize winner will receive trip back to San Francisco, include airfare and two-nights at a Kimpton Hotel.

And you bet all these businesses are the epitome of gay-friendly because, well, it is San Francisco after all, the city that practically invented gay.

Check out the list of the 49 and start checking in

Photo: gazeronly

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  • Maria

    Excuse me Queerty and gay cities but SF is an LGBT Mecca not “Gay” Mecca or mainly for “Gays” only. Way to be transphobic, biphobic, and gay exclusive while forgetting that it’s the lgBT community.

  • uh oh

    Skip Catch and Jake’s – they hardly deserve to be on this list. The old 2223 for sure, but not Jake’s.

    Harvey’s as well? Really?

    Don’t miss El Rio on a Sunday afternoon. Such a good vibe.

  • uh oh


    Queerty didn’t invent the term “Gay Mecca”. SF has been called this for forever. And considering the company sponsoring this is called “GayCIties” well then…

    Get over your outrage.

  • Ronbo

    I was a victim of great expectations in SF, CA. On my only visit (9 days) to the mecca in 1996, the most I experienced was a game of unlively bingo at a gay bar. Honestly, it was like going to an old-folks-home with painted ladies and one old gentleman who kept yelling “BINGO” for no apparent reason (they ignored him – maybe it was an ironic humor). The locals were so kewl, they were downright cold. Cold as those famous SF nights.

    If you want a gay mecca, go to New Orleans and experience raunch, strippers and a 24 hour party. One friendly stipper ended up visiting me 600 miles away – and he was straight! Southern hospitality is the best.

  • J Stratford


    You are too weird finding offense where there is none.

  • J Stratford


    So to you, gay = raunchy strippers

    To the writer: gay = a community of gays socializing and getting tanned at a park on a Sunday afternoon

    Hmm… I wonder why people have these misconceptions of us all?

  • JayKay

    San Francisco is a God-forsaken cesspool of liberal values and cultural degeneration.

  • BlackJack

    @JayKay: that sounds like my kind of place;)

  • uh oh

    @J Stratford:

    Dude, the gays don’t have a monopoly on sitting out in the sun. Not sure if you’ve even been to Dolores Park before but there are plenty of people there sunning themselves, not only gay guys. Living in SF you have to take advantage of a sunny Sunday when you can. In fact if you wanted to show someone what diversity looks like, Dolores Park wouldn’t be a bad start. Straight folks, LGBT peeps, tons of kids and dogs, all hanging out together.

    Part of being equal is being free to choose how you wish to spend your life. You are free to do all of the things that you feel don’t perpetuate “people’s” (whoever they are) perception (whatever that is) of our community, just like I’m free to do the things I like to do, even something as radical and queer as sitting in the sun.

  • Spike

    Love SF, will never forget the visit when my partner and I stayed with my lesbian friend from high school and her GF. When we finally found parking, we were a 20 min walk to their loft. Our bed was the futon, in the kitchen. And I had to get up at 7 AM next morning, to move the car. And for those who care, they broke up, the lesbian from HS, married her fencing coach, a guy. Lesbians.

    SF, great place to visit. Wouldn’t want to live there.

  • 1equalityUSA

    If you are catching a Symphony, Hayes Street grill is right across from easy parking and a block away from Davies Symphony Hall.

  • David

    SF and LGBT ghettos aren’t the end all of everything.

    SF used to be fun but that was long before HIV/AIDS, and even back then it was still a place for everyone that’s LGBT not just gay men only.

    Ever since there have been lots of twinks, meth, HIV+ people, and people who don’t care about safer sex or getting infected with other strains of HIV or infecting others with another strain of HIV or STDs it’s not as good.

    I agree with Ronbo other cities besides SF are a lot better.

  • Chris

    I agree with Ronbo, SF is a place for eldergays.

    SF is where all the old fags go to die. It’s no coincidence that the one bar full of old queens there is called “The glass coffin”.

    Yes people in SF are very stuck up.

    I actually lived in and around SF in my 20s and Ronbo is correct that people there are highly vapid, stuck up, and the rent is very, very high!

  • jake


    I’m sorry if your life sucks so much you have to put everyone/everything down all the time. Try and find something that makes you happy. Peace.

  • Chris

    Dude the topic is about SF. I was writing about MY personal experiences living in SF for a decade and what SF is like.

    This has nothing to do with my life and I have a partner and I’m a very happy person.

  • cdinsf

    @David: “HIV people”?! Who are you?!

  • B

    Re No. 7 where JayKay said, “San Francisco is a God-forsaken cesspool of liberal values and cultural degeneration.”

    Here’s an example of San Francisco’s liberal values:

    If that is “cultural degeneration,” we need more of it.

  • Jim H.

    I love SF, but not for its gay friendliness in particular. I mean, any big metropolitan area on the West Coast is going to have hordes of gay people and a fairly permissive vibe. But gay ghettos are approximately the same everywhere and you can only spend so much time in them before it feels stifling.

    What I love most about SF is the food. The food culture is perhaps the best and most innovative in the country. I also do love the playful energy, the ability to walk places, and the sheer beauty of the place. The scuzzy-yet-exorbitantly-expensive housing stock is quite a downer, though.

  • Bob

    @Chris: Nice! Calling your older brothers “old fags”. You will get there someday too….if you are lucky.

  • WillBFair

    I’m sorry. It’s a beautiful town, and I have a long history there. But an ignorant echo chamber was never my first choice. Plus, there’s not that much to do, no music or theatre scene. And if you do find something, you take your life in your hands travelling through some ghetto on the bus to get there.
    Still, the history is worth it: the 70s scene before hiv, the candle light march, Trocadero, the Victorians, Buena Vista, etc…

  • Houston Bill

    For whatever reason, SF charms were lost on me. I’ve been a couple of times, and its’ frankly a bit oversold in my opinion.

    There’s some nightlife, but it tends to be either really skanky or really boring. Very little in the middle. Its also really expensive. The locals weren’t particularly friendly either (not mean, just blah.). Its not bad, it just doesn’t deserve its reputation.

    The restaurants are pretty nice though. Its a good place to go out to eat.

    I’ve found San Diego, Palm Springs, LA, Seattle, NYC, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Austin, and Provincetown to be much higher on my ‘Gay USA’ list. It ranks along with Boston in my opinion. A beautiful city with really average nightlife and indifferent locals and very expensive pricing.

  • David

    CDSF-Read my post again. I did not say that being HIV+ was a bad thing but that if you’re HIV+ and you bareback you don’t give a fuck about your own health let alone the health of whoever you’re having sex with even if they’re also poz since you’re allowing yourself to get infected with other strains of HIV and infecting other people with other strains of HIV-as well as messing up your meds by barebacking.

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