The Best Gay Bars in San Francisco

The Castros rainbow crosswalk intersection, San Francisco, California, USA
The Castro's rainbow crosswalk intersection, San Francisco, California, USA | © Rosangela Lima / Alamy Stock Photo
Hope Corrigan

With one of the best annual Pride parades in the world and home to a number of gay rights movements, San Francisco has long been a hotspot for LGBTQ nightlife. From the buzzy clubs in the Castro, the historically gay neighborhood, to old-school haunts in the Mission, these are the best laid-back happy hours, over-the-top drag shows, and thumping dance clubs San Francisco’s gay scene has to offer.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Toad Hall

Bar, LGBTQ Bar, Cocktails, Beer

For a little bit of everything (and a whole lot of dancing), head to Toad Hall in the heart of the Castro. Here you’ll find dance competitions, karaoke, drag shows, and an almost always populated dance floor for a night of letting loose. If you’re looking for a more low-key night yet don’t want to sequester yourself from the action, sip a cocktail on the spacious outdoor patio.

Hi Tops

Bar, Gay Bar, American, Cocktails, $
Thursday nights are prime at Hi Tops, the Castro’s premier gay sports bar, where “Gym Class” – a whiskey shot and go-go boys combo – begins at 10pm. Classic sports bar dishes such as burgers, corn dogs, and “Huge Killer Nachos” are well above par. The interior features over a dozen TVs along with shuffleboard, and their cocktails are clever – The Haterade comes in a plastic water bottle that’s yours to keep.

Oasis

Bar, LGBTQ Bar, Nightclub, Cocktails, Beer
Located in SoMa, Oasis is a former bathhouse converted into a spacious nightclub that is known as the spot for drag. “Mother,” the club’s popular Saturday night show, offers dazzling themed drag shows such as a Lady Gaga tribute and Sia vs Lana Del Rey. Cabaret, DJ’ed dance parties, and comedy shows are also hosted throughout the week.

Beaux

Bar, Nightclub, LGBTQ Bar, Cocktails, Beer, $

The line forms early outside the very popular Beaux, San Francisco, CA, USA

Perhaps the most popular gay bar in the city, Beaux, frequently dubbed the “hot” bar, is known for its attractive patrons, clubby vibe, and go-go dancers. A daily 2-for-1 happy hour lures you in, and the transition from craft cocktails to a thumping club keeps you there. Make sure to arrive early on weekends, as Beaux draws a crowd.

Wild Side West

Bar, LGBTQ Bar, Pub Grub, Cocktails, Beer
Founded in 1962, Wild Side West has been a Bernal Heights hangout for decades. The lesbian bar features pool tables, TVs for sports fans, and a weekly Wednesday night part-trivia, part-comedy show. Don’t come expecting frills – Wild Side West is a dive bar in every sense, but the laid-back, authentic San Francisco ambiance is part of its charm.

Lookout

LGBTQ Bar, Bar, Nightclub, Market, Pub Grub, Cocktails, American, $
Lookout is a bar, restaurant, and nightclub whose main draw is its open-air, wraparound balcony that overlooks the Castro. The central location makes it a great spot for pre-drinks on a mild Bay Area night before hitting other Castro gems on this list like Beaux or Hi Tops. The extensive food menu features pizzas, tacos, sandwiches, and deep-fried bourbon and tequila shots.

El Rio

Bar, LGBTQ Bar, Pub Grub
El Rio has been a mainstay in the Mission since 1978 and proudly draws a diverse crowd. This is the spot to go to no matter how you’re looking to unwind – a weekend bloody mary bar opens at 1pm, a massive back patio is perfect for sipping cocktails during a sunny happy hour, and Sunday afternoon drag shows called “Daytime Realness” occur every third Sunday of the month.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article