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Exploring The Castro District | Top 10 Things To See & Do

Exploring The Castro District | Top 10 Things To See & Do

Picture of Brie Shimada
Updated: 9 February 2017
The Castro District is more than just a destination for fairs and festivals; it is also the historical heart of the LGBT community. This neighborhood is full of life, rich with culture. It’s an infamous part of the city that truly embodies what makes San Francisco so unique. The Castro is a must when visiting San Francisco, so check out our picks for the top 10 things to see and do in the Castro District.
Twin Peaks © Eric May/Flickr
Twin Peaks © Eric May/Flickr

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is a must-see stop for the most spectacular 360-degree panorama of San Francisco you’ll ever lay eyes on. This scenic viewpoint rises 922 feet high near the center of the city. If hiking interests you, trails are accessible over the North and South peaks. We recommend you bring a jacket to watch the mystical Pacific fog blanket the city when you check out this stop. The view is incredible during both the day and night!

 

Twin Peaks, 501 Twin Peaks Blvd, San Francisco, CA, USA (415) 831-6331

Hot Cookie © Helder Ribeiro/Flickr
Hot Cookie © Helder Ribeiro/Flickr

Hot Cookie

Hot Cookie— the one shop for penises and cookies under the same roof. This iconic cookie shop carries all kinds of fresh baked goods, from Butch Bars to the best chocolate chip cookies, but their most infamous treats are penis-shaped, chocolate covered macaroons. Hot Cookie is the only bakery in the city that sells their own branded underwear. If you decide to purchase a pair, be sure to add a picture of yourself wearing them to their photo-collaged walls!

 

Hot Cookie, 407 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA, USA (415) 621-2350

The Castro Theatre © Titanium 22/Flickr
The Castro Theatre © Titanium 22/Flickr

The Castro Theatre

 

The popular movie palace is San Francisco’s 100th historic landmark. The Castro Theatre houses repertory movies, film festivals, and other special events with a gay and multicultural focus. Special events even include monthly sing-a-longs with costume contests and goody bags. This month’s feature is Frozen, so if you’re a fan, buy your tickets online or at the theatre. The theatre has an unusually large seating capacity, so it’s unlikely that the show you’re trying to see will be sold out!

 

The Castro Theater, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA, USA (415) 621-6120

Q Bar © Torbakhopper/Flickr
Q Bar © Torbakhopper/Flickr

Q Bar

This Castro nightclub is the place to be every single night of the week! Q Bar has different types of music every weeknight to top off a fabulous happy hour served daily, 4-9pm on weekdays and 2-9pm on weekends. We recommend you start off the week right by dancing the night away to Top 100 hits and classic ’90s hip hop on Mondays. There’s no better cure to the Monday blues than enjoying $1-$2 drinks throughout the night. Be sure to check out their website for special events!

 

Q Bar, 456 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA, USA (415) 864-2877

Harvey Milk Photo Center © Son of Groucho/Flickr
Harvey Milk Photo Center © Son of Groucho/Flickr

Harvey Milk Photo Center

Come celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Harvey Milk Photo Center! This jewel is the oldest and largest public darkroom west of the Mississippi River. All fine arts and photography programs are offered to the public. Pick up a new hobby and take a class or workshop! Courses range from fall lighting and technique to digital shooting and printing. And if you’re a fan of Jeffrey Blankfort, be sure to visit the center to view his upcoming exhibition showcased from the September 12-October 25th!

 

Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, (415) 554-9522

Seward Mini Park © Brad Greenlee/Flickr
Seward Mini Park © Brad Greenlee/Flickr

Seward Mini Park

Seward Mini Park, one of the city’s hidden gems, is home to two steep concrete slides. Fourteen-year-old Kim Clark designed the layout for slides for a contest hosted by sculptor Ruth Asawa. Don’t underestimate this secret park; these slides are not for the fainthearted! If you dare go for a ride, be sure to wear sturdy pants and bring a piece of cardboard to slide on. The park is a little hard to find, but well worth the trip! Seward Mini Park is located off of Seward and Douglas.

 

Seward Mini Park, 30 Seward Street, San Francisco, CA, USA (415) 831-6809

Millionaire Bacon © Kirybabe/Flickr
Kitchen Story © Kirybabe/Flickr

Kitchen Story

Start your day sunny side up at the Kitchen Story! This place offers the best brunch in San Francisco. The Kitchen Story serves delicious California cuisine all day. You must order the ‘millionaire bacon’ (thick-cut candied bacon), which is to die for! The wait is always extremely long, due to the restaurant’s high demand, so we recommend making a reservation online and getting there early. Pair this joint with bottomless mimosas and good company, and you’ve got yourself the perfect brunch!

 

Kitchen Story, 3499 16th Street, San Francisco, CA, USA (415) 525-4905

Book Inc. © Tommy Chong/Flickr
Book Inc. © Tommy Chong/Flickr

Books, Inc.

Shop your local bookstore at Books, Inc. This business is independently owned, with 11 different locations in California. Books Inc. is dubbed ‘The West’s Oldest Independent Bookseller,’ where you can find all of the bestsellers. This location opened in 1995 and has been ranked Castro’s top bookstore for years. Cozy on up this fall with a latte and a book from Books, Inc. to embrace the city’s sweater weather!

 

Books Inc. 2275 Market Street, San Francisco, CA, USA (415) 864-6777

Castro Street Fair © Adrien_Bouteille/Flickr
Castro Street Fair © Adrien_Bouteille/Flickr

Castro Street Fair

An annual event that takes place on the first Sunday of October is the much-anticipated Castro Street Fair! This year, it’s taking place on October 4th from 11-6pm. Harvey Milk originally founded this community street celebration in 1974. Local artists, vendors, and craftspeople come together to honor the city’s diversity. Live entertainment and dance stages can be found throughout the streets. Avenue Q, Aiden James, and Big Dipper are just a few artists that will be taking the fairgrounds by storm this year!

 

Castro Street Fair, Market Street & Castro Street, San Francisco, CA, USA (800) 853-5950

Castro’s Pride Pink Party

San Francisco’s Pride Celebration memorializes the LGBT community and its allies in the city every year. This world-renowned event includes a themed parade and 2-day festival that is held at the end of June around the Civic Center at the foot of City Hall. The Castro hosts a ‘Pink Party’ to kick off the Pride Celebration every year on Saturday. The Pink Party takes over the streets of Castro by closing it to cars, and holds a fabulous community-focused street party. Be sure to mark your calendars for San Francisco’s event of the year!

 

Castro’s Pink Party for SF Pride, Castro Street, San Francisco, CA, USA (415) 864-0831

 

By: Brie Shimada

Brie Shimada, a Sacramento native, is currently studying Communication Studies at San Francisco State University. She can either be found capturing photos of the city, reading a good book at Blue Bottle, or shopping local at one of the many farmer’s markets in San Francisco.