Castro District Gay Nightlife

San Francisco

San Francisco is a busy city with an active nightlife, and there are plenty of places all throughout the city to go to enjoy the late hours of the day. However, a trip to San Francisco is not complete without at least one visit to experience the Castro nightlife. This is the place where tourists and locals can mingle with open acceptance of one another’s choices in life. Known as gay mecca, the Castro embraces people of all orientations and makes it okay for everyone to explore the more colorful sides of themselves. Because of this, the Castro is the place to go to see the most eccentric people in San Francisco. It is also the place to go to have the most fun.

A night on the Castro scene should start with Happy Hour drinks at “The Bar on Castro”. No, don’t ask which bar; that’s actually what it is called. This location used to have something of a bad reputation for being a place where only the gay boys went and they only went for the purpose of cruising to pick up dates. This is no longer the case. Although it still tends to be populated by the young and pretty boys, “The Bar” is increasingly a spot where a range of different people start their evenings and it is a place which is less for cruising and more for talking about the day’s events. The smoking patio is the place where most people seem to congregate, and they often have one drink in hand and one on the table in front of them because Happy Hour drinks are two-for-one. “The Bar” is also a place where dancers can start their steps, although the dance floor is small.

Another location with a small dance floor but a great start-the-night out flavor is Metro. “The Bar” may bring in a diverse crowd, but Metro keeps new people coming in all throughout the night. This is the place where the older generations tended to flock to when they got tired of the scene at The Bar, so it tends to have a more laidback feel than its younger counterpart. The biggest draw here is the balcony, from which you can look out at the Castro scene forming below and see where you might want to head as the night goes on.

There are two top picks for where that might be; The Café and Badlands. The Café is usually the best place for the straight folks to go to get an eyeful of the gay scene in a setting which tends to have the most diversity in terms of orientation. It is not uncommon to see six feet tall drag queens dancing with either femme boys or butch girls but it is also not uncommon to see heterosexual couples getting their groove on. The drinks are usually strong, the music is usually good, and on weekends the entertainment is excellent, with go go boys dancing on boxes in the midst of everything. Thursday nights are “Pan Dulce” night when fans of Latin and Salsa music can show off their skills, although even people who can’t quite dance the steps are welcome in this fun environment.

For dancing, though, the best place to go in the Castro is Badlands. This is the Castro bar with the biggest dance floor. The floor, as with the one at The Café, is surrounded by mirrors, so it is possible to always get a glimpse of everything that is going on. And there is always something going on. This is a bar for hooking up, but plenty of people go there without that intention and they always have a great time. The music tends to be eighties and nineties pop music, although there is some mix. As long it is danceable, it gets played. Videos play on TVs throughout the bar and people are usually giddy with excitement.

At the end of the night, when you can no longer stand on your dancing feet, head over to Orphan Andy’s for some nighttime nourishment. This place offers the best in diner food and the staff is always friendly. In fact, this place sums up the Castro. It is about meeting people and having casual fun in a no-holds-barred, all-are-welcome place.

San Francisco Gay Bed and Breakfasts

Castro District Visitor Info

By: Kathryn Vercillo / Copyright SFTRAVEL LLC