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San Francisco Gay Bars

San Francisco’s gay nightlife scene has come a long way from the first dark and secretive club that opened in 1908. This was the start of a boom in queer culture, which is now centred on the Castro neighbourhood and its varied venues. You can find dozens of nightlife spots packed together in Castro, newer clubs and festivals in SoMa, a huge leather scene, and an iconic drag club owned by the best-known queen in the city. For a loud and camp night out or a more relaxed hangout, you can find your place in San Francisco.

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440 Castro

Bear, Older Crowd, Cruising

This gay bar in the heart of The Castro neighbourhood is a popular hangout for bears and their admirers. It's busiest at the weekend with a mixed aged crowd enjoying strong cheap drinks and an intimate atmosphere. Regular themed events are hosted here throughout the week, including the understandably popular Underwear Night every Monday, which sees the bar packed with a cruisy, tipsy, and scantily clad male crowd.
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Aunt Charlie's Lounge

Drag, Cocktails

Aunt Charlie's Lounge is an eclectic Tenderloin gay bar known for its amazingly cheap drinks and popular drag shows. It's a small place but full of warmth and character, from the pink-lit cocktail lounge to the lively and entertaining drag acts. Friday and Saturday night drag shows are particularly popular and draw a friendly local crowd, and there's a dance party every Thursday with a local legend DJ. The bar is reliably packed with great people looking for a fun night.
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Beaux

Cocktails, Dancing, Go-go Boys

Beaux is one of The Castro's newest gay venues and is open seven days and nights a week. This versatile bar is the perfect place to meet with friends or make new ones, as it seamlessly transitions from a craft cocktail lounge by day to a lively dance club at night. With a daily 2-for-1 Happy Hour and a party every night, it's no wonder that Beaux is already so popular with the local queer community.
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Cinch Saloon

Outdoor Seating

The Cinch Saloon is the only gay bar left on Polk Street, the place where San Francisco's reputation for queer nightlife all began. It's got an old-fashioned gay bar with dive vibes and a western theme where all identities are welcome, and offers strong drinks, pool tables, pinball, DJs and absolutely no attitude. The patio at the back is a place to smoke and relax with one of the many good but very cheap beers on tap.
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El Rio

Dancing, Outdoor Seating

This Mission District gay bar provides a safe space for the local LGBTQ community, as well as a friendly neighbourhood bar where you can find great deals on drinks and a diverse crowd. The spacious patio is the perfect place to relax and unwind with friends, but there's also a packed dance floor inside if you're looking for a more lively night out. It's a good all-round staple in the area's gay scene.
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Ginger's

Drag, Cocktails

Financial District gay bar with drag shows and DJ's, serving cocktails named after historic LGBTQ mainstays. This fairly new addition to the LGBTQ scene is a throwback to the classic gay bars that were once prominent in the area, paying homage to traditional cocktail lounges with a range of reimagined drinks. With a pool table, dance parties, karaoke, and drag shows, Ginger's is the perfect spot to unwind or catch up with friends.
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Hi Tops

Cocktails, Sports, Outdoor Seating

San Francisco's newest gay sports bar and restaurant is in the vibrant Castro neighbourhood. 16 TVs play a variety of sports so you can enjoy a bit of friendly rivalry with the varied crowds that gather to watch. This is also the place to go for pub food with an amazing quality twist, from vegan corndogs to their legendary fried chicken and offers on buffalo wings every Monday. A range of speciality cocktails and good beers will complete your night.
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Hole In the Wall Saloon

Pub Vibes, Cash Only

Hole In The Wall Saloon is a joyful little pub owned and run by gay bikers, which welcomes everybody looking for a rowdy good time. An amazing variety of rock, blues, jazz, soul, folk, and world music provides the soundtrack to your night, and a down to earth crowd completes it. There are different drinks specials throughout the week as well as themed events such as Shirtless Thursdays.
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Jolene's

Lesbian, Cocktails, Go-go Girls

Jolene's Bar and Restaurant is a safe queer space run by and for the LGBTQ community in Mission District. This is a laid-back space serving American fare and brunch at the weekends, plus bottomless drinks to keep you refreshed and tipsy throughout your night. There's pool, plenty of dancing, and live shows on offer to keep you entertained and fuel a thoughtfully created dining and cocktail experience.
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Last Call Bar

Cosy

Small neighbourhood bar located in an old carriage house with a fireplace and old school jukebox. It's part dive, part buzzing Castro gay bar with a fun and friendly atmosphere, plus very cheap drinks at the daily happy hour. This bar is a welcome break from the loud music of the rest of the scene, and it's the perfect place to chat with friends or have a more low-key end to your night if you're tired of partying.
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Lone Star Saloon

Bear, Older Crowd, Fetish

Lone Star Saloon in SoMa is a nightlife hub for the local bears. The outdoor patio is regularly filled with a "rough around the edges" crowd of bears, otters, leathermen, and their admirers, who can all enjoy a beer and the odd game of pool. This bar is particularly busy on the weekends and when people flock here to begin their nights out, and the Sunday afternoon beers parties are especially popular.
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Lookout

Outdoor Seating

The Lookout is a bar, restaurant and nightclub in the iconic Castro district of San Francisco. You can find a comfortable spot on the wrap around balcony to people watch as you look out over a colourful and busy corner on Castro, while inside there's great music from a variety of live DJs. Friendly staff serve strong drinks and bar snacks, and both inside and outside spaces are often packed with regulars who love the atmosphere of The Lookout.
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Midnight Sun

Bear, Drag, Karaoke, Go-go Boys

First opened more than 40 years ago, Midnight Sun draws a mixed crowd of bears and sexy guys in minimal clothing that keep coming back for the nightly happy hour and regular events such as karaoke and TV viewing parties. The Friday evening happy hour is especially popular - watch out for the very strong cocktails! On Friday and Saturday nights you can expect go-go-boys dancing on the bar and the whole venue is unsurprisingly packed, with music videos and TV playing all night to complete the lively atmosphere.
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Moby Dick

Cosy, Sports

This long-time Castro neighbourhood watering hole exudes a laid-back with games and a number of TVs that play music videos and sports. This spot hasn't changed much since first it opened in the 1980s and it continues to welcome everyone with its friendly and homely vibe. Nightly drink specials make it a local favourite for a relaxed night with friends, complete with pool, pinball, video games, and of course the fish tank behind the bar.
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OASIS

Drag, Dancing

San Francisco drag legends Heklina and D'Arcy Drollinger opened San Francisco's hottest new nightclub in the heart of the SoMa district. OASIS offers an unforgettable and uniquely "San Francisco" nightlife experience in a huge converted gay bathhouse, which has been renovated into a fabulous stage for drag shows, cabaret, and burlesque shows that go on well into the next morning. On top of all this, live DJs and dance music keep you having a fabulously camp night.
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OMG

Cocktails, Dancing

OMG provides an amazing clubbing experience in the heart of SoMa and Tenderloin, where you can dance under an audio-visual dome ceiling to music from a state-of-the-art sound system. There are also plenty of specialty cocktails on offer, handcrafted by resident mixologists using quality ingredients, which are a favourite every happy hour and the perfect addition to your night of dancing, fun, and regular drag shows.
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Pilsner Inn

Sports, Outdoor Seating

Pilsner Inn has an everyday bar feel with big TVs playing sports and lots of beers on tap, plus a peaceful garden patio. The bar's commitment to the community sports teams draws a loyal local crowd, so for a traditional experience of Castro's gay scene this is the place to go. Plenty of classic bar games and great special offers on drinks make for a fun and friendly experience at the Pilsner Inn.
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SF Eagle

Bear, Older Crowd, Fetish, Outdoor Seating

The SF Eagle has been an important meeting spot in the West SOMA community for more than thirty-five years. The bar welcomes everyone from leathermen to bears to pups and all their admirers, so you'll find a broad cross-section on San Francisco gathered together on the patio of this bar. You can be yourself and make new friends over beers, live music, karaoke, themed parties, and comedy nights.
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The Cafe

Dancing, Go-go Boys

The Cafe has been a staple of the Castro nightlife scene for decades and is one of the most unique venues in San Francisco. In this newly renovated bar and club, you will be surrounded by hundreds of people who just want to dance, with pounding club music from a state-of-the-art sound system. Three fully stocked bars serve a huge dance floor complete with an LED dance grid and a lively crowd to enjoy your night with. Sunday opening hours vary for special events, check before you go.
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The Edge

Drag, Go-go Boys

The Edge has been a landmark LGBT community bar in the historic Castro neighbourhood for over 20 years. It's known for friendly staff, cruisy ambiance, and generously well-priced drinks. Regular themed and benefit events keep a mixed but slightly older local crowd coming back for cocktails and a spot of people watching thanks to the bar's convenient location. Enjoy cocktails and good music while you relax and meet new people in this super accepting bar where everyone is welcome.
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The Mix

Outdoor Seating

The Mix is a small gay bar in the heart of The Castro neighbourhood, the hub of the San Francisco queer scene. It's a true neighbourhood bar with a laid-back feel, where drinks are strong, staff are helpful, and the crowd is friendly. Their all-day drinks specials and great value happy hours are particularly popular, and you can enjoy your drinks on the spacious back patio.
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Toad Hall

Drag, Dancing

The Castro's Toad Hall is open seven days a week for live DJ's and dancing. The bar is full of cocktails and beers at great prices, and you can hang out with your drinks in the booths or just enjoy the dance floor. There's a second bar on the outdoor patio if that's where you prefer to relax, and regular drag events, karaoke, and dance competitions mean there's always something going on if you want to join in.
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Trax

Gay Friendly, Cosy

Trax is a small Haight-Ashbury bar that acts as a melting pot for people of all identities and backgrounds. Come with friends or make new ones over a drink or a game of pool and enjoy an eclectic range of music that caters to all the tastes of the diverse local crowd. With a chill vibe and regular drinks specials throughout the week, Trax is the place to be for a good time.
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Twin Peaks Tavern

Older Crowd, Cocktails

Twin Peaks Tavern is the gateway to the iconic Castro neighbourhood. It has long been the best spot to watch the world go by through huge panoramic windows with the neighbourhood's best cocktails, beers on tap, and plenty of wine. The outside always looks inviting with its array of rainbow lights, and inside the vintage furniture and cosy atmosphere mean that regulars enjoy the comforts of home here while newcomers are offered a warm welcome.
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Wild Side West

Lesbian, Sports, Outdoor Seating

The Wild Side West in Bernal Heights has been around for decades, mixing longtime lesbian bar with classic neighbourhood sports bar. On any given night you can find an eclectic array of art, a friendly game of pool, or a low-key crowd hanging out on the patio or in the beer garden. Hosting events from trivia Wednesdays to game day viewing, and with the juke box always providing the soundtrack, Wild Side West guarantees you a fun time.

Recommended gay friendly hotels in San Francisco

There are so many places to stay in San Francisco, California, and at GayMapper, we want to make sure you get great value and a good experience, so check our recommendations below for Gay Friendly hotels. As an LGBTQ+ traveller, it's important to stay somewhere welcoming, with great value and maybe near to gay venues. Treat yourself to a luxury hotel or stay budget and spend what you save on partying! Please support GayMapper by checking out our hotel deals in San Francisco, California as this helps us to keep the site updated with all this useful information!

Tours & Experiences in San Francisco

Make the most of your travels by pre-booking our popular tours and experiences.  There's a whole range of options, from cultural and historical to food, drink and nightlife.  Get under the skin of your destination, and book a tour or experience now.  

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