Castro, San Francisco.
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Once a quiet suburb of row houses, the Castro is now synonymous with San Francisco’s gay culture, and home to a wealth of bars, restaurants, cafés, and trendy stores that cater to just about everyone, regardless of their bedroom proclivities.

In the wake of a civil rights movement that first took hold a decade earlier, the 1970s saw the first wave of gay men moving into the area’s century-old Victorians, creating an enclave that remains a powerful symbol of LGBT activism to this day.

As such, the neighborhood is generally regarded as a place to be not just accepted for one’s differences, but embraced because of them.

Unclothed debauchery prevails at major events like Pride, Halloween, New Year’s Eve, and the Castro Street Festival, yet the normal daytime scene is actually far from rowdy. Men, women, and families of all sexual alignments shop for quirky home furnishings or meet for coffee with starving-artist friends, while trendy boys cruise for new and used fashions or grab lunch at a diner. Plenty of gay-themed shops do brisk business, but so do traditional hardware stores, kitschy gift outlets, and the beautiful and historic Castro Theatre.

At night, the bar scene certainly can be OUTrageous, especially at the many youth-centric bars and clubs down 18th Street, but at the same time old stalwarts like Twin Peaks Tavern – the city’s (and possibly the country’s) first gay watering hole – welcome old queens and relaxed neighborhood denizens of every sexual permutation, just like the Castro does.

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Where to Go in the Castro

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