‘Where should my boyfriend and I go on vacation?’ I was recently asked by a young gay couple from New Jersey. They wanted to visit California in March – not sure where to go. They were tossing between San Francisco and San Diego, or even other fun places in California to visit.

I thought to share my answer with you here:

“Young and Gay? San Francisco wins hands down over San Diego! So let me tell you about San Francisco …

The city choice:
From a gay point of view, actually, a better time to go is June 28 & 29, when the gay pride parade is going on this year! (http://www.sfpride.org/) However, from a weather point of view, I’d prefer April or October, as it’s foggy in San Francisco in summer in particular.

What to do in ‘San Fran’ as it is lovingly called by locals

Target destination:
Your top attraction is the Castro. It is the gay district, a really fun neighborhood downtown San Francisco. There are fabulous clubs there. I had the best parties ever in this neighborhood.

For a bit of culture:
My favorite is the SF Museum of Modern Art, but there are other must-do and world-famous museums to visit, eg. the Asian Art Museum.

For food & more culture:
North Beach (San Fran’s equivalent of NYC’s little Italy), Golden Gate Bridge with the quaint village of Sausalito at the other end, Golden Gate Park (be sure to visit the Japanese Tea Garden and enjoy the views), The Mission District (lots of artists live here; fun at daytime, might not be safe at night).

For luxury shopping:
Union Square and neighboring streets
On a clear day, go have lunch or tea in one of the revolving restaurants in this neighborhood. Fabulous views and a real pampering experience.

Regarding tourist attractions:

  • Chinatown (Great food),
  • Ferry Building Marketplace (I rate it an ‘oh well’),
  • Fisherman’s Wharf (tourist trap that can be fun on a sunny Sunday when street performers trick tourists),
  • Coit Tower (‘nah’),
  • Alcatraz, the prison island (fun to look at from Sausalito; fun to be on the water, even on a ferry),
  • Angel Island (the hiking island; would go only if you have more time).

There is so much more to see and do, and to advise you depends really upon your tastes and lifestyle.

For things to do, beyond downtown:

  • If you’re the sporty types, in the wider surrounding of San Francisco, you can find excellent hiking & biking trails.
  • Personally, I would hire a car for a few days. On one day, I’d take highway 1 all the way down to Pescadero, have the Sunday fish soup at Duartes, see the lighthouse (there’s a youth hostel there with a romantic ocean look out point in the rocks), and return to town.
  • On another day, I would drive up/bus up to the Napa valley wine country, which is only 1-2 hrs drive away. There are treats for everyone there: Give your boy some wine and you dip in a spa mud bath. Both will enjoy the rolling hills.

OK. that’s enough of a town teaser. You simply have to go see for yourself and report back! Enjoy! ”


About the Author

Vera Lang, lived for 7 years in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Find her travel insights at:

Written by J. Lee

A seasoned world traveller, J. Lee writes about his weekend trips away, travel for work, and his many Europe vacations.

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