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Exclusive | San Francisco: What to See & Do Part Two

Exclusive | San Francisco: What to See & Do Part Two

Learn all about gay San Francisco.


This once-exclusively industrial area south of downtown has steadily transformed into San Francisco's hottest new "frontier." With expensive condo projects nudging out long-term residents, it's a process of gentrification not embraced by all groups. Still there's no denying the excitement and energy in the air.

The Yerba Buena area, anchored by the SFMOMA, Yerba Buena Gardens, Westfield's Metreon, and the new Zeum museum (read on for descriptions of these attractions later) has firmly established itself as a new tourist mecca and desirable place to live or set up chic shop. Deep in the heart of SOMA such classic gay bars as The Eagle and The Stud still exist, though the hard-core action of the early ‘70s is nowhere to be seen.


The Financial District draws the nine-to-fivers who swell San Francisco's daytime population to almost three times its resident numbers. Parking, therefore, is absolutely impossible. Great restaurants and good shopping are in abundance here, the latter particularly in Union Square, to the west of the Financial District.


North Beach, on the north side of Columbus Avenue, is one of the city's most-visited neighborhoods, and is the historical home of much of its Italian population. It's got great restaurants, tons of cafés, and fabulous bakeries. The neighborhood gained literary fame in the late ‘50s as the home of the Beat poets (including, of course, gay icon Allen Ginsberg), and the bohemian presence with an Italian overlay makes for an alluring area. Don't miss City Lights Bookstore (261 Columbus Ave; 415-362-8193), owned by Beat author Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Telegraph Hill, to the east, is notable primarily for Coit Tower and its comprehensive view of the city.

Chinatown lies on the other side of Columbus, and while it's become a little commercial, there are still intriguing alleys and fascinating shops away from Grant Street, the main tourist drag. Pacific Heights and Nob Hill (also known as Snob Hill!) are full of swanky restaurants and elegant residences; the latter contains a few tourist sights of interest, and the best cable car ride in the city, down California Street.

Russian Hill is famous as one of the settings for Tales of the City, and that's where the gay connection ends. It's mainly residential, but oh, what residences! Some of the country's most elegant and beautifully preserved homes line the steep streets here. Larkin and Leavenworth Streets are good for residential sightseeing.


Along San Francisco's northern edge lie some of its most touristy areas: Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39 and Ghiradelli Square, which are fun if you don't mind playing tourist with the visiting masses for an afternoon. Fort Mason and The Presidio, both former army outposts, have been converted to public use as part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. The former hosts several museums and performance spaces; the latter holds elegant homes, non-profit organizations, wooded walking trails, and the impressive Letterman Digital Arts Center.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

Part Seven | Part Eight

San Francisco: Introduction

San Francisco: Where to Stay

San Francisco: Where to Eat

San Francisco: Where to Play/Meet

San Francisco: Where to Shop

San Francisco: Resources

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Joe Okonkwo