LGBTQ Travelers Are Flocking to San Francisco

It's easy to see why San Francisco is popular with visitors and the queer community.

Travel United States of America Sean Kivi

This article was published on October 8th, 2022

LGBT travelers have always needed to worry about where they’ll go. Large cities have long been a haven for people to find safety and acceptance. San Francisco has a deep and strong connection for the LGBT community because of its roots in the modern gay rights movement and its culture of openness. Today, San Francisco has found its place on the world map as a haven for LGBTQ travelers. 

With an amazing cultural scene, historic landmarks, upscale hotels, restaurants, and shopping, plus a vibrant nightlife, it’s easy to see why San Francisco is popular with visitors and the queer community. 

Join the thousands of LGBTQ travelers who are flocking to San Francisco, and use this guide to help you plan your gaycation.

Hit the waves and learn about San Francisco’s history

With one of the most scenic and varied cruising environments in the world, San Francisco Bay is a great place to go boating. Whether you’re looking for a quiet day of cruising or an action-packed day out on the waves, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

The Blue and Gold Fleet offers several different types of cruises, from tours of Alcatraz to trips around Fort Baker and beyond. The fleet’s rolling schedule ensures that you can find a trip that fits your schedule.

The Blue and Gold Fleet also offers educational cruises, as well as cruises to learn more about local history. With so many options available, it’s easy to find the perfect way to spend a day on the water in San Francisco Bay.

See the Blue and Gold Fleet to book your excellent experience now.

Check out the sea lions and have a 7D experience at Pier 39

Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf is the only place in San Francisco for a sensory overload you’ll live for.  This pier is in direct view of the island of Alcatraz. It’s also a great place for watching sea lions as they lay in the sun on the floating docks. There are plenty of shops and restaurants here too, so you can spend some time exploring.

Pier 30 is also home to a full size, double-decker carousel. Let the kid in you enjoy the fun and excitement of a traditional carousel, with horses, sea creatures, and chariots. You’ll have so much fun and it makes for great social media content. 

Take the plunge and visit the Aquarium of the Bay. Learn about the regional marine life of San Francisco Bay and the surrounding tributaries and watersheds—it’s an underwater adventure! Over 20,000 creatures can be found in the watery exhibits. 

The Flyer is another must-visit attraction at Pier 30. It’s a complete sensory experience as you sit in motion seats, watching live-action and computer-generated imagery, simulating flight. With virtual technology, you’ll fly over iconic landmarks in San Francisco, like Coit Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Lombard Street.

Take a ride on the historic cable cars 

As much as San Francisco changes, it is always the same. San Francisco is famous for its historic cable cars, which were originally founded in 1873. The worlds last manually operated cable cars, and now operated as part of the Muni system,  these cable cars are the ultimate way to get around San Francisco.

Hop aboard and ride the rails through the streets of San Francisco as they make their way up and down the massive hills and past historic and sites of interest. There are two routes to choose from, providing plenty of opportunity to enjoy the clickity-clack and ding-ding these fun cable cars make. It’s also a fabulous opportunity to capture fantastic content to light up your social media channels. 

San Francisco Cable Cars

CityPASS® makes San Francisco’s best attractions, affordable

San Francisco attractions are endless, and the San Francisco CityPASS® is a great way to save money on your trip! There are several options for discounts on local attractions. CityPASS® offers holders the ability to visit the California Academy of Sciences and take a ride of the Blue and Gold Fleet (1 hour bay cruise), plus choose two of the following activities, for just $76! 

  • Aquarium of the Bay ($29.75)
  • The Walt Disney Family Museum ($25)
  • Exploratorium ($29.95)
  • San Francisco Zoo & Gardens ($25)

Get you San Francisco CityPASS® now.

San Francisco CityPass

Embrace queer culture and our historical accomplishments in the Castro District

The Castro District is one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Francisco. It is a diverse neighborhood that is home to the LGBTQ community and other minority groups. For gay travelers, the Castro District is the highlight when visiting San Francisco.

Summer gaycation fun in San Francisco

The neighborhood has boutique shopping, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, night clubs, and the iconic Castro Theatre (another perfect spot to get selfies for your social media channels). The Castro is the heart of the modern gay rights movement and you’ll be walking along the same sidewalks that many famous LGBTQ activists, like Harvey Milk, once walked to advocate for LGBT rights. 

Two gay men holding hands walking through the Castro

Visit the GLBT History Museum

The GLBT History Museum opened in January 2011. It is the first museum dedicated to the history of the LGBTQ community. The museum focuses on the contributions of those who were lost and those who fought for equality.

This segment from one of the two original rainbow flags created for San Francisco Gay Freedom Day 1978 was donated to the GLBT Historical Society in June, 2021; photograph by Matthew Leifheit, courtesy of t he Gilbert Baker Foundation.

Its exhibits include personal stories from LGBTQ people and an interactive learning space where visitors can take a self-guided tour through the history of LGBTQ rights, movements, and issues. This unique museum will be a place where people can learn about LGBTQ culture and heritage as well as gain an understanding of how all people can work together to advance equality.

Finish off a long day at the comforting, welcoming and nearby Axiom Hotel

The Axiom Hotel is a chic boutique hotel, especially for LGBTQ+ travelers who are looking for safe, comfortable, and welcoming accommodation. The property has a beautiful lobby, plenty of shops and restaurants nearby, spacious rooms, and secure entry doors and elevators.

The hotel is only a hop, skip, and jump away from many of San Francisco’s most popular attractions including Pier 39, Union Square, the Castro, and Golden Gate Park. All rooms come with complimentary high-speed WiFi, Illy espresso, in-room safes, mini fridge, and large flat screen televisions.

Read more about the Axiom Hotel in our recent review and make your reservations today.

More resources to plan your gaycation to San Francisco

The San Francisco Travel Association markets to LGBT visitors in concert with the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), the country’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

Conquering the Rock with Alcatraz Cruises

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, packages, activities and more, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel or call 415-391-2000. For LGBTQ featured events and “Editors Picks,” visit the Gay Travel section of San Francisco Travel’s website.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 34 international cities on 29 international carriers. The Bay Area’s largest airport connects non-stop with 78 cities in the U.S. on 15 domestic airlines. SFO is proud to offer upgraded free Wi-Fi with no advertising. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit www.flysfo.com. Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook

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