If you’re in need of a pick-me-up (who isn’t?) consider planning an afternoon in The Castro. This gorgeous neighborhood is just a stonesthrow away from our happy home in the Haight, and it has way more to offer than racy shops and ridiculously cheap happy hour drinks (not that those are bad things…). The history of The Castro is well worth exploring, and serves as a reminder of the brilliant and strong characters that made San Francisco what it is.
This 2-hour walking tour brings to life the stories not be immediately visible to the average passerby. It also provides context on how the city's first gay community was linked to World War II, the Summer of Love, civil rights leader, Harvey Milk and the AIDS epidemic. Another option is a visit to the GLBT History Museum. Founded in 1985, this internationally-recognized institution serves to educate, celebrate, and explore LGBTQ history and culture. Rotating exhibitions feature a range of topics and artists, touching on San Francisco’s LGBTQ history and it’s connection with other cultures around the country.
This neighbourhood is also home to the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Do your soul a favor and book a ticket to watch them perform at Grace Cathedral before they embark on their inspirational Lavender Pen Tour. For some light-hearted entertainment, treat yourself to an evening at the Castro Theatre. Built in 1922, this iconic theater hosts one of the Bay Area’s only nightly live organ performances. Not only is the exterior gorgeous, but it’s lavish interiors will transport you back to a time when gentlemen wore hats and ladies powdered their noses. The auditorium walls are covered with classic motif murals created with a traditional sgraffito method.This landmark movie house shows everything from old classics like, Lawrence of Arabia, to modern hits like Wonder Woman and Dazed and Confused. With tickets starting at $9.00, there’s no excuse not to indulge that inner cinephile. And check out their thoughtfully-curated double features for an extra special affair.
Any book worms spending the afternoon in The Castro should check out Dog Eared Books. Since 1992, this well-loved shop has been offering a selection of new and used books as well as magazines, calendars, and notebooks. They specialize in Beat, off-beat, small press, and local literature. This locally-owned business also contributes to the community by offering readings and book clubs.
After all of this inspiration, chances are you’ll have worked up an appetite. Luckily, there’s no shortages of places to eat and drink in this corner of the woods. Why not start with some oysters from Anchor Oyster Bar on Castro? This local mainstay has been selling simple, fresh seafoods since 1977. For some casual fare, try Kasa, an Indian spot serving up amazing fresh and vibrant dishes. Finish off the night with a drink at one of the many fine establishments lining the streets. From wine bars to classic dives, The Castro will have you covered.
To truly love San Francisco is to embrace its history and its people. The individuals that lived and worked in The Castro have made a powerful impact on the identity of San Francisco. An afternoon spent meditating on their creativity and achievements can do wonders for the soul.