The Castro is famous for being one of the first gay neighborhoods in the United States. It’s still a hub for LGBTQ activism and enjoys a steady stream of tourism. Quirky art lines its distinctly urban streets, and lively festivals — many of them related to queer culture — occur throughout the year.
Beyond the Castro’s LGBTQ distinction is the neighborhood’s renowned Castro Theatre, an ornate Baroque structure that opened in 1922 and stands as the community’s only movie palace. It has also been the frequent home of the San Francisco International Film Festival and the San Francisco Film Noir Festival. A lack of chain stores reflects the Castro’s unique sensibility, while consignment shops and locally-made goods abound. There’s lots of nightlife once the sun goes down, and a mix of casual haunts, fine eateries, and legendary bars compete for everyone’s attention under the Castro Theatre’s bright marquee lights. For a bit of green and a breather from city life, head on over to Golden State Park, Corona Heights Park, or Buena Vista Park.
Centrally located between the equally colorful Mission District and Haight-Ashbury, the Castro is easy to get around on foot, but several MUNI options are available. Restored Victorians are plentiful throughout the area’s narrow streets, infusing the neighborhood’s distinctive vibe with some old-world charm. If you’re looking for a spirited community with lots of character and rich history, then consider the Castro.