Castro District

Originally settled by wealthy Mexicans and European immigrants, today San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood is one of the city’s most vibrant, diverse and stylish – not to mention priciest – districts. Settled in the late 1800’s on the outskirts of San Francisco, what was then called the Eureka Valley became a bona fide part of the city when it was connected via the Market Street Cable Car in 1887. Once connected, the neighborhood took off as it became a residential haven, with the early residents building the Victorian homes that now line the district’s streets.

Today ‘The Castro’ is best known as the city’s gay district and the epicenter of the 1970s gay rights movement. This part of the neighborhood’s history was captured by the Sean Penn film Milk, which documented the life and assassination of San Francisco’s openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk.

As a result of this unique history, the Castro neighborhood – often jokingly referred to as the ‘gayest place on Earth’ – is a tourist destination in and of itself.

Where it’s At

The Castro neighborhood is easily reached from Fisherman’s Wharf via the F Market cable car. It is mostly concentrated along Castro Street, running from Market to 19th Street and is bordered by Church and Eureka Streets.

What to See

Although there are a few tourist sites of note within the Castro neighborhood, including the Castro Theater (429 Castro Street) and the Metropolitan Community Church San Francisco (150 Eureka Street), the true must-sees are the festivals and events. October is festival month in the area, starting with the Castro Street Fair’s music and drag shows, and culminating in the extravagant Halloween bash. The annual San Francisco Pride Month and its Gay Pride Parade, held the last Sunday in June, is a celebration not to be missed.

Where to Eat

If people watching is your cup of tea, then stop by Castro Coffee (427 Castro St.) or Jumpin’ Java (139 Noe St) for a window-side view and a cup of warm joe. For a bit to eat, be sure to check out Catch (2362 Market St.) for traditional fish dishes best enjoyed on the restaurant’s expansive open air patio. And to really get the full Castro experience, be sure to end your day at Café du Nord (2170 Market St), a former speakeasy turned night club.