Rainbow Honor Walk
Something that you can't miss while walking the streets of the Castro is these bronze plaques on sidewalks:
"The Rainbow Honor Walk features bronze sidewalk plaques that honor Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer individuals whom have made a significant impact in global history."
While exploring the Castro, take notice of the 36 of them, and new ones are added frequently. I added a map of the walk for your convenience below.
The theatre opened in 1922 and is the crown jewel of the neighborhood. It's also home to several independent film festivals: San Francisco Silent Movie Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, Berlin and Beyond Film Festival, SF DocFest, SF Indie Festival, Frameline46 LGBTQ+ Festival, and many others.
The Castro Theatre is the cultural center of the Castro and San Francisco. This is where I got to see one of my favorite movies, in a California Baroque building with leatherette ceilings (the last in the US), plush theatre seats, an ornate interior, and an organist playing the famous Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ before the premier.
When you're in the Castro, take a chance, visit this theater, watch a movie, and you'll definitely see something eclectic.
Hot Cookie is a famous bakery in the Castro where you can have some of the best cookies and admire men's underwear at the same time.
The bakery claims that they like:
Putting Something Sweet in Your Mouth.
Established in 1997, it's the Castro icon and they're famous for their selection of freshly baked Penis and Vagina cookies as well as for their signature underwear.
It's a great place to take some photos and send them to your boyfriend, girlfriend, ex-wife, mom, boss, parole officer, grandma, high school sweetheart, personal trainer, anyone really.
Your trip to the Castro isn't complete if you don't see a nude guy or two. Nudity is socially accepted here; no one is ever surprised by that.
A common sight here is a couple of nude gentlemen strolling around Castro regardless of how cold it is outside. Only once I've seen them "dress up," and that was for Christmas. They added cute Santa Claus hats to their "outfits."
But it's not just nudity. In my opinion, one of the best things to do here is to watch people. Some of the most unique, unconventional, free-spirit, gay, weird, and cool people live here.
So I'd get a table outside or by a window, grab a coffee, beer, ice cream, cookies, dinner, talk with a stranger, and make friends.
One of the places I like to come to once in a while. Orphan Andy's is an all-American diner. You won’t find fancy Asian fusion food or a super expensive avocado toasts here, but this place is cozy and warm. Perfect location so you can people-watch right at the intersection of Market and Castro.
Plus, you’re traveling in time here with comfy seats and old-school American food. And the best part is that old diner feel where “everyone knows your name.” A real neighborhood gem. And it's open very late for your "after a long night partying" meal.
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. After moving to San Francisco in the early 1970s from New York, Milk established himself as a leading political activist for the gay community.
Harvey Milk is a real legend in the Castro. He was loved and admired in the Castro. And so his images are never too far away.
Did you know he used to own a small camera shop right on Castro Street? You can still see him there in the window if you look closely.
Pink Triangle Park
The Castro is not only the place to have fun (and trust me, the BEST place on Halloween) but also the place of remembrance, history, and struggle.
Pink Triangle Park and Memorial is a community-built park in remembrance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender victims of the Nazi regime (1939-1945).
The pink triangle was originally the Nazi concentration camp badge to identify gay men. In the 1970s, it was revived as a symbol of protest against homophobia.
A loose rock-filled triangle in the center of the park includes rose crystals. Visitors are encouraged to take a crystal as part of the memorial experience.
Anchor Oyster Bar
I actually had no idea that this place is a Michelin-star restaurant. I thought that was just a low-key mom-and-pop place. But apparently, Anchor Oyster Bar has a star from Michelin Guide USA. And well deserved.
So if you're craving some seafood and a cold local beer, come here. In fact, I think I just started craving oysters again, so I think I know what I'll be having later tonight.