The Essential LGBTQ+ Bars in San Francisco | San Francisco Travel
Exterior of the Oasis Nightclub
Oasis is gay nightspot in a former bathhouse featuring cabaret and drag shows, DJs & dance parties. Credit: Photo via Oasis website

The Essential
LGBTQ+ Bars in San Francisco

You don’t have to travel far to find a great LGBTQ+ bar in San Francisco.

From young, hip lesbian bars to old gay theater hangouts to kinky leather bars, the City by the Bay has LGBTQ+ bars for every persuasion. If you’re only in town for a night or a weekend, here are the must-visit San Francisco LGBTQ+ bars. And because the city’s just 49 square miles, you can see them all in a night — a long, fun night.


440 Castro

440 Castro St.

Formerly called "Daddy's Draws," 440 is an iconic bar on Castro Street attracting the leather daddy crowd. Go to 440 on Mondays for their famed "underwear night" and party with shirtless go-go boys. 440 also opens at noon, making it an excellent place to enjoy a daytime cocktail and people-watch.


Aunt Charlie’s Lounge

133 Turk St.

Definitely not for the faint of heart, this long-standing Tenderloin hole-in-the-wall specializes in strong, cheap drinks and legendary drag shows. Drop in on disco-gem dance parties hosted by DJ Bus Station John every Thursday—but don’t get caught looking at your cell phone. If it’s Friday or Saturday, be sure to arm yourself with plenty of dollar bills for the Hot Boxx Girls’ shows. This little spot gets full fast, so reservations are recommended if you want to ensure a spot inside.



4121 18th St.

Dance the night away at Badlands, one of the best places to shake your money maker. Here, find pop hits blaring through the speakers and lighting up the TV surrounding the round dance floor. Watch out for their incredibly heavy pour, a staple of most Castro gay bars. This place gets busy on the weekends, so arrive early to avoid long lines and cover.



2344 Market St.

Dance your heart out at one of the most popular bars in Castro. Beaux, known for its party vibes and notoriously sexy crowd, is the perfect place to go with friends and leave with someone new. One of their biggest nights is Thursday, when they exclusively play '90s and 2000s music, inducing gay screams of excitement from the crowd.

Nob Hill

The Cinch

1723 Polk St.

Polk Street is San Francisco’s original gay district. The first Gay Pride in the country marched, danced, and sashayed its way down this street. This bar has been a San Francisco standard since the gay hustler days of the 1970s, and it still remains one of the city’s quintessential gay bars. Walk through the swinging saloon doors, grab a stiff drink, and spend some time perusing their wall of historic photos and one infamous painting. You’ll know it when you see it.


SF Eagle

398 12th St.

This designated historic landmark has been vital to the city's LGBTQ+ nightlife since 1981. Famous for its ties to the leather and BDSM communities, the bar hosts events like Sunday Beer Busts, live music, and themed parties. Adjacent to the community-centric Eagle Plaza, The Eagle features an outdoor patio and remains a hub for diverse patrons and fun parties during events like Folsom Street Fair.


The Edge

4149 18th St.

Located on the edge of the Castro neighborhood, this bar is your go-to spot for strong drinks, an eclectic crowd, and theme parties. Musical Mondays, one of their liveliest nights, is a fan favorite, with locals and visitors looking to sing their hearts out like nobody is listening!

Mission District

El Rio

3158 Mission St.

What makes El Rio unique is their fun parties and huge back patio. Usually free of a cover charge and always packed, this Mission District bar is a must-visit for any ladies' night out during the first Saturday of the month when Hard French, the monthly soul dance party, happens. Other well-known SF parties happen here, including Daytime Realness, one of the city's best daytime disco parties that attract cute gay boys, colorful outfits, and lots of dancing. 



86 Hardie Pl.

Reopening in time for 2024's Pride celebrations, Gingers is one of the only gay bars downtown. Hidden down a nondescript alley, this queer bar is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This tiki-themed paradise is perfect for after-work drinks, trivia nights, or special events.


Hi Tops

2247 Market St.

This raucous gay sports bar is known for its fabulous atmosphere and delicious food. Try their fried chicken sandwiches, "trash salad", or corn dogs while watching football on one of their flat-screen TVs. Hi Tops has themed nights for everyone, including various trivia nights and "gym class" (essentially a go-go dance party). Their drinks are pretty fun as well. Try their "haterade," which comes in its own themed glass. 

Cocktails from Hi Tops in the Castro


2700 16th St.

Upon walking in, you'll be greeted by their neon sign saying, "You are safe here." That's how you know you have arrived. Jolene's is known for queer women's parties like Uhaul, as well as their lively weekend brunch. Take a closer look at their perfectly on-brand wallpaper as you party it up on the dance floor. Or play a round of pool on their pink pool table.


Moby Dick

4049 18th St.

This laid-back dive bar has been a staple of the Castro neighborhood since it opened in 1977. Known for its kitschy nautical theme and iconic fish tank, Moby Dick offers a welcoming space for patrons to gather, socialize, and enjoy a drink. Anyone up for a round of pool? 


The Lookout

3600 16th St.

No tour of San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ bars would be complete without a visit to The Lookout. Most nights, this upstairs Castro District spot is filled to the brim with sexy partygoers; but it’s on sunny days that The Lookout becomes the real go-to spot in the city. The large, outdoor deck is perfect for sipping Bloody Mary’s while taking in the all of the “sights” worth seeing.


Midnight Sun

4067 18th St.

This spot is well-known for its non-stop dance party, where customers can enjoy a mix of pop music videos, drag performances, and incredibly strong drinks. On the weekends, you can usually find the House of Monroe, a local drag family performing a lively drag brunch, often spilling out into the street with dancing, music, and plenty of death drops.


The Mix

4086 18th St.

Located in the heart of the Castro, this dive bar is famous for its strong drinks, friendly bartenders, and hip crowd. On a sunny day, enjoy their lively back patio, perfect for catching up with friends or meeting someone new to take home.

Mission District


3079 16th St.

This self-described "queer womxn and femme-centered bar" opened in the Mission in February 2023, helping fulfill San Francisco's need for more lesbian bars. The space, dark and cozy with queer media projected onto its purple walls, is low-key but also incredibly welcoming and fun.



298 11th St.

Located in a former bathhouse, Oasis is an LGBTQ+ nightclub and event space with plenty of parties to offer. Opened on New Year's Day 2015 by two local drag legends, the 8,000-square-foot warehouse is known for its incredible drag parties and eccentric comedy shows. Come to Oasis for cabaret, performances from local and visiting drag stars, as well as DJs and other musical acts. There’s something for everyone at Oasis.

The Oasis Drag show is a popular nightlife activity


1347 Folsom St.

Powerhouse is undoubtedly not for the prudish. This famed SoMa cruise bar attracts a kinkier crowd and is known for its JUNK underwear nights, drag queen shows, and leather events. Expect naughty behavior, and make sure to stop and check out the outdoor parklet, Pigpen.


The Stud

1123 Folsom St.

The Stud, the iconic queer bar in San Francisco, has been at the center of the city's LGBTQ+ nightlife since it first opened in 1966. Known for its welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, The Stud has long been a haven for queer culture and creative expression. After finding a brand new home, the Stud is once again holding blowout parties, drag performances, and so much more!


Toad Hall

4146 18th St.

While not the original Toad Hall from decades past, this iteration resurrected the original fun of the infamous gay bar. Made popular after the release of the hit movie “Milk” about Harvey Milk, an iconic queer figure in SF, Toad Hall reopened and is now a top spot for pop music, dancing and a great back patio.



1437 Haight St.

Dive-y and relaxed, Trax is a neighborhood staple and considered one of the only queer hangout spots north or west of the Castro. Trax is a relic of queer history and is the only remnant of the Haight's status as a pre-Castro LGBTQ+ enclave. Go here to enjoy their barrel-aged Manhattans, chat with friends on their comfy couch, or play a round of pool.


Twin Peaks Tavern

401 Castro St.

One of the most famous bars in San Francisco, Twin Peaks was the first bar to pull back the curtains—literally—and allow people to see gay men enjoying themselves inside. Since then, it's had a warm and welcoming vibe. Don't let the typically older crowd intimidate you; everyone's welcome here! Check out their festive Christmas display with hundreds of nutcrackers, perfect with a hot toddy or Irish coffee.

Bernal Heights

Wild Side West

424 Cortland Ave.

This no-frills establishment has been a popular San Francisco lesbian bar since 1976. When it opened, neighbors protested and even vandalized the property, leaving objects like broken toilets and garbage in front of the bar doors. The former owners took the trash to create art that would later decorate their iconic, whimsical downstairs garden, a great place to enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer. Wild Side West is now beloved by the neighborhood and has a fantastic Wednesday comedy night and trivia show.  

Maddie Pratt's headshot
Maddie Pratt

Maddie Pratt is the Sr. Associate of Design & Content at San Francisco Travel. She grew up in nearby Marin County, just a bridge away from the City. After moving to San Francisco in 2020, she knew she'd found her home base. Maddie enjoys walks in Golden Gate Park, chowing down on dim sum and sunsets at Baker Beach.