Why These Two Neighborhoods Need To Be On Your Bucket List
Beyond the ‘Stro is a new Queerty/GayCites series exploring the popular San Francisco districts outside the Castro where LGBT folks mingle with our straight counterparts. This week’s column looks at the Sunset and Richmond Districts.
If you want to to visit and explore some of San Francisco‘s best-kept secrets, then you better spend some time in the Sunset and Richmond. These two most western neighborhoods bracketing Golden Gate Park are full of hidden hotspots waiting to be discovered. From basking on the beach to binging on authentic cuisine, allow us to take you on a special tour of the undiscovered Sunset and Richmond Districts.
Just make sure you’re prepared to see some fog.
- Sunset District
The Inner Sunset is a hip district just over the hill from The Castro, but don’t expect to find gay bars or clubs pumping loud music late into the night. What the Sunset lacks in LGBT nightlife, it makes up in peaceful serenity. In recent years, this neighborhood has lured young gays and lesbians (lots of lesbians!) so they can settle down and start a family, or at least start by getting a puppy.
If it’s quaint cafe-hopping and boutique shopping you’re after, Inner Sunset is the place to go. This neighborhood has blocks of cute shops, including Urban Bazaar, a woman-owned and operated gift store specializing in products handmade by local artisans or sourced via fair trade. The Inner Sunset is also a hotspot for foodies. Start with a mighty lunch at the seafood palace Pacific Catch and for dessert, head to the local-favorite Arizmendi Bakery.
Head closer towards the Pacific Ocean and you’ll cross into the Outer Sunset, or as the locals refer to as, “The Avenues.” This ‘hood is home to the San Francisco Zoo, an urban oasis home to more than 1,000 exotic, endangered and rescued animals. In the Outer Sunset is where you’ll also find Outerlands, a must for brunch if you like to have authentic Asian food paired with stunning ocean views.
- Richmond District
Hop on over Golden Gate Park to the other side and you’ll find yourself in the Richmond. This neighborhood is closer to the world-class museums housed in the park: de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. The California Academy of Sciences is especially popular with San Francisco party-goers who flock here every Thursday night for its “Nightlife” mixer. This weekly wine-infused event serves drinks and small bites, features live music and entertainment, and ends up with a generally tipsy atmosphere. Nightlife at the Academy also hosts an epic Pride Party with drag queen performances, a costume contest and other colorful shenanigans.
Stop across the street from the park and check out the former home of the late, renowned painter Anne Klumpke, who lived right on 731 14th Ave. Then pick up some reading material at the charming Green Apple Books, a thriving new and used bookstore and one of the largest indie bookshops in the city, which also has a new location in the Inner Sunset.
If you venture toward the sea, you’ll cross into the Outer Richmond. It’s an oceanside paradise, for surfers, foodies, sunset chasers or anyone who simply appreciates a breathtaking view. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, sit down for a fancy meal at the Beach Chalet or renowned Cliff House. For a more casual dining experience, grab any type of Asian grub you can imagine at the authentic restaurants throughout the neighborhood.
Venture north and you’ll run into Baker Beach, where you can find the local guys and gals walking their dogs on a cold day and suntanning their bare backsides (quite literally) when the fog lifts. Walk east for a lovely stroll through Presidio Park, where you’ll find trails, views, great local foliage and restaurants with views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
No matter when you visit, find out everything you need to know from San Francisco Travel and your San Francisco GayCities guide.