Avoid missing the best SF Pride events

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Revealing the coolest spots in town for celebrating the community

Event: San Francisco Pride
Main location: Civic Center Plaza, Market Street
Dates: June 25-26, 2016
Host: San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration Committee
Theme: For Racial and Economic Equality

The scoop: In San Francisco, gay pride runs through the city’s veins. Back in 1970, the city hosted its first “Gay In,” which led to “Gay Freedom Day” with “Gay Freedom Marches.” By the 1980s, the celebration was gaining popularity and it eventually changed its name to “Gay Pride.”

Note as of 6/15/16: In light of the recent Orlando tragedy,  the SF Pride event will focus on sending a message of unity, strength, and above all, love. The San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration Committee is hosting the event, during which the victims will be celebrated and honored.  Known as one of the most colorful Pride bashes in the world, the event will be nothing like anything you’ve ever experienced. Take a peek at our picks for the best things to do in San Francisco while celebrating and supporting the community during the weekend of June 25-26.

Main events

LGBT Pride Festival
Date: Saturday, June 25
Time: 12-6 p.m.
Fee: Free, but a $5 to $10 donation is encouraged.
Location: Civic Center

Transportation: Ride the Muni, Golden Gate Transit, or BART to the Civic Center/U.N. Plaza. The event is a 3-minute walk from the station.

Fast facts: Sister Roma and Honey Mahogany are hosting the festival, while Jessica Sutta, AB Soto, JES, and Shaun J. Wright are headlining. The festival is a family-friendly event and attendees of all ages are welcome. Dogs are permitted, but because the celebrations can get crowded and noisy, you may want to leave your four-legged ones at home.

Gender-neutral bathrooms: Em’s Place, Celtic Coffee Company, and Philz Coffee are a few of the nearby public bathroom options that are gender-neutral.

Flickr via Daniel Hartwid

SF Pride Parade
Date: Sunday, June 26
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fee: Free, but ticketed Grandstand seating is available at U.N. Plaza (first-come, first-served basis). Seats are free when you purchase the 2016 Pride Pass.

SF Pride parade route: The route starts at Market and Beale Streets and heads straight down to Market and Eighth Streets. Post-parade celebrations will take place at Civic Center Plaza.

Transportation: Embarcadero Station, which is both a BART and Muni Metro station, is less than a minute’s walk from the starting point of the parade. To access the tail-end of the procession, ride the BART or Muni to the Civic Center/U.N. Plaza station. There are various transit stops along the parade route, too, such as Powell and Montgomery.

Viewfinder tip: Pride passes offer access to grandstand seating, a VIP party, drink specials, and discounts around town.

Fast facts: This year’s Celebrity Grand Marshals include the cast of the TV Series TRANSCENDENT: Bambiana, Bionka, L.A., Nya, and Xristina. The Community Grand Marshals are Larry Yang, Fresh! White, Mia Satya, and Janetta Johnson, while Mike Shriver and Black Lives Matter were selected as the Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshals. After the procession, head to Civic Center for a continuation of the SF Pride Celebration, where Peaches, Psychic TV, and Hector Fonseca are headlining.

Gender-neutral bathrooms: Options near the parade route include Starbucks, 77 Chinese & Hawaii BBQ, and the Ferry Building.

Party spots

On June 24, from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., BeatBox is hosting Bearracuda Pride: SF Night. Guests are invited to strip down to their skivvies and join the nation’s largest bare (and bear) dance party with DJs Paul Goodyear and Ryan Jones. Get ready for all the warm and fuzzies. Tickets are available for purchase in advance and at the door.

Wear white to the EDEN Friday: Color Me Wet Paint Party at The Sound Factory on June 24. This racy bash is going to get delightfully messy as the paint starts to splatter. DEVMO, Lady Cultura, and Zulu Nasty are performing, and DJs such as Lady Ryan, Val G., and Motive will turn the tables. With go-go dancers, three dancefloors, and five bars, this party is sure to bring out your true colors. The festivities start at 9 p.m. and run until 3 a.m. Pre-purchase your tickets to secure entry.

Even the coolest Vegas pool parties have nothing on this wet and wild rager in the Tenderloin neighborhood. Make a splash at the Phoenix Hotel’s Mighty Real Poolside Pride Weekend Party. On June 26, between noon and 7 p.m., the annual pool party will take place with special guests Sugar Girl Squad: Ultra Nate and Lisa Moody. Resident DJ David Harness and Homero Espinosa will play sets, too. Purchase your ticket in advance.

From 2-5 p.m. on June 26, the Official San Francisco Pride VIP Party is kicking off at the historical City Hall Rotunda. Strut your stuff around the three rooms—Under the Rotunda, Purple Stardust Discotheque, and the Dirty Mind Cabaret—where fashion, drag, burlesque, and dance performances will shine under the spotlight. Purchase a ticket for entry into this legendary event with epic entertainment, drinks, and appetizers.

No doubt the crowds will be flocking to Powerhouse, a local LGBT favorite in SoMA. On June 25, the club’s hosting Pretty in Ink with go-go dancers and a DJ set.

Twin Peak is another place that will be teeming with Pride revelry. Sitting under the rainbow arrow, the joint in the Castro is fondly referred to as the gay Cheers bar. Pop in for a fancy cocktail or draft beer to kick off the exciting weekend.

SF Pride Parade

Flickr via Travis Wise

Additional tips

Transportation: Driving is not recommended. BART and Muni service the area, and extra buses will be running during the event to accommodate the surge in riders.

Lodging: If you’re looking to book a San Francisco hotel, the Civic Center and LGBTQ-centric Castro neighborhoods will be the most festive and crowded areas this weekend. For those who would rather stay a little farther away from the festivities, consider accommodations in nearby neighborhoods such as the Financial District, Mission District, and quiet Pacific Heights.

Attractions: For more LGBTQ festivities, check out the SF Dyke March and Trans March, which are both occurring during Pride weekend. During your San Francisco vacation, explore some of the local attractions, too—you can’t go wrong with a visit to staples such as SFMOMA, the Presidio, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Food and drink: Find out what the buzz is all about at Dirty Habit, the SoMA film noir-inspired bar with alluring cocktails like Aloe Be Thy Name and Fowl Play, or head to City Beer Store on Folsom Street if you’d rather go hoppy. When your stomach starts to growl, dig your fork into the farm-to-table cuisine at One Market or get your chopsticks out for the izakaya and sushi bar at PABU.

Average weather: The weather in June is usually in the high 60s F, but the ocean breezes and thick fog can make it feel chilly and damp, so pack some layers to stay warm.

Gender-neutral bathrooms: The California Assembly recently passed a bill regarding single-stall bathrooms. You’ll find San Francisco gender-neutral bathrooms around the city, and you can visit refugerestrooms.org for additional options.

What are you favorite things to do and see during the San Francisco Pride parade?

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Chloe Mulliner

As a staff writer for Expedia, Chloe Mulliner is dedicated to providing top travel tips for your jaunts around the world. She believes there are adventures to be had on every inch of the globe from surf spots on the Peruvian coast to the charming villages of the English countryside. Chloe specializes in showcasing all the must-see attractions on your travel wish list. She lives by the belief that every adventure is a story worth sharing.

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