The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 1
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The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour

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Greetings, Internet Stranger! So you want a perfect Castro in San Francisco tour? An excellent choice, my fine feathered friend. There is so much to do in the Castro and the nearby areas that we can easily find enough things to fill at least twenty one day in San Francisco itineraries.

We’ll visit the legendary Castro neighborhood, check out the Asian Art Museum, and dine on some of San Francisco’s best food. A beautiful day in the neighborhood here has beignets, Hindu sculpture, modern art installations, and more. It will be like going around the world in 24 hours. Hmm. That phrase sounds familiar to me.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Castro in San Francisco Tour

#1 TOP PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
CASTRO WALKING TOUR
✔️ See the area with a local
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#2 PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 3

VW VAN TOUR
✔️ See the whole city
✔️ Expert local guide

#3 PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 4

ALL OTHER SAN FRANCISCO TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

Castro in San Francisco tour

Castro in San Francisco tour

Where to Stay?

Location is so important in San Francisco. That’s why I recommend spending your Castro in San Francisco tour at the Cartwright Hotel. It’s located right by Union Square so it’s in a convenient location right near Chinatown, it has free wifi, coffee makers, and an airport shuttle, and it might be haunted! What more could you want?

castro in san francisco tour

While the hotel doesn’t provide breakfast, it has a great place for breakfast just a short walk away. I’m talking about the Sutter Street Cafe. This tiny spot makes an amazing, gooey bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, which is high praise coming from me because I am from New York City, and we have the best bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches in the world.

If you’d like to join me at the Cartwright, just click here.

If you want to find deals on hundreds of hotel rooms in San Francisco, just click here.

This search engine will help you find the most affordable and convenient hotel during your day exploring the Castro in San Francisco. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

castro in san francisco tour

Castro in San Francisco tour

Morning: Tour of The Castro

The Castro is one of the most famous neighborhoods in San Francisco, and for good reason! The Castro is probably the most famous LGBT+ community in the United States, and possibly even the world. This neighborhood was started by people who couldn’t find a community elsewhere, and so they came here to create their own place where they would be loved and accepted.

I strongly recommend taking a walking tour of the Castro during your Castro in San Francisco tour. You’re just not going to get that much out of the neighborhood walking around by yourself because you won’t know the stories behind any of the local landmarks. I recommend taking this tour by a longtime resident of the neighborhood.

You can book this wonderful tour for yourself easily by clicking here.

Then get ready for…

Three Local Facts: The Castro

castro in san francisco tour
1) How Was the Castro Started?

LGBT people have been persecuted in many different times and places. During the 20th century, the Nazi regime executed and imprisoned gay people. They also made gay people wear a pink triangle, similar to the yellow star that Jewish people were required to wear. On the tour, you can visit this park that has a collection of pink stones, in honor of those who were killed during the Holocaust.

In the United States, gay men were often dishonorably discharged from the military, including World War II veterans. These veterans had nowhere to go, and many of them ended up being dropped here in San Francisco. Eventually they created their own community, and gay people started coming here from all over the country.

castro in san francisco tour
2) Who is the most famous resident of the Castro?

In history? That would almost definitely be Harvey Milk, who was often called the Mayor of Castro. He was never actually elected mayor of anything, but he was the first openly gay man elected to office in California.

He was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors until he was tragically assassinated, along with the Mayor of San Francisco, by a former colleague. (If you’ve ever heard of the Twinkie defense, that comes from this case.)

But Milk deserves to be remembered for more than just his assassination. He was a leader for the entire community, and young people came to his camera store in the Castro from all over, looking for encouragement and acceptance. He was famous for saying, “You gotta give ’em hope!”

castro in san francisco tour

In fact, the Harvey Milk branch of the San Francisco public library is located in the Castro–you get to visit it on the tour.

castro in san francisco tour
3) What are some other famous landmarks?

I definitely don’t want to spoil all of the sights in the Castro on this blog, especially since a couple of them are not exactly meant for kids, and maybe some youngsters read this blog!

But one of the most interesting places we visited on the tour was the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy. This elementary school is dedicated to teaching about social justice, which is appropriate, considering who it is named after.

castro in san francisco tour

We also stopped at Twin Peaks, which is one of the oldest gay bars in town. (We didn’t actually go inside, but people are welcome to go later.)

Again, this was one of the first places in the United States where people could go and be openly gay without worrying about being arrested or beaten up by the cops. Nowadays, anyone is welcome, including girl tourists from New York City just trying to learn a little history.

24 Hour Tip

That’s all the Castro facts and tips I have to share!

Check rates and availability by going here if you want to get the rest of them!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Castro in San Francisco Tour

#1 TOP PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
CASTRO WALKING TOUR
✔️ See the area with a local
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#2 PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 3

VW VAN TOUR
✔️ See the whole city
✔️ Expert local guide

#3 PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 4

ALL OTHER SAN FRANCISCO TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

castro in san francisco tour

Castro in San Francisco tour

Afternoon: Asian Art Museum

As you can probably tell from the museum’s not-very-obscure title, the next stop on our Castro in San Francisco tour day is an institution dedicated to all kinds of Asian Art: Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Korean. All Asian Art Always, that’s the museum’s alliterative motto. Or if it isn’t, I offer it to them free of charge.

I recommend getting the City Explorer Pass right here

if you’re going to be visiting the Asian Art Museum because it will help you save money. You could never see all the museum in a one day in San Francisco itinerary after fitting in a Castro in San Francisco tour, but we’re going to fit in as much as we can. But first, lunch!

castro in san francisco tour
24 Hour Treat: Brenda’s French Soul Food

Brenda’s French Soul Food is not in the museum, but it’s just a five-minute walk away, so I feel comfortable recommending it for breakfast. But why should you trust my judgement about French soul food?

Well, I’m a native New Yorker, but I could almost as easily claim to be a New Orleanian. My mother was born and raised in New Orleans, her mother was born and raised in New Orleans, my family has lived in New Orleans since my great-great-great-grandfather Patrick McCloskey came over from Ireland in the 1860s. I’ve gone down to New Orleans once a year since I was one year old.

castro in san francisco tour

I know New Orleans food, is what I am saying. So believe me when I say that though Brenda’s French Soul Food is in San Francisco, it serves excellent New Orleans food. The gumbo is especially good because it’s properly thickened and flavorful, but not too spicy.

castro in san francisco tour

However, if you’re feeling indulgent, get the beignet flight consisting of four beignets: plain, chocolate (filled with San Francisco‘s own Ghirardelli, natch), a savory crawfish and cheddar, and my personal favorite: granny smith apple with cinnamon honey butter. Don’t feel disappointed by the idea of getting a plain because even a plain beignet is fried dough dusted with powdered sugar, and there is nothing to hate there.

24 Hour Tip

If you have your Castro in San Francisco tour on the weekend, you’re going to have to wait an hour on line at least to get a table, so just plan accordingly! Fortunately they now accept reservations on Resy.

And now that we’re fed, we’ll be ready for…

Approximately Top 5: Asian Art Museum

castro in san francisco tour
1) Free Audio Guide of the Asian art museum

The Asian Art Museum puts out a free audio guide to their collection that you can easily download to your phone. You should definitely use it! If it weren’t for my audio guide, I never would have met this camel, and that would be a tragedy for all.

I also would never have learned that camels were once popular figures in Chinese art. If you look at this one’s face up close, it seems to be having a bad day, but maybe things will improve by dinnertime.

castro in san francisco tour
2) Simhavaktra Dakini

Our audio guide also introduced me to many important Hindu and Buddhist deities, and I must admit that I am not up on either. It is so much easier to appreciate a work of art when you are familiar with the historical context. My favorite piece was this mind-boggling statue of a Buddhist deity named Simhavaktra Dakini.

How does she stand up like that? How did the sculptor get her to balance? She’s like the world’s coolest game of Jenga. My only complaint is that I wish the museum would move the lights behind her because it would be easier to get a good picture of the sculpture that way. Museums do not think enough of the importance of Instagram.

castro in san francisco tour
3) Samurai armor

I love how lifelike this samurai armor looks. It almost feels like there’s an actual soldier sitting in a glass case in front of you, complete with beard. But that fluffy beard doesn’t look very practical for battle.

Couldn’t the enemy distract you by pulling on your beard? I know it was very distracting to the department store Santa Claus when I did that to him.

castro in san francisco tour
4) The jade collection

The Asian Art Museum has an amazing collection of Jade pieces, but this teeny Buddha is very favorite because he is so peaceful. I imagine he’d inspire some deep meditation if I kept him in my room…except that it would be hard to relax very much if I was responsible for such a valuable work of art.

castro in san francisco tour
5) Total Cuteness

I know that it’s good to visit museums to expand your mind and gain knowledge and whatnot. But it’s also good to go and immerse yourself in adorable cuteness. Take these 18th century Chinese water vessels made of porcelain. My pre-teen self would have absolutely loved to have something like this when I invited friends over.

castro in san francisco tour

Or what about this adorable Korean vessel, shaped like a duck. Apparently in ancient Korea, people believed that ducks were messengers between the human and spirit worlds. I should try talking to my duck the next time I order some in a restaurant and see if it answers me.

By the way, this duck vessel is from the year 300 and the Chinese vessels are from the 18th century, so that just goes to show that humans have always loved cuteness and probably always will!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Castro in San Francisco Tour

#1 TOP PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
CASTRO WALKING TOUR
✔️ See the area with a local
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#2 PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 3

VW VAN TOUR
✔️ See the whole city
✔️ Expert local guide

#3 PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 4

ALL OTHER SAN FRANCISCO TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

castro in san francisco tour

Castro in San Francisco tour

Evening: Dinner at the Heirloom Cafe

We’ve had a busy day full of history, food, and cuteness, so let’s keep it lowkey and head over to The Heirloom Cafe, which feels very much like a hidden gem only locals know about. I mean, I know about it, and now you know about it, but we won’t tell anyone else, OK?

The menu at the Heirloom Cafe is totally seasonal, so what I ordered probably won’t be on the menu when you go. But since I visited during the summer, that meant Corn Galore in the form of a silky corn veloute. I felt exactly like I’d been wished to the cornfield after diving into this bowl.

castro in san francisco tour

After a light appetizer, I usually go for something more substantial for the main, which is why I recommend something like the medium-rare steak on top of a beautiful light heirloom beans salad. This felt like a dish you could have at somebody’s house if one of your friends were an amazing cook ready to go on MasterChef.

I also liked that the salad included both butter beans and fava beans because it gave the salad an interesting variety in terms of flavor and texture. At times the beans seemed almost as meaty as the meat. And the salsa Verde added a pleasant amount of zazzle, but not so much that you couldn’t taste the steak.

castro in san francisco tour

I couldn’t swear to this on my life, but it seemed like there were usually two desserts on the menu: one fruit and one chocolate. After the steak, I was still feeling a bit decadent, so I opted for the chocolate pot de creme. After a nice piece of meat, I usually find that a small bit of chocolate is just what I want.

And this dish is pretty much just brimming with pure chocolate, except for that fluffy blob of whipped cream on top. The perfect end to a Castro in San Francisco tour day!

castro in san francisco tour

Castro in San Francisco tour

Shopping List

  • An excellent small cell charger so you can keep taking pictures of your Castro in San Francisco tour
  • My favorite guidebook to San Francisco, including the Castro in San Francisco tour
  • My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how solo travel can take your life from BLAH to amazing!
  • The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds
  • These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
castro in san francisco tour

That’s a Perfect Castro in San Francisco tour!

What would you do on your Castro in San Francisco tour? How do they get the Dakina to stand upright? And in what year BC was cuteness actually invented? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Castro in San Francisco Tour

#1 TOP PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
CASTRO WALKING TOUR
✔️ See the area with a local
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#2 PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 3

VW VAN TOUR
✔️ See the whole city
✔️ Expert local guide

#3 PICK

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 4

ALL OTHER SAN FRANCISCO TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend a one day in San Francisco itinerary with a Castro in San Francisco tour

You can also add an Alcatraz day trip. Why not add 24 hours in San Francisco? Enjoy the best Chinatown in San Francisco food tour. Go for a Mission District in San Francisco food tour. Get going on a North Beach in San Francisco tour. Don’t miss the best Tripadvisor things to do in San Francisco. Try out the best tour spots in San Francisco.

The Best Castro in San Francisco Tour 14

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