From hot nightclubs and popular wine bars to LGBT-focused theater productions and clothing-optional Black's Beach, it's no wonder San Diego ranks among the top LGBT destinations in the world. The community enjoys strong support from numerous local politicians, several of them openly gay and lesbian, plus a large variety of businesses and civic organizations. In addition, the San Diego Padres publicly acknowledges its LGBT fans to Petco Park stadium during 'Out at the Park,' organized every spring by San Diego LGBT Pride.
One of the oldest LGBT theaters in the country, Diversionary Theatre, produces edgy dramas and playful musicals with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual themes year-round. You can also catch pre-Broadway hits at the Tony Award®-winning La Jolla Playhouse and The Old Globe. Additionally, top-name comedians and musical productions comprise the playbill at Observatory North Park (formerly the North Park Theater), a historic venue that has been an anchor in the LGBT community since it was restored to her grandness in 2005.
San Diego is home to 85 cultural institutions and nearly two dozen museums. Art buffs can behold the world-class American-European collection at the Timken Museum of Art as well as paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries at the San Diego Museum of Art. Both are located in Balboa Park amid lush gardens and Spanish-Renaissance architecture. The 1,200-acre park is where you'll also find the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Museum of Man, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Air & Space Museum and several others.
Art galleries abound throughout the city, particularly along Ray Street in North Park, where the well-attended Ray at Night art walk is held from 6:00 to 10:00 PM on the second Saturday of every month. The event often showcases exhibit openings, allowing visitors to interact with artists over a glass of champagne.
San Diego's culinary compass points in all directions with hundreds of restaurants capturing the cuisines of nearly every continent as well as domestic, contemporary meals that pay tribute to our local farmers and fishermen. Many of the restaurants are located in the LGBT hub of Hillcrest and extend into the surrounding Uptown neighborhoods of University Heights, North Park and Mission Hills. The pickings grow even larger when factoring in the huge concentrations of restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter, East Village, Little Italy, Old Town, Point Loma and the beach communities of Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach.
Although for LGBT travelers seeking big doses of festive social interaction over casual fare and feisty drinks, simply loop back to Hillcrest and drop by Urban Mo's Bar & Grill, Baja Betty's, Uptown Tavern, Martinis Above Fourth or the lesbian-operated Gossip Grill. Each has patios that open in the afternoon, although on weekends the Saturday "disco brunch" and Sunday "church" happy hour at Babycakes attract a devoted patronage.
Evenings usher in the crowds at dance clubs such as Rich's, Numbers and The Brass Rail. Gossip Grill also features a dance floor that kicks into high gear after sunset. Outside the club scene, Pec's, The Hole and Redwing Bar & Grill are among the community's "jeans and leather" joints that greet with a solid neighborhood feel.
San Diego is like a big outdoor gym that allows visitors to stay active while soaking in the sun and landscape. Whether you're taking part in a walking tour with Urban Safaris or hoofing throughout the city on your own, consider strolling the hilly, palm tree-lined streets of Mission Hills; the canyons of Presidio Park; or the winding sidewalks hugging Mission Bay Park, where you can also rent pedal boats, kayaks and WaveRunners. And of course, Balboa Park is an undisputed walker's paradise with its gardens, trails and historic promenade.
Looking for a little extra resistance? Mission Trails Regional Park features dozens of trails snaking through 5,800 acres of rugged hills and valleys. This breathtaking reserve is located less than five miles northeast of Hillcrest.
Your days in the sun aren't complete without visiting San Diego's major theme parks. The centrally located San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park and SeaWorld San Diego not only offer close encounters with the animals, but they also boast beautiful landscaping and feature an array of dining options. Further north are LEGOLAND California and the sprawling San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
San Diego's family of gay-friendly hotels offers something for everyone, from intimate bed and breakfast inns to historic and boutique hotels.
Below are links to LGBT organizations and news sources that offer an array of information to enhance your stay in San Diego.