- A Grumpy Old Man Passing out Cookies and Insults in Chinatown: A San Francisco institution for years, no visit to Chinatown is complete without visiting Uncle Gee in front of his tea shop on Grant Street. He will give you a Chinese name, offer you some sound advice…and threaten to take you downstairs and beat you if you don’t follow that advice. Yes, it sounds weird, but Uncle is hilarious; people line up for his abuse.
- A Soul-Stirring Sunday Service at Glide Memorial Church: Every city has churches, but only San Francisco has the Glide. An hour or so with Reverend Cecil Williams, or one of his alternates, and his exuberant gospel choir will surely shake your soul and let the glory out. No matter what your beliefs may be, everybody leaves this Tenderloin church spiritually uplifted and slightly misty-eyed.
- A Cruise Through the Castro: The most populated and festive street in the city is not just for gays and lesbians (though some of the best cruising in town is right here). This neighborhood shows there is truth in San Francisco’s reputation as an open-minded, liberal city where people are free to simply love whomever they want. If you have time, catch a flick and a live Wurlitzer organ performance at the beautiful 1930s Spanish colonial movie palace, the Castro Theatre.
- Catching Big Air in Your Car: Relive Bullitt or The Streets of San Francisco as you careen down the center lane of Gough Street between Ellis and Eddy streets, screaming out “Wooooeee!” Feel the pull of gravity leave you momentarily, followed by the thump of the car suspension bottoming out. Wimpier folk can settle for driving down the steepest street in San Francisco: Filbert Street, between Leavenworth and Hyde streets.
- AsiaSF: The gender-bending waitresses—mostly Asian men dressed very convincingly as hot-to-trot women—will blow your mind with their performance of lip-synched show tunes, which takes place every night. Bring the parents—they’ll love it. Believe it or not, even kids are welcome at some seatings.
- Browse the Haight: Though the power of the flower has wilted, the Haight is still, more or less, the Haight: a sort of resting home for aging hippies, ex-Deadheads, skate punks, and an eclectic assortment of young panhandlers. Think of it as a people zoo as you walk down the rows of used-clothing stores, hip boutiques, and leather shops.
- The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: A leading-edge “Order of queer nuns,” these lovely “ladies” got their start in the Castro back in 1979 when a few men dressed in 14th-century Belgian nun’s habits “and a teensy bit of make-up so as not to be dowdy on a Friday night” to help chase away visiting church officials who regularly came to town preaching about the immorality of homosexuality. With their Adam’s apples, and sometimes beards, these dames appear at many public events, and have devoted themselves to community outreach, ministry, and helping those on the fringes of society. Amen.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.