San Diego California's second largest LGBTQ friendly city

San Diego

San Diego Southern California popular beach, sun, sea and fun destination

City Overview

San Diego is a city on the Pacific Ocean coast of Southern California located immediately adjacent to the Mexico – United States border.

The city is known for its mild year-round Mediterranean climate, natural deep-water harbour, extensive beaches and park.

San Diego is the second largest city in the state of California after Los Angeles.

San Diego's over 270 days of sunshine on the beautiful Southern California coastline and healthy lifestyle keeps the locals active during the day, so they  look fabulous at night! LGBTQ visitors and locals flock to clothing-optional Black's Beach, one's the world's most beautiful gay beaches, for swimming, surfing and strolling along the sand.

The local gaybourhood is buzzing with gay bars and gay-owned restaurants, cafes and shops.

The uptown neighbourhood of Hillcrest is the heart of the action and San Diego's LGBTQ community where there is always something fun to see and do. Located within minutes of downtown, this colourful neighbourhood is the setting of many LGBTQ events and activities throughout the year.

Hillcrest celebrates diversity year-round and is known for its openness, hospitality and quaint, easy appeal.

Adjacent to Hillcrest, North Park is a trendy, eclectic neighbourhood that is popular with LGBTQ visitors and locals alike, known for its many craft breweries, casual cafes, local eateries and fashionable boutiques.

Getting Around

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System is an easy and cheap way to get around San Diego County. Known as “The Trolley,” San Diego's metro trains service over 50 areas of the city and run on three lines

Airport Transfer

San Diego Airport to Downtown San Diego (Gaslamp Quarter) is 6 kilometres and takes 15 minutes by car. The historic part of San Diego (Old Town) is located north of the airport.

City Bus Public transit is available from the Airport and downtown San Diego on the Metropolitan Transit System's Route 992, which stops at Terminals 1 and 2, and operates between 5:00 a.m. and midnight, every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends and holidays. Journey time is between 15 and 25 minutes depending on traffic.

Places to stay

The best area to stay in San Diego depend on why you are in town. The city is easy to get around on the metro call ‘The Trolley.

La Jolla is best place to stay if you want to be close to San Diego beaches.

Hillcrest, San Diego’s thriving LGBTQ community neighbourhood is just north and close to downtown.

North Park is the hippest neighbourhood in San Diego

Gaslamp Quarter is best Neighbourhood for nightlife

Bars, Cafes, Clubs & Parties

San Diego warmly welcomes LGBTQ visitors with a vibrant LGBTQ community and wide array of activities and attractions. One of the top LGBTQ destinations in the US. San Diego embraces people of all types and meets the world with pride, energy and enthusiasm.

The uptown neighbourhood of Hillcrest is the heart of the San Diego's LGBTQ community where there is always something fun to see and do. Located within minutes of downtown, this colourful neighbourhood embraces the setting of many LGBTQ events and activities throughout the year. Hillcrest celebrates diversity year-round and is known for its openness, hospitality and quaint relaxed friendly appeal.

Adjacent to Hillcrest, is North Park which is another trendy, eclectic neighbourhood popular with LGBTQ visitors and locals. Home to a variety of neighbourhood craft breweries, casual cafes, local eateries, one-of-a-kind stores, and fashionable boutiques.

Visitors can enjoy year-round, near-perfect weather and we are sure you will not be disappointed.

Rich’s is San Diego’s largest gay nightclub, and one of the most popular located in the Hillcrest Gaybourhood. With two sizeable rooms, each with its own bar and dance floor and DJs.

There are VIP booths, an outdoor patio, and fun events most nights, including drag shows, underwear contests and lesbian nights every Thursday. Go-go dancers and beautiful people give a great vibe that just makes you want to dance!  Open Wednesday through Sunday 10 pm to 2 am.

The Rail which is considered San Diego’s first gay bar having opened for business in the 1930s in Downtown’s historic Orpheum Theatre building but relocated to Hillcrest in the early 60s.

Today, the rail is still a landmark destination on the San Diego gay scene known for its popular lounge-style atmosphere, post-Prohibition-era décor, artisanal cocktails, and inviting indoor\outdoor patio areas.

Both a daytime and nightlife hang out with a variety of events, including deviants fetish nights on the 2nd Friday of every month and sexy, smouldering, high-energy Latin dance nights with go-go dancers every Saturday. The food is delicious, with excellent service generally.

Gossip Grill is San Diego’s best lesbian bar opened in 2009 with a full patio bar and a fab restaurant. After dark, it into a dance nightclub for the ladies.

The perfect combination of ambiance, taste, feminine-inspired art, fabulous chandeliers and a foliage facade outdoor patio bar with two fire pits, that allows everyone to enjoy Hillcrest the way it was supposed to be enjoyed.

Urban MO’s Bar & Grill is a hetero-friendly gay restaurant in San Diego serving magnificent burgers, fun strong cocktails and has one of the best Happy Hours in Hillcrest. Colourful, fun, and always welcoming, Urban Mo’s off the option to relax out on their sunny patio or upper deck during the day or head out for their amusing events at night.

Hillcrest Brewing Company is a gay brewery, this LGBTQ hangout brags of its fabulous pints, growlers & kegs of house-brewed beer.

There are also delicious stone-fired pizzas, spicy wings, and fun Happy Hour specials. Weekly there is also a bottomless Saturday afternoon special featuring, an unlimited supply of bloody beers or BeerMosas from 11am-2pm.

Pecs Bar is a neighbourhood dive bar that welcomes everyone to enjoy the  relaxed vibe and diverse scene. Located just to the east of the Hillcrest gaybourhood, with an outdoor bar, chilled crowd, frequent gay cruise and bear nights. Inexpensive, strong drinks and sassy bartenders is reason for popularity.

Flicks is one of the original gay video bars in the United States where people of all ages and backgrounds can make new friends, play pool, just hang out, have a drink, and have fun!

Having be over for over 30 years and located right in the heart of San Diego’s gay district, offering nightly events including karaoke, student night on Wednesdays, go-go dancers and DJs on Thursday night and a sexy Saturday underwear contest. Flicks is always a fantastic choice every night of the week.

The Loft is a hetero-friendly, open-fronted bar in San Diego, with social bar seating, pool table, and jukebox. Popular with an older crowd, with some of the friendliest bartenders in the San Diego gaybourhood who are always willing to chat.

Redwing is possibly the best dive bar in North Park, this gay bar draws in large crowds with pool, darts and karaoke seven nights a week. There is an outdoor smoking patio, outgoing bartenders, delicious pub-grub food and a relaxed laid back atmosphere.

The Hole In The Wall is a gay-popular bar in the quiet San Diego coastal community of Loma Portal where you can feel instantly at home, with friendly staff and the largest outdoor smoking patio in San Diego. Insanely sociable and very popular later at night with large, young crowds.

Cruise\Fetish Bars

The San Diego Eagle is the only gay leather Bar in San Diego and open every night of the week. With an intimate vibe, a low-key atmosphere with a pool table, masculine energy and plenty of night time events.

Not a S&P (Stand & Pose) bar, but a friendly neighbourhood haunt in North Park that attracts regulars and those curious about exploring their kinks.

There is no enforced dress code, but leather or fetish wear is strongly encouraged. Wear a uniforms, jock, rubber, latex, chaps, harness, any leather gear.

Gay Beaches

On beach weather days, hiking and cycling are popular, but equally so is laying by the pool but the beach is most popular activity.

Black’s Beach is the most popular San Diego gay beach located in a secluded section of beach beneath the bluffs of Torrey Pines, just north of La Jolla. Huge, expansive and rather private, the northern end is gay, then it switches to nude. Absolutely pumping with a great vibe on the weekends.

Ocean Beach is another gay-popular beach in San Diego is close to Ocean Beach Pier. The miles of endless white-sand beach are perfect for sunbathing, people watching.


San Diego offers platefuls of LGBTQ friendly restaurants that go beyond the same-old, same-old.

InsideOUT is Hillcrest’s newest LGBTQ restaurant & lounge offering a sexy, chic and refined destination for those who want to enjoy fine dining,  cocktails and to relax in an urban oasis. This place is so cool, so you are advised to make a reservation in advance to avoid missing out.


Even though San Diego is a wildly popular gay vacation destination, there is now only one gay sauna.

With such a high LGBTQ population, you just know there has to be pretty of action going down here. Club San Diego offers a discreet and relaxing atmosphere to enjoy the company of other men. Gay, straight, bi or anything else. It doesn’t matter how you identify as long as you are a male aged over 18.

Amongst the facilities are shared open bunk rooms (each with 2 bunks -4 beds) available at no extra charge, a communal TV room and two separate XXX theatre areas, a sauna, a jacuzzi, and a steam room.

There is a small membership fee to enter. Lockers are readily available, as are private rooms at an additional cost.

Main LGBT Events

Hillcrest Mardi Gras held in February is one of the largest street parties in San Diego and fun & wild evening. With a huge dance stage with open-air music, live entertainment, costumes and more,

FilmOut San Diego held in April is the annual LGBTQ film festival bringing  queer culture to San Diego. FilmOut San Diego seeks to recognize, promote, celebrate and support important diverse artistic contributions LGBTQ filmmakers.

San Diego Pride is held annually in July and attracts more than 250,000 attendees each year. The week-long celebration consists of the Spirit of Stonewall Rally, She Fest, Pride Block Party, a festive parade through Hillcrest.

Pride of Hillcrest Block Party kicks off San Diego Pride celebrations with urban style and flare. The streets are closed, bringing in the dance stages and tempts all members of the LGBTQ community to a gigantic Friday night block party to celebrate the start of Pride with their open-air dance floor, DJ stage, tons of entertainment, and a gigantic Ferris wheel!

She Fest is a woman-centred event that celebrates and supports the talents & contributions of women while fostering meaningful connections within the LGBTQ community.

Hillcrest CityFest held in August is San Diego’s ultimate summer art and music festival. This is San Diego’s largest art and music festival, stretching nearly half a mile in size on over 9 city blocks that attracts over 150,000+ visitors from San Diego and Southern California!

The Red Dress Party San Diego held in September is a night of music and dancing mixed with charity and fun, where all attendees is required to wear a red dress, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. This event  serves as a powerful sign of solidarity and compassion for those of us affected by HIV/AIDS and a way to unite the crowd with one theme.

Sunbears Weekend held in November is an event to benefit the Bears San Diego Charities. A weekend full of activities that are fun and exciting and opportunity to make new friends and see old ones.


Currency – United States Dollar (USD)

Language – English

Visas – Most visitors from Europe do not need a visa. ESTA permits citizens of 40 countries to enter the US without a visa.

Best Time To Visit – March - November

Timezone – Varies per state. Check per destination.

Homosexual Activity – Legal but attitudes vary per state

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