A group of tour guests walk the streets of North Beach looking up at former queer venues and bars.

Discover queer life before the Castro

Take a 90-minute walking tour of the old Barbary Coast, where you'll learn about unsung heroes who were out and proud about their unspeakable vice.

about us

San Francisco’s original gayborhood

Decades before Stonewall, the rainbow flag, or Harvey Milk, queer-friendly entertainment venues were all over the Barbary Coast, providing some of the earliest prototypes of LGBTQ spaces and often showcasing revolutionary gender non-conformity.

The copper facade of the Sentinel Building in North Beach. It was formerly the Opus One queer bar in the 1950s.
Jose Sarria performing at The Black Cat Cafe around 1955
A scan of a pamphlet from Finocchio's a queer bar that hosted many drag queens and female impersonators from the 1930s to the 1990s.

A perfect rating on Airbnb experiences

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Definitely a must if you’re interested in the Barbary Coast or the queer history of San Francisco. I won’t look at this area of the city the same.

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January 2023, Airbnb Experiences
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I was amazed at how much history was concentrated in a small area, and particularly enjoyed seeing photos and hearing music from the time along the way.

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September 2022, San Francisco Historical Society
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The tour was very informative and I loved being introduced to the beautiful characters this city has seen in days past through Shawn’s great storytelling.

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March 2023, Private tour
As seen on:
Bay Area Reporter logo
San Francisco Historical Society logo
Airbnb logo
GLBT Historical Society museum and archive logo
Trip Advisor logo

Research for our next tour is under way!

A map of gay bars from the 1970s. Created by Sweet Lips bar.

Remember queer Polk St. or the Tenderloin?

If you or someone you know is available to share their experiences, please contact us to schedule an interview. The focus of this research is Polk Street and the Tenderloin areas from the 1940s to the 1980s.


Private tours available

Sign up early or with private groups for discounted prices. All tickets include an optional round of drinks at a former lesbian supper club. Guests must be over 21 to drink.