Castro San Francisco: A Flore Travel Guide

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Welcome to Flore Dispensary’s travel guide to San Francisco’s Castro District! Our dispensary celebrates cannabis culture and community. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, this guide will help you explore the exciting Castro neighborhood, discover exciting events, and find the perfect cannabis products to enhance your experience.

An Iconic Neighborhood History

The Castro District, historically significant, bore the impact from LGBTQ+ persecution during and post-World War II, evolving into a symbol of pride and activism with a vibrant community, marking a key spot in the gay rights movement by the 1970s. It was a safe haven where people could openly express their sexuality without fear of persecution. Notable figures like Harvey Milk, an openly gay politician and activist, made the Castro their home base for advocacy efforts. Walking through the streets of Castro, you’ll find landmarks like Harvey Milk Plaza and his campaign headquarters.

Cannabis in Castro

Cannabis has long been a part of the culture in the Castro, with many LGBTQ+ individuals using it as a means of self-expression and relaxation. Its presence in the community can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s, when it was used as a way to come together and build solidarity among gay individuals.

Dennis Peron and the Cannabis Buyers Club

Dennis Peron, a Vietnam veteran and gay rights activist, moved to the Castro in the 1970s. He began selling cannabis from his “Big Top” supermarket, defying laws at the time. In the 1980s, as the AIDS epidemic ravaged the gay community, Peron witnessed how cannabis could alleviate symptoms like nausea and wasting.

In 1991, Peron co-authored Proposition P, which allowed medical cannabis use in San Francisco with a doctor’s recommendation. It passed with 80% support. In 1994, Peron opened the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, the first public medical cannabis dispensary in the U.S., operating out of the Castro.

The success of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club inspired the establishment of similar buyers clubs and compassion clubs across California and other states. This model of community-based distribution became a blueprint for providing safe access to medical cannabis. The club’s defiance of cannabis prohibition laws and the subsequent legal battles contributed to the momentum that led to the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, making California the first state to legalize medical cannabis. This landmark legislation paved the way for other states to follow suit.

By operating openly, the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club facilitated research into the therapeutic applications of cannabis and educated patients, healthcare providers, and the public about its potential benefits and responsible use. It was a pioneering force that challenged laws, raised awareness, inspired a distribution model, drove policy changes, and advanced the medical cannabis movement in the US.

Brownie Mary and the Medical Cannabis Movement

Mary Rathbun, known as “Brownie Mary,” was a waitress in the Castro who sold cannabis-infused brownies to AIDS patients. She became close friends with Peron, and they worked together to advocate for medical cannabis access. Their efforts, along with those of Harvey Milk, led to the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, legalizing medical cannabis statewide in California.

Castro Neighborhood Local Attractions & Activities

The district offers an incredible amount of things to do for both locals and those just passing through. Castro residents are known for their community activities and strong influence within the neighborhood. The historic and culturally significant Castro streets reflect the activism of the ’60s and ’70s, representing the gay identity of the community.

Church Street is notable for its historical establishments and events, including the Danish St. Ansgar Church and the First Finnish Lutheran Church. As a prominent gay neighborhood, the Castro has evolved into a pivotal center of the LGBTQ community, with significant economic and political clout.

Castro Art and Culture

The Castro is rich in art and culture. Visit local galleries, street art installations, and cultural centers that celebrate the neighborhood’s history. The GLBT Historical Society Museum is a must-visit.

Another notable museum is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, known for its contemporary art exhibitions featuring artists from around the globe. Some of its notable exhibitions include “The Art of Banksy” and “Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again.” Visitors can also enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant or shop at the museum store.

Galleries in Castro

The Castro is home to many art galleries showcasing various artists and styles. Some must-see galleries include:

Gallery owners are always looking for new talent, so the exhibits are constantly evolving and interesting.

Street Art in Castro

The neighborhood’s walls are adorned with colorful murals and street art on almost every block. Top murals include:

Public art installations by local artists, such as those by Bruce Conner and Mark di Suvero, can also be found in Castro’s parks.

At Flore Dispensary, the tradition of public art continues with a commissioned mural by artist Dave Van Patten. Named the first stop on The Cannabis Trail, this mural honors the pioneers, places, and significant historical moments that paved the way for legal cannabis access.

Parks and Outdoor Spaces

The Castro District is home to several beautiful parks and outdoor spaces that offer a perfect escape into nature, whether you want to relax, exercise, or enjoy the community atmosphere.

Here are some must-visit parks in the area:

For locals or visitors, these outdoor spaces offer a peaceful break from city life’s hustle and bustle.

Shopping and Boutiques

Explore unique shops and boutiques in the Castro District for some retail therapy. Don’t miss local favorites like Cliff’s Variety and Does Your Mother Know.

Other fun spots to hit include:

  • Local Take: A boutique featuring locally made art, jewelry, and gifts. It’s a perfect spot to find unique souvenirs and support local artists.
  • Sui Generis: A high-end consignment store offering designer clothing for men and women. You can find stylish, gently-used pieces from top brands here.
  • Fabulosa Books

Depending on your styles and tastes, there’s something for everyone in these shops.

Castro Events

There are plenty of events year-round. San Francisco’s Market Street Pride Parade is a significant one, but here are some others you shouldn’t miss:

  • Castro Street Fair: Held every October, this fair celebrates the diversity of the Castro community with live music, dance, and unique vendors.
  • San Francisco Pride Parade: Every June, the neighborhood comes alive with one of the largest LGBTQ+ parades in the world.
  • Frameline Film Festival: This June event showcases LGBTQ+ cinema and is a must-visit for film enthusiasts.

Beyond these, there are so many local events and celebrations to discover. From street fairs to art walks, there’s always something new and exciting.

Concerts and Performances

The Castro Theatre is a historic venue that hosts a variety of concerts, film screenings, and live performances, including the San Francisco Film Noir Festival and the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. Check their schedule for upcoming events. Local bars like Hi Tops also feature live music and performances, making for an entertaining night out.

Other spots to hit include:

  • The Mix: A popular bar with live DJ sets, karaoke nights, and other performances.
  • Beaux: A vibey nightclub that hosts themed parties, drag shows, and live performances.
  • Cafe du Nord: A historic venue offering an intimate setting for live music performances.
  • The Chapel: Located just outside the Castro, this venue offers a diverse lineup of live music and performances in a unique setting.

All of these offer a mix of nightlife options in the Castro.

Castro District Walking Tours

Explore the Castro on foot with guided walking tours. Cruisin’ the Castro offers comprehensive tours covering the Castro neighborhood’s history, art, and culture. These tours provide an in-depth look at landmarks like Pink Triangle Park, Harvey Milk’s residence, and other significant sites.

Castro Dining and Nightlife

The Castro District is home to a diverse array of dining options. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Orphan Andy’s: A classic diner experience right in the heart of Castro.
  • Starbelly: Perfect for a casual yet upscale meal with fresh, local ingredients.
  • Kitchen Story: Known for its famous Millionaire’s Bacon and brunch menu. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, the Castro’s dining scene has something for everyone.
  • Hot Cookie: A popular bakery known for its creative and delicious cookies, offering various vegan and gluten-free options.
  • The Sausage Factory: An old-school Italian restaurant serving mouthwatering pastas, pizzas, and more.

Any of these choices are sure to satisfy your taste buds and give you an authentic taste of the neighborhood.

Castro Nightlife and Bars

The nightlife in Castro is legendary. Popular spots include:

  • Twin Peaks Tavern: Known as the first gay bar in San Francisco with open windows, it’s a historic and welcoming place.
  • Badlands: A dance club staple in the Castro nightlife scene.
  • The Edge: A laid-back bar known for its fun theme nights and strong drinks. The Castro’s fun nightlife ensures an unforgettable experience for everyone.
  • Midnight Sun: Famous for its video bar and nightly entertainment, including drag shows, karaoke, and happy hour specials.
  • The Lookout: With its spacious outdoor patio and panoramic neighborhood views, this bar is perfect for enjoying cocktails and socializing in a lively atmosphere.

Whether you’re looking to dance the night away, enjoy themed events, or simply relax with a drink, the bars and clubs in the Castro offer something for every taste. If you’re in the area, don’t miss out on this late-night fun!

Shop the Best Weed in Castro

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Elevate your Castro experience by pairing it with cannabis products from Flore Dispensary to enhance your day of exploration.

  • Flower: Strolling through the Castro District Walking Tours. Enjoy a guided tour with strains like Jack Herer (Sativa) to keep you energized and engaged.
  • Prerolls: Relaxing at Mission Dolores Park. Grab a pre-roll and find a sunny spot for a chill afternoon.
  • Vapes: Exploring street art and murals. Vapes are portable and discreet, making them perfect for enjoying while walking around and admiring eclectic street art.
  • Edibles: Enjoy a delicious edible before watching a film at the Castro Theatre before catching a screening or live performance.
  • Wellness: Visiting the GLBT Historical Society Museum. Use CBD-rich products to stay relaxed and focused as you learn about the history and culture of the Castro.
  • Drinks: Dining at local eateries like Starbelly or Orphan Andy’s. Pair a cannabis-infused beverage with a meal for a unique culinary experience.
  • Concentrates: Dancing the night away at Badlands or Beaux. For experienced users, concentrates provide a potent effect that can enhance the nightlife.
  • Accessories: Hosting a gathering at home or in a park. Make sure you have all the necessary accessories to share and enjoy cannabis with friends.

Visit Flore Dispensary for the best weed in the Castro District!

Practical Information

Getting around San Francisco is accessible with public transportation. The Muni Metro lines run through the Castro, including the F-Market & Wharves line. Bike rentals and ride-sharing options are also available.

As for accommodations, here are some recommended places to stay near the Castro:

The Castro District is generally safe, but staying aware of your surroundings is always good. Many attractions are accessible, but it’s best to check ahead for specific accessibility details.

Hang with Flore in Castro San Francisco!

The Castro District in San Francisco is a unique mix of history, culture, and community, making it a must-visit. Whether you’re checking out local events, dining at great restaurants, or stopping by Flore Dispensary for your cannabis needs, there’s something for everyone. Plan your visit now and discover the lively essence of Castro!

Terrance Alan

Terrance Alan has over 25 years in government advocacy creating both the San Francisco entertainment commission and the cannabis taskforce. He is co-president of the Castro merchant’s and co-chair of CMAC and C2K, both working on cannabis consumption. He designed, constructed and opened a boutique dispensary in the Castro District of San Francisco called Flore dispensary featuring carefully curated cannabis selections with an emphasis on small Humboldt far grown cannabis, social justice brands, equity brands, women owned brands and operates a compassion distribution program with Sweetleaf Joe.

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