Blessed with sunny beaches and plenty of cultural attractions, San Diego is an appealing destination for LGBTQ travelers. Hillcrest, a retro-hip enclave located northwest of Balboa Park, is San Diego's unquestioned LGBTQ hub. This leafy neighborhood is a shopper’s heaven, with distinctive boutiques and plenty of cafes where you can window-shop, dine al fresco, and soak up the great weather. Dig into classic American comfort foods at Gossip Grill, then dance the night away at The Brass Rail, San Diego’s oldest gay bar. The neighborhood is also home to Hillcrest Brewing Company, a proudly gay brewery and restaurant—some say the nation’s first—with signature pours such as Banana Hammock Scotch Ale and Long & Stout Russian Imperial Stout. A short drive from Hillcrest, catch productions showcasing LGBTQ stories and themes at the Diversionary Theatre, first opened in 1986.
Book a room at the Hillcrest Inn, located in the middle of it all, or at the historic boutique resort Inn at the Park, on the edge of Balboa Park West. There are plenty more suggestions on the city’s guide to LGBTQ+ Friendly Lodging.
With its year-round sun, San Diego doesn’t really have a “best” time to visit, but LGBTQ travelers might want to aim for San Diego LGBTQ Pride Parade and Festival, a three-day celebration in July that draws 300,000 people to its rally, parade, block party, and music festival; more than 200 bands take to stages set up in Balboa Park. There are specific events geared to teens and young adults, sponsored by Pride Youth, but the entire event is billed as family- and kid-friendly.