The brash and sassy Castro district—the social, political, and cultural center of San Francisco's thriving gay (and, to a much lesser extent, lesbian) community—stands at the western end of Market Street. This neighborhood is one of the city's liveliest and most welcoming, especially on weekends. Streets teem with folks out shopping, pushing political causes, heading to art films, and lingering in bars and cafés. It's also one of the city's most expensive neighborhoods to live in, with an influx of tech money exacerbating an identity crisis that's been simmering for a couple of decades. But you'll still see hard-bodied men in painted-on T-shirts cruising the cutting-edge clothing and novelty stores and pairs of all genders and sexual persuasions holding hands. Brightly painted, intricately restored Victorian houses line the streets here, making the Castro a good place to view striking examples of the architecture San Francisco is famous for.


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