San Diego LGBT Pride - July 15-17, 2011
Words by Ed Salvato
With so many fun gay Pride celebrations clustered at the end of June, it's great that San Diego LGBT Pride— one of the nation's most vibrant, colorful, and friendliest such events— scheduled for mid-July. It's also a great place to beat the heat. With most of the country steaming in summer's intolerable temperature and humidity, San Diego is relatively cool, especially in the evening, much to the surprise of many visitors.
Pride takes place from July 16 through July 17, 2011. Unlike many of the other Pride festivities around the country, San Diego's celebration is clustered around a more manageable number of events, including the Pride Parade on Saturday (July 16) and a two-day festival (July 16-17) described below.
Check out some event highlights, photos, and a great video featuring what's up at San Diego Pride.
Share your Pride with everyone in 2011! And don’t forget to check out our Gay Pride Gallery.
Visit the GLBT travel site produced by the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is a terrific resource for planning your trip.
Saturday, July 16
11:00AM kicks off
The annual San Diego LGBT Pride Parade is the 5th largest in the United States attracting 150,000 cheering spectators and significant media participation.
Location: The parade begins at University Ave. and Normal Street, proceeds west on University Avenue to 6th Avenue, turns south on 6th Avenue, ending at Balboa Drive and Upas Street by the festival. The route is 1.5 miles and the parade goes for approximately two hours. This year's theme is Pride Around The World.
(photo: OB Rag)
Saturday July 16
High Tea at the Andaz
The boys from the famous (infamous?) Desert Tea party in Palm Spring have teamed up with DJ Bill Bouvier to create more party magic at this year's San Diego Gay Pride. This was THE Saturday party to hit the last couple years, featuring hunky boys and amazing music served up on the Andaz hotel's spectacular rooftop pool.
Saturday & Sunday, July 16 & July 17
San Diego Pride's famous cultural festival includes multiple stages of entertainment, more than 80 musicians, bands, comedy and dance performers, 300 participating vendor booths, an art exhibit, cultural presentations, and great food.
Highlights include: 3 Stages, Farmers Market, Dance Floors, Beer Gardens, Wine Grotto, Cool Zone for those 55+, Leather Realm, Art of Pride (LGBT local artists), Youth Zone, Children's Garden, and more. San Diego Pride invites families, youth, and people of all ages to participate in the annual Pride Festival.
Projected attendance: 50,000 participants.
Note: Balboa Park is a smoke-free zone.
Sunday, July 17
A real highlight of San Diego's Pride celebrations is the Zoo Party on Sunday, July 17 from 4:00PM to 11:00PM. Yep, it takes place in the zoo with all the animals offering mute (or sometimes noisy) witness to the shenanigans going on at the party. Men can be animals! It's not officially part of San Diego's Pride festivities but it is a must-go event. Ticket sales are limited to 3,500 lucky attendees ($85 in advance; $100 the day of the event). Click here for more information.
There are several terrific lodging options in the city. Here are two we recently visited.
1047 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Built at the height of this never-ending recession, the hotel has had to adapt (its name, product offering, and pricing) to survive the times. Take advantage of that to experience a luxurious and modern hotel in the heart of San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter.
The friendly, professional staff process you efficiently through check-in to your room. Most feature a warm, masculine West Elm decorative motif and many with great views of the city, the bay and planes landing at the nearby (convenient) airport. The hotel features a modest but sufficient fitness facility and a very cool outdoor pool and deck area. The spa is small but they offer visitors an optional vodka-infused pomegranate based shot before their treatment (nice!). Ask for Eric, but beware he hurts (in a good way).
421 West B Street
San Diego, California 92101
A short walk from the Bay and within close proximity to the Gaslamp Quarter— which is a must-visit if you've never been here. The fitness center is small but you can esaily get a quick pre-party pump in no time. The outdoor heated pool is a fun scene; it's mostly straight during normal times but there'll be plenty of gays there during Pride weekend. In the evening, the rooftop and indoor bars and festive places to chill out.
3683 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103
This space broadcasts its main principle— fun— via huge red letters affixed to the front of the restaurant beckoning passers by. Located in the gay Hillcrest section of town, the restaurant offers "contemporary Retro-American" faire. Think familiar foods of yesteryear with fun updates. The lobster tots are delicious! The restaurant is helmed by the handsome chef Rich Sweeny, a contestant on season 5 of Bravo's Top Chef.
This cleverly named, lesbian-owned and run eatery has become a hugely popular local hangout for lesbians and gay men and, as they say, "everything in between." It's a great place to hang out and has become the only lesbian bar in town, but it's super friendly and welcoming to guys as well. Weekend brunch is popular, as is their happy hour, especially for the amazing and fabulously priced $3 bar bites.
Hotel Del Coronado
If you want to escape the gay goings on and experience a little traditional San Diego luxury, check out brunch at the Hotel Del Coronado with its terrific, copious offerings. The hotel is over 120 years old and a marvel, especially the lobby and cavernous dining room built to resemble a giant luxury cruise liner. It was featured in Some Like It Hot, and L. Frank Baum wrote many of his Wizard of Oz books here. When reserving, request a seat by the window for the great water views.