Besties: Weddings & Destinations: Ocean Beach is tops
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Ocean Beach retained its winning spot in this category, which debuted last year. The 3.5-mile sandy promenade hugs San Francisco's western edge along the Pacific Ocean.
Overseen by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the often fogged in, windswept open space is beloved not only by Bay Area Reporter readers but also by local surfers, dog owners, sand castle builders, and tourists. It engenders passionate policy battles over everything from the allowance of fire pits to restrictions on canine access in certain stretches, which are currently the subject of a legal dispute and an internal investigation into how park officials crafted the proposal.
Plans are currently in the works to reroute the highway on the beach's southern end and turn the roadway into a path for bicycles and pedestrians. Also in the works is a plan to reconfigure the parking lots at the north end of Ocean Beach and make that area more pedestrian friendly.
To learn more about Ocean Beach, visit https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/oceanbeach.htm.
Taste Catering continues to rate high with B.A.R. readers, nabbing top honors in this category for a third year. The company not only handles corporate and private affairs, from weddings to banquets, it also oversees the menu at the Press Club and the cafe at the Walt Disney Family Museum. Earlier this year the company welcomed as its new executive chef Steven Tevere, who had been working at the Carneros Inn in Napa.
Taste Catering, 201 Adrian Road, Millbrae, (415) 550-6464. http://www.tastecatering.com.
Best Domestic Getaway
The desert oasis that is Palm Springs has long had a strong pull on gay men in particular, so it is no surprise it remained the favorite in this category with B.A.R. readers for a second year. Its men's resorts, with their clothing-optional pool patios, and the peaks of the nearby San Jacinto Mountains both provide ways to escape the daytime heat. Numerous restaurants, bars, and nightclubs offer an array of nightlife options to mingle with the locals, many of whom have ditched the Bay Area to retire in the Coachella Valley city famed for its mid-century modern architecture. A perfect time to visit is during the annual Pride parade in early November.
New York City
Best Local Getaway
Luckily, this winter's flooding on the Russian River largely missed the main business corridor of Guerneville in western Sonoma County, home to many gay-owned eateries, shops, and hotels. As the rains subside and summer approaches, it could be a banner vacation season along the replenished waterway, as B.A.R. readers for the second year in a row named the North Bay region their favorite local getaway for a day trip or weekend stay.
The area has a plethora of housing options to choose from, from gay-owned inns and resorts to house rentals, and is centrally located near the region's internationally renowned wineries. An especially popular time to visit is during Sonoma County Pride, which will be held in Guerneville over the June 2-4 weekend.
Best Honeymoon Destination
After exchanging their "I dos," B.A.R. readers continue to flock to the Hawaiian Islands to celebrate their wedded bliss, again naming it their top choice among honeymoon destinations. The Aloha State offers a variety of options for honeymooners, from a more urban experience on Oahu in the bustling Waikiki district, home to several gay bars, to more hidden away vacation rentals on the north side of Kauai where the rest of the world becomes a distant memory.
The country's 50th state has long been welcoming to LGBT tourists, and its wedding-related businesses for years have opened their doors to same-sex couples. The Pacific Island state, after all, is where the modern marriage rights movement was launched when three same-sex couples sued in 1991 after being denied marriage licenses. Today, due to the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark marriage equality ruling in 2015, those discriminatory practices are a thing of the past.
Best Place to Buy Rings
Tiffany & Company
This grand dame of San Francisco's Union Square continues to receive plaudits from B.A.R. readers, who again named it the winner in this category. The 180-year-old high-end jeweler in February unveiled a total makeover of its Post Street flagship, which sits directly across from the public plaza that gives the shopping district its name.
Its main West Coast home for 25 years, the building received a total makeover inside and out. The lighter, brighter interior is influenced by Tiffany & Co.'s New York stores and better shows off its pricey baubles.
Tiffany & Company, 350 Post Street, San Francisco, (415) 781-7000. http://www.tiffany.com/jewelry-stores/san-francisco.
D&H Sustainable Jewelers
Best Wedding Photographer
B.A.R. readers continue to advise couples wishing to ensure every moment of their special day is captured for posterity hire Steven Underhill as their wedding photographer. The repeat winner in this category has been a fixture in San Francisco since 1990. Specializing in event and wedding photography, Underhill is often hired by LGBT nonprofits to shoot their annual fundraising galas and other events. The B.A.R. has also long used him as a freelance photographer, and his work appears in the weekly Shining Stars feature in BARtab, the paper's nightlife section.
Steven Underhill Photography, http://www.stevenunderhill.com.
Best Wedding Reception Venue
City Club of San Francisco
B.A.R. readers this year reversed the results in this category from 2016, naming last year's runner-up as this year's winner.
The City Club of San Francisco opened in 1987 as a private, members-only club for the city's downtown elites and powerbrokers. It is housed in the Stock Exchange Tower, designed by the noted San Francisco architectural firm Miller & Pflueger. The 11-story building opened just one year after the stock market crash of 1929 and housed the offices of brokers who worked on the trading floor of the former San Francisco Stock Exchange across the street.
The club now occupies the building's 10th and 11th floors, connected by a beautiful grand staircase. Couples are welcome to book their wedding reception in its art deco interior spaces and utilize the on-site catering services to plan their affair with ease.
City Club of San Francisco, 155 Sansome Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco, (415) 362-2480. http://cityclubsf.com/.
Best Wedding Venue
San Francisco City Hall
In the eyes of B.A.R. readers, the most romantic spot in all of San Francisco to host their wedding continues to be the city's historic City Hall. The Beaux Arts building's Rotunda offers a stunning setting that echoes with significance to the LGBT community. It is where Harvey Milk, the city's first gay supervisor, ascended the grand staircase every day he held office in 1978, and decades later where countless same-sex couples from around the globe flocked to marry during the Winter of Love in 2004. On most days couples of all stripes can be found exchanging their marital vows inside the structure's granite walls.
City Hall event planners have created a special wedding package ($5,000 for two hours) for Saturdays before 2 p.m. and can accommodate up to 200 people. Packages for weekday weddings include areas other than the Rotunda and are less expensive, about $1,000.
San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, (415) 554-6079. http://sfgov.org/cityhallevents/wedding-package.
Legion of Honor