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Besties: Weddings & Destinations: Marshall's Beach takes top honor

by Matthew S. Bajko

Marshall's Beach, also known as North Baker Beach, offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Marshall's Beach, also known as North Baker Beach, offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Best Beach
Marshall's Beach

A runner-up in this category last year, Marshall's Beach eked out a victory this year. Long cherished by local gay men, this formerly hard-to-access spit of sand with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge provides seclusion to frolic seaside sans clothing.

Nicknamed "Bad Boy's Beach," it sits at the bottom of coastal bluffs and provides views of the Marin Headlands across the entrance to the bay. It is also known as North Baker Beach, as it connects to Baker Beach, which is popular with straight sunbathers and families.

A trail restoration project that was completed over a decade ago made it easier for the general public to discover Marshall's Beach. Despite it no longer being as obscure, it still packs in gay sun worshipers seven days a week when San Francisco's famous fog makes a retreat off the coast.

Although the Golden State this year made recreational use of marijuana legal, it is still a crime to toke up at Marshall's Beach as it is on federal land. It is within the jurisdiction of the Presidio, a national park site.

To learn more about Marshall's Beach, visit https://www.presidio.gov/places/baker-beach-and-marshalls-beach.

Runner-up
Stinson Beach


LEFT: Palm Springs offers a variety of gay and gay-friendly activities. Photo: Courtesy Visit Palm Springs RIGHT: The Russian River is a favorite getaway spot. Photo: http://www.sonomacounty.com  

Best Domestic Getaway
Palm Springs

Marking its third year in a row as the winner in this category, Palm Springs continues to lure gay men to the Coachella Valley and its desert climate. The city's reputation as an LGBT oasis received international attention last fall when voters there, for the first time, elected an all LGBT city council.

The election night victories included that of the first transgender person to win a city council seat in California. This fall, the city could make history again by electing the first LGBT state lawmaker from the area.

With a host of men's-only resorts, many clothing optional, a thriving LGBT nightlife scene, and the cooler temperatures of the San Jacinto Mountains mere miles away, Palm Springs offers plenty of options for those looking to book a getaway. Throughout the year the town hosts LGBT events specifically for lesbians, bears, leather folk, and gay men of color, with everyone invited for the annual Pride celebration in early November.
http://www.visitpalmsprings.com/.

Runner-up
New York City

Best Local Getaway
Russian River

Another perennial favorite is Sonoma County's Russian River area. At its heart is Guerneville, with its gay-owned or gay-friendly lodging options and a main street revived in recent years by LGBT business owners.

This marks the third year in a row that B.A.R. readers have named the North Bay region their favorite local getaway for a day trip or weekend stay. Whether it is to soak in the river or at a resort pool, or spend a day winery hopping or hiking in the nearby state and regional parks, the Russian River is an outdoors lovers' dreamscape.

Although the organizers of the annual Sonoma County Pride parade relocated the June event this year to Santa Rosa, Guerneville will host its own Pride celebration over the August 24-26 weekend as a bookend to the summer season.
https://russianriver.com/.

Runner-up
Santa Cruz


LEFT: Shreve & Co. has called San Francisco home since 1852. Photo: Courtesy Shreve & Co. RIGHT: Oahu is home to beautiful beaches and a vibrant Hawaiian nightlife. Photo: Courtesy http://www.hawaii.com  

Best Honeymoon Destination
Hawaii

Once the "I dos" are said and the wedding reception is a wrap, LGBT newlyweds say "aloha" to the Hawaiian Islands to celebrate their nuptials in Polynesian style.

America's most southern state continues to be a top choice among B.A.R. readers for a honeymoon destination. Whether it is the gay-friendly Waikiki district on Oahu or the LGBT-welcoming resorts on Maui, the Aloha State continues to offer a friendly hello to same-sex couples.

Flights from the Bay Area on various airlines to the country's 50th state can easily be booked from one of the three airports in the region. The prices for most flights have fallen this year, allowing honeymooners a chance to save some money.
http://www.gayhawaiiwedding.com, http://www.gogayhawaii.com.

Runner-up
Paris, France

Best Place to Buy Rings
Shreve & Co.

A past winner in this category, Shreve & Co. has called San Francisco home since 1852 when it opened to outfit those who had struck it rich during the gold rush with watches and jewelry. Not only business tycoons and wealthy locals but also American presidents have sported pieces bought at the business. The city of San Francisco presented Theodore Roosevelt a 10-inch tall solid gold Teddy bear made by Shreve.

But even this pantheon to wealth couldn't compete in today's economy supercharged by tech dollars. The company was forced to leave its original home in 2015 and open a new flagship store nearby. The relocation did not dampen locals' love for this homegrown institution.
Shreve & Co., 150 Post Street, San Francisco, 415-421-2600. https://www.shreve.com.

Runner-up
Shane Co.

Best Wedding Reception Venue
City Club of San Francisco

For the second year in a row B.A.R. readers picked the City Club of San Francisco as the best place to toast newlyweds. While a private, members-only club for the city's downtown elites and powerbrokers, the location can be rented out not only for wedding receptions but any private event.

Housed in the Stock Exchange Tower, the 11-story building was designed by the noted San Francisco architectural firm Miller & Pflueger. Opened one year after the stock market crash of 1929, it housed the offices of brokers who worked on the trading floor of the former San Francisco Stock Exchange across the street.

Today, the private club 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. Its rooftop, with views of downtown San Francisco, offers a stunning backdrop for wedding photos.
City Club of San Francisco, 155 Sansome Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco, (415) 362-2480. https://cityclubsf.com/weddings/.

Runner-up
Julia Morgan Ballroom


The Legion of Honor is a beautiful wedding venue. Photo: Courtesy Legion of Honor/FAMSF  

Best Wedding Venue
Legion of Honor

With San Francisco City Hall an annual favorite in this category, the B.A.R. switched things up in the voting this year, resulting in the Legion of Honor going from runner-up to winner. The Beaux-arts building, located in San Francisco's Lincoln Park, is home to the city art collection's ancient and European art holdings.

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the museum provides breathtaking views of both the city's manmade and natural landscapes. Part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Legion is a much sought after location not only for weddings but all manner of celebrations.

Couples have the option of renting out the entire museum building or merely one of its terraces or the Rodin galleries, home to the sculptures of Auguste Rodin. There are some stipulations, such as no one under the age of 21 will be able to attend, and the ceremony will either have to occur on a Monday, when the museum is closed, or after 6:30 p.m. the rest of the week.
Legion of Honor, 100 34th Avenue in Lincoln Park, (415) 750-3698. https://legionofhonor.famsf.org/about/rent-legion-honor/weddings-legion-honor.

Runner-up
de Young Museum


Contact the reporter at m.bajko@ebar.com.


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