San Diego, L.A., and San Francisco might throw the largest and most famous gay pride celebrations in California, but don't overlook some of the state's smaller cities. Gay Pride San Luis Obispo and Central Coast is an impressive festival in early July, drawing significant crowds, offering plenty to see and do, and hosting some terrific entertainment. Central Coast Pride, which was begun in 1996, takes place in July - dates this year are July 13 and 14, 2013.
If you're looking for a fun road-trip idea the day before the main festival, considering making the beautiful drive 80 miles down the coast to Santa Barbara's Pacific Pride Festival, which takes place around the same time.
In the attractive, sunny college town of San Luis Obispo is 3.5-hour drive south of San Francisco and a 3-hour drive north of Los Angeles. Pride celebrations here center around a handful of events in early July.
More on Central Coast Pride will be posted here as information becomes available. Here's a look at last year's event:
Several events take place the weekend before Pride, including a Pride Art Reception, and a Pride Dance Party. Check the Central Coast Gay Pride calendar for details.
Friday you can attend the Drag Divas Live show at downtown's SLO Brewing Company. And on Saturday, comedian Leslie Jordan performs at Alex & Faye Spanos Theatre, and there's a Pride Party that night at Pappy McGregor's from 9 pm till 1 am.
On Sunday, July 8, the official Central Coast Pride on the Plaza takes place at downtown's Mission Plaza (near corner of Chorro and Higuera Sts.), from noon through 5 pm. There are also local vendors and community organizations, as well as entertainment, including Thea Austin, Jill Knight, and others. The festival is followed by a Pride After Party next door, from 5:30 pm on, at the excellent Novo Restaurant Bakery.
Additionally, numerous bars as well as gay-popular restaurants, hotels, and shops have special events and parties throughout Pride Week. Check the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce's online Visitor Guide for advice on where to stay and what to do while in town. For a list of GLBT-friendly businesses in the region, drop by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast webpage. And keep in mind that this is one of the nation's hottest emerging wine-growing areas - there are a number of great vineyards in the region. The San Luis Obispo Vintners Association has a great online map of wineries in the area.