Fashion and Shopping in Orange County, California

Author: , February 1st, 2013

Eureka! That’s California’s motto, which means “I have found it.” Whatever it is you’re looking for, you can surely find it here. A California vacation offers unparalleled diversity. Whether traveling to Southern California or Northern California, the diversity of culture, scenic beauty and things to do, makes travel in California unlike any other place in the world. California epitomizes a place where anything can happen – and usually does. Californians revel in their quirks and contradictions, and are proud to live in one of the most diverse and exciting places in the world.

Anaheim and Orange County offers probably the greatest array of shop-till-you-drop stores! Anything and everything you could possibly want or desire can be found in Anaheim or the surrounding areas!

The South Coast Plaza is one of California’s shining landmarks. It’s the most distinguished retail address on the entire West Coast. It’s like Rodeo Drive times TEN. SEVERAL HUNDRED high end stores, it’s a mix of museum art, world-class theatre, trendy shops and distinctive dining – all of which has beguiled kings and queens, world leaders, and of course, Hollywood’s celebrities. Gucci, Versace, Fendi, Cavalli, Pucci, Dior, Valentino, Tiffany, Hermes, Chanel, Cartier – it’s all here! Not to mention some amazing restaurants like Marche Moderne, Season 52 and Hamamori.

Authored By – See the Full Story at the Best Gay Travel Guide

Click here for gay travel resources in the Greater LA Area.

Why You Shouldn’t Shop When You Travel

Author: , January 11th, 2013

Gay Travel: Why You Shouldn't Shop When You TravelWhenever readers ask me how they can best save money during travel, I remind them of my “big three” travel expenditures: Food, lodging and transport.

If you keep costs of these big expenditures down, you’ve got much more leftover for other things, such as excursions, tours and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like stays at awesome lodges in Cornwall.

One thing I almost never recommend you spend money on when you travel is shopping. Although traipsing through markets and bazaars can be a fun and integral part of travel, I suggest you abstain from actually buying anything in the majority of cases — and here’s why.

Authored By Robert Schrader – See the Full Story at Leave Your Daily Hell

Click here for gay travel resources.


Shopping in East London

Author: , January 13th, 2012

East London ShoppingMore than ever, London fashionistas are feasting in the East. Improved access by public transportation, cheaper rents for shops, new hotels, not to mention the main site for the 2012 London Olympics — and a bevy of gay appeal in Vauxhall — have fueled a flurry of new store openings over the last year, appealing to residents and visitors alike. Here, a few of our East London faves:

High Fashion Among Hipsters: Joining the bohemian stores in the Shoreditch neighborhood, Anthem (above) opened last August, bringing exceptionally crafted men’s fashion to the hipster hood. Created by Jeremy Baron and Simon Spiteri, the boutique sells an eclectic and international mix of brands that include Oliver Spencer, Dries Van Noten, Kapital and Barena Venezia. Seeking to expand beyond the cozy exclusivity of the store, Anthem will launch a transactional website later this year, exporting their dapper looks to the men of the world.

The Best of Vintage Style: Blitz brings the best of the past to today’s shoppers in a massive 9,000-square-foot Victorian warehouse just off Brick Lane. The all-encompassing vintage department store sells hand-selected clothing, furniture, jewelry, luggage and eccentricities. This one-of-a-kind vintage Mecca is the city’s largest and the ultimate destination for those craving the stylish looks of yesterday.

Full Story from Out Traveler

Click here for gay travel resources in London.


Gay Holiday Shopping in Paris

Author: , December 4th, 2011

Paris, France Gay Holiday ShoppingFor the Parisian tourist industry, 2011 has been one of the best years ever! The number of visitors has reached its highest levels in the past 5 years. Paris is still the most visited city in the world and Le Marais is slowly becoming the most desired area in Paris where cost of real estate is approaching prices in London and New York. Only Monaco remains more expensive at this point.

Last Tuesday, November 15, I was interviewed about the economic situation in le Marais district for the prime time economic talk show on BFM Business TV. I was honoured to be given 10 minutes to talk about my knowledge of Le Marais economics. I called it the first luxury alter-globalist district in the world, and in fact it’s somewhat true.

It’s hard to feel the crisis here when we’re surrounded by so many magnificent historical buildings, chic boutiques, good restaurants and fantastic urban facilities. We are lucky to live in the hyper center. The city policy for car owners is a nightmare so riding a bike is a wonderful alternative. Many streets are blocked off on Sundays and become pedestrian zones. Rue des Francs Bourgeois, the street dividing the 3rd and 4th, is one of them. The result is a massive invasion of visitors who come to visit our “historic” island within the city. It is very lively.

Full Story from Edge Boston

Click here for gay travel resources in Paris, France.


San Francisco Shopping for the Holidays

Author: , December 3rd, 2011
by Scott and Mark, Purple Roofs

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Holiday Shopping in San Francisco

Union Square at ChristmasSan Francisco is always a great place to visit, but it’s especially magical during the Holiday Season. While there’s no snow, the Christmas decorations come out, it seems like there’s music on every corner, and holiday cheer abounds.

We decided to take a short holiday ourselves the week after Thanksgiving, to head down to The City to see what this holiday season had to offer. The weather was fantastic – high 60’s and even up into the low seventies – record high for the date – on our last day, and the fog, after making a brief appearance on our first full day, never returned.

Let’s start with the shopping. We focused on three main shopping districts – Union Square, Union Street, and The Castro. If you haven’t been to The City before, it may come as a surprise how walkable SF is – if you are in decent shape, you can easily walk from Union Square to the Castro, or to Fisherman’s Wharf or North Beach. You just need a good map and a little situational awareness.

San Francisco at NightIn our opinion, the main place to avoid is the Tenderloin – a sketchy district that sits between Union Square and the Civic Center, where city hall is located. While this is labeled an “up and coming” district, with companies like Twitter locating their offices there, it still has a long way to go. We’d strongly suggest not going there at night, and if you can avoid it during the daytime, do.

The theater district borders on the Tenderloin, but is generally ok during the busy showtimes when there are lots of people around. And we’ve often walked Market Street between 5th and Van Ness during the daytime… just have someone with you and be cautious.

Now about that situational awareness thing – smart phones are regularly stolen in The City – a recent SFGate story cited the police as saying that women, the elderly, and the differently abled are the most common victims. And they often make it easy by peering at their phones and not paying attention to the world around them. So exercise caution when using your cell phone on the street, especially in busier neighborhoods, and be aware of the situation around you.

But enough said about the “dangers” – all in all, the city is very safe for such a large metro area.

San Francisco CenterNow on to shopping!

Let’s start in Union Square. This is the premier shopping district in The City, and is home to Sachs, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Tiffany’s, and a host of other retail stores, including one of our favorites, the Apple Store (and this one is HUGE).

There’s also the San Francisco Center just across Market Street – a beautiful shopping center with a large food court, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales, and a few high-end restaurants to boot.

For holiday shopping, here are our picks in Union Square:

Macy's Union SquareMacys: The deals abound this holiday season. We picked up a couple new laptop messenger bags, complete with extra battery/charger for your macbook or iphone/ipad, for $100 each on a Family/Friends shopping day special.

And their ornaments (on the 7th floor of the “women’s” store – yes, there are TWO Macy’s here), are already on 50% discount and they have some great things (tho, alas, no “gay” ornament tree this year). There are a number of great SF-centric ornaments here, too.

Apple StoreNext, try the Apple Store – this must be one of the largest Apple Stores on the west coast. While actual discounts are rare here, this is the must-stop store for your gadget purchases, with the new iPhone 4s, the iPad 2, and a host of accessories and other toys.

One cool note – the store lit up the trademark Apple logo outside red for World AIDS Day on December First (at left).

Also check out the little stores tucked into the nooks and crannies of Powell Street, just south of the actual Square.

At the SF Center, there’s a Go Games store in the former Borders store location – they sell calendars, puzzles, games, and an unexpected surprise – hardcover books for 3 for $10 and 2 for $10 – apparently a large remainder buy with a host of recent and popular titles. I picked up 7 sci-fi hardcovers for $30.

San Francisco Center - Emporium DomeCheck out the awesome lighting under the old “Emporium” dome here in the SF Center – this side of the mall was once the Emporium, and the renovation preserved this beautiful architectural feature.

There’s also a movie theater here if you want to catch a flick between bouts of shopping.

For gadget lovers, check out the Brookstone store while you’re at the SF Center.

Want something to eat while you’re here? There are some great options.

Caffe BelliniFor breakfast, try Caffe Bellini, on Powell Street just half a block south of the Square. We’re in love with the idea of a true Italian caffe – a beautifully appointed place where the Italians stop in for a delicious pastry and a hot coffee on the way to work.

Caffe BelliniAnd Caffe Bellini delivers on this premise, with a case full of gorgeous pastries, real Italian coffee (Lavaza), and a nod to the American palette with full breakfast meals as well. The ham and egg bagel sandwich was particularly tasty and filling here.

You may notice that the city recently added a series of sititng areas along Powell Street on the two blocks south of the Square – modern metal railings, planters, benches and tables – rest your weary self between stores here.

For lunch, try the Cheesecake Factory – yes, it’s a chain, but it has a HUGE menu with something for everyone, and hands-down the best view of the Square, form the top of the Macy’s building. Get there early – they open at 11 or 11:30 – and ask for a table on the rail overlooking Union Square. The Cheesecake Factory fills up fast.

Another, more low-key option – Boudin – a local SF chain – that serves some of the best sourdough bread around. We love their salads, their turkey avocado and turkey cranberry sandwiches, and the chile and clam chowder – served, of curse, in a bread bowl. Boudin is on the south side of the women’s Macy’s Building, with its own entrance form the street.

Colibri RestaurantFor dinner, one of our local favorites is Colibri – a modern Mexican restaurant serving things like squash blossoms, prickly pear cactus, and other exotic treats. The cuisine includes some down-to-earth dishes, too, so don’t be scared – they have a fantastic filet, and the chicken huitlacoche dish is fantastic.

This restaurant is owned by the same folks who used to run Zazil, one of our favorites in the SF Center that closed last year. Colibri is on Geary, one and a half blocks west of The Square, across from the Curran and ACT theaters – and often fills up quickly because of these two theaters on play nights. Make a reservation as early as possible.

We also like the Lark Creek restaurant in the SF center – great steak, though a little pricy.

Another great (and low-cost) thing to do for entertainment during the holidays – watch the ice skaters in Union Square. There’s a viewing platform here, and it’s surprisingly entertaining to watch the brave souls skate by – young couples in love, arrogant professional skaters weaving in and out of the crowds, and the occasional (entertaining) fall, usually preceded by vigorous arm waving. And if you wanna brave the rink yourself, they even rent the skates!

There’s another ice skating rink over at Justin Herman Plaza, by the Embarcadero (just walk down Market to the Bay).

Let’s move on to Union Street. Although it shares part of its name with Union Squarer, it’s halfway across town.

Huntington Park FountainIf you’re up for the walk, it’s a nice one – take Powell up to California Street, and then go west on California, and you’ll pass through the Nob Hill district (it is a bit of a climb up Powell and California streets), with its fancy (and beautiful) hotels, Huntington Park (a great place to sit and people watch for a few minutes – and check out the “manly” fountain in the middle  at right), and then north on Polk Street.

Polk has its own cute little shopping district, as well as a Peets Coffee – a local SF chain that’s a great alternative to Starbucks.

Union StreetWhen you reach Union, turn left (west), and cross Van Ness to Union Street’s shopping district (you’ll have to go a block or two past Van Ness before you find the good stuff).

One note: you’re really close to Lombard Street here (you know, the really curvy one), if you want to walk back that way, but that’s a BIG hill).

For shopping:

Susan Miller Art GalleryCheck out the Susan Miller Gallery – Susan’s a local artist who has her own gallery, and specializes in watercolors – specifically, locations around North Beach and Union Street, and fashion art from local store windows.

She’s gay friendly, and the prices are reasonable – most framed prints run around $135 each. She also offers art classes on-site… find her in a basement flat off the north side of Union Street.

Twig San FranciscoAnother really cool store is Twig – a local boutique with all kinds of great knick-knacks – art, ornaments, clever signs, and creative toys for kids. Yeah, so,e things are a bit pricey, but remember, this is a local store, and you’re supporting the local economy.

Octagon House MuseumThere’s also a new museum – The Octagon House – showcasing Federal and Colonial art, but it’s only open limited hours – second Sundays and Second and Fourth Thursdays from 12-3 PM.

For local eats:

We really liked Ottimista, an Italian restaurant on the north side of Union Street with a great atmosphere and good food. But there’s also Perry’s – if you’re a Tales of the City Fan, you’ll recognize this long-time SF tradition as the place where Brian worked… the food’s basically pub quality food – burgers, fries, etc – but it’s fun just for the history.

F LineWe’ve saved the best shopping for the last – The Castro – the geographic and metaphoric heart of San Francisco. From Union Square, you can walk here in about 35-45 minutes – just go straight up Market Street. Or take the F Line (at left) – historic rail cars brought into SF from all around the world and restored – there’s even one from Milan, still filled with Milanese signage.

You can catch these at any of the bus stops on Market Street, and they’ll give you a transfer good for a couple hours for the return. Or take the MUNI underground line – K, L, or M – which will whisk you under Market Street to the Castro in just a few minutes.

Castro Rainbow FlagYou’ll know you are in the Castro by the huge Rainbow Flag that flies over Harvey Milk Plaza – the rallying point for the Castro since Milk’s day in the seventies, when he would call community meetings there.

The city recently closed off the street across from Harvey Milk Plaza to make a little “park” – really just a sitting area – and here is where you may find the naked guys on some of the warmer days.

Here are some of our favorite places to shop for the Holidays in the Castro:

Under One RoofFirst and foremost, Under One Roof – not just for the great selection of Christmas ornaments, gay/Castro merchandise, and other cool knick-kacns – not just for the prices, which are pretty good – but also because the store exists to provide monetary support to people living with HIV and AIDS.

This store is a mandatory stop for us when we visit the City, and we always buy something here. There’s a really cool line of t-shirts, mugs, etc from SF mercantile that the store carries – when we wear our Castro shirts, we always get compliments. Under One Roof is on Market Street, between 18th and 19th.

Does Your Mother KnowAnother long-time favorite – Does Your Mamma Know. Formerly a card shop, the store has morphed into more of an erotic boutique – lots of toys and lube – but they also carry a great supply of gay-centric cards – from romantic to naughty – hard to find outside of the Castro. DYMK is on 18th, half a block west of Castro.

A new favorite – Wild Card! – just around the corner from Twin Peaks Bar (the first bar in the US with windows, showing the world we were here). This store is HUGE – far bigger than you’d think from the front – and had three main draws for us:

Giant Wooden Penis

Card selection – thousands of cards, many gay-themed and/or erotic.

Giant Wooden Penises: Yes, you heard that right – the store has two man-sized wooden penises tucked away in the back of the store. Take a picture with one, and your mamma will know!

PornamentsPornaments: Yes, we finally found them – gay porn ornaments. A whole row of them on a string behind the counter – create the Christmas tree of your gay erotic dreams!

Harvey MilkThere’s also the HRC store – in the old Harvey Milk Camera Store storefront between 18th and 19th – HRC-branded merchandise, including the cutest teddy bears in rainbow colors!

Want something to eat while you are here?

FirewoodTry Firewood – two blocks west of Castro Street on 18th – a local chain with a fantastic salad, and a really good rigatoni. Sit in the front room and people watch, or find a place in the sunny back room.

For breakfast, try Orphan Andy’s at the corner of Market and Castro for filling, delicious, unassuming fare, or the Patio a block down market.

GLBT History MuseumAlso of note: the new Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender History Museum, on 18th half a block east of Castro, has a fascinating collection of gay history memorabilia, including photos, posters, some of Harvey Milk’s personal effects and much more.

GLBT History MuseumParticularly fascinating for us were the black and white photos form the early to mid 20th century, showing gay men and couples – it was something of a revelation for me to see images of these folks living their lives – an affirmation that we have always been here – although of course that makes sense.

Cruisin' the Castro ToursAnother great thing to do while you’re here – take one of the Cruisin’ the Castro tours – we did the Harvey Milk one this time, and loved it – it focused on sites around the Castro where Milk lived, worked, and is commemorated – more on this in the next post.

The tour also takes you up to Civic Center, with a great tour of city hall and a recap of the events that led up to the slayings of Milk and Mayor Moscone by former Supervisor Dan White (he of the infamous “twinkie defense”. Note: City Hall was lit up in red for World AIDS Day on December 1st.

While we were in town, we also had dinner twice in North Beach. While there’s not a lot of great shopping in North Beach – it’s more coffee shops, restaurants, and delis – it does have some great eats.

Caffe BaonecciFirst off, our favorite, Caffe Banonecci. In the site of the former Danillo Bakery on Green Street just a block east of Columbus, Baonecci is owned by a wonderful Italian family – a rarity in North Beach these days. Walter, the father, always welcomes us warmly, and his wife, Stefania, is the master chef in the kitchen. Mark had a salame pizza that was to die for, and she whipped up a wonderful vegetarian pasta for me. And the Caprese salad – bellissima!

We found Baonecci a few months back when the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a review of their monthly movie nights – on the second Thursday of each month, they show an Italian movie on the big screen TV above the bar, and serve a wonderful multi-course meal with it. The food here has never been less than stellar, and their son, Elia, has always been warm and welcoming.

Colosseo RestaurantWe also found a new favorite – Colosseo – on Columbus at Green. We were drawn in by the beautiful murals of the Colosseo and the Forum on the restaurant walls, but the food here was really good, too, and we enjoyed chatting with Camillo, our Italian waiter.

Beach Blanket BabylonDon’t forget to see another San Francisco tradition while you’re in town – Beach Blanket Babylon. Now in its 37th year, the basic format remains the same – Snow White’s search for love – but the new content, costumes, and of course, the hats – keep this San Francisco staple fresh. Our favorite parts this time around – the show’s take on the Republican presidential candidates (including a super-timely reference to Rick Perry) and the extra 20-30 minutes of Christmas music tacked on to the show for the Holidays.

Recommendations here: if you can afford it, splurge for one of the balcony side or front box seats – best views in the house. Otherwise, the two second best places are the front orchestra or the center balcony. The orchestra floor is not tiered, so if you sit too far back, the view is really poor, and may be blocked by support pillars for the balcony.

New Conservatory TheaterAnother great entertainment option – the New Conservatory Theater – a great theater at Van ness and Market that does gay themed plays. We caught a performance of The Tempermentals – about Harry Hay and the founding of the Mattachine Sopciety and the modern gay rights movement. It was fascinating – and again we learned some things we never knew about gay history.

Getting around the city:

San Francisco offers a number of great transportation options:

Walk: Our favorite, and a great way to see lots of the city

San Francisco Cable CarCable Cars: Catch these at Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, or the Embarcadero – a fun, touristy (tho pricey) way to explore the northeastern quadrant of The City.

MUNI Underground

MUNI: San Francisco’s transit system can take you all over town. The underground runs up and down Market Street and a few other destinations; the busses and street cars above ground can take you almost anywhere.

BART: Though limited in value for in-SF travel (basically Market Street from the Bay to Van Ness/Civic Center,. and then south through the Mission), it’s clean, fast, and great to get you out of the city for day trips.

If you’re in Northern California, get down to San Francisco for some great shopping this Gay Holiday Season!

Exploring Sacramento’s Gay Side: Shopping

Author: , November 4th, 2011

Gay SacramentoSacramento used to boast three gay owned boutique stores, but the guys from Etc. shut it down and retired to Mexico (they are missed) and the shop at the gay and lesbian center closed because it was too expensive for the center to run.

G SpotSacramento’s only remaining gay shop, the G-Spot (pictured next to Hot Rods at right), offers mostly greeting card and sex supplies… lots of lubes and dildos. Conveniently located next to Badlands and close to all the bars, it’s also open most of the night.

In general, J Street, from about 18th to 26th, is one of the best shopping districts in Midtown, with lots of little boutique shops.

Valley Rainbow Pages

There are also Starbucks (2), an art supplies store, several little furniture stores, a great used bookstore (just off J) and much more.

For more gay businesses, you can pick up the Valley Rainbow Pages (at right), Sacramento’s free guide to gay and lesbian owned and friendly businesses, at Etc., Something Fabulous, any of the gay bars, and at a number of other venues in Midtown, or visit their website at

For more shopping ideas, click on the map of Midtown below for a larger version.

Shop the Grid - Sacramento

Second Saturday

If you’re in town on the second saturday of each month, you need to know about Second Saturday, Sacramento’s monthly Art Walk. With 34 participating galleries in Midtown (and an additional 5 galleries on Del Paso Blvd, 5 minutes north by car), this is a big deal. On a warm summer night, it can draw thousands and thousands of people, so even if you don’t participate, it’ll impact you if you’re in Midtown. Make any restaurant reservations early, and be aware that traffic may get snarled, especially on J Street and around Zocalo/Capitol/18th Street area, which seems to be a hub for the event.

It is an enjoyable night, but we recommend starting early – have dinner at five or wait and have a late dinner (with reservations) around 8, and in the meantime, walk the grid and see some of the great local art galleries. Our favorite is the Sacramento Art Complex, on K between 21st and 22nd, just a block from the bars – it’s an office building recently converted to an artist incubator, where you can find the work of dozens of artists, including some of the nicest local work we’ve seen.

A word of warning – the later it gets, the rowdier Second Saturday gets, as some of the visitors get into their second and third beers, so go early. We also recommend parking off the street – there’s a state garage in 17th between L and Capitol that’s opened to the public specifically for Second Saturday – the rates are reasonable, and your car (if you have one with you) is safe from the crowds.

You can find more info at, and a larger version of the map below by cliciking on the image, or by going to

Second Saturday Sacramento

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