Everything You Need to Know About San Diego Pride

From SD’s annual parade and festival to the Stonewall Rally and other events, there’s plenty of ways to show up and show your pride.

Photo courtesy of San Diego Pride

San Diego’s Pride movement began just months after the historic Stonewall Uprising in 1970, when LGBTQ students at San Diego State College organized to form the Gay Liberation Front, which later that year hosted a “Gay-In” in Presidio Park, likely the first Pride event in San Diego history. Now, as we honor the 52nd anniversary of Stonewall and the hard-fought victories that followed, it’s time for rainbows to fly over the streets of Hillcrest with one of the best Pride Parades in the nation. The weekend’s activities are organized by San Diego Pride, a nonprofit whose stated mission is “fostering pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally.”

San Diego’s Pride Parade routinely attracts more than 300,000 attendees with 235 distinct contingents (marching and vehicles), so navigating your way through the weekend can be challenging. Use our handy guide for all the relevant details, and have a safe, fabulous, Pride-filled weekend!

Photo courtesy of San Diego Pride

When and where is the parade?

The Pride Parade is on Saturday, July 16, 2022 at 10 am, beginning under the Hillcrest Pride Flag at University Avenue and Normal Street. This year’s theme is “Justice with Joy.”

What’s the parade route?

The parade will proceed west along University Avenue, turning left on Sixth Street, then left again on Balboa Drive before ending at Quince Drive. The route is approximately 1.4-miles long.

How do I get there?

Driving and parking in Hillcrest is notoriously difficult, and the expected hordes of revelers aren’t going to make it any easier, so walk, bike, scooter, or use public transportation if possible. Check the MTS schedule for the best route to the parade, using University Avenue and Normal Street as your destination. Above all, allow yourself plenty of time so you don’t miss a minute of the festivities!

Where should I park?

If you absolutely have to drive, San Diego Pride has set up a free parking and shuttle service to and from the Pride Parade and the Pride Festival at the Old Naval Hospital at Park Boulevard and President’s Way.

To the Pride Parade: Free shuttles run round trip to the Pride Parade from 7 am till 3 pm on Saturday, July 16, dropping parade attendees off at Essex and Richmond Street, one block south of University Avenue.

To the Pride Festival: Free shuttles run round trip to the Pride Festival from 7am till 12 midnight on Saturday, July 16, and from 8 am till 11 pm on Sunday, July 17, dropping festival goers off at Sixth Avenue and Juniper Street.

A free express shuttle will take you from the Pride Parade to the Pride Festival from 12 pm till 4 pm on Saturday; catch it at Essex and Richmond Streets and get dropped off at Sixth Avenue and Juniper Street. Store bicycles and scooters safely at the bike and scooter corral located at the corner of Balboa Drive and El Prado.

What streets will be closed?

On Friday, July 15, Normal Street and Harvey Milk Street are closed starting at 6 am. Saturday's street closures will begin at 5 am and remain in place until 4 pm. A complete listing of road closures can be found here; scroll down to the purple section. Also, note the No Parking Zones in the white section. Nothing ruins a good party like walking back to your car and seeing a parking ticket!

Photo courtesy of San Diego Pride

What will the weather be like?

Expect partly sunny weather on Saturday and Sunday, with highs in the 70s and lows in the high 60s—in other words, solid parade weather. This is San Diego, after all.

Are the events ADA accessible?

San Diego Pride has an array of resources to ensure that everyone has an amazing experience, including: accessible seating, American Sign Language interpreters, and, at the Pride Festival, cool zones for seniors and service animals.

ADA Accessible Vans will be available at any Pride (Festival, Parade, Parking) Shuttle stop on Saturday, July 16 from 8 am to midnight and Sunday, July 17 from 7 am to 10 pm. Contact the Pride Volunteer at the Shuttle stop to hail an ADA Accessible van.

Where is the best viewing?

There’s decent viewing from the sidewalks along most of the parade route, but if you’re early enough, try to snag a seat in one of the review stand areas at University Avenue and Normal Street, University and Richmond, University and Vermont, University at 7th, and 6th Avenue at Balboa Drive.

Photo courtesy of San Diego Pride

What’s the Pride Festival and how do I get in on it?

San Diego’s Pride Festival takes place on Saturday, July 16 from 11 am till 10 pm, and Sunday, July 17 from 11 am till 9 pm at Marston Point in Balboa Park at 6th Avenue and Laurel Street. Imagine a dance party with four amazing stages, over eighty entertainers, fabulous food, inspiring art, exhibits, cultural presentations, and vendor booths. Headliners this year include Snow Tha Product and Daya on Saturday; Baby Tate and Ashnikko perform on Sunday. Tickets range from a $26 one-day pass to $225, depending on your level of VIPness.

Where and when is the Stonewall Rally?

The Spirit of Stonewall Rally takes place on Friday, July 15 at 6 pm under the Hillcrest Pride Flag. Speakers include immigration justice activist Jenn Budd, KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen, and keynote speaker Reggie Greer, Senior Advisor to Jessica Stern, the U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons for the Biden/Harris Administration.

Photo courtesy of San Diego Pride

What other events are there?

Join The Very Reverend Penny Bridges, Dean of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral and other leaders on Wednesday, July 13, for Light Up The Cathedral, a celebration of community, resilience, and faith. After the ceremony, the cathedral will be lit in rainbow colors.

The Pride of Hillcrest Block Party returns to Pride Plaza Thursday, July 14 from 4–11 pm and Friday, July 15 from 2–11 pm with go-go dancers, a massive cocktail bar, a giant ferris wheel, beer garden, food trucks, and drag shows. Tickets can be purchased here.

Photo courtesy of San Diego Pride

Last year’s Pride 5K Run + Walk, even during the pandemic, still had 1,300 participants and raised more than $24K for San Diego Pride and The LGBT Center’s Youth Housing Project. Grab your best rainbow gear, slap on some sunscreen, and meet at the corner of Centre and University Avenue at 8 am on Saturday, July 16. You can participate virtually as well, and can register for either format here.

Gossip Grill
Photo courtesy of Gossip Grill

Where can I keep the party going?

Much of San Diego’s queer nightlife is centered in the Hillcrest neighborhood, with enclaves in North Park and University Heights. Local favorites include Spin, an enormous nightclub in a converted warehouse; Martinis, a swanky, elegant club with cabaret-style shows; Eagle, for those who enjoy a bit of leather with their nightlife; The Rail (formerly the Brass Rail), San Diego’s oldest gay bar; and Gossip Grill, a lively lesbian bar where everyone is welcome.

How else can I show support?

Support vital LGBTQ+ nonprofits and community organizations
San Diego Pride depends on over 1,500 volunteers to plan and implement the Pride festivals, parades, and events, and with more than thirty different volunteer departments, you’re sure to find one that’s a good fit. You can donate at any time, knowing that 84 cents of every dollar goes to education, advocacy, and civic organization.

San Diego LGBT Community Center
Photo courtesy of San Diego LGBT Community Center

The San Diego LGBT Center, better known as just The Center, reaches out to the LGBTQ+ community through special events, HIV awareness programs, civic involvement with Engage San Diego and critical housing services, among its many programs. The Gender Advocacy Project provides support for transgender individuals through various social groups, mental and physical health care, legal services, cosmetic services, and trans-friendly employers.

Industrial Grind Coffee
Photo courtesy of Industrial Grind Coffee

Dine out at LGBTQ+-owned restaurants
San Diego’s restaurants took a gut-punch during the pandemic, barely scraping by on delivery and takeout. Now that lockdown restrictions have ended, one of the best ways to help them is to dine out (or use takeout and delivery options) as often as your wallet allows. The party never really stops at Urban Mo’s Bar and Grill, a gay bar famous for its daily bottomless mimosas and Sunday Funday brunches. Industrial Grind Coffee, the brainchild of Navy veterans Kathy Hansen and Barbara Jeanine, serves all your favorite coffee drinks, along with their own line of gluten-free baked goods, mixes, and gourmet chocolates developed by their niece Crystal Jones.

Photo courtesy of San Diego Pride

Be an ally

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “No one is free until we are all free.” It’s not enough to pay lip service during Pride Month, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, or any of the other months dedicated to recognizing the history and ongoing struggles of fellow humans. Combating hate and prejudice is a year-long, day in and day out grind, and requires everyone’s participation. If you are witness or a victim of hate-based harassment or violence, there are things you can do:

Report hate crimes

All hate-based harassment and other incidents, regardless of severity, should be reported. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call local authorities and the San Diego County District Attorney’s office to document it as soon as possible.

Learn how to intervene safely

We’ve all seen videos of LGBTQ+ persons and other minorities on the receiving end of public harassment in stores, on public transportation, and on the street, with bystanders casually watching it happen. You may want to offer help, but you’re understandably afraid. You know who else is afraid? The person being bullied, intimidated, and humiliated. But how can you intervene safely? Hollaback! is a grassroots initiative to raise awareness of and combat street harassment while avoiding directly confronting the aggressor. They’ve put together a free guide for bystander intervention and free interactive, virtual bystander intervention and de-escalation training, including youth training, online, voter, sexual, police-sponsored, and other harassment situations.

Check in on your friends

Don’t assume that your friends are okay just because they aren’t talking to you about hate-based harassment or violence. Reach out in a call, a text, or visit and let them know that you care about their wellbeing and safety. Tell them you’re available if they feel unsafe or need to talk. Be the ally they need right now.

Register and vote

Most importantly, register and vote! Change doesn’t happen without action, and your voice is needed now more than ever.

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.