We hear this question a lot throughout the year -- and especially when Pride and Folsom Street Fair attract out of town visitors from throughout the world.
The good news is that many of the kink venues in San Francisco are located within a few easy blocks of one another. If you've got good walking shoes and nice weather, it's easy to take a stroll through the heart of the newly inaugurated Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District in SOMA to take in the kind of shopping, education and play that make the SF kink world so unique.
Looking to find out about the majority of local classes, meet-ups and parties all in one spot?
Erobay.com has the most comprehensive calendar all in one place for the majority of BDSM/ Leather/ Kink events.
The Leather Calendar at Bay Area Reporter has a strong focus on leather events for the gay leather community.
And, of course, if you change your location to San Francisco on FetLife you'll find a wide range of events.
Play Venues & Educational Spaces
There are a few community play spaces which host classes and play parties in the Tenderloin/ Civic Center/ SOMA area.
The SF Citadel is HUGE, with 8000+ square feet of playspace & social areas. They host classes and parties for a wide variety of local BDSM groups, and you can find play parties catering to a wide variety of interests, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights. You'll find stations available for impact play, medical play, suspension, and more. Many of the parties also offer demos and bootblacking. During the week, the SF Citadel hosts a number of classes and community events.
The SF Citadel is located close to Powell St. BART in the Tenderloin. The neighborhood is a little sketchy at night, but don't be scared off -- it's a great venue inside. :)
The SF Catalyst is a smaller venue, but well equipped. Now operated as a project of the SF Bay Area Leather Alliance, the SF Catalyst also hosts a wide variety of community events, parties and a few classes.
They are located a four block walk from either Civic Center or Powell BART in SOMA.
The Center for Sex and Culture is also a great place to see if you get the chance. They're more of an art space/ meeting space/ library than a play space, but they occasionally hold classes and play parties.
You also should plan some shopping in the heart of the Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District in SOMA.
Mr. S Leather, Leather Etc. and Wicked Grounds are all within one block of one another and offer a great variety of BDSM toys, books, bondage rope, etc.
Mr S Leather predominently caters to gay leathermen, is filled with extremely high end handmade gear. Whether you're interested in leather uniforms, sex slings, bondage furniture, impact toys or puppy masks, you'll probably be able to find it at Mr. S.
Leather Etc has a somewhat lower price point with a mixed audience of shoppers. They also offer a wider range of corsets and fetish gear for women compared to Mr. S.
Wicked Grounds is predominantly a kink cafe and community space, but also has a curated selection of hand-made BDSM toys and the widest selection of bondage rope and BDSM books in town. If you want to find the widest possible selection of hand-crafted natural fiber bondage rope, or an obscure book on Marquis de Sade films in cinema this is your spot. (And of course we offer great milkshakes!)
While not kink focused, the many locations of Good Vibrations in the Bay Area offer a clean, well lighted and friendly place to get all your sex toys and also offer a large number of educational classes.
Other Spots of Interest
While Kink.com has moved on from the SF Armory, the Armory Club at Mission & 14th St. lives on! In addition to providing an upscale bar for kinksters of all stripes, the Armory Club often hosts munches, classes and meet-ups for local BDSM groups in their downstairs area.
And, of course, we don't need to tell you to visit the legendary Castro for all things rainbows.
Are you staying in the East Bay? There are a number of venues to check out for play parties, including Mission Control, Black Thorn, and Sacred Muse.
Need toys? Our friends at Feelmore 510 -- while light on kink gear in particular -- offer a nice selection of high-quality sex toys.