San Francisco Neighborhoods
BERNAL HEIGHTS – A charming community with great views located just 3 miles south of the downtown area. One of the oldest communities in San Francisco, it has a quaint, artsy feel with many Victorians homes. Rents can be more affordable.
CASTRO/EUREKA VALLEY – This area located at the upper end of Market Street is home to much of the City’s gay and lesbian community as well as many young singles. Steep streets and brightly painted Victorian houses surround the bustling Castro Street shopping district. Be sure to explore the collection of unique shops, bars and restaurants that appeal to all.
CIVIC CENTER – The Civic Center is home to San Francisco’s government offices and skirts Van Ness Avenue, the widest street in the city. City Hall, with its dome modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, is located at the heart of the Civic Center. Opposite City Hall are the beaux arts-style War Memorial Opera House and the Veterans Building with the Herbst Theater, as well as the contemporary Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall. The new main library is also nearby. The area boasts many restaurants, which serve daytime workers as well as evening patrons of the opera, ballet and symphony, and local residents such as those of the Opera Plaza Complex.
COW HOLLOW – Situated just north of Pacific Heights and south of the Marina District, Cow Hollow received its name during the 1870’s when more than 20 dairies operated in this area. Situated near Union Street, it has a quaint shopping district with boutiques, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and saloons. The nearby homes include small flats, classic Victorians, and older apartment houses.
Forest Hill – In between St. Francis Woods and Golden Gate Heights lies Forest Hill. This neighborhood has more of a suburban feel to it—with its wider streets and beautiful Spanish colonial style homes, many of which have ocean views. West Portal is the local shopping area with restaurants, shops and boutiques. Nearby, is Ocean Beach as well as Stern Grove Recreation Area.
GHIRARDELLI SQUARE, THE CANNERY, FISHERMAN’S WHARF, PIER 39 – At the foot of Russian Hill and close to North Beach, this area has limited housing. Great for taking out-of-town guests, and known for its seafood restaurants, this area is bustling with souvenir shops, cafes and sidewalk entertainment.
GOLDEN GATE PARK – A 1013-acre oasis of greenery, museums and recreational facilities that stretches from Stanyan Street in the Haight Ashbury, to the Pacific Ocean. The Park is often the site of special events, i.e., Bay to Breakers Race, the summer Shakespeare Festival, Opera in the Park, Comedy Celebration Day, etc. There are over 6000 varieties of flowers and several lakes. The Park has a huge network of paths for biking, roller blading and walking and an impressive amount of recreational activities available to the public, such as horseback riding, baseball, soccer, bowling, fly-casting, golf, tennis, polo, horseshoe pitching, etc.
HAIGHT ASHBURY/BUENA VISTA/ASHBURY HEIGHTS/COLE VALLEY – Once the home of the 60’s flower children, these areas are full of restored Victorians, mansions, family homes, flats and apartments. These interesting neighborhoods have several parks, lots of greenery, steep slopes and vast views. Haight and Cole Streets are the neighborhood centers for shopping and just about anything else you might need.
HAYES VALLEY – Situated just west of City Hall, Hayes Valley is one of the newer and trendier neighborhoods in San Francisco. The influx of art galleries, interior design shops, small boutiques and cafes and more affordable housing has made this area a popular place to live.
NOB HILL – Once the home of “The Big Four” – Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins and Collis Huntington – Nob Hill consists of luxury hotels, clubs, restaurants, and apartment type dwellings surrounding a small park and Grace Cathedral. Union Square, The Financial District, North Beach, and Chinatown are all within walking distance. Both cable car lines run through the area. Many apartments are for rent in the surrounding streets. Very accessible! Great Views! Need garage!
NOPA – for North of the Panhandle – newly named neighborhood along the Divisadero corridor between Pacific Heights and the Castro with diverse shops, clubs and restaurants. Victorians abound in this area which borders the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park and has easy access to both Northern and southern neighborhoods of the city.
MARINA – The Marina District, built on marshland to stage the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition of 1915, reflects the Mediterranean architecture of the 1920’s. The Marina is primarily residential with single-family dwellings, well-maintained flats and charming older apartment buildings. Since the area is flat and just south of San Francisco Yacht Harbor and the Marina Green, it is a haven for joggers, kite flyers, sunbathers, windsurfers, and boaters. The only 1920 Exhibition structure left, the Palace of Fine Arts, is now a science museum for children called the Exploratorium. Fort Mason, due East of the Marina, was once a Fort and Army Base but now functions as a community center offering theater, exhibitions, workshops and classes. Chestnut Street is a classic neighborhood shopping and restaurant district.
MISSION – Named after Mission Dolores, this sunny, diverse neighborhood is a draw for many young people not only because of its somewhat affordable housing but also the lively night scene, ethnic cafes and shops. Lined with palm trees, Dolores Street is one of the most beautiful thoroughfares in the city.
NOE VALLEY/GLEN PARK – Noe Valley is located east of Twin Peaks and south of Market Street. Its sunny weather and neighborhood-feel draw many families. Many Victorians have been remodeled and subdivided into apartments. The heart of Noe Valley is 24th Street with its village-like atmosphere, unique shops and highly rated restaurants.
Parking is difficult but public transportation is easily accessible. Glen Park is a small, hilly neighborhood just south of Noe Valley, where housing tends to be older but well cared for.
NORTH BEACH/CHINATOWN – Nestled between Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf, many residents and visitors consider North Beach to be one of San Francisco’s most exciting neighborhoods. Narrow, awning-lined streets run through this historically Italian neighborhood which centers on Columbus Avenue between Broadway and Lombard Streets. Grant Avenue, the oldest street in San Francisco, is lined with cafés, funky shops, Barbary Coast Saloons and trendy boutiques. Grant Street’s Chinatown Gates invite you into a bustling business and residential area with unique shops and restaurants – sidewalks are crowded with locals and tourists alike exploring this fascinating neighborhood. Walking and buses are the modes of transportation here, as parking is very limited.
PACIFIC HEIGHTS – Perched above Cow Hollow and the Marina district, it is one of the largest, most popular and prestigious residential neighborhoods in San Francisco. It consists of gorgeous Victorian mansions, flats, condos and apartments, many with spectacular views. Fillmore Street is the favorite neighborhood meeting place and has great coffeehouses, restaurants and shops.
POTRERO HILL – Located in the southeastern portion of the City, this neighborhood boasts some of the best views and weather. Much upscaling in the past decade has made Potrero Hill a popular area for many artists and young professionals. The local gathering place is 18th Street. The rents are more reasonable than the north side of the city and the housing varies from Victorians to stucco, adobe style houses to lofts.
PRESIDIO HEIGHTS – Just west of Pacific Heights and named for its proximity to the Presidio, this area is a former army base recently handed over to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area as parkland. It is a wonderful place for biking, walking, running and dogs! Sacramento Street is a chic enclave of specialty shops and restaurants. One block away, on California Street, is Laurel Village, a small shopping area that caters to daily necessities. Presidio Heights, while residential, consists mostly of elegant homes—very few apartments.
RICHMOND/SUNSET– These flat residential neighborhoods border Golden Gate Park and lie in the farthest western portion of the City. The Richmond district is north of the park and the Sunset lies just south of the Park. The weather tends to be a bit foggier than other neighborhoods as the Sunset and Richmond are closer to the Pacific Ocean. These areas are as close to suburbia as one comes in San Francisco and the housing costs are usually less than those neighborhoods farther east. Golden Gate Park, Lincoln Park and the Cliff House are all accessible to Richmond and Sunset residents.
RUSSIAN HILL – Just North of Nob Hill and a bit more residential, with its European charm, quaint alleys, and steep hills, Russian Hill is considered one of the most desirable areas of the city. Nearby Hyde Street is like a small village with cafes and shops. Just beyond Hyde Street is Polk Street, which incorporates over 2 miles of shops, boutiques and restaurants. It is walking distance to Union Square, the Financial District, North Beach and Nob Hill, and is the home of the “crookedest” street in the World, Lombard Street.
SEA CLIFF – An upscale residential neighborhood featuring Mediterranean style houses on bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this area is home to Lincoln Park and both Baker and China Beaches, and situated where the Golden Gate meets the Pacific Ocean. Great walking and hiking trails leading to the Ocean!
SOUTH OF MARKET/CHINA BASIN – Also known as SOMA, located above and below the entrance of the Bay Bridge and just south of Market Street, SOMA is an industrial and commercial neighborhood that is known for unique loft-style housing as well as complex style housing. The Flower Mart, Moscone Convention Center, Metreon and The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), are attractions in this neighborhood. The Yerba Buena project contains the new Center for Performing Arts, a Martin Luther King memorial and 5.5 acres of urban gardens. SOMA has emerged as the art and nightlife center of San Francisco and offers a collection of restaurants, cafes, galleries, nightclubs, and experimental theatre. A favorite of locals is South Park with its cafes and shops.
ST. FRANCIS WOODS – Located on the eastern hills of the Sunset district, St. Francis Woods is a gorgeous neighborhood with large homes and estates. Frederick Olmsted, who designed New York’s Central Park, helped John Howard lay out the urbane streets, with their fountains and gateways. Quiet and family-oriented, the residents enjoy incredible ocean views and flower and tree-filled yards. West Portal is the nearest down town area with restaurants, coffee shops, clothing boutiques and other necessities.
TELEGRAPH HILL – The famous landmark, Coit Tower, named after philanthropist Lillie Hitchcock Coit who loved San Francisco and its fire department, crowns Telegraph Hill. The 210-foot tower is a monument to the firefighters who fought the flames that followed the 1906 earthquake. Telegraph Hill is a densely populated neighborhood with charming and often rickety cliffside houses and apartments. Its streets are narrow and steep and the views are fabulous! Chinatown and North Beach are at the foot of the hill.
TWIN PEAKS – The highest point in San Francisco, Twin Peaks incorporates Mt. Davidson and Diamond Heights. These districts, situated at the upper end of Market Street, are a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. The housing is modern and the rents tend to be more reasonable. Fabulous, but foggy views!