San Francisco Neighborhood Guide

Marina District / Cow Hollow

Between modern and historic, you find everything in this neighborhood. The beautiful homes coexist with trendy restaurants, bars and much more. It’s a perfect mix between the vibration of the nightlife and the calm emitted by the Bay and the park. There’s also the “Marina Green”, a 74-acre park with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. A must-see in this neighborhood is the Palace of Fine Arts and the Exploratorium!

Russian Hill

This residential neighborhood gathers trendy restaurants, amazing shops and nightspots. You can get off the cable car at the top of Lombard Street, enjoy the gorgeous views of the City and especially Coit Tower and then follow the curve of the Crookedest street!

Telegraph Hill – North Beach

Telegraph Hill is one of the quietest areas in San Francisco, well-known for its many gardens and views from Coit Tower. North Beach, primarily a residential neighborhood, is the home of the famous San Franciscan baseball player Joe DiMaggio. Restaurants and nightlife spots thrive in this area of town, referred to as the Italian Neighborhood or Little Italy. While Telegraph Hill is pretty quiet, North Beach is quite loud and busy.

Union Square

For the shopping lovers, Union Square is THE best place to be in San Francisco. World-renowned luxury retailers, sophisticated art galleries and elegant hotels attract locals and tourists from all over the globe.

SOMA / South Beach

Lovers of museums will enjoy this area. This modern neighborhood of San Francisco, located to the south of Market Street (therefore explaining its name SOMA), gathers among others, the MOMA, the Jewish museum, MOAD the museum of the African Diaspora and many restaurants, bars and nightlife hot spots. Here you will find warehouses converted into lofts, modern high-rise condos, and of course AT&T ballpark, home of the San Francisco Giants, winners of the 2010 World Series.

Nob Hill

This residential traditional San Francisco neighborhood will give you a great glimpse on many of San Francisco’s landmarks. Take the cable-car to climb the very steep hills. Explore and discover some of San Francisco’s best hotels, the luxurious Fairmont and Mark Hopkins, savor amazing cuisine, and visit Grace Cathedral and wander its indoor and outdoor labyrinths.

Haight-Ashbury / Panhandle / Golden Gate Park

Haight-Ashbury is the true representation of the ’60s hippie culture. You can find fragments of this long-gone area everywhere, in shops and in buildings. Tattoo parlors, head shops, thrift stores and art galleries flourish in this dynamic neighborhood. You are also steps away from several lush parks: Buena Vista Park, the Panhandle and of course the mythic Golden Gate Park. Located at the east entrance of Golden Gate Park, the Panhandle is almost one mile long. This green park offers beautiful paths for bikers and walkers, a basketball court and a playground. Golden Gate Park is a verdant heaven in San Francisco for those who want to picnic, jog, play soccer or drum. It hosts many museums and must-see places: the Academy of Sciences, Japanese Tea Garden, De Young museum, Conservatory of Flowers, etc. Twin Peaks Twin Peaks is a residential neighborhood, a short distance away from the heart of the city. On the top of the hill, the second highest point in San Francisco, you can enjoy fabulous 360 degree views of the whole city!

Castro

San Francisco’s own gay village, one of the largest and best-known worldwide, runs on Castro Street from Market Street to 19th Street. This safe and clean neighborhood features the popular and original Castro Theater as well as many boutiques and special clothing shops. Shopping here is a must-do, as you can find items not often available anywhere else.

Mission District

San Francisco’s oldest building, the Mission San Francisco de Asis, gave the City its name. Located between Castro and Noe Valley to the west and Potrero Hill and U.S. 101 to the east, “The Mission” is a mix of trendy restaurants and boutiques as well as traditional, historical cafes and stores of the Latin culture. Famous for introducing Mexican food to Americans, the Mission is the original home of the San Francisco burrito. Enjoy Dolores Park, especially in the summer, and watch the locals play tennis, basketball, BBQ, etc. There is also a large children’s playground and a dog play area. Another must-see in the Mission are the murals: more than 600 different murals painted on the walls of buildings and residential houses.

Richmond / Sea Cliff

In this residential area you’ll find a mix of different homes, from turn-of-the-century Edwardians to the most modern of apartment complexes and mansions, as well as some of the last cabins that survived the 1906 earthquake. The most surprising and most infamous site is the Black House, a black and purple Victorian owned by Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, who is said to have performed Satanic rituals at that location. Sea Cliff is an exclusive community featuring gorgeous properties, some of them used as retreats for celebrities.

Potrero Hill

The “sunniest” neighborhood of San Francisco refers to this hill, located east of the Mission and South of SOMA. Potrero means “pasture” in Spanish. This quiet area is isolated by freeways and an industrial landscape, which gives this neighborhood a feeling of distance from main and central San Francisco. Potrero Hill is also the home of San Francisco’s famous Anchor Steam Brewery.

Pacific Heights

Between school and shopping, Pacific Heights is still today one of the most prestigious neighborhoods and has been featured in many movies and television shows. This fancy area offers spectacular views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Fillmore Street serves as the neighborhood’s shopping and dining street, and every year hosts a Jazz festival.

Financial District

The name says it all: this is the heart of the economy of San Francisco. After the California Gold Rush, this area boomed. With its many historic office buildings and modern skyscrapers, the Financial District hosts headquarters of numerous companies and organizations. Sunset Known for its foggy weather, most San Franciscans love this neighborhood, which is close to Ocean Beach. What they like about this culturally diverse neighborhood is that it is more like a small town within the City. Many families with children live in this area, as well as UCSF graduate students.

Alamo Square / North Panhandle (NoPa)

Alamo Square is a residential area surrounding a park of the same name. Featuring the world-renowned Painted Ladies, a row of classic Victorian houses, Alamo Square is a very popular destination for tourists and locals. The up-and-coming North Panhandle is one of the trendiest neighborhoods of San Francisco with many modern bars and restaurants along Divisadero.

Chinatown

Welcome to China! Right in the heart of San Francisco, near Union Square and the Financial district you will find one of the largest Chinese areas outside of Asia. Many typical and authentic Chinese markets and  restaurants can be found in this residential area. A definite must-see is the original fortune cookie factory. While Stockton Street is the tourist spot with many souvenir shops, Grant Street is the “traditional” and more authentic part of Chinatown where locals buy products in open-air markets. So, be open-minded for another culture and take a trip to Chinatown!

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