easy to imagine that it's still 1940 when you're walking down a
residential street in the Sunset. Row after row of two-story homes
with garages underneath the living room march across the former sand
dunes toward the ocean. Many of these tidy houses have been
remodeled but the neighborhood has retained its middle-class, family
atmosphere. The San Francisco Zoo and Golden Gate Park provide
entertainment for the kids, and local mom-and-pop restaurants and
bars offer distraction for adults. Named after its spectacular
sunsets, this district features affordable housing and a quick
commute via bus or car.
Nob Hill/Russian Hill:
"Snob" Hill was
home to Stanford, Crocker, Hopkins and Huntington, the railroad
magnates, and now hotels have been built on the former sites of
their mansions. A conglomeration of homes and apartments with great
views of the Bay can be found on Russian Hill, a slightly more
accessible, but still very exclusive, neighborhood with steep
streets and lush landscaping. The Financial District and North Beach
are both within walking distance.
North Beach/Chinatown/Telegraph Hill:
new generation of Italian immigrants is revitalizing the restaurants
and shops in North Beach, but Lawrence Ferlinghetti still holds
court at City Lights. Old Italian men still hang out in Washington
Square Park as young apartment dwellers walk to their jobs in the
Financial District. Tourists are everywhere, from Chinatown to Pier
39 and Fisherman's Wharf. Housing is sought after, the nightlife is
exciting, and downtown is five minutes away.Numerous paths and
stairways lead up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower, the famous landmark
built in 1933. There are panoramic views from Pioneer Park at the
base of the tower as well as from the single and multi-family homes
hidden among dense foliage along the hillsides.
The palatial estates that border the
cliffs just west of the Golden Gate Bridge are in the Seacliff
neighborhood, one of the most exclusive areas in The City. The
Richmond District, between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, offers
a much wider range of mostly middle-class housing. The area is
dominated by well-kept, single-family homes built in the early and
mid-1900s. Originally settled by Russian refugees, the Richmond is
now one of the most diverse areas in the city and offers a nice mix
of ethnic restaurants and shops. It's also home to the University of
San Francisco. Geary Boulevard, lined with every imaginable kind of
business, takes you directly to downtown for a quick commute. You'll
find additional shopping on Clement Street. Golden Gate Park offers
acres of beautiful green space plus museums and activities galore.
With its proximity to the Pacific, the Richmond sees its share of
fog - but that's the price you pay for a short walk to the beach.
This middle-class district in
the southwest corner of The City includes a mix of apartments,
condos, and single-family homes. Residential developments were built
around Lake Merced just after World War II to house students at San
Francisco State University. The Park Merced complex, originally
built for senior citizens, is now open to all ages. Recreation of
all kinds can be found at Lake Merced's shoreline park and there are
two golf courses in the district. The Stonestown Galleria mall
provides ample shopping, and freeways are easily accessible.
Next door to the
Lakeshore District, this middle-class enclave of modest
single-family homes has great views of San Bruno Mountain and Mount
Davidson. Home to a mix of families and City College students, this
district is ethnically diverse and affordable. Public transportation
and Interstate 280 are nearby, as are the ocean, the zoo, and the
Peaks/Mount Davidson/Diamond Heights:
"The Breasts of the
Indian Maiden" (what the Spanish explorers called Twin Peaks)
compete for your attention with the Mount Davidson Cross and the
Sutro Tower in this district. The 900-foot hills offer spectacular
views and are covered with townhouses and single family homes. Some
of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city can be found in this
Hills/West Portal/Forest Hill Extension:
The Forest Hills and
West Portal neighborhoods are very community-oriented. Most homes
are owner-occupied and residents take care to patronize
locally-owned businesses. Lots of trees, Tudor architecture, and
manicured lawns can be found in this popular area.
St. Francis Wood:
Francis Wood, with its Beaux Arts fountain and gateway designed by
architect John Galen Howard, offers large single homes with generous
yards and a prestigious address. Shady streets and beautiful, mature
landscaping dominate this beautiful community.
Noe Valley/Glen Park:
secret is out - these formerly quiet, secluded, working-class
neighborhoods on the east slope of Twin Peaks are now two of the
most popular areas in The City. Twenty- and thirty-somethings have
moved in and renovated the old Victorians and apartments, and young
parents have discovered that this is a great place to raise kids.
Trendy new restaurants and shops are opening up beside the older
neighborhood businesses. The 24th Street BART station and buses make
the commute to downtown a breeze.
The Haight remains a
cultural icon, despite its upward mobility. Flower children and
power brokers cohabitate in its lovely old Victorian apartments and
lofts. Older independent book and record stores and hip new
boutiques line the streets. Renters are moving on and homeowners are
moving in, as the charms of this little neighborhood become
apparent. Downtown isn't too far away and Golden Gate, Buena Vista,
and Corona Heights parks are right next door.
Ground zero for the City's gay population, The Castro
has a colorful history and continues to attract both gay and
straight tourists and activists. Gentrification has marched onward
in this centrally-located, desirable neighborhood full of renovated
Victorians and popular restaurants, theaters, and book stores.
Today's Hayes Valley was reborn from the rubble of
the 1989 earthquake. This tiny neighborhood came to light after the
damaged freeway was removed and has been a popular destination ever
since. It's full of quaint homes and businesses and it's just a
stone's throw from downtown. The opera house, symphony hall, and
main library, along with several great restaurants and bars, are
Also known as the Fillmore District, the Western
Addition has an increasingly diverse population, both in terms of
ethnicity and economic status. It is home to both the Japanese
Cultural and Trade Center and a host of jazz clubs and
African-American churches. Restored Victorians, new apartment
buildings, and everything in between can be found in this
neighborhood just west of Downtown.
Despite its problems, the
Tenderloin is benefiting from the real estate boom and the
development South of Market. This neighborhood is home to the Civic
Center complex and the theater district, as well as numerous low
cost apartments and flats. Major hotels and the shopping mecca of
Union Square are minutes away and public transportation is abundant.
Real estate in these neighborhoods
is owned by the old money and sought after by the new. Palatial
homes and stately apartment buildings are the type you see in
Hitchcock movies and dotcom ads. Views of the Golden Gate, the Bay,
and the city stretching out below are exceptional. Pacific Heights
offers beautifully maintained Victorians and stunning Art Deco
apartments, with a few condos and small flats tucked in between. The
area is largely residential, with quiet, tree-lined streets and
several nearby parks. Shopping and nightlife are to be found in
abundance, however, on nearby Fillmore, Union, California and
Sacramento streets in the Marina District. Commuting is a snap; both
bridges and downtown are just minutes away. Presidio Heights
features lovely single family homes and panoramic views. San
Francisco living doesn't get much better than this.
Unprecedented opportunities for people-watching
compete with the picturesque views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the
lush Marin headlands as you stroll or jog down Marina Green. This
district is a microcosm of San Francisco: old Victorians and
Edwardians, new apartment buildings, tourist attractions like
Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz, and arguably the city's best
nightlife and shopping boutiques. Cow Hollow, now the area bordered
by Chestnut and Union streets, was a dairy farm in the 1800s but is
now home to watering holes of another sort. These neighborhoods are
ground zero for newly stock-optioned 20- and 30-somethings who can't
get enough of the renovated Mediterranean-style flats and condos and
the convenient location. Commuting to the Financial District or
Multimedia Gulch is painless and freeway access is easy, too.
Cultural attractions abound in this district: Fort Mason, the
Exploratium, and the Palace of Fine Arts are within walking distance
of many residences.
A middle class
neighborhood with strong community activism, Bernal Heights has
great views and lots of sunshine. Residences are mostly remodeled,
single-family, owner-occupied homes with well-kept yards. Bernal
Heights Park offers recreational activities and Cortland Avenue
provides a number of shopping opportunities. Commuting to downtown
is a snap.
Home to Mission Dolores, the Mission District is a
thriving, friendly, and diverse community of predominately Latino
families mixed with artists, activists and immigrants. Affordable
housing is still available, although many of the Mission's old
Victorians and apartment buildings are being renovated as newcomers
discover this vibrant neighborhood. Shops and restaurants abound and
you don't dare get a burrito anywhere but here.
residents in this enclave own their homes, which have great views
and are free from fog. Artists and professionals have moved in,
attracted by the sunshine, views, and proximity to downtown.
South of Market
This is one of the hottest areas of The
City, with development going at a breakneck pace. The museum
district continues to grow, with the new Museum of Modern Art and
the Yerba Buena Center recently completed. Pac Bell Park promises to
make China Basin a popular destination. New apartments and renovated
warehouses and lofts are in high demand. The nightlife in SOMA is
already legendary, and shopping and restaurants are popping up all
The Outer Mission offers
small single family homes and a few Victorians, as well as a
convenient commute via I-280. Crocker Amazon and Excelsior, two
quiet, predominately residential districts feature a mix of rental
units and tidy single-family homes. Prices are affordable and these
blue-collar neighborhoods are slowly but surely being revitalized.
Shopping can be found along Mission Street and BART and the freeways
and some single-family homes in this area appeal to a diverse mix of
young workers and families. It's convenient to SFO airport,
Candlestick Park, and the Cow Palace, and the commute to downtown is
easy along 101. McLaren Park offers a golf course.
This neighborhood has a strong community base and many
longtime residents own their homes. Redevelopment efforts are
ongoing and artists and entrepreneurs are moving into warehouse
space near the old shipyards. Single-family houses and apartments
are still affordable.