Where to Stay
From tech geniuses to artsy creatives, San Francisco has neighborhoods to suit anyone's unique desires.
- Golden Gate Park is the perfect area for the active or outdoorsy type. There is plenty to do in the area that includes cycling, skating, jogging, and more. The area goes from the Pacific coast all the way to the Haight and is full of lush woods, trails, lakes, museums, and gardens.
- Union Square is the commercial center of San Francisco. Most of your major hotels, department stores, and big chains are all in this surrounding area.
- Located just near Union Square is the famous Chinatown neighborhood. It is one of the biggest Chinatowns outside of Asia and is filled with amazing, authentic restaurants, markets, temples, buildings, and shops. It is a definite must-see when going to San Francisco.
- Mission District is known for being the epicenter of the Latin American populations in the recent decades. This area is overflowing with culture, amazing ethnic foods, hip and trendy restaurants/bars, unique street art, and more. It is essentially the face of gentrification in San Francisco as of now (aka hipster central). Definitely come here if you're into a unique, local experience where you'll find great food and street art. Mission Dolores, which is San Francisco's oldest building, has an amazing gallery of over 200 murals that is great to check out.
- There is really no other way to describe Nob Hill and Russian Hill other than it is the area of town that is full history, elegance, and exclusive views. Nob Hill and Russian Hill are known for being very wealthy areas of San Francisco and have some of the city's most fabulous hotels and private clubs.
- If you're into people watching, look no further than North Beach. This is the perfect part of town to grab a chair at a coffee shop and hang out. Lots of old bars and cafes to enjoy around this area. It is also known for being the Italian neighborhood of SF. Telegraph Hill is just over the east side of North Beach and has one of the best vantage points of the city at Coit Tower.
- Before San Francisco became a great city to visit as a tourist/traveler, it was once known for it's busy harbor and waterfront industries. Surrounding areas like Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, and Pier 39 are less of a working wharf/pier anymore and more of a popular tourist area now. You can still see small fleets of fishing boats, but it is more filled with museums, attractions, restaurants, gift shops, and beautiful views.
- Pacific Heights and Japantown are two neighborhoods stacked on top of one another that make for a very odd couple. Pacific Heights is home to some of the city's biggest mansions and luxurious housing accommodations (along with very posh shopping areas), and Japantown is a great area of town to find some of the best authentic Japanese food, shops, and other treats.
- SoMa ("South or Market") and Civic Center are another pair of neighborhoods that sit near each other but have completely separate identities. They are divided by Market Street (which is really an entity of it's own) and are each hubs of cultural findings. SoMa has recently been on the rise of gentrification with many new lofts, hotels, businesses, restaurants, etc. going up around the area. Civic Center (which is still a little seedy in some areas) is where you will find City Hall, Opera House, Davies Symphony Hall, and a few other popular venues. One of my favorite parts of town is Hayes Valley, which is located near these areas.
- The Haight (or Haight-Ashbury), The Castro, and Noe Valley are amazing areas of town because of the history that surrounds the atmosphere. The Haight is known for its history of 1960s hippie/counterculture movement and is a super trendy part of town--plenty of funky bars, shops, ethnic food, etc. The Castro is another lively district and known for being a center for the LGBT community of SF. There is a strong 1970s/1980s vibe in this neighborhood and it is notorious for street theatre, hip bars, and great places to eat. Noe Valley was the birthplace of 1990s gentrification in the city and is also a really dynamic place that is worth exploring.
- The Marina District is an area of SF that boasts some of the most beautiful views of the Golden Gate. It was created on a landfill because this area was also the hardest hit by the earthquakes of the 1900s. Gorgeous views, great places to jog or walk your pets (along Crissy Field), and some elegant Mediterranean-style homes.
- The Financial District is just east of Union Square and is known for being the city's business district and home to many iconic architectural buildings of San Francisco. The Transamerica Pyramid (the famous, pointy one) sits in this district, as well as the old Ferry Building. The neighborhood has a lot of great gourmet restaurants, as well as farmers' markets that pop up through the week.