SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICTS
Bordered by Noe Valley, Glen Park and the Mission District, Bernal Heights is very family-friendly neighborhood with a small town charm. Bernal Heights saw most of its building after the 1906 Earthquake; stucco bungalows, cottages and colorful Victorians are still standing. Once among the more affordable areas of the city, many young families moved to the neighborhood for the expansive views, the sun and the anything-goes attitude. Since then Bernal Heights has been defined with an optimistic community spirit and unconventional vision. Rentals in the area vary from apartments to flats to single-family homes, most of which are on the moderate end of the price range.
Shopping & Dining Bernal Heights is a neighborhood yet to be invaded by mass retail and Courtland Avenue is the hub of retail activity. Charming little restaurants have locals lined up for breakfast. Sit next to the fire at a local coffeehouse and sip your mocha while reading or playing games. The city's oldest lesbian bar also resides in this diverse neighborhood.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni lines: 24 Divisadero, 23 Monterey, 67 Bernal Heights, 14 Mission, 49 Van Ness-Mission, J-Church. BART: Glen Park Station. The general parking outlook is fair but availability will vary from street to street. Narrow one-way streets add to the parking challenge.
Points of Interest At Bernal Heights Park you'll notice every breed of dog scaling the hill; sweeping views of the city are your reward for the climb. The community also holds a 'hillwide' garage sale every August.
At the upper end of Market Street is the lively Castro District, a neighborhood that caters largely to the gay and lesbian community. Rental prices range from moderate to pricey with residents paying for location. The sunny neighborhood, marked by the Castro Theatre marquee and a gigantic rainbow flag blowing in the wind, has become a symbol of gay and lesbian pride throughout the world - somewhat of the gay Mecca.
Shopping & Dining All visitors are welcome in this friendly neighborhood, which offers a huge array of bars, restaurants and specialty stores. Shoppers will enjoy a great selection of modern clothing, bath products, rainbow striped gifts, books and home furnishings. Inexpensive food on the go dominates the dining choices, although the area is also home to outdoor cafes and upscale restaurants.
Public Transportation & Parking Access to public transportation is excellent along Market Street. Muni lines: 24 Divisadero, 33 Stanyan, 35 Eureka, 37 Corbett, J-Church, F-Line. The neighborhood is bustling with activity day or night making residential parking a challenge for renters without a garage.
Points of Interest The neighborhood's main attractions include the Castro Theatre, Mission Dolores Park, Harvey Milk Plaza and the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center. Annual events: Gay Pride Week and the Freedom Day Parade (June), Castro Street Fair (October).
The ornate Dragon's Gate marks the entrance to Chinatown. Rich with Chinese culture and architecture, the narrow streets of Chinatown offer many small apartments in large buildings, many located above commercial space. More than 10,000 members of San Francisco's Chinese community live within a 20-block radius, making Chinatown the most densely populated area of the City.
Shopping & Dining Within this family-oriented neighborhood, there are produce and seafood markets, a wide variety of Asian specialty shops (on Stockton St.), temples and churches, schools, a YMCA, library, post office and oh-so-many deliciously inexpensive restaurants and bakeries.
Public Transportation & Parking The best method of transportation around Chinatown may be on foot due to tremendous traffic congestion and narrow alleyways. Muni runs through Chinatown frequently and the cable car is within walking distance. Muni lines: 12 Folsom, 15 Third, 30 Stockton, 41 Union, 45 Union-Stockton. The parking outlook Not the best... double parked cars abandoned everywhere is the giveaway. There is, however, a municipal parking lot at Portsmouth Square.
Points of Interest The exotic beauty of Chinatown peaks during its festivals and parades celebrating traditional events. Stroll the narrow alleys and you'll stumble upon temples, traditional Chinese herbalists or a fortune cookie factory. The social center of Chinatown is Portsmouth Square where generations converge to engage in tai chi or a game of mahjong. The Chinese New Year festivities take place in January or February. The Chinatown Moon Festival, a community street fair, is held in October.
Although the area is most closely associated with central government and the performing arts, Civic Center has many rental units to offer. If you're looking for convenience to the Financial District or perhaps the freedom of a month-to-month lease, the many furnished "residence hotels" and efficiency units in this area offer an alternative to standard rentals. Many great, affordable units can be found on Van Ness Avenue, Gough and Franklin streets but the compromise for moderate rents may be the noise of traffic on these busy streets. What the area around the Civic Center lacks in "neighborhood charm" it makes up for in location and convenience.
Shopping & Dining Dining in the area caters to everyone's needs from fast food to fine sit-down restaurants, which are popular amongst patrons of the arts. Hayes Street and Van Ness Avenue are loaded with shops and restaurants. The AMC movie theaters and two gyms are nearby. There is also shopping and dining to be found on nearby Polk Street.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni runs along Van Ness Avenue, the City's north-south axis. Muni lines: 19 Polk, 21 Hayes, 42 Downtown Loop, 47 Van Ness, 49 Van Ness-Mission, F-line. Muni Metro/BART - Civic Center Station. Golden Gate transit makes stops on Van Ness Avenue to accommodate residents of Marin and Sonoma counties who commute to and from San Francisco. Van Ness is the extension of Hwy. 101, a main artery to the Golden Gate Bridge via Lombard Street. Residential parking is fair, however major streets such as Franklin are strongject to parking restrictions during commute hours. A City-operated parking lot is located at Civic Center Plaza.
Points of Interest The beautifully restored City Hall (modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome) is one of San Francisco's crown jewels. Opposite City Hall is the beaux arts-style War Memorial Opera House (Ballet and Opera performed here) and the Herbst Theater. The San Francisco Symphony performs nearby at Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall. Government buildings surrounding Civic Center Plaza include State and Federal offices and San Francisco Court House. The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is nearby, as is San Francisco's spectacular Main Library and the award-winning Asian Art Museum, which displays over 2,500 treasures from all over Asia.
South of the Marina, across busy Lombard Street, you'll find Cow Hollow (so named for the 30 dairy farms that flourished here in the 1800s) and the Union Street shopping district. Along eight blocks of Union Street, classic Victorians have been transformed into stylish restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, jewelry stores and world-class spas. Cow Hollow is a very desirable location with rents at the high end of the scale.
Shopping & Dining With a bar (or coffeehouse!) on almost every block, Cow Hollow caters to professional singles out on the town. Restaurant choices range from romantic trattorias to sleek pan-Asian bistros. On the shopping front, high-end national retailers co-mingle harmoniously with independent boutiques.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni runs along Union street. Muni lines: 22 Fillmore, 41 Union, 45 Union-Stockton. There is residential parking (street parking restricted by paid permit), metered parking and a few garages, however parking can still be difficult around Union Street during peak hours such as weekends and evenings.
Points of Interest An architectural point of interest in Cow Hollow is the Octagon House built in 1861 and now a museum for Colonial and Federal Periods. One of the City's most charming parks, Allyne Park, is the perfect spot for a picnic on a sunny afternoon in City. The Union Street Fair, held every June, kicks off the City's street fair season.
South of Highway 280, sandwiched between Mission Street and Geneva Avenue the Excelsior District. The area remains one of the best places to find affordable housing, however some may find the district a little too far removed from the rest of the City. If you don't mind living on the outskirts of the City, there are lots of apartments and single-family homes that are within budget for the average renter. The Excelsior is an ethnically and socio-economically diverse community where there's a sense of renewal as young couples and families search for their first home.
Shopping & Dining Mission Street is the district's commercial street with produce and seafood markets, butcher shops, hair salons and bakeries. Mission Street runs from the Mission District through the Excelsior District and there are many great taquerias along the route.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni lines: 14 Mission, 29 Sunset, 43 Masonic, 44 O'Shaughnessy, 52 Excelsior, 54 Felton.
Points of Interest John McLaren Park is San Francisco's second largest park at 317 acres. Located in the park is the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, named after Grateful Dead singer/guitarist Jerry Garcia, one on the Excelsior District's most famous residents.
Check out the faded 'Waiting for the 52' mural at Mission and Russia streets. The mural is dedicated to the people of the Outer Mission and is painted by the Excelsior Youth Club. Another interesting mural can be found on the south-facing wall of the Cleveland School at Persia and Moscow streets.
The Financial District begins at Montgomery Street and extends east toward the Embarcadero. Although this area is contained within a few city blocks, it is ranked as one of the top four financial centers in the nation. Most activity in the City's commercial district takes place from 9am to 5pm when workers descend on the area.
San Francisco's eastern waterfront has emerged as one of the Citys most exciting new neighborhoods. The Embarcadero is a waterfront boulevard lined with elegant palm trees, historic piers structures, hip eateries and luxury apartments and condominiums. Rentals near the Embarcadero will be true to market rate with a premium paid for views.
Shopping & Dining Levi's Plaza, located between Union and Greenwich streets and Battery and Sansome streets, is the world headquarters of Levi Strauss. Interesting shops, restaurants and a Levi's Jeans History Wall are located here.
Stretching across the heart of the Financial District is the Embarcadero Center, an ultramodern five-building complex of offices, major retailers, fine restaurants, movie theaters, two hotels and Justin Herman Plaza.
Public Transportation & Parking With parking at a premium (and sky-high daily rates to prove it!) Muni offers extensive service to the Financial District including many express lines.
Riding a Muni F-line vintage streetcar is a fun way for visitors to get around and view the San Francisco Bay, Coit Tower and famous Fisherman's Wharf. The fleet of restored streetcars includes international and domestic trolleys from the 1920s and 30s as well as San Francisco's very first street car (built in 1912) and The Street Car Named Desire built in 1923 and acquired from New Orleans in exchange for a California Street cable car. The popular F-line runs a total of five miles beginning at its western terminal in the Castro district, down Market Street to the Embarcadero and ending at Jones and Beach streets in Fisherman's Wharf.
Muni Metro lines T & N run south along the Embarcadero. Muni Lines: 32 Embarcadero, 42 Downtown Loop, 82x Levi Plaza Express.
Cabs are typically more plentiful in the area than in other neighborhoods. Golden Gate Transit (Marin/Sonoma Counties) and AC Transit (Alameda County) buses provide service to and from the Financial District during commute hours.
BART - Embarcadero Station.
Commuters from around the Bay have the option of hopping a ferry to the Ferry Building located on the Embarcadero at the foot of Market Street. Ferries shuttle commuters to and from: Tiburon, Larkspur, Sausalito, Alameda, Oakland, Richmond and Vallejo.
Points of Interest Located inside the Ferry Building is the Ferry Building Marketplace which consists of gourmet shops and restaurants. An outdoor farmers market is held seasonally.
San Francisco's trademark building (and it's tallest), the Transamerica Pyramid, is located in the Financial District.
A fair share of rental properties are located near Fisherman's Wharf, primarily near the approaching boundaries of North Beach and Russian Hill. There are multiunit buildings and duplexes on heavily traveled Polk, North Point and Bay streets. On average, rents will be moderate compared to other districts. Units with Bay view (some overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz) views will, of course, command higher rents.
Shopping & Dining While Dungeness crab and sourdough bread rightfully dominate the dining options, there's something for everyone in the way of restaurants. Fisherman's Wharf has plenty of fresh seafood stands as well as classic seafood restaurants owned by many of San Francisco's oldest families. And popular burger chains provide a fast food alternative.
Most of the shops at the Wharf cater to tourists. There are several fine art galleries on Beach Street as well as street vendors selling many handmade crafts, jewelry and paintings. Ghirardelli Square, the famous old chocolate factory, has been turned into an outdoor shopping center with restaurants, specialty shops and the famous ice cream parlor. The nearby North Point Centre has a grocery store, pharmacy, gym and more.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni service to Fisherman's Wharf is readily available. Muni lines: F-line, 30 Stockton, 42 Downtown Loop. You can always catch a cable car at one of the two turnarounds, not to mention Sausalito and Tiburon are just a ferry ride away from Pier 41. Golden Gate Transit services this area well on weekdays and little less frequently on the weekends. Parking crunches tend to be seasonal and restricted two-hour parking is enforced.
Points of Interest Fisherman's Wharf is not just for tourists. Its a great neighborhood with lots to see and do. The peak summer months bring the crowds but during the off-season residents enjoy one of the Citys quieter districts.
There are the obvious visitor attractions like bay cruises and PIER 39 as well as remnants of old San Francisco such as the fishing fleet docked on the Jefferson Street promenade. Aquatic Park is the perfect spot for a jog, bike ride or afternoon of sunbathing.
Originally part of a 4,000-acre ranch, Forest Hill is home to some of San Francisco's largest lots and loveliest homes. This exclusive area has the look and feel of a strongurban community. Housing in St. Francis Wood and Forrest Hill consists primarily of very large single-family homes, with the vast majority being owner occupied. What few rentals exist in the neighborhood will be on the high end of the scale based on location and square footage.
Shopping & Dining The closest shopping and dining is found in nearby West Portal, a cozy shopping district with many small eateries, neighborhood bars and a movie theater.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni serves the area well. Muni lines: 6 Parnassus, 36 Teresita, 43 Masonic, 44 O'Shaughnessy, 52 Excelsior, 89 Laguna Honda, K-Ingleside, L-Taraval, M-Ocean View. Street parking is readily available.
Points of Interest A few sights worth seeing are located near the district and include the Grand Pacheco Stairway (some say the most elegant and grandest stairway in the city) as well as the Forest Hill Association Clubhouse, built in 1919 by Berkeley architect Bernard Maybeck.
Bordered by Diamond Heights, Miraloma Park, Glen Canyon Park and Highway 280, Glen Park is favored by residents for its relative isolation.
The City bought Glen Canyon Park in 1922 and the rest of the area was sold for home sites. A diverse population calls Glen Park home. Laidley Street is a mishmash of colorful Victorians and modern homes; two mansions located here were brothels for many years. Though not as expensive as neighboring Noe Valley, the rentals to be had around Glen Park will vary from moderate to high depending on location and the unit itself.
Shopping & Dining The village, as residents refer to it, centers on Chenery and Diamond streets. All the necessities are right at hand: banks, coffee houses, restaurants, pizzerias, a neighborhood hardware store and more.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni lines: 23 Monterey, 24 Divisadero, 26 Valencia, 35 Eureka, 44 O'Shaughnessy, 52 Excelsior. BART: Glen Park Station.
Points of Interest Enjoy the great outdoors at beautiful Glen Canyon Park, 70 acres of natural area designated for public enjoyment. Residents flock to the area for hiking, rock climbing bird watching and general recreation!
Perhaps the world's most well known neighborhood is the Haight. Located west of Downtown and below Golden Gate Park's Panhandle the Haight was at the center of the counter culture, free love and antiwar movements during the 1960s. It was home to Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead.
Young people still flock to the area but families are taking up residence as well. Rents are more reasonable than other areas of the City. Most rentals in the area consist of large, often colorful Victorians (that may or may not have been renovated) as well as multiunit apartment buildings. Sharing the spacious rental units here is common.
South of the Haight is Cole Valley. Some of the most charming houses in the City can be found here, but the vacancy rate in Cole Valley is extremely low and rents can fetch a premium price.
There are lovely homes, duplexes and grand apartment buildings located around Buena Vista Park and the area known as Ashbury Heights. Competition can be intense for the limited number of rental units.
Shopping & Dining While you'll find remnants of the "Summer of Love" here, the Haight has gone through a makeover in recent years and smoke shops have given way to funky (and pricey) shoe boutiques, record emporiums and a great variety moderately priced restaurants.
Cole Valley has a quaint neighborhood feel with an independent hardware store, pubs and cafes and restaurants. Businesses on Cole Street appeal to a more mature resident than nearby Haight.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni Metro (N-Judah) stops a few blocks from Haight Street and a number of Muni bus lines run through and around this district as well. Muni lines: 6 Parnassus, 71 Haight, 43 Masonic. This district is close (via Muni) to UCSF and USF. Fell and Oak streets are two of the primary East to West routes in the City.
Unfortunately, the outlook on street parking is poor - especially weekends and evenings.
Points of Interest The Grateful Dead house is located at 710 Ashbury. Residents of the Haight and Cole Valley have great access to all there is to see and do in Golden Gate Park which begins at Haight and Stanyan streets.
Located in the southwestern corner of the city, Ingleside has an ethnically diverse mix of residents. Ocean Avenue is the main drag feeding traffic between 19th Avenue and Highway 280. It is also the commercial heart of the district. The area is gaining in popularity with lower home prices (by San Francisco standards) and convenient transit access. Rental units in the area are mainly flats and single-family homes. Rents are moderate relative to other districts. With its close proximity to San Francisco City College and San Francisco State University, Ingleside is a popular district for students.
Shopping & Dining On Ocean Ave., you'll find many small independently owned stores including a cycle shop, hobby shop, produce markets, and ethnic grocery stores. Dining options include a real 1950's diner, bakeries and coffee house. There's even a popular Pentecostal Church on Ocean Avenue.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni lines: 17 Parkmerced, 26 Valencia, 29 Sunset, 54 Felton, 88 Mission/BART Shuttle, K-Ingleside, M-Ocean View. Street parking is better than other areas of the City.
Points of Interest The Ingleside Sundial, built in 1913, measuring 34 feet in diameter and 28 feet high, is located near one of the gateways to Ingleside Terrace.
Japantown is located between Octavia and Fillmore, and California and Geary. "J-Town", as locals call this neighborhood, has its heart at Japan Center. This five-acre complex of hotels, shops, movie theaters, sushi bars and restaurants, is located at Post and Buchanan Streets. A five-tiered pagoda, a symbol of eternal peace, tops Japan Center. More than 12,000 people of Japanese descent call this area home.
Shopping & Dining Japantown and Japan Center offer many great restaurants concentrated in a four-block radius. The Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, a multi-screen movie complex is located in Japantown. There's grocery shopping nearby at Geary and Webster Sts.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni Lines: 1 California, 2 Clement, 3 Jackson, 4 Sutter, 22 Fillmore, 24 Divisadero, 38 Geary, 38L Geary Limited, 47 Van Ness-Mission, 76 Marin Headlands, 49 Van Ness-Mission, 42 Downtown Loop. Golden Gate Transit. With all the great restaurants and a movie theater, parking can be difficult in the neighborhood.
Points of Interest In the late 1940s and 50s the Fillmore District was considered Harlem West, the place to hear great jazz music. Today the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency is behind efforts to rebuild the historic Fillmore jazz preservation district.
For decades The Fillmore Auditorium has showcased the biggest names in music - the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Pretenders, Tom Petty, Counting Crows and many others. The Fillmore Street Jazz Festival is a much-anticipated event every summer. Japantown celebrates the Cherry Blossom Festival each April. Taiko drumming, doll-making, calligraphy and martial arts demonstrations lead up to a colorful parade.
Laurel Heights and Presidio Heights are located west of Divisadero Street, east of Arguello Blvd., and south the Presidio. Development began around the 1880s, with mostly large homes being built. Today Laurel Heights is still known for its charming homes. There are a large number of apartment buildings around Laurel Heights but vacancy rates are low and demand remains high. It's an area popular with young professionals and families. Rents are comparable to Pacific Heights and the Marina, all among the most sought after locations in the City.
The Presidio is San Francisco's former military station and now a National Park. The Presidio Residences, converted military housing, are an excellent value considering the location.
Just outside the Presidio Gates are some of the most grandiose homes in the City. Presidio Heights is predominately owner-occupied single-family homes and very, very pricey!
Shopping & Dining The area's main commercial center is on California Street, between Laurel and Spruce. Laurel Heights Village has just about every convenience: banks, cafes and restaurants. Sacramento Street from Lyon to Laurel is another area full of boutiques that cater to the little luxuries in life. You'll find locals lined up for breakfast at any one of the many neighborhood eateries.
In the Presidio, leftover military buildings have slowly been converted to civilian use including a gym and a huge sporting goods warehouse store.
Public Transportation & Parking Public transportation from Laurel Heights is great. Muni lines: 1 California, 2 Clement, 3 Jackson, 4 Sutter, 43 Masonic. Golden Gate Transit. Parking in Laurel Heights can be difficult near the commercial areas and the hospital.
Points of Interest At the northern-most tip of San Francisco, is the Presidio, 1,500 acres of pine, cypress, and eucalyptus forests, grasslands, meadows, ocean bluffs, trails, beaches, the city's last free-flowing creek, and the remains of 220 years of military occupations. Now part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the park has spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. As part of the Presidio redevelopment project, the former Army station now houses a world-class 18-hole golf course and George Lucas $300 million Letterman Digital Arts Center. The four building, 800,000 square-foot LucasFilm campus is at the east end of the Presidio.
San Francisco's prestigious Marina District occupies the northern tip of the City. The Marina is primarily residential in nature and buildings are well maintained making this a quiet, clean and very desirable neighborhood. Charming older apartment buildings and expensive single-family homes offer excellent views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. The Marina District is a cozy refuge for young professionals on the rise, as well as wealthy socialites and lifelong residents. Competition for a unit in the Marina is fierce. Rents are on the upper end of the scale, but residents believe the charm and distinction of the Marina is more than worth the price.
Shopping & Dining Chestnut Street (from Fillmore to Divisadero) is the "main drag" in the Marina District. Catering to a mostly young local clientele, Chestnut Street offers a variety of specialty boutiques, national retail stores, cafes, bars and restaurants. Lombard Street is a busy commercial street and Union Street is a reasonable walk. For grocery shopping there's the Marina Safeway located across from Fort Mason.
Public Transportation & Parking Public transportation is a breeze to and from the Marina District. Muni lines: 22 Fillmore, 28 19th Avenue, 30 Stockton.
Driving and parking in this district can be a little easier than in other areas of the City, however, some difficulty might be found parking near Chestnut Street. Residential permit parking is available.
The Marina District offers great access to the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Transit (to and from Marin/ Sonoma counties) makes stops on Lombard Street.
Points of Interest The Marina Green, a long strip of green lawn, is the social center of the Marina District. It's popular with sunbathers, runners, bicyclists and power walkers. A paved path running the length of the Marina Green is known as Golden Gate Promenade. The Marina Green is a great spot to fly a kite or take in spectacular views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.
The Palace of Fine Arts, a remnant from the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition, houses the Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum for young people.
Located south of Highway 101 and Market Street, the Mission is one of San Franciscos oldest neighborhoods. On those uniquely San Francisco days when the rest of the City is shrouded in fog, the Mission District is typically bright and sunny.
Once an area overlooked by many, the Mission has grown in popularity as rents in San Francisco have escalated. With its rise in popularity have come upscale restaurants and bars.
An ethnically diverse district, the Mission is heavily populated by the Citys Hispanic community. Housing consists mainly of less expensive Victorian flats and houses. In recent years a number of warehouses have been converted into live/work-style loft buildings. While the neighborhood has seen tremendous gentrification the crime rate would still be considered above average in the Mission.
Shopping & Dining You wont find a better burrito at a lower price anywhere in the City and colorful bargain shops guarantee you hours of free entertainment (not to mention apartment furnishings). Nearby Valencia Street has experienced a gentrification in the past few years and several of the Citys hippest and most well reviewed restaurants and bars are located here.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni and BART are both easily accessible in the Mission District. Muni lines: 12 Folsom, 14 Mission, 22 Fillmore, 26 Valencia, 27 Bryant, 33 Stanyan, 49 Van Ness, 53 Southern Heights. BART: Mission-16th Street station, Mission 24th Street station. Street parking in The Mission can be a challenge, especially Valencia Street on weekend evenings or near Mission Dolores on Sunday morning. Residential permit parking is available.
Points of Interest Mission Dolores, at Dolores and 16th streets, was the sixth Franciscan mission built along El Camino Real. At 18th and Dolores Streets is Dolores Park, good for a view of the city, sunbathing, tennis or a quick stroll with the dog. San Franciscos reputation for cultural diversity is evident in the over 200 vibrant murals found in the Mission! Other points of interest include the original Levi Strauss factory on Valencia Street.
Along with some of the most luxurious hotels in the world, Nob Hill has the exclusive on some of San Franciscos most elegant apartment buildings.
Originally settled by railroad and mining magnates, the hill is a postcard-perfect scene any day of the year. Only a select few will have the budget for a prime Nob Hill addresses. But as you expand the rental radius downhill (i.e. Lower Nob Hill) there are many rentals (in large multi-unit buildings) with a more palatable price tag. An apartment near Nob Hill offers great access for those working in the Financial District, Union Square or Civic Center. The clang of cable car bells outside your window adds to the sensory seduction of Nob Hill.
Shopping & Dining Romantic neighborhood restaurants are a great bet and Nob Hill is within healthy walking distance of North Beach, Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown. Also close by is Union Square, San Franciscos world-renowned shopping district and the theater district.
Public Transportation & Parking Access is the key here: Downtown, Union Square, North Beach, Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown are all within walking distance. And if you dont want to walk, the cable car lines intersect at the top of the hill and Muni services the area. Muni lines: 1 California, 27 Bryant.
Parking can be very tight, though not impossible, around the busy hotels in the neighborhood. Securing a parking spot around Lower Nob Hill usually requires driving around the block multiple times until one becomes available. Most of the luxury units have parking (though likely for an additional monthly fee).
Points of Interest Grace Cathedral, the largest Gothic structure in the West, was built here in 1928 and sits atop the hill across from the Masonic Auditorium. The 1906 Earthquake claimed the original robber barons mansions but their decadence is still seen at the front steps of the Mark Hopkins Hotel and the Pacific-Union Club (formerly the Flood Mansion).
If you wait long enough or look hard enough, you may snag an apartment in highly sought-after Noe Valley. Located in the valley on the east side of Twin Peaks and just south of the Castro, this neighborhood is sunny and detached enough to seem to have a pace of its own.
You get a true sense of community in Noe Valley. Renovated Victorians attract as many families as young professionals. Turnover is much lower here than in other districts. Small, charming houses predominate on three steep hills overlooking the 24th-Street shopping district. The nook-and-cranny placement provides views of the Bay and the other hills. Rent for a choice unit in the heart of Noe Valley rivals some of the Citys luxury districts.
Shopping & Dining The main attraction in Noe Valley is 24th Street (between Church and Castro streets) offering coffeehouses, bars, a health food store, banks, card and gift stores.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni service is very good to and from the Richmond.
Residential street parking can be competitive, especially around 24th Street.
Muni lines: 24 Divisadero, 48 Quintara, 24th St., J Church
Often compared to Paris' Left Bank, North Beach has been influenced by successive waves of immigrants. Its definitely San Francisco's most European neighborhood but there's more to North Beach than just pasta al dente and strong coffee.
North Beach is absolutely one of the best spots to experience San Francisco living provided you dont own a car! If youre not scared off by the warning, and lucky enough to secure a rental here, you will never be at a loss for exciting diversions, delicious meals or convenient access. Narrow streets partition this historically Italian neighborhood, centered on Columbus Avenue between Broadway and Lombard streets. Rental units in North Beach cover the spectrum from old apartment buildings to single-family homes to renovated flats. Nestled between Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf, many residents and visitors consider North Beach to be San Franciscos most exciting neighborhood.
Shopping & Dining It would be difficult to make a bad choice when it comes to selecting a restaurant in North Beach. There are numerous old-world Italian favorites and new restaurants are always coming and going. Theres a dining option to meet every budget. Italian markets and delis are common but the closest grocery store is at North Point Centre (Fisherman's Wharf). Nearby Chinatown is an excellent source for produce and seafood. Its difficult not to be lured by the tempting Italian bakeries. On any given afternoon cafes are crowded with the young and old engaging in debate or reading foreign newspaper, most with espresso drink in hand. After dinner stop in to one of the local bars featuring live jazz music.
Public Transportation & Parking Walking is the preferred mode of travel with North Beach residents. Living here will be all the more pleasant if you take advantage of the bus and taxis. Muni lines: 15 Third, 30 Stockton, 39 Coit, 41 Union, 42 Downtown Loop, 45 Union-Stockton. The cable car lines are also nearby. If you insist on parking, many apartments include a garage space for an additional charge.
Points of Interest The Beat movement of the 1950s and 1960s has its roots in this eclectic neighborhood and upper Grant Avenue maintains the flavor of this Bohemian culture. The oldest street in the City, Grant Avenue, is lined with tiny cafes, Barbary Coast saloons, pizza parlors and stylish boutiques. North Beach has its own grassy piazza in Washington Square Park, where elderly residents practice Tai Chi early weekday mornings. The twin-spired Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral hugs the park and lends a graceful touch to North Beach.
Outlined by Pine, Divisadero, Broadway and Van Ness Ave., Pacific Heights is San Franciscos most upscale neighborhood. The stately mansions are home to the Citys social royalty, celebrities, new-money dot comers and the wealthy first families of San Francisco. Its popular for the views, the great neighborhood dining and shopping, parks and that safe happy feeling the neighborhood exudes.
The Citys growth led to the construction of luxury towers and art-deco apartments where residents maintain entire floors. Most of Pacific Heights is comprised of private residences, but there are plenty of apartments near commercial Fillmore Street, California Street and along the outskirts of the district, referred to as Lower Pacific Heights. Expect to pay for this exclusive location; quality of life has its price tag. Like the nearby Marina, young professionals flock to the area and are willing to pay whatever it takes to secure one of San Franciscos most in-demand zip codes.
Shopping & Dining Most shopping and dining can be found on Fillmore Street. It has upscale shops and restaurants. There are banks and a market but the closest grocery store is located in the Marina District. Union Street is a healthy walk from Pacific Heights.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni lines: 3 Jackson, 12 Folsom, 22 Fillmore, 24 Divisadero, 1 California, 31 Balboa, 41 Union, 45 Union-Stockton. Availability of street parking varies from being readily available to near impossible on Fillmore Street.
Points of Interest Lafayette Park and Alta Plaza Park are two popular spots to walk the dog and people watch. A little Pacific Heights trivia: The Mrs. Doubtfire house is located at the corner of Broadway and Steiner streets. Just a few doors down Broadway is the Party of Five residence. There are numerous consulates in Pacific Heights. Some well-known architects favored the area; their works include the Hass-Lilienthal House, the Flood Mansion, Phelan and Spreckels Mansions.
Lifelong residents of Potrero Hill have had their best-kept secret divulged! As real estate prices around the Bay Area, and in particular San Francisco, have soared, developers have descended on this up and coming southeastern corner of the City. A major gentrification is still in progress; Victorian restorations, condo conversions and live/work loft construction seem to be taking place on every block.
Once a great place with affordable rents, Potrero Hill is now inhabited by young two-income families and techies looking for the excitement of the City with great freeway access to the Silicon Valley. Youll find some of the sunniest weather the City has to offer and priceless views of Downtown and the Bay Bridge (but remember that views command a premium in rent). Potrero Hill rents will vary from the high side to the more moderate end of the scale. Lower rents will likely be found near Third Street or in close proximity to the housing projects. This serene neighborhood is not far from the warehouses South of Market and the piers at China Basin that gives the district an industrial feel.
Shopping & Dining Potrero Hill has a strong community atmosphere. The small commercial district is on 18th Street, a three-block stretch of great shopping and dining. You can always find great music at the Bottom of the Hill Club on 17th Street. Theres a strip mall located on 16th and Potrero streets with Safeway, GAP, a pet supply store and more. Theres also a Whole Foods in Potrero Hill.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni buses run to and from Potrero Hill. Muni lines: 9 San Bruno, 15 Third, 22 Fillmore, 19 Polk, 53 Southern Heights. Freeway access to Hwy 101, 280 and the Bay Bridge is excellent for commuters. Street parking is less competitive in Potrero Hill than other parts of the City.
Points of Interest The Anchor Brewing Company is located on Mariposa Street with tours available by reservation.
Framed by the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park, the Richmond District is within driving distance to almost any corner of the City. Rents in this middle-class district vary from affordable apartments and in laws to lovely flats commanding top dollar. Those in the market for larger units (3BD, 2BA) may have better luck looking in the Richmond or Sunset Districts. Divided by Golden Gate Park, the Richmond and Sunset both reflect San Franciscos ethic diversity with their significant Asian and Russian communities. The University of San Francisco is located nearby on Fulton Street. The Richmond, like the Sunset, has some of the foggiest weather in the City, but on an occasional sunny day theres nothing like taking in the sunset from Ocean Beach.
Shopping & Dining Coming from Downtown via Geary Blvd. (one on the Citys busiest streets), youll notice Irish pubs, sports bars, and scores of good Asian eateries. A variety of shops line Clement Street, the Richmonds other commercial street. Clement Street has more of a neighborhood ambiance than Geary Blvd. and there are many great restaurants and bars, produce markets, used bookstores and Asian bakeries and specialty shops. Theres a large Safeway on La Playa near Ocean Beach.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni service is very good to and from the Richmond. Residential street parking is readily available except on busy Clement Street. Muni lines: 1 California, 2 Clement, 4 Sutter, 5 Fulton, 18 46th Ave, 21 Hayes, 28L 19th Ave Limited, 29 Sunset, 31 Balboa, 33 Stanyan, 38 Geary, 44 OShaughnessy. Golden Gate Transit stops on Park Presidio.
Points of Interest Golden Gate Park is about the best back yard anyone could ask for! Residents of the Richmond (or Sunset) have the opportunity to take full advantage of acre upon acre of green grass, lakes and ponds, paved paths, tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, two museums (deYoung and California Academy of Sciences) and much more!
The Richmond has a grand history as a playground for the rich. One-time San Francisco Mayor, Adolph Sutro, created an assembly of attractions in the Citys western reaches, among them his seven-story Victorian Cliff House. The Sutro Baths were a half-dozen indoor salt-water swimming pools with swings, slides and seating for hundreds of spectators. Only pictures remain of the decadent Cliff House (the current structure houses the Cliff House Restaurant) and the Sutro Baths burned to the ground in the 60s.
Lincoln Park is home to the Fine Arts Museum (located in the California Palace of the Legion of Honor) and Lincoln Park Golf Course, a municipal course with a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
With so many beautiful buildings offering stunning views, its no surprise that rent for a prime Russian Hill unit is on the very high end of the scale. Its a great neighborhood and there are less expensive rental options the closer you travel towards North Beach or in the area known as Polk Gulch. The Gulch is defined as Polk Street between Union and California streets and the bordering streets.
Shopping & Dining North of California Street theres a variety of shops, coffeehouses and restaurants for every budget and taste. There are many small markets, a pharmacy and a health food store on Polk Street but youll need transportation to get to a major grocery store. Polk Street has a seedy southern portion of the street that runs through the Tenderloin.
Public Transportation & Parking Public transportation is available via Muni bus or cable car lines (Hyde Street and California Street lines). Muni lines: 19 Polk, 41 Union, 42 Downtown Loop, 45 Union - Stockton, 49 Van Ness Mission. Street parking can be tight throughout Russian Hill and particularly on Polk Street during peak hours.
Points of Interest Driving down the crookedest street in the world can be entertaining. The house that the famous writer Jack Kerouac lived in is on Russell Street. Local author Armestead Maupins Tales of the City series was set on Barbarby Lane -- actually Macondray Lane located in Russian Hill (between Taylor and Leavenworth sts.).
Along the Embarcadero just south of Market is a burgeoning neighborhood that mixes the flavor of San Francisco's old shipyards with new restaurants, loft spaces and sweeping views of the piers and Bay Bridge. This tiny neighborhood sprung up after the 1989 earthquake and the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway. As fast as developers can construct housing in South Beach its sold or rented at the upper end of the rent scale. You won't find a back yard and loft living is not for everyone, but this section of the City is popular with the affluent ultra-hip crowd.
Shopping & Dining South Beach has great nightlife with numerous bars and restaurants.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni lines: 30 Stockton, 45 Union/Stockton, 42 Downtown Loop, 41 Union, N-Judah, T-Third. Caltrain Depot. The parking outlook is fair, by day the area fills up with commuter cars and at evening parking is at a premium among club goers.
Points of Interest Two centerpieces of the Mission Bay redevelopment project is AT&T Park home to the San Francisco Giants and the UCSF Mission Bay Campus. Most of the new office space in Mission Bay was built to lure biotech firms.
Located south of the Financial District and Market Street, the neighborhood known as South of Market (Soma) has experienced one of the greatest transitions in the City's history. Tremendous growth and redevelopment has taken place over the past 15 years and many new rentals have come on line and been snatched up just as quickly. In the district once populated solely by industrial warehouses, most of the rentals located South of Market are modern live-work loft- style units. Rents are pretty true to the market with larger apartment complexes offering amenities such as workout facilities and underground parking. In recent years, SOMA has also become home to San Franciscos film, video, multimedia and dot com industries. For the sake of convenience, South of Market can be a great choice for living close to the office.
Shopping & Dining South of Market has emerged as San Francisco's nightlife district with bars, live music venues, dance clubs and restaurants concentrated around Folsom and 11th sts. but rapidly expanding around the neighborhood. Clubs come and go in the warehouse spaces but Slims, opened by Boz Scaggs, firmly established 11th Street as the epicenter of San Franciscos live music scene. Metreon, located on 5th and Mission sts. near Yerba Buena Gardens, offers dining, retail shopping and movie theatres. Westfield San Francisco Centre is the Citys newest retail destination.
Public Transportation & Parking As San Franciscos transportation hub, Soma is home to both the Caltrain depot and the Transbay bus terminal. Muni lines: 9 San Bruno, 12 Folsom, 14 Mission, 15 Third, 19 Polk, 26 Valencia, 27 Bryant, 30 Stockton, 32 Embarcadero, 41 Union, 42 Downtown Loop, 45 Union-Stockton, 47 Van Ness-Mission, 71 Haight - Noriega, 76 Marin Headlands, 80X CalTrans Express, 81X CalTrans Express, 82X Presidio/Wharves Express, 108 Treasure Island, F-Market, N-Judah. Caltrain: Depot, 2nd & King Station, Brannan Station, Folsom Station. Street parking varies around the area South of Market from good to fair to difficult.
Points of Interest The Yerba Buena cultural district is anchored by world-class museums including the San Franciscos Modern Art Museum, Museum of the African Diaspora, Museum of Craft and Folk Art, the Contemporary Jewish Museum (opening spring 2008) . Yerba Buena Gardens is the jewel of SOMAs revitalization, with its five-acre public gardens, Center for the Arts, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Zeum, skating rink, bowling alley and carousel. Moscone Convention Center is the Citys main convention and exhibition facility and the source of millions of dollars of revenue for the City each year.
The Sunset District is located in the southwestern section of the city and offers some of San Franciscos best priced rentals as well as the foggiest weather. Its an ethnically diverse neighborhood with the largest Asian population outside of Chinatown.
The Inner Sunset (near the 9th Avenue commercial area) is moderately priced living, a largely residential neighborhood near UCSF. The Outer Sunset is close to the Great Highway and Ocean Beach (though living near the beach in San Francisco does not command a premium rent, as is the case in Southern California).
Golden Gate Park runs the length of the district. Nearby Parkside is the neigh-borhood near Taraval, west of 19th Avenue. The Sunset and Parkside districts offer great access to San Francisco State University.
Shopping & Dining Most commerce in the Sunset centers around Irving Street at 9th Avenue. Here youll find sushi bars, coffeehouses, restaurants and produce markets. Asian specialty stores and Chinese food dominate the commercial area of Irving Street west of 19th Avenue. Stonestown Galleria is a premier shopping center.
Public Transportation & Parking 19th Avenue is a main artery connecting San Francisco with Marin County to the North and San Mateo County to the South. Muni and Muni Metro have extensive service to and from the Sunset. Muni and Muni Metro lines: N Judah, L Taraval, 28 19th Avenue, 48 Quintara.
Points of Interest Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Zoo and Ocean Beach are among the many things to see and do in the Sunset.
With its cottages, stepped streets and gardened lanes, its easy to see why artists and writers once flocked to this quintessential San Francisco neighborhood. The maze-like streets offer views of the Bay Bridge and East Bay, Fisherman's Wharf, downtown and even Twin Peaks - it just depends on which way you turn. At the top of Filbert Street is Coit Tower, providing a beacon of light to its neighbors and a point of reference for newcomers. All of the hills - Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill - are upscale neighborhoods with many wonderful apartments commanding high rents.
Shopping & Dining Telegraph Hill is close to North Beach and Chinatown that offer some of the Citys best options for dining. There are a few small markets around Telegraph Hill and a few will deliver because of the hill.
Public Transportation & Parking Streets are steep but steps were constructed to facilitate the walk up the hill. Bus service is somewhat limited. Muni line: 39-Coit Tower. Residential parking can be a challenge around Telegraph Hill. Access to the Bay Bridge is good.
Points of Interest Coit Tower marks Telegraph Hill and was built as a memorial to the firefighters who fought the blazes that followed the 1906 Earthquake.
VIEWS! VIEWS! VIEWS! At the upper end of Market Street youll find a high concentration of rental units, many with sweeping views of Downtown and the Bay Bridge. Modern buildings and condominiums cling to steep and sometimes winding hills in this neighborhood. Rents are not as expensive as Telegraph Hill or Russian Hill; units are clean and modern but most not quite as luxurious. Twin Peaks is removed from, but still in touch with, the hustle and bustle of the City. This lovely area is also close to the Castro, Cole Valley and an easy commute to UCSF.
Shopping & Dining In the heart of this very residential neighborhood there isnt much in the way of shopping, so youll need to visit the Diamond Heights or Market Street Safeways. The best dining options are found nearby in the Castro or Cole Valley.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni runs up and over Twin Peaks; Market St. at Castro St. is a central transfer point for lines traveling around the City. Because streets tend to wind back into the hills and bus service is limited to the major thoroughfares, individuals relying on public transportation should take this into consideration when selecting a unit. Muni line: 48 Quintara and 24th Street. Market Street is a main east to west axis so freeway access is good from Twin Peaks.
Points of Interest The view is the main reason youll see a caravan of tour buses headed up Market Street.
Union Square / Downtown With all its designer boutiques and large department stores, Union Square offers some of the best shopping on the West Coast. Stockton, Post, Geary and Powell streets border the square. Pine, Bush, Sutter and Leavenworth streets, just north west of Union Square, make up the area referred to as Downtown. There are many fine (but older) apartment buildings on these streets and turnover is pretty high while rents are lower than other areas of the City. Units are typically studios and one-bedroom apartments; many units have hardwood floors and period detail. You cant beat Downtown for convenience to the Financial District or a walk to Union Square. The Art Academy is nearby as well. The only downside to living around Union Square might be a lack of street parking and possibly the noise from traffic on the busier streets.
The area south of Union Square traveling west towards Civic Center is the Tenderloin, one of the lowest rent districts and also one of the higher crime areas in the City (including prostitution and drug dealing).
Shopping & Dining Located around the square are Macys, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany, Niketown, Gucci and many, many more. Theres a great selection of coffee shops, restaurants and hotels in the area.
Public Transportation & Parking San Franciscos famous Cable Cars go to and from Union Square where the Powell Street turnaround is located. Muni makes numerous stops on Stockton Street and regular service is available to the nearby Financial District. Muni lines: 2 Clement, 3 Jackson, 4 Sutter, 5 Fulton, 21 Hayes, 27 Bryant, 30 Stockton, 31 Balboa, 38 Geary, 42 Downtown Loop, 45 Union-Stockton, 47 Van Ness, 49 Mission, 76 Marin Headlands. Few buildings have garage parking and while there are many public garages, rates are high with the exception of the City-operated Sutter-Stockton Garage.
Points of Interest On weekends, theres usually some form of entertainment going on in the Union Square Park but shopping is what draws the crowds. San Franciscos theatre district is steps from Union Square.
The Western Addition, Hayes Valley and Alamo Square typically offer some of the least expensive rental units in the City. Rental choices consist of units in funky old Victorian buildings along with modern high-rise buildings offering many amenities including workout facilities, security and underground parking. Hayes Valley and the Western Addition have been slow to see the same gentrification as other parts of the City.
Shopping & Dining Fillmore Street is the most popular spot for shopping and dining in the Western Addition. Nearby Japantown and Japan Center offer many great restaurants concentrated in a four-block radius. Theres a Safeway at Geary and Webster sts.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni runs throughout the Western Addition and Hayes Valley. Muni Lines: 2 Clement, 3 Jackson, 4 Sutter, 22 Fillmore, 24 Divisadero, 38 Geary, 47 Van Ness-Mission, 76 Marin Headlands, 49 Van Ness-Mission, 42 Downtown Loop. Golden Gate Transit.
Points of Interest Alamo Square is home to Postcard Row -- the most photographed block of homes in the world.
Located in the southwest section of San Francisco, west of Twin Peaks, is West Portal, a pristine tree-lined area. Within walking distance of the avenue are churches, schools, a public swimming pool and playgrounds. Some may find West Portal a bit removed from the pulse of the City but others find it a refuge. Its a lovely place to live and rents are about average relative to other districts, less than Pacific Heights, more than the Richmond or Sunset Districts.
Shopping & Dining West Portal has an array of shopping and professional services extending for three blocks from the streetcar tunnel at Ulloa Street to Sloat Boulevard. There are boutiques, toy stores, spa services, hair salons, grocery stores, coffeehouses, banks, pubs and a movie theater. West Portal also boasts some of the best Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Polish and Indian cuisine.
Public Transportation & Parking Muni lines: 17 Parkmerced, 28 19th Ave, 48 Quintara/24th Street, K-Ingleside, L-Taraval, M-Ocean View. Access to the 280 Freeway is excellent.
Points of Interest Stern Grove features an outdoor amphitheater set among the eucalyptus trees. During the summer its used for free concerts featuring top-name entertainment acts.