Local Finds and Hangouts in San Francisco

What are the Local Spots in San Francisco?

San Francisco is full of distinct neighborhoods and regions where local residents live, work, shop, and play. Many of these areas have their own subculture and attractions where local residents (or residents of the entire city) can find places that they identify with. For example, the Mission is traditionally a trendy and hip neighborhood, while the Castro is the gay neighborhood, and the Marina is where young professionals tend to hang out. But no matter what type of place you're looking for, every neighborhoods has something interesting to offer visitors.
Western Addition
Any 1980s kid is going to want to visit Western Addition, where you'll find Alamo Square Park and it's famous view of the Painted Ladies. This row of ornately decorated Victorian houses found fame as the home of the Tanner family, in the hit sitcom, "Full House." It really does feel like you've stepped out of the screen as you look out on this classic setting.

Western Addition also has a rich history as a multicultural neighborhood with it's roots in jazz and music, having been home to such greats as Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. The jazz scene remains vibrant today and the neighborhood has a number of great bars and music venues.
San Francisco, CA
The Mission
The Mission District is an authentic neighborhood that is away from the well beaten tourist path of San Francisco. The neighborhood has a large Hispanic population and many great local restaurants where you can try some of the best tacos and burritos around. This neighborhood is also famous for its colorful street art and murals. To see these beautiful works, head to Balmy Alley (between 24th and 25th streets, and Treat and Harrison streets) and Clarion Alley (between 17th and 18th streets, and Mission and Valencia streets). There are also a number of other famous murals in the area.
San Francisco, CA
Planning a trip to San Francisco? You might also be interested in How to Spend One Day in San Francisco and Murals and Street Art in San Francisco.
The Castro
The Castro
This friendly neighborhood is known as San Francisco's classic gay neighborhood. You can reach it by taking the F-Line street car and then explore the area with its colorful buildings and welcoming people. The neighborhood has a great nightlife scene with a number of fun bars and clubs. There always seems to be a lively party going on, so put of your most fun dancing clothes and head here for a uniquely San Francisco experience. This is also a great destination for brunch as their are a number of good cafes.
San Francisco, CA
SoMa, which stands for South of Market, is a neighborhood that includes The Moscone Center, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Yerba Buena Gardens. There are number of quality museums in this neighborhood as well including the Museum of the African Diaspora, Contemporary Jewish Museum, California Historical Society Museum, Children’s Creativity Museum and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

While it's filled with culture during the day, the neighborhood comes to life at night. Head to SoMa in the evening to take advantage of one of the neighborhood's many dance clubs. This area also has excellent restaurants, including Luce, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the InterContinental Hotel.

San Francisco, CA
Russian Hill
Most tourists head to Russian Hill to see the famous Lombard Street, which is known as "the crookedest street in the world." It's a beautifully landscaped twisty street with impressive views out over the city and bay. Aside from this famous landmark, Russian Hill offers a look at residential life in the city. There are small parks, a handful of local restaurants, and few tourists away from the main sites. If you want to see a classic San Francisco residential neighborhood that also has spectacular views, head to Russian Hill.
San Francisco, CA
Richmond District
In the western half of San Francisco, away from the busy financial district and most of the touristy areas, you'll find rows of residential streets. Between Golden Gate Park to the south and the Presidio and coastline to the north lies the Richmond District. This is a fairly diverse area of San Francisco containing plenty of houses along with restaurants, shops, theaters, bars, and everything the locals need to live. Here you can find a smaller Chinatown, too, as many of the city's Chinese residents have relocated here for more affordable housing. Other ethnic groups have settled here as well.
San Francisco, California
Pacific Heights
Pacific Heights is a popular residential area for its beautiful Victorian homes and wealthy atmosphere. This neighborhood is known for its warmer weather (thanks to San Francisco's micro-climates) and beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge. In the area you'll also find Danielle Steel's mansion, and the house that was featured in the famous film, "Mrs. Doubtfire."
San Francisco, CA
North Beach
North Beach is San Francisco's Italian neighborhood, and although you may still see the Italian flag flying proudly outside of a few great Italian restaurants and gelato shops, the neighborhood has lost much of its cultural roots. It still has a lot to offer visitors though. Head to Washington Square Park to relax with the locals. This area also has a vibrant nightlife scene, so you can explore many of the neighborhood's fun bars and clubs as well.
San Francisco, CA
Interested in more travel advice for San Francisco? Check out The Best Museums in San Francisco and Where to Take your Dog in San Francisco.
Nob Hill
Hop on a cable car and make your way to the top of Nob Hill. This famous San Francisco neighborhood is filled with famous hotels, historic architecture, and breathtaking views of the city and bay. This neighborhood is where you'll find the San Francisco Cable Car Museum, Grace Cathedral, and the famous Fairmont Hotel. It's not far from Russian Hill and Chinatown, and it's a must-see area to walk around, but be prepared to give your legs a workout.
Mission Dolores Park
Mission Dolores Park
This large park is a popular hangout with locals, who head here when the weather's nice to enjoy picnics, ballgames, and hanging out in the sun. The park has a full-sized basketball court, a bike polo court, a soccer field, and six tennis courts. There's also a large playground that's perfect for kids. The park is in a family-friendly area so parents and kids often spend their afternoons here.
Dolores St &, 19th St, Mission and the Castro, San Francisco, CA, 94114
Market Street
Market Street is a major corridor through San Francisco and along it you'll find many shops, restaurants, and businesses. The Central Market neighborhood is home to a number of recognizable tech companies including Twitter and Spotify. There are also theaters, museums, and music venues in the area. Some of the restaurants in the neighborhood cater mostly to tourists, but if you know where to look there are some hidden gems as well.
San Francisco, CA
Marina District
This neighborhood has built up on the site of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, with the only remaining building being the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts. Head to the nearby Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture on a Friday night to enjoy Off the Grid, which is a large food truck gathering. This is also the neighborhood where you'll find the Michelin-starred restaurant, Atelier Crenn, with it's award winning menu that changes seasonally.
San Francisco, CA
Lands End Park
Lands End Park
Lands End is a park that's located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It runs along the beautiful rocky shoreline and offers stunning views out over the water. It's located between the Sutro District and Lincoln Park and has a number of hiking trails that follow the coast. You'll also find a few small beaches such as Mile Rock Beach and Sea Rocks Beach. Also inside the park is the Legion of Honor art gallery, Holocaust Memorial, a golf course, the USS San Francisco WW2 Memorial, the Sutro Baths, and more. It's a nice place to explore, or find a space to yourself and enjoy reading or simply relaxing.
Seacliff, SF, California, 94121-1545
Japantown in San Francisco is the oldest of the three remaining Japantowns in the United States. At the heart of the neighborhood is the Japan Center, which is a shopping area filled with restaurants, hotels, and a movie theater. Head here for some of the city's best sushi and ramen. The neighborhood also hosts a number of great festivals throughout the years including the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, Children's Day in May, and the August Nihonmachi Street Fair
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: Best Places for Dumplings and Dim Sum in San Francisco and Budget Friendly Neighborhoods in San Francisco.
Japan Center
Located in the fascinating Japantown neighborhood, The Japan Center is a shopping center that highlights the area's Japanese culture. It first opened in 1968 and includes the Kinokuniya Mall, Kintetsu Mall (Japan Center West), and Miyako Mall (Japan Center East).
1613 Geary Boulevard, Japantown, SF, California, 94115
Hayes Valley
Hayes Valley is a dynamic neighborhood centering on Hayes Street between the blocks of Van Ness Ave and Laguna. Here you'll find plenty of shops and restaurants. If you're interested in clothing boutiques, this is a good spot, as this area has plenty. Also found here are some home and garden design stores, tech and gadget shops, and shoe stores. A few bars and restaurants can be found along Hayes Street as well such as Doppio Zero (pizza & Italian), Anina (cocktails & beer), Monsieur Benjamin (French), and Chez Maman (French). The Davies Symphony Hall and the SFJAZZ Center are also in this area of town. Also, check out Patricia's Green which is a small park with some art exhibits.
Hayes & Gough, San Francsico, California
This neighborhood is etched into the minds of everyone who remembers the infamous "Summer of Love". The intersection of Haight and Ashbury is at the heart of San Francisco's counterculture movement, and while the 60s and 70s are long gone, it's easy to see the remnants of this time in the neighborhood today. It's still possible to locate the former homes of people such as Jimi Hendrix, Joan Jet, and the Grateful Dead.

The neighborhood still has a Bohemian vibe with a number of great shops that sell second hand goods and vintage items.
San Francisco, CA
Financial District and Embarcadero
Financial District and Embarcadero
San Francisco's Financial District is where you'll find most of the city's skyscrapers. Famous buildings include the Transamerica Pyramid and the Ferry Building. This area is busy on any given weekday and there are a number of popular Happy Hours after work, but the neighborhood quiets down quickly at night. There are some nice romantic spots and restaurants that couples can enjoy in the neighborhood.

The Embarcadero is the waterfront area by the Financial District. It's lined with piers that look out over the San Francisco Bay. By the Ferry Building there are also wine bars and cafes, as well as a weekend farmer's market.
San Francisco, CA
Fillmore St. connects Western Addition to Pacific Heights, and it's a popular area with locals who often refer to it as "The Fillmore." This area is popular for its music scene and nightlife, but during the day the area becomes a popular shopping destination. Upper Fillmore is filled with trendy vintage shops, big name fashion retailers, and everything in between. There are also a number of historic churches in the neighborhood.

Historically, Fillmore was considered one of the most diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco with large populations of African Americans, Japanese, and Jewish residents. The area has a rich cultural history that at one time had a notable jazz scene (that some people claim is making a comeback).
San Francisco, CA
Chinatown is a must-see neighborhood for anyone visiting San Francisco. It's one of the most visited neighborhoods in the city and it offers a unique cultural experience, that is surprisingly authentic, particularly if you wander down Stockton Street, which is lined with local seafood and vegetable markets. For the more touristy stretch with souvenir shops, head to Grant Street. San Francisco's Chinatown has a long history, and it is home to the largest Chinese population outside of China.

For anyone interested in trying local Chinese food, there are a number of good restaurants. There are also many small shops with souvenirs and trinkets.
San Francisco, CA
Interested in more travel advice for San Francisco? Check out Neighborhoods in San Francisco and Quirky and Unique Neighborhoods in San Francisco.
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Planning a trip to San Francisco? You might also be interested in The Best Local Sites in San Francisco and The Best Neighborhoods for Ethnic Food in San Francisco.
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