Neighborhoods in San Francisco

The Most Interesting Neighborhoods in San Francisco

The diverse neighborhoods of San Francisco represent almost every subsection of American culture. From the historic Chinatown to the busy financial district to the gay-friendly Castro, every section of San Francisco offers something unique and special. Also, did you know that some of these neighborhoods also have their own microclimates? Because of the location of the mountain ranges and hills in the city, the winds and fog coming from the ocean and the bay gets blocked, leaving certain areas of the city warm and sunny while others are cold and dreary. (The Mission is often warmer, if you're looking for sunshine.) So, if you're visiting San Francisco, here are the list of the most popular neighbors to check out on your next visit.
Union Square
Union Square
Union Square is one of the most famous public plazas in San Francisco. It's surrounded by some of the city's best shopping, theaters, and tourist attractions and is bordered by Geary, Powell, Post, and Stockton Streets.

Union Square also has a number of high end hotels, world class restaurants, as well as green space where visitors can hang out. Fashion lovers will appreciate the area's top rated shopping. Almost any brand you can think of has a store in the area.
Union Square, SF, California, 94104
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
Interested in more travel advice for San Francisco? Check out Must-See Monuments and Memorials In San Francisco and Places to Bike in San Francisco.
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
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
The Presidio
The Presidio
The Presidio historically served as a U.S. Army base but today it is a large green space and a public park. It's situated in the northwestern corner of the city at the gateway to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Presidio is a national park that is controlled by the National Park Service and it runs between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, ending at Baker Beach. Within the park there are stunning views of Marin County and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as a number of biking, hiking and walking paths. There are also plenty of places to enjoy a picnic or rest with a good book. The Walt Disney Family Museum as well as a golf course and several cafes are also found within the park.
The Presidio, 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
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
Planning a trip to San Francisco? You might also be interested in The Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife in San Francisco and What to See in San Francisco's Nob Hill.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Planning a trip to San Francisco? You might also be interested in Best Places for Dumplings and Dim Sum in San Francisco and Budget Friendly Neighborhoods in San Francisco.
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
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
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
Telegraph Hill
Coit Tower is the main landmark found on Telegraph Hill. This area offers spectacular views of the city and some hidden streets that are fun to explore. There are charming staircases, beautiful gardens, and the Telegraph Hill parrots, which are a famous flock of parrots that you may catch a glimpse of as they fly overhead.
San Francisco, CA, 94113
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
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
San Francisco has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: Local Finds and Hangouts in San Francisco and Quirky and Unique Neighborhoods in San Francisco.
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San Francisco has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: The Best Neighborhoods for Ethnic Food in San Francisco and A Foodie's Guide To San Francisco.
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