If you were searching for picturesque city with fine dining establishments, famous opera, ballet and symphony, excellent educational institutions, coupled with rich cultural diversity and topped with spectacular views, San Francisco would be the natural choice.
A cosmopolitan city unlike any other with its unique mix of distinct neighborhoods, a variety of life styles, and a tantalizing history, it offers both tourists and residents every possible option. Take a moment to peruse the following snapshots of the famous San Francisco districts, each with its own commercial area, charm, and distinctive architecture.
Pacific Heights, the crème de la crème of the city’s neighborhoods, is adorned with foreign consulates, private schools and grand mansions, many of which are Victorian. Known for the beautiful Golden Gate views, manicured gardens and upscale shopping, the area showcases the city’s most valuable real estate properties.
Presidio & Sea Cliff
Presidio and Sea Cliff are two of the most affluent areas of the city with palatial properties, sweeping gardens, many with unparalleled views of the Bay.
The Marina is home to many young mostly single professionals, who frequent the local haunts and exercise on Crissy Field, minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge. Water activities abound – wind surfing, sailing and swimming for the “not” faint of heart.
Fillmore & Cow Hollow
The Fillmore and Cow Hollow feature many wonderful shopping streets, and popular restaurants.
Laurel Heights neighborhood is sprinkled with numerous antique shops, coffee houses, gourmet food markets and fabulous gift shops. Most are single-family residences.
Nob Hill is a prestigious location and home to the famous Mark Hopkins Inter-Continental Hotel, the Fairmount and the Huntington, all of which border the famous Grace Cathedral, a gothic masterpiece. Luxury condominiums and lovely single-family homes, many with rooftop gardens are part of this charming neighborhood.
Russian Hill is known for its desirable homes, pretty views and proximity to many other districts – the Financial district, North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf in particular. Both single family and condos are found here.
Coit Tower makes Telegraph Hill famous; the icon was donated to the city in 1929 as a monument to the city’s firefighters. Many of the area’s buildings are narrow, intelligently designed to fit in with the steep terrain. It hosts the famous “Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” (subject of a book and documentary film).
Lots of the young married couples and singles live in Noe Valley, the sunniest part of the city. The community offers the magnificent 24th Street, a shopping district with a wonderful array of good restaurants, unusual gift shops, eclectic clothing boutiques and decorative home stores.
The Castro is predominantly gay and full of residents who have lovingly restored many of the stunning Victorians in the neighborhood. The shopping is eclectic, the bars plentiful and the food diverse. The area is known for its political activism.
The Mission District is a primarily Latino community and has been transitioning into hosting hip restaurants and trendy stores. One can find salsa dance clubs, and superb Mexican food along side trendy shops and celebrated restaurants.
The Haight-Ashbury, the hippie scene a thing of the past, now boasts hip bars, a fantastic array of "Foodie" restaurants and vintage clothing stores. One can still find a smoke shop with 60’s paraphernalia. The area borders the delightful treasure, Golden Gate Park soon to be a national park.
Cole Valley, a closely-knit area, has that small town community feeling with some incredible views and all the trees. It is great for those who want to distance themselves from the hustle and bustle of downtown and the financial district yet is close to the underground transit system.
Hayes Valley moderately priced neighborhood with some excellent restaurants abutting the Opera House and Symphony Hall and a sprinkling of fashionable stores. Japantown, included in this district, is about to undergo a major renovation and revitalization. A large district geographically, it encompasses some of the most diverse populations, both economically and ethnically.
SOMA (South of Market)
The SOMA District Nicknamed after the New York district SoHo, is the hottest district for technology, the biotech industry and the university. The Giants’ baseball park, which started the process, evolved into a whole new district of San Francisco. The twin tower condominium building adjacent to the Bay Bridge is the tallest condominium structure west of the Mississippi River. Other tall buildings of unique design dot the landscape.
Restaurants and shops are increasing in number as the population expands. The many trendy wine bars and nightclubs attract the part goers locally and from around the Bay Area on weekends. As the area has grown, it evolved into a destination for visitors and locals alike. Some of the big attractions – the Sony Metreon, the Museum of Modern Art, and Moscone Center. People come to visit the Ferry Building Market, walk along the Bay, enjoy the wide variety of top rated restaurants and hit the many bars and clubs. The housing opportunities include a multiplicity of condos, lofts and the first green-certified condominium complex in the city.
Potrero Hill & Bernal Heights
Potrero Hill and Bernal Heights offer again the friendly small town or village feeling rarely found in an urban setting. Whole Foods just opened on the hill and above it can be found the newest condominium building in the community.
Bernal Heights is known for Cortland Street, which houses many small shops, cafes and restaurants. Families abound in this little enclave. Real estate values have increased, making the areas a bit less affordable for first time buyers.
The Richmond & Sunset
Also originally working class neighborhoods with mostly single-family homes, The Richmond and The Sunset have evolved into rich, diverse and almost international districts and yet still moderate in price.
Locals often refer to The Richmond as the New China Town, especially the Clement Street area with it multiplicity of Asian restaurants and shops. Follow the “Avenues” (48 streets that one crosses that lead to the ocean) and you will find something for everyone.
The famous and now remodeled Cliff House restaurant and bar is at the end on the cliffs. Also, the Beach Chalet has unparalleled views of the ocean and a garden/park type restaurant can be found in the rear, adjacent to Golden Gate Park. It is not uncommon for families including children in strollers and leashed dogs to be gathered around the picnic tables or in the large (and uncomfortable) wooden chairs. The atmosphere is delightful at sunset.
St. Francis Woods & West Portal
Two of the treasures in San Francisco are the St. Francis Woods and West Portal. Both are serene, secluded and somewhat unknown. A wealthy community, St. Francis Woods has a beautiful collection of architectural styles. Gardens are large, verdant and beautifully cared for on the meandering, tree-lined streets.
West Portal is less expensive of the two neighborhoods, with smaller homes and noteworthy gardens, clearly a mark of proud homeowners.