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San Francisco Neighborhood Guide

Updated: May 8, 2023


For a city that’s only seven miles by seven miles, San Francisco has a lot of neighborhoods. Thirty-six, in fact, that are recognized by the Planning Department, and even a couple more that aren’t. What’s even more surprising is how quickly the vibe (and even the weather) of the city can change just by walking a block or two.

Obviously, the best way to truly understand a neighborhood is to spend time there, but for those new to the city, this guide gives a good sense of what to expect of the city’s most popular ‘hoods. Wondering why Fisherman’s Wharf and the Financial District aren’t on the list? That’s because no one in their right mind chooses to live there. If you're looking to get a sense of the cost of living and average rent in SF, you should probably start there first.

Alamo Square

If you want to live within walking distance of the “Full House” house, this is the place to live. Not only is the namesake park a great (albeit windy) place to hang with friends and dogs, this neighborhood is also within walking distance of some of the san francisco's best casual restaurants and laidback bars (as well as a couple of fancier spots). Alamo Square is a great neighborhood for those who enjoy a quieter and more laid-back lifestyle in San Francisco. The neighborhood is well-connected to other areas of the city, with easy access to public transportation and nearby parks. While the nightlife in Alamo Square may not be as lively as some other areas in the city, the neighborhood is still a popular destination for families and young professionals looking for a high-quality lifestyle in San Francisco.


The median home price in Alamo Square is around $2.3 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,500 per month. Parking in Alamo Square can be challenging, with limited street parking and few garages. Because it's a tourist hot spot, there are many car break-ins near Alamo Square Park. As a general rule for anywhere in the city, residents do not leave anything of value in their car (visible or even in the trunk).

Bayview

The neighborhood is known for its industrial past, community activism, and vibrant arts scene. Bayview is a popular destination for those who are looking for a more affordable and culturally diverse area in the city. Bayview is on the outskirts of the city and is viewed as a little “gritty” by some because it doesn’t have the wealth most of SF’s other neighborhoods have. There’s not a ton going on in Bayview, but there are a few breweries and distilleries, and for those in the know, some really great food.


The median home price in Bayview is around $1 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $2,500 per month. Parking in Bayview is generally more accessible than in other parts of the city, with plenty of street parking and garages available.

Bernal Heights

This often-sunny neighborhood feels like a little village thanks to its main street (Cortland Avenue), charming coffee shops and restaurants, dog-friendly bars, and the fact that it’s a little out of the way (something those who live there like to deny, but is still a fact). It’s also home to a very welcoming lesbian community, as well as one of SF’s best lesbian bars (Wild Side West). Many of the homes have great views and for those that don’t, residents can go to Bernal Hill, the perfect spot for urban hikes, letting dogs off leash, and looking down over the entire city.

The Castro

The Castro is one of San Francisco's most famous neighborhoods and is known as the city's LGBTQ+ district. The neighborhood is home to many LGBTQ+ bars, restaurants, and shops, and is the site of the annual Castro Street Fair and San Francisco Pride Parade.


Like most SF neighborhoods, parking is scarce, but everything is within walking distance once you get there, including a bunch of gay bars, and a couple of fantastic dining establishments. You'll get better weather for most of the year in the central part of the city which includes Castro and the Mission.


Housing Prices: The median home price in the Castro is around $1.5 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,500 per month.

Chinatown

SF’s Chinatown is North America’s oldest and largest Chinatown. The neighborhood is known for its vibrant culture, including its Chinese architecture, traditional shops, and authentic Chinese cuisine. The architecture, narrow alleyways, and shops give it an exotic feel, but it’s also very densely populated and the crowds of both locals and tourists can be overwhelming. Still, there’s some amazing food, iconic dive bars, and it’s within walking distance to North Beach and the Financial District.


The median home price in Chinatown is around $1.3 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,200 per month. Parking in Chinatown can be challenging, with limited street parking and expensive garages.

Cole Valley

Cole Valley is a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood located near the Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park. The neighborhood has a mix of residential and commercial buildings, with many local shops and restaurants. Cole Valley is known for its charming homes, tree-lined streets, and small-town feel.


This little village is just blocks away from the iconic corner of Haight and Ashbury, but feels like it’s miles away because of its small-town vibe. Still, it has everything anyone could need: a few bars and coffee shops, great restaurants, a gourmet grocery, and is very close to Golden Gate Park, which is why it’s home to lots of young families and a ton of dogs. It’s also technically almost right in the middle of the city.


The median home price in Cole Valley is around $2 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,600 per month. Parking in Cole Valley can be challenging, with limited street parking and few garages.


Cow Hollow

Cow Hollow is basically a more grown-up version of the Marina District. Everyone’s wearing yoga pants and puffy jackets, and it has a great mix of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, numerous exercise facilities (Soul Cycle, pilates, yoga, etc.), and lots of boutiques (even for dogs). Cow Hollow is a great neighborhood for those who enjoy the finer things in life and can afford the high cost of living. The neighborhood offers easy access to the Marina District and other nearby neighborhoods. While the nightlife in Cow Hollow may not be as lively as some other areas in the city, the neighborhood is still a popular destination for young professionals and families looking for a high-quality lifestyle in San Francisco.


The median home price in Cow Hollow is around $3 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $4,000 per month. Parking in Cow Hollow can be challenging, with limited street parking and few garages.

The Dogpatch

Dogpatch is a desirable neighborhood that offers a lot of potential for growth and development. Converted warehouses on the water draw artists and hipsters to this neighborhood that’s beyond up-and-coming, but not yet fully gentrified. The neighborhood is a great option for young professionals and artists looking for a more affordable alternative to some of the city's more expensive neighborhoods. There are a few great restaurant options, but not much of a nightlife scene. It’s also flatter than a lot of other SF neighborhoods and also gets more sunshine.


The median home price in Dogpatch is around $1.4 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,400 per month. Parking in Dogpatch is relatively easy compared to other neighborhoods in San Francisco, with many parking lots and garages available.

Excelsior

If you ask most people who haven’t lived in SF for long where the Excelsior is, they probably won’t be able to tell you. It’s a more humble neighborhood south of 280 and full of San Franciscans who prefer a slower-paced life and easy access to the city’s second-largest park. While none of SF’s trendier restaurants are in this neighborhood, there’s a ton of ethnic food (which is no surprise, since it’s one of SF’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods). There also aren’t a lot of watering holes, but The Broken Record has a great whiskey selection and one of the best burgers in town.

Glen Park

Glen Park is a small and quiet neighborhood located in the southern part of San Francisco. The neighborhood is known for its cozy and welcoming atmosphere, with a mix of small businesses, cafes, and restaurants. Glen Park is a popular destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts, with easy access to Glen Canyon Park, a 70-acre city park with lots of walking paths and other nearby green spaces.


This neighborhood on the southeastern edge of the city is another one that a lot of people don’t know about it, but is perfect for anyone who wants to feel a little more secluded, appreciates mom-and-pop establishments, and scenic hikes.


The median home price in Glen Park is around $1.7 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,100 per month. Parking in Glen Park can be moderately challenging.

Hayes Valley

Hayes Valley is a great neighborhood for those who are looking for a vibrant and trendy lifestyle in San Francisco. The neighborhood is known for its high-end shopping and dining options, as well as its thriving arts and cultural scene. This bustling neighborhood is home to many of SF’s best cultural institutions, including the SF Ballet, Opera, and Symphony, and SF Jazz. There’s also quite a bit of shopping, an outdoor beer garden, and even a playground in the middle of it all.


One of the hottest eating and drinking destinations in the city, diners can choose from French, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Scandinavian, Japanese, and American cuisine, and there are also a couple of wine and cocktail bars that are very popular.


The median home price in Hayes Valley is around $1.6 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,600 per month. Residential parking in Hayes Valley can be extremely challenging, with limited street parking and few garages.


Inner Richmond

The neighborhood is known for its diverse community, with a mix of families, students, and young professionals. Inner Richmond is a popular destination for those who are looking for a quiet and laid-back lifestyle in the city. Those looking for the best Chinese food in SF should skip Chinatown and head to this foggy, (mostly) flat neighborhood where they’ll find amazing dim sum and Chinese restaurants. There are also a couple of decent Irish and German bars, and it’s close to Golden Gate Park.


The median home price in Inner Richmond is around $1.9 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $2,800 per month. Parking in Inner Richmond can be challenging, with limited street parking and few garages.

Inner Sunset

Inner Sunset is a desirable neighborhood that offers a good quality of life for families and those who prefer a peaceful and laid-back lifestyle in San Francisco. While the cost of living in San Francisco can be high, Inner Sunset is relatively affordable compared to some other neighborhoods in the city. Close to UCSF and Golden Gate Park, this neighborhood is home to students and families, and has a reputation for constantly being smothered in fog. In fact, the sun does occasionally shine on this ‘hood where there are tons of cafes and restaurants, as well as some decent bars to watch the game.


The median home price in Inner Sunset is around $1.8 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $2,700 per month. Parking in Inner Sunset can be challenging but doable compared to other areas.

Lower Haight

Haight-Ashbury: Haight-Ashbury is a historic neighborhood that was the center of the counterculture movement in the 1960s. The neighborhood is known for its colorful Victorian houses, vintage clothing shops, and bohemian vibe.


The median home price in Haight-Ashbury is around $1.5 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,500 per month. Parking in Haight-Ashbury can be challenging, with limited street parking and few garages.


The Lower Haight feels like the closest thing SF has to NYC’s Lower East Side. It’s definitely a ‘hood for the hipsters, thanks to a plethora of dive bars really good cheap eats, and a whole “IDGAF” vibe.

Marina

The neighborhood is known for its picturesque views of the Golden Gate Bridge, upscale shopping and dining, and vibrant nightlife. The Marina is a popular destination for young professionals and those who enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. People either love the Marina or they hate it. That’s because it’s home to young professionals wearing athleisure wear at all times of day, and is very, very… white. If you enjoy fraternity and sorority vibes, live here! That being said, it’s also steps from Crissy Field and a dog-friendly beach, lots of great shopping, and some truly wonderful restaurants and bars.


The median home price in the Marina is around $2.5 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,700 per month. Parking in the Marina can be significantly challenging, with limited street parking and few garages available. Many residents opt to use public transportation or ride-sharing services instead of owning a car.

Mission

One word: gentrification. The Mission is colorful, vibrant, and home to the best burritos in the city. And that’s because it is home to lots of Latino families, many who have been in SF for generations. However, in recent years, it’s also become home to SF’s tech workers, some truly outstanding restaurants, and a thriving bar scene.


The Mission is definitely one of the most fun and popular neighborhoods in SF, but at a cost. The median home price in the Mission District is around $1.4 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,300 per month. Parking in the Mission District can be challenging, with limited street parking and few garages.


It’s also usually 10 degrees warmer than any neighborhood to the north. You'll find more reasons for outdoor activities and visiting the popular Dolores Park which can be jam-packed on the weekends.

Nob Hill

Nob Hill is an upscale neighborhood known for its historic mansions and luxury hotels, making it the city’s swankiest neighborhood that actually feels like it’s in a city (Pacific Heights is the swankiest one that does not). The neighborhood has a mix of residential and commercial buildings, with stunning views of the city and the Bay. Many of city’s fanciest hotels, as well as Grace Cathedral, sit atop of it, and there is lots of old money and upper-class families living there. That being said, it borders the Tenderloin, so in certain places, it can feel a little less fancy than one might expect.

The median home price in Nob Hill is around $2.5 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $4,500 per month. Parking in Nob Hill can be challenging, with limited street parking and expensive garages.


Noe Valley

Those who don’t like dodging strollers will not want to live in this very hilly, very family-oriented neighborhood. Noe Valley is a great neighborhood for those who are looking for a more residential feel in San Francisco. The neighborhood has a strong sense of community, with many local events and activities throughout the year. Noe Valley is also well-connected to other areas of the city, with easy access to public transportation and nearby parks. The “main street” is mostly a stretch on 24th which isn’t big, but it does have a Whole Foods grocery store, weekly farmers markets, some small shops, a few quality restaurants, and a sports bar.


The median home price in Noe Valley is around $2.4 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,500 per month. Parking in Noe Valley can be challenging, with limited street parking and few garages.


North Beach

North Beach is a vibrant and historic neighborhood located in the northern part of San Francisco. No one calls North Beach “San Francisco’s Little Italy,” but that’s probably the best way to describe it. Well, maybe Little Italy meets XXX since it’s also home to almost all of the city’s strip clubs. Somehow though, it makes perfect sense that a fantastic restaurant would be across the street from a gentleman’s club which is kitty corner to the city’s most famous bookstore and a bar where Kerouac hung out that is open 365 days of the year at 6 a.m. Oddly, as much as San Francisco has changed, North Beach has managed to stay pretty much the same. The neighborhood is known for its Italian heritage, with many Italian restaurants, cafes, and bakeries lining the streets. North Beach is also home to numerous bars, nightclubs, and music venues, making it a popular destination for nightlife in San Francisco.


The median home price in North Beach is around $1.8 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,500 per month. Parking can be described as a nightmare, but it has everything anyone could ever need, so for those who live there, a car isn’t needed.

Outer Richmond

The neighborhood is known for its quiet, family-friendly atmosphere and access to outdoor activities. Outer Richmond is a popular destination for those who are looking for a more laid-back and suburban feel in the city. The people who live in this foggy neighborhood by the beach understand that, even though it’s really not that far away, the chances are slim that anyone will go out to visit them. What those people who won’t visit them are missing out on though is the beach, some great hiking, and a lot of excellent under-the-radar restaurants.


The median home price in Outer Richmond is around $1.5 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $2,500 per month. Parking in Outer Richmond is generally more accessible than in other parts of the city, with plenty of street parking and garages available.

Outer Sunset

Outer Sunset is a residential neighborhood located in the southwestern part of San Francisco. Outer Sunset is a popular destination for those who are looking for a more laid-back and outdoorsy lifestyle in the city.


The neighborhood is known for being sleepy, foggy, and full of surfers who are good enough to paddle out at Ocean Beach. What it’s not known for is its food/bar/shopping scene, but that is rapidly changing. There are a few quality restaurants, bars, and coffee shops with more on the way.


The median home price in Outer Sunset is around $1.3 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $2,600 per month. Parking in Outer Sunset is generally more accessible than in other parts of the city, with plenty of street parking and garages available.

Pacific Heights

Pacific Heights is a residential neighborhood located in the northern part of San Francisco and is pretty much home to one thing and one thing only: gorgeous, enormous houses, many of which have sweeping views of the bay. Pacific Heights is a popular destination for those who are looking for a more upscale lifestyle in the city. The wide, clean streets to some of the most expensive homes in the city have somehow managed to not feature any homeless encampments (shocking how the wealthiest people do n).ot have this problem). The closest place for those who want to eat and drink somewhere other than their ten-million-dollar kitchen is Fillmore Street (technically Lower Pac Heights) or Cow Hollow.


The median home price in Pacific Heights is around $5.5 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,800 per month. Parking in Pacific Heights can be challenging, particularly in the more popular areas of the neighborhood. Many of the non-mansion homes in Pacific Heights do not have garages or driveways, and street parking can be difficult to find.

Potrero Hill

Potrero Hill is a residential neighborhood located in the eastern part of San Francisco. The neighborhood is known for its stunning views of the city, industrial-chic architecture, and proximity to outdoor activities. If a SF neighborhood has “hill” in its name, you can be sure that it’s for a reason. Potrero is full of steep hills, but also full of sunshine. It’s very residential and there aren’t a lot of entertainment options, but many of the homes have great views and parking is relatively easy to find.


The median home price in Potrero Hill is around $1.8 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,200 per month. Parking in Potrero Hill is generally more accessible than in other parts of the city, with plenty of street parking and garages available.

Russian Hill

Russian Hill is the place people live after they leave the Marina, but before they move to Cow Hollow and procreate. There are a lot of amazing neighborhood restaurants, a bar scene that’s probably more fun for those in the 20s than anyone else (though there are a couple of good wine bars), as well as a grocery store, hardware store, nail salons, gym (in an old movie theater), and a few boutiques.

SoMa (South of Market)

SoMa is a great neighborhood for those who are looking for a more modern and innovative lifestyle in San Francisco. The neighborhood is home to a range of tech companies and startups, as well as a thriving arts and culture scene. SoMa is also a popular destination for nightlife, with a range of trendy bars and clubs to choose from. This neighborhood is enormous—it’s shocking that realtors have yet to divide it up into mini ‘hoods—and is also where a lot of the tech/start-up people live, as well as where the SF Giants play (in one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the world). There’s lots of new development, meaning fancy buildings with lots of amenities, but zero SF charm, as well as a good number of bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, due to its size, SoMa isn’t exactly “walkable,” though it is very flat, which helps.


The median home price in SoMa is around $1.2 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,300 per month. Parking in SoMa can be challenging, particularly in the more popular areas of the neighborhood. Many of the residential buildings in SoMa offer garage parking, but street parking can be difficult to find.

Tenderloin

The Tenderloin is a neighborhood that is often associated with poverty and crime, and is generally not considered one of the more desirable neighborhoods in San Francisco. There’s no getting around it: the TL has some of the highest crime rates in the city, and it would not be shocking to see someone smoking crack on the sidewalk. In fact it might be more shocking if one didn’t see that. The counterpoint to that, however, is that it’s also got a ton of really great bars and restaurants. In recent years, there has been a growing community of artists and creatives who have established themselves in the neighborhood, leading to a range of new galleries and cultural events.


The median home price in the Tenderloin is around $600,000, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $2,600 per month. Parking in the Tenderloin can be difficult, particularly in the more popular areas of the neighborhood. Many of the residential buildings in the Tenderloin do not offer garage parking, and street parking can be scarce. Plus, safety is a real concern here.

Upper Haight

Tourists call it the Haight-Ashbury, but anyone who lives there knows it as “Upper Haight.” But it’s the former moniker that defines this neighborhood which is full of colorful Victorians, head shops, sneaker stores, places to by tie-dye everything, street kids, and also some bars and restaurants that are definitely worth frequenting. The neighborhood is home to a mix of residents, including artists, students, and young professionals. Upper Haight is also a popular destination for those who are interested in the city's counterculture history, with a range of vintage stores and independent boutiques that offer a unique shopping experience. Bonus points because the end of Haight Street is the beginning of Golden Gate Park.


The median home price in Upper Haight is around $1.5 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,500 per month. Parking in Upper Haight can be challenging, particularly in the more popular areas of the neighborhood. Many of the residential buildings in Upper Haight offer garage parking, but street parking can be difficult to find.

Western Addition

Western Addition is a diverse neighborhood located in the center of San Francisco. The neighborhood is home to a mix of residential and commercial spaces, and is known for its vibrant culture, rich history, and wide range of communities, including African American, LGBTQ, and immigrant populations. The neighborhood has a rich history, including a vibrant jazz scene in the mid-20th century, and is home to a number of community organizations that work to promote social justice and equality. The Western Addition includes the Divisadero Corridor, the Fillmore, what realtors have named “NoPa” (North of the Panhandle), and more. It’s a big neighborhood that is being rapidly gentrified which means that the bar and restaurant scene is thriving more and more every day.


The median home price in Western Addition is around $1.3 million, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,000 per month. Parking in Western Addition can be challenging, particularly in the more popular areas of the neighborhood. Many of the residential buildings in Western Addition offer garage parking, but street parking can be difficult to find.


So now that you're up to speed on neighborhoods, make sure you check out our posts on must-know accounts to follow if you live in San Francisco as well as the apps every SF local should have (including discount codes!) to get stuff done.



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