San Francisco is a vibrant city like no other. While you’re here enjoying that festival life, why not visit SF’s most famous neighborhoods? If you’re in the mood for shopping, want to go out to an incredible nightlife, or even if you’re looking for cultural thrills, you’ve come to the right place. Ready to explore SF’s best neighborhoods? Check out this list of our favorite SF neighborhoods and hangouts.
Experience SF with this neighborhood guide
On the side of the Golden Gate Park lies the Richmond District, a residential neighborhood known for its diverse Asian and Russian communities. The Chinese cuisine in Richmond District is so distinguished that the neighborhood has been dubbed the second Chinatown of San Francisco. We recommend you try the Shanghai dumplings at Ton Kiang. For bibliophiles, Green Apple Books is home to thousands of used books, vintage comic books, and an incredible stationery shop. If you like cozy cinemas, check out the Balboa Theatre for new releases as well as second-run and niche screenings.
To the other side of the Golden Gate Park, you’ll find the Sunset District. Though the 2 neighborhoods share a lot of commonalities, the Sunset District sets itself apart with its charming local flavor. Stroll through the 100 acres of facilities, exhibitions, and gardens that comprise San Francisco Zoo. You can’t go to the Sunset without experiencing the delights of Outerlands, a casual haven that serves innovative dishes like bavette steak, pressed lamb shoulder, and plenty of brunch, lunch, and dinner food variety. For your sushi fix, check out the family-owned Ebisu.
3. The Mission
The Mission is the storied heart of Latin culture in San Francisco. You’ll find many a mural interspersed between indie bookstores, taquerias, galleries, and hipster bars in the city’s oldest neighborhood. For art aficionados, Southern Exposure, a non-profit that showcases burgeoning talent is a must. Visit the Roxie, one of the oldest film theaters in the world. For a unique dining experience, go to Foreign Cinema, where gourmet Mediterranean dishes are served while patrons watch foreign films screenings. Don’t miss out on some truly amazing pizza at Delfina. Lastly, for an authentic bar experience, you can’t go wrong with Shotwell’s, established in 1891 and still standing strong in the community.
4. The Marina
The Marina is where you get a privileged view of the San Francisco Bay. This neighborhood’s most famous location is the Palace of Fine Arts, where culture and beauty converge. The stunning grounds are a masterful mixture of architectural genius and breathtaking greenery that evoke the Renaissance aesthetic. Be sure to catch a show at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. Another notable theater destination is the Magic Theatre, a venue focused on creative genius and fine dramaturgy. For dining, you can’t go wrong with classic American cuisine at Maybeck’s. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, head straight to Susie Cakes to try any (and all) of their signature cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and pies.
5. The Presidio
For lovers of the great outdoors, the Presidio is the best place to be in San Francisco. The Presidio is a park that stretches over miles of land, featuring a slew of breathtaking sights. If you’re interested in a leisurely, picturesque afternoon, head down to Crissy Field. You can enjoy the people watching, play around in the sand dunes, or have a nice picnic. If you like secluded beaches, check out Baker Beach for its marvelous view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Beware, Baker Beach is not safe for swimming. For truly delectable Mexican food, check out Arguello where you’ll find plenty of fresh seafood options.
The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is a throwback to 60s counterculture, filled with authentic hippie vistas. Intricately designed and expertly renovated Victorian houses line the street, perfect for sightseeing and snapping pictures. Haight-Ashbury boasts a wide array of restaurants for you to choose from. For a locally-sourced Mexican meal made from scratch, check out to Nopalito. If you’re on the prowl for a good cocktail bar, look no further. The Alembic, which serves the classics as well as more modern, fruity concoctions. Don’t forget to hit up some premier shopping destinations on Haight. Held Over is a spacious store specializing in vintage clothing and extremely well organized. The Booksmith is an independent bookstore and the perfect haunt for book lovers everywhere.
7. The Castro
When you arrive at the Castro, you’re greeted with colorful streets, rainbow flags proudly waving, and a welcoming atmosphere one should expect from the biggest LGBTQ+ community and neighborhood in San Francisco. You’ll find many treasured and historic locations in the Castro, such as Twin Peaks Castro, the world’s first gay bar, and Hi Tops, San Francisco’s first LGBTQ+ sports bar. Beso Bistronomia‘s sophisticated setting, complete with jazz music and a tremendous wine selection, suits patrons who love upscale dining. Don’t forget to visit the GLBT Museum to learn more about the plight of the LGBTQ+ community. The museum recently launched a new space, Community Gallery, which displays Lenore Chin’s works.
Whether you’re in the mood for a night out at a whimsical bar, looking for a low-key activity, or want to take in as much as you can about San Francisco’s culture and history, there is no shortage of attractions waiting for you.