San Francisco is an intimate city with dining and shopping, diversity and great schools.
San Francisco is an intimate city with dining and shopping, diversity and great schools.
Richmond District Seacliff
Local campaign signs in the Richmond District are printed in Chinese, Cyrillic and English, reflecting the neighborhood's multicultural heritage. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, the Richmond 's weather is just as diverse as its population and can range from full sun to dense fog. That doesn't stop the beachcombers (and even a few nude sunbathers) from reveling on the sands of the Outer Richmond, a neighborhood which continues to maintain its relatively quiet residential appeal. The Inner Richmond, on the other hand, is where San Francisco goes to eat. Geary Boulevard and Clement Street offer a bazaar of ethnic food, shopping and nightlife from every corner of the globe. If you're buying a house in the Richmond District, there are Victorians, flats , and cottages built in the early 1900s as well as some newer condos and townhomes on the menu. Or, if your taste runs to the palatial, you might consider one of the properties behind the walls of Seacliff, a picturesque neighborhood which hugs the cliffs beyond the Golden Gate Bridge and overlooks Baker Beach.
Like the Richmond , the Sunset District began as part of “The Outside Lands,” a vast expanse of sand between The City and the coastline. By the 1930s, a real estate developer had renamed the area “The Sunset,” and you could buy a house there for $5,000. Thousands of working class people from all over the world did, and despite gentrification that has crept in with the fog, many of those immigrant families still remain. So do their shops and restaurants along Irving Street , giving the Sunset a friendly, old-school flavor. And speaking of schools, the neighborhood offers several excellent elementary and high schools as well as the world-class University of California at San Francisco . There's plenty for all those students to do at the San Francisco Zoo, Stern Grove, Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park . Real estate listings in the Sunset feature upscale properties in Golden Gate Heights as well as those original (and still affordable) 1930s homes , including the whimiscal yet well-built “Rousseau” models.
Despite its very urban location along the Pacific Ocean, the Lakeshore might be San Francisco's most “midwestern” district – a place where you can pick up a pair of sunglasses from the Sunglass Hut in Stonestown Galleria (a real live suburban mall) and wear them to go fishing in Lake Merced (a real live freshwater lake), skeet shooting at a real live gun club near the lake, or golfing at one of the two city-owned courses. The last neighborhood in the city to be developed, the Lakeshore offers predominately senior housing in the Park Merced towers, apartment buildings and condos for San Francisco State students, and larger, detached single-family homes.
Pacific Heights Presidio Heights
Every home in Pacific Heights has at least a million-dollar view. The neighborhood is 375 feet above sea level at its highest point and a world away from the rest of San Francisco . In the earthquake of 1906, most of the landmark Victorians in Pacific Heights stood firm while the rest of The City got all shook up. Inside the storied mansions of Pacific Heights – and its neighbor to the west, Presidio Heights -- live the elite and the eccentric, including a famous romance novelist and an octogenarian millionaire and his cloned kittens. These people – and those who enjoy watching them – hang out on Fillmore Street , in one of the many gourmet restaurants, clubs and chichi shops. Once you've bought your fill of exotic olive oil, vintage textiles, custom pet furniture, funky cosmetics, jewelry, and designer clothing, you can check out the Fillmore music scene or the nightlife on nearby Union Street.
Forest Hills West Portal
The original 1913 real estate sales pamphlet for the exclusive Forest Hill “residence park” said it was “fully embellished with all the details that make it an artistic success.” In addition to the forest and the hills, those embellishments include the elegant balustrades and columns of the Grand Pacheco Staircase, which serves as the formal entrance to this enclave of winding lanes and lovely, architecturally significant homes with big lawns and lush landscaping. The West Portal district next door is the light at the end of the Twin Peaks Tunnel, a quiet but quirky middle-class neighborhood with an independent attitude. Small, locally owned businesses are the rule and chain stores are the exception. Real estate here is mostly well-maintained, single family homes.
Oceanview's Alemany Boulevard traces the route of the old Ocean Shore Railroad, and the village of Oceanview grew up around the train station that served travelers between San Francisco and San Jose . The district's European immigrant population has since become much more diverse and now includes African-Americans, Asians and Latinos, attracted by Oceanview's strong sense of community and its affordable housing. Immediately to the west, on the site of the old Ingleside Race Track lies one of the most unusual monuments in foggy San Francisco – a giant sundial. It was built in 1913 to celebrate the opening of the Twin Peaks Tunnel and to attract young home buyers to the new Ingleside Terraces neighborhood, another “residence park” with curving streets and Arts & Crafts bungalows. These large homes – some with five or six bedrooms -- are also unusual by San Francisco standards, with ample yards all the way around.
St. Francis Wood
According to a 1998 San Francisco Examiner poll, home buyers in St. Francis Wood are some of the city's most satisfied residents. This would come as no surprise to famed architect John Galen Howard and the group of landscape architects, conservationists and urban planners who envisioned this community nearly 100 years ago. Nestled in a forest of eucalyptus, pine and cedar trees planted by Adolph Sutro on Arbor Day in 1886, St. Francis Wood overlooks Lake Merced and the Pacific Ocean . The neighborhood has a worldly ambiance, with Mediterranean-style homes on large lots, wide streets lined with Italianate fountains and lush gardens, and the occasional Parisian patisserie on the corner.
Twin Peaks Diamond Heights
Mt. Davidson is the city's tallest hill, at 938 feet above sea level, and is crowned by a controversial 100-foot cross. The nearby Twin Peaks are nearly as high at 910 feet. These hills were considered to be among San Francisco 's original seven hills, copied from the seven hills of Rome . As the city has grown and populated pretty much every peak, it has named at least 43 hills, including two in Diamond Heights : Red Rock Hill and Gold Mine Hill. No matter which peak you pick, the postcard views will remind you of why you wanted to buy a home in San Francisco (notwithstanding the behemoth Sutro Tower on nearby Mount Sutro ). Hillside properties on Twin Peaks and Mount Davidson are typically nice, older, detached homes. The Diamond Heights area was developed in the late 1960s and is a mix of single family, condos, townhomes and apartment buildings.
Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia hung out in this world-renowned district back in the day -- and it would blow their minds to see how much their hippie pads are worth now. Nearly four decades after the Summer of Love, the Haight has become a perfect example of San Francisco 's contradictory counterculture of peace, love and property values. Neighborhood activists live in million-dollar Victorian homes ; the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic offers free health care while just down the block, club kids pay ridiculous prices to have their tongues pierced. Shoppers along Haight Street can spend a few dollars on hookahs and henna kits or a few thousand on vintage clothing and custom-made shoes. Near beautiful Buena Vista Park, where the 1960s guerilla street theater group The Diggers gave away free whole-wheat bread baked in one-pound coffee cans at the Haight's Free Bakery, foodies can now wait in line at white tablecloth cafes for East African injera bread and gourmet coffee. And the ever-present tourists can have their pictures taken at the corner of Haight and Ashbury, where the backdrop now includes a Gap store. It may be a trip, but it's all good.
The Western Addition is San Francisco 's original melting pot, its most ethnically and economically diverse district – and perhaps its most photographed. Alamo Square Park offers stunning views of the city, and it's the site of the ubiquitous “Painted Ladies” – a row of six painstakingly restored Victorian houses. In the heart of the Western Addition, the Fillmore area was the city's first African-American neighborhood. It became an international music mecca in the 1940s when all the jazz greats jammed at Jimbo's Bop City – and later when the Grateful Dead debuted at the famous Fillmore Auditorium. An annual jazz festival and numerous clubs continue to flourish on Fillmore Street , as do gospel music and community activism in the district's many black churches. The Western Addition is also home to Japantown, a neighborhood and cultural center where Japanese Americans (and everyone else) come to shop, eat, and celebrate spring at the Cherry Blossom Festival. In addition, the Western Addition is full of wonderfully funky coffee shops, pizza parlors and barbeque joints, as well as secondhand music and clothing stores.
Marina Cow Hollow
Unprecedented opportunities for people-watching compete with the picturesque views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the lush Marin headlands as you stroll or jog down Marina Green. This district is a microcosm of San Francisco: old Victorians and Edwardians, new apartment buildings, tourist attractions like Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz, and arguably the city's best nightlife and shopping boutiques. Cow Hollow, now the area bordered by Chestnut and Union streets, was a dairy farm in the 1800s but is now home to watering holes of another sort. These neighborhoods are ground zero for newly stock-optioned 20- and 30-somethings who can't get enough of the renovated Mediterranean-style flats and condos and the convenient location. Commuting to the Financial District or Multimedia Gulch is painless and freeway access is easy, too. Cultural attractions abound in this district: Fort Mason, the Exploratium, and the Palace of Fine Arts are within walking distance of many residences.
Today's Hayes Valley was reborn from the rubble of the 1989 earthquake. This tiny neighborhood came to light after the damaged freeway was removed and has been a popular destination ever since. It's full of quaint homes and businesses and it's just a stone's throw from downtown. The opera house, symphony hall, and main library, along with several great restaurants and bars, are nearby.
Eureka Valley The Castro
Ground zero for the City's gay population, The Castro has a colorful history and continues to attract both gay and straight tourists and activists. Gentrification has marched onward in this centrally-located, desirable neighborhood full of renovated Victorians and popular restaurants, theaters, and book stores.
Noe Valley Glen Park
The secret is out - these formerly quiet, secluded, working-class neighborhoods on the east slope of Twin Peaks are now two of the most popular areas in The City. Twenty- and thirty-somethings have moved in and renovated the old Victorians and apartments, and young parents have discovered that this is a great place to raise kids. Trendy new restaurants and shops are opening up beside the older neighborhood businesses. The 24th Street BART station and buses make the commute to downtown a breeze.
Outer Mission Crocker Amazon Excelsior
The Outer Mission offers small single family homes and a few Victorians, as well as a convenient commute via I-280. Crocker Amazon and Excelsior, two quiet, predominately residential districts feature a mix of rental units and tidy single-family homes. Prices are affordable and these blue-collar neighborhoods are slowly but surely being revitalized. Shopping can be found along Mission Street and BART and the freeways are nearby.
Home to Mission Dolores, the Mission District is a thriving, friendly, and diverse community of predominately Latino families mixed with artists, activists and immigrants. Affordable housing is still available, although many of the Mission's old Victorians and apartment buildings are being renovated as newcomers discover this vibrant neighborhood. Shops and restaurants abound and you don't dare get a burrito anywhere but here.
The Tenderloin is benefiting from the real estate boom and the development South of Market. This neighborhood is home to the Civic Center complex and the theater district, as well as numerous low cost apartments and flats. Major hotels and the shopping mecca of Union Square are minutes away and public transportation is abundant.
Nob Hill Russian Hill
"Snob" Hill was home to Stanford, Crocker, Hopkins and Huntington, the railroad magnates, and now hotels have been built on the former sites of their mansions. A conglomeration of homes and apartments with great views of the Bay can be found on Russian Hill, a slightly more accessible, but still very exclusive, neighborhood with steep streets and lush landscaping. The Financial District and North Beach are both within walking distance.
North Beach Chinatown Telegraph Hill
A new generation of Italian immigrants is revitalizing the restaurants and shops in North Beach, but Lawrence Ferlinghetti still holds court at City Lights. Old Italian men still hang out in Washington Square Park as young apartment dwellers walk to their jobs in the Financial District. Tourists are everywhere, from Chinatown to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. Housing is sought after, the nightlife is exciting, and downtown is five minutes away.Numerous paths and stairways lead up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower, the famous landmark built in 1933. There are panoramic views from Pioneer Park at the base of the tower as well as from the single and multi-family homes hidden among dense foliage along the hillsides.
South of Market (SOMA)
This is one of the hottest areas of The City, with development going at a breakneck pace. The museum district continues to grow, with the new Museum of Modern Art and the Yerba Buena Center recently completed. AT&T Park promises to make China Basin a popular destination. New apartments and renovated warehouses and lofts are in high demand. The nightlife in SOMA is already legendary, and shopping and restaurants are popping up all over.
South Beach is an upscale neighborhood close to the Financial District, located on a stretch of our great waterfront. Many condos in South Beach are brand-new luxury units with stunning views in contemporary, stylish complexes. You can also find brick-and-timber lofts in converted warehouses creating charming, upscale housing options, as well as smaller boutique buildings. Residents live amidst the excitement of AT&T park and the Ferry Building and enjoy fancy restaurants along the waterfront promenade. Because South Beach has great accessibility and views, prices in the area compare with those in other expensive areas of the city.
This dense, urban area continues to develop at a breakneck pace. The museum district is flourishing, with the Museum of Modern Art and ever-expanding Yerba Buena Center at its heart. Pac Bell Park is turning China Basin and the newly developed Mission Bay neighborhood into popular destinations for shopping, dining—or relocating. Numerous new condominiums and apartments plus renovated warehouses and lofts abound, putting more modern, urban items on the San Francisco real estate menu.
Potrero Hill Bayview Hunters Point
Sunny pocket on the city’s southeastern side, Potrero Hill is another village within the city, with a strong sense of community and local investment. With a small but pleasant shopping district, this hilly, residential area enjoys some of the best views of the city and a tendency to stay fog-less even when everyplace is blanketed. Artists, professionals and families all gravitate to this mellow district, enjoying the sunshine and easy commutes to downtown, the East Bay or peninsula. Remodeled Victorians, bungalows with yards and gardens as well as several new condominiums hug the hills and offer gorgeous views northward toward the city skyline.