Five Secretly Fantastic San Francisco Neighborhoods

Author: Alecia Pirulis

San Francisco

My parents are planning their annual trip to the San Francisco in a week. Since their trip (and my worry over two seniors in their mid-seventies driving cross-country) has been on my mind lately, I decided to share a few somewhat lesser-known neighborhoods in San Francisco. Sure, we’ve all heard of Pacific Heights, the Castro, and Haight-Ashbury, but are you familiar with these?

Mission Dolores: This is where San Francisco began. In fact, the mission that the neighborhood is named for was founded in June 1776 and is the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco. Beauty and culture thrive in this historic area.

Cole Valley: Locally-owned, small boutiques, cafes, and restaurants line the streets in Cole Valley, a small community filled with unique character. Be sure to climb the 600-foot-high Tank Hill, where you’ll appreciate sweeping city views.

Hayes Valley: Artsy, fun, funky, and super chic all describe this wonderfully eclectic area, filled with coffee shops, art galleries, and trendy boutiques. This area wasn’t always the hotspot it is today – it was transformed, oddly enough, by the 1989 earthquake, which destroyed the freeway on- and off-ramps that were located here. The lack of noise and the unattractiveness of these ramps allowed for small businesses to rebound and thrive, making Hayes Valley the “it” place to be.

Inner Sunset: This foggy, slightly edgy neighborhood is a favorite among San Francisco residents because of its diversity and great mix of ethnic restaurants. This little oasis has a small-town feel, where store owners know their customers by name and everyone knows their neighbors.

Embarcadero: What’s life in San Francisco without the bay? Live in this bayside neighborhood and you’ll enjoy watching the boats – or boating yourself. Historic Jackson Square is located near here with elegant buildings dating to the 1800s.