There’s a lot to love about San Francisco, and all of it is found in the different neighborhoods across the city. From incredible art to fantastic foods to a bustling nightlife and more, San Francisco’s neighborhoods are up there with most of the country’s most picturesque and exciting neighborhoods.
Are you up to date with the best spots around San Francisco? Here’s a handy guide that will take you through the best neighborhoods for everything you’d want to experience in our city.
Best Neighborhoods to Explore in San Francisco
Are you in the mood for good views, good food, good times, or all of the above? Check out our “best of” neighborhood choices for all the most sought-after categories.
Best SF Neighborhoods for House Watching
If you are watching any SF-based film, there’s a strong chance you’ll see many Pacific Heights in the B roll shots. That’s because Pacific Heights is one of San Francisco’s most picturesque neighborhoods.
Those iconic Victorian and Edwardian homes you picture when you think of San Francisco are found in this area, along with excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. The classic-SF style homes are well-maintained and loved in this area, with intricate details and unique character to find.
Noe Valley is another stunning neighborhood with several Victorian-style houses to wander or pedal by! However, it is as hilly as it is stunning – if you want to include this area in your biking route, ensure you’re on a powerful e-bike seat!
Enjoy creative gardens, vibrant paint jobs, and quaint shops as you enjoy a stroll through Noe Valley.
Best SF Neighborhoods for Shopping
Some come here for a total shopping spree. Some for the ultimate window-shopping excursion. Whether you plan to buy everything or nothing, you will have a great time perusing through the glossy shops of Union Square. Find big-name designers, international styles and your next favorite brand all in the same area.
If you’re looking for a neighborhood that’s a little more trendy, alternative and up-and-coming, Hayes Valley is a great area to explore. It has a much more unique, local and boutique flair with an indie vibe and more creative, one-of-a-kind items. Perfect for finding your next favorite piece that no one else will have.
Best SF Neighborhoods for Nightlife
SoMa is a bustling neighborhood known for its nightlife, with several trendy bars, upscale cocktail bars, and laid-back spots to enjoy. The area around 11th Street and Folsom Street is home to several popular gay bars and clubs, making it a hub for LGBTQ+ nightlife. Enjoy a fun-filled night of themed parties, drag shows, and dance events.
Come here for the pasta, and stay for the live music, jazz bars, clubs and overall great time! North Beach is often called San Francisco’s Little Italy and is known for its lively nightlife. During the day, this SF neighborhood is an excellent spot for Italian food and strolling around. North Beach kicks up the energy at night with buzzing bars and tons of fun evening events.
Explore venues for live music, comedy shows, and sip a drink at a mix of the laid-back or trendy jazz clubs around.
Best SF Neighborhoods for Food
Foodies, unite! We’re heading to Mission District for some of the best cuisine you can find in SF. Mission District is known for fabulous Mexican cuisine, Salvadoran pupusas, artisanal ice cream shops, gourmet bakeries, and trendy restaurants. We highly recommend you head to Valencia Street for several options nearby – waffle over choosing one option or just give in and take an impromptu food tour.
There are many Chinatowns in major cities, but none like this. SF Chinatown is a sprawling neighborhood packed with Chinese, Cantonese, and other Asian cuisines. Dim sum spots, ramen houses, and several markets with amazing ingredients make for an extremely tasty outing.
Best SF Neighborhoods for Nature
The Presidio of San Francisco is a historic military base turned national park that is full of stunning outdoor scenery. With miles of hiking and biking trails, scenic overlooks, and picturesque picnic spots, you can spend a whole day touching grass and breathing fresh air.
One of the most well-loved things to do in Presidio Park is to hike the Batteries to Bluffs Trail for stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.
Golden Gate Park
The term “park” hardly does this expansive area justice. Explore over 1,000 acres of ponds, hills, gardens, museums, meadows and more. You can spy out birds, turtles, and whatever exciting pets locals bring out for a stroll (spoiler: it’s not always a dog!).
Best SF Neighborhoods for Art
Mission District is filled with vibrant wall art, murals, and creative depictions of social and cultural themes. The Clarion Alley Mural Project and the Women’s Building are must-visit spots for mural art. You can also find numerous art galleries, studios, and cultural institutions like the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.
SoMa is the center for modern and contemporary art, thanks to the famous SFMOMA that calls this neighborhood home. SFMOMA houses an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art, with many you have heard of and many that you have yet to hear of.
SoMa also has numerous art galleries, many participating in the monthly Art Walk. This walk is every first Thursday of the month from 6 pm – 9 pm, and visitors can peruse galleries, learn about local artists and appreciate different stunning art pieces.
Best SF Neighborhoods for Views
Looking for the most stunning panoramic view in San Francisco? Twin Peaks is your spot to go for both city and bay views. It’s made up of a pair of hills that rise almost 1000 feet above sea level, providing a commanding view of the entire city and the San Francisco Bay.
A convenient parking area at the top of Twin Peaks allows you to quickly access the best view in town. Whether you visit during the day with the intriguing fog and sunny days or at night when the city is illuminated, the views from Twin Peaks are spectacular.
A hilly neighborhood will almost always reward you with the most fantastic views. And boy is Russian Hill hilly. Russian Hill is a charming neighborhood known for its steep, winding streets and historic architecture. It’s also home to the famous Lombard Street, the “crookedest street in the world.” The views of Lombard Street are fantastic, but that is just the start!
Climb the stairs at Filbert Street or stroll along Macondray Lane for incredible views of the expansive city, the Bay, and Alcatraz Island.
Are you ready to explore the most unique, creative and picturesque areas of San Francisco? With several memorable neighborhoods in San Francisco to discover, you are sure to get your fill of stories from the city! So, if you need help planning your adventurous San Francisco itinerary, reach out to our team! We are happy to show you the best of the city from the seat of a bike.