Cool San Francisco Neighborhoods You Need to Visit

San Francisco Neighborhoods

San Francisco is a beautiful city for travelling with plenty to do and see along one of the city’s famed postcard-perfect backdrops. Don’t stick to the main tourist spots, go out and explore many vibrant San Francisco neighborhoods to feel the true spirit of this city.

San Francisco Neighborhoods You Must See

Chinatown San Francisco Neighborhoods

Chinatown

When you enter Chinatown, you forget you are still in San Fran. Many say, it’s the best Chinatown in the United States, with the best Ramen, of course. You will know right away where you are as you pass the Chinatown gate. With dragons at its base, the ornate Gate at Grant Avenue and Bush Street marks the entry to Chinatown. This unique neighborhood is decorated with colorful shops, historic street lights, hanging lanterns, and pagoda roofs. The heart of the neighborhood is Portsmouth Square, where you’ll find locals playing board games or just sitting quietly.

Where to Go: Chong Qing Xiao Mian – try their Sichuan noodles: beef noodles with pickled mustard is literally the best ramen we ever had. We had to come back for more.

Financial District

Though most of the buildings in the FiDi are filled with brokers and bankers, along the beautiful waterfront, you will find some San Francisco’s best attractions. After business hours, bars and restaurants quickly fill up with the happy hour crowds.

Where to Go: Visit Rickhouse for the after-work delicious cocktails.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Originally called Meiggs’ Wharf, this waterfront neighborhood got its name from generations of fishermen who used to dock their boats here. Now it’s one long shopping and entertainment mall that stretches from Ghirardelli Square to Pier 39. Pier 39 has the sightseeing ferry fleets, including departures to Alcatraz Island. The most famous residents of Fisherman’s Wharf are the hundreds of California sea lions, barking on the docks at Pier 39.

Where to Go: Boudin Bakery or a market for the clam chowder in bread bowls. Also, go to the end of Pier 39 to see the sea lions.

presidio in san francisco

Marina/Cow Hollow

Marina welcomes people with gorgeous multi-million dollar homes, many shopping options, amazing beaches, and a beautiful backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is one of my favorite San Francisco neighborhoods. Here you will find a lot of local street bars and restaurants and this is where I tried my first nitrogen ice cream.

Where to Go: Palace of Fine Arts is unique and amazing. Have a little picnic in front of the pond and then take a walk in the park to find some of the gorgeous views of Golden Gate Bridge.

Telegraph Hill

North Beach/Telegraph Hill

Just east of North Beach, the hills and staircases of Telegraph Hill are a unique experience. At its peak, the Coit Tower provides sweeping panoramic views of the bay and city. You can see the murals inside the tower’s base  for no cost. They were painted in 1934 by a group of artists employed by the Public Works of Art Project and depict life in California during the Depression.

Where to Go: After climbing all the way to the Coit Tower, we found that Italian pastries along Columbus Avenue are a perfect way to make up for lost energy.

Lombard Street San Francisco

Russian Hill

This quiet residential area with amazing views of the bay is home to Lombard street one of the crookedest and best-known streets in the world. If you’re walking around San Francisco, especially Telegraph or Russian Hill, you’re most likely hear a fly-by of the city’s famous green wild parrots. There is even a book and a movie about them, called “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.” Don’t miss them!

Where to Go: You should check out San Francisco Art Institute with a rooftop. It’s a unique and fun experience especially if you are already in the neighborhood to see the Lombard street.

Mission District San Francisco

Mission District

This vibrant, cultural neighborhood gets its name from the oldest building in San Francisco, Mission Dolores. The Mission District has long been the center of the city’s Latino community. Epicenter for all things trendy, Mission District offers bars, restaurants, coffee shops and hip barber shops. However, the neighborhood can still be a little sketchy night, especially around BART stations at 16th and 24th streets.

Where to Go: Check out traditional taquerias and Mexican groceries. Here you will find some of the best burritos in the world. If you ask a local, what’s is the best food to try in San Francisco, most likely they will answer, “Mission burrito.” Taqueria El Farolito is one of the most well -known in Mission.

San Francisco Tips For First-Timers

1. Dress Warm

If you haven’t heard this one already – wear layers you can easily add and remove. I carried a leather jacket everywhere with me in the middle of May and that kept me warm. Remember, it can be cold, foggy and windy even in the summer!

2. Wander, But Be Smart

Be aware of where you are even when you are on a vacation. Some San Francisco neighborhoods are better than others. For example, Tenderloin, located right in the heart of the city, on Hyde Street between Turk and O’Farrell Streets, can be dangerous to walk around. Check crime rates in the area before booking your hotel and you should be fine!

3. Wear Sunscreen

Even though it can be windy and cold, you should wear sunscreen. The sun is really burning and by the end of the day you can end up as red as a beet!

Read more San Francisco Tips to be ready for your vacation in one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.

Tell me: Did I forget your favorite neighborhood? What other San Francisco neighborhoods should I add to this list?

Cool San Francisco Neighborhood Guide
Cool San Francisco Neighborhood Guide
San Francisco Neighborhoods
Cool San Francisco Neighborhoods

San Francisco Neighborhoods you must visit

Hi, I'm Marina, passionate traveler and blogger, based in the United States and travelling the world. Thanks for following me on my life and travel adventures!

8 Comments

  1. Heather
    June 7, 2018

    Thank you for these recommendations! I’ve never been to California. I’ve travelled all over Europe but not much in the States. It’s crazy. I’d love to do a road trip through CA, though.

    Reply
  2. Melanie Young
    June 7, 2018

    Thank you for the tips for next time I visit San Francisco! I’ve mostly only checked out Fishermans’s warf and Chinatown the times I have gone but it would be cool to see what else is out there.

    Reply
  3. Meg
    June 14, 2018

    Great photos!! This is great, I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco!

    Reply
  4. Rosemary Utavie-Jerry
    June 29, 2018

    Wow, you are doing a great job here. I like everything I’m reading. Your energy and happiness are infectious. Keep up, I drop by regularly.

    Reply
  5. Nancy
    June 30, 2018

    Such an amazing and informative post. It would be great for someone rising San Francisco.

    Reply
  6. Sharon
    July 20, 2018

    When I was in San Fran I did NOT get the memo to dress warm. I wore the same sweater and long pants all week (except for one day). But that aside, I found excellent tacos in the mission district. Next time I go back I’ll have to expand my boundaries and explore more. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  7. Martin Turner
    July 20, 2018

    Thankyou for this article.Lovely photos and some great informtion here for a future trip

    Reply
  8. Ambra
    July 20, 2018

    Thanks for sharing!
    I visited San Francisco 10 years ago, can’t wait to be back! These tips are great 🙂
    Keep up the great work you’re doing!

    Ambra
    https://theflairedit.com/

    Reply

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