7 Best Places to Live in San Francisco, California
Here are 7 of the best places to live in San Francisco, CA with local information on each neighborhood!
Full of neighborhoods that are trendy, hip, and a little old school, San Francisco is one of the most exciting and diverse places to live if you can afford the high prices. From colorful and historic Victorian row homes to houses with the perfect views of the infamous Golden Gate Bridge, living in this vibrant city has a lot to offer its residents. If you are deciding whether or not you should make the move to San Francisco then you might need some help figuring out where to live. No matter if you are looking for a neighborhood that is affordable, safe, family-friendly, or near all of the hustle and bustle of city life, San Francisco certainly has a place for you.
This neighborhood guide was created to help make your big move to California a little easier and will definitely become your go-to when picking a neighborhood that is right for you. Read on to learn more about the 7 Best Neighborhoods in San Francisco, California!
1. Fisherman’s Wharf
Did you know that San Francisco was named as one of the best places to live in California? Thanks to the cities great neighborhoods, it is no surprise that it made the list. Perhaps one of the most iconic and most famous neighborhoods in San Francisco is that of Fisherman’s Wharf. Located on the northern waterfront, this neighborhood is a popular attraction for tourists and in turn, is home to many hotels and cute little souvenir shops. While Fisherman’s Wharf may be crowded on most days, this part of the city is so widely recognized that it is hard not to love.
Known for being the location of the well-liked Pier 39, hang out with the local sea lions or find an array of restaurants, an aquarium, boutiques, live performances, and even a video game arcade. Great for families and young adults, the neighborhood of Fisherman’s Wharf is prized for its low crime rates and never-ending things to do. Plus, as one of the main stops and turn arounds for San Francisco’s cable cars, living in Fisherman’s Wharf is a classic San Fran dream.
- Alcatraz: Catch a ferry straight from Fisherman’s Wharf to visit this once island prison and now turned tourist destination.
- Boudin: Renowned for its delicious sourdough bread and recognized as one of the oldest standing businesses in San Francisco. This is a must-visit!
- Ghirardelli Square: This three-story chocolate factory has been renovated and turned into a shopping center filled with local shops and restaurants.
- Buena Vista: Open since 1916, this restaurant has perfected the art of Irish Coffee. Try one for yourself!
2. Financial District
Often referred to as “The Wall Street of the West Coast,” the Financial District in San Francisco is the cities business center and the location of tall skyscrapers and iconic landmarks. Located downtown, this part of the city is close to high-end restaurants, fantastic date night spots, and fun nightlife that keeps San Francisco exhilarating. While this neighborhood is a great place to live for young professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs, the Financial District is also a great place to stay for travel or business.
Bordering the nearby neighborhoods of North Beach and Chinatown, the Financial District is bordered by Market Street, Grant Avenue, Embarcadero, and Broadway Street. If you are moving to San Francisco for work then this neighborhood might just be the perfect place for you. Close to many companies and start-ups, walk to work without worrying about owning a car. Plus, home to one of three operating cable car lines, getting around the Financial District is super easy.
- Wells Fargo Museum: This free museum is located off of Montgomery Street and is a great place to visit to learn about San Francisco’s and Wells Fargo’s history. There is even an original stagecoach as well as original mail from the Pony Express.
- San Francisco Wine Society: Found on Merchant Street, this wine bar is a must-visit for any wine lover. Featuring wine from Napa Valley as well as wines from all over the world.
- Portsmouth Square: This park and square near Chinatown is a great place to relax and watch local street performers.
- Tadich Grill: Known as the oldest standing restaurant in San Francisco and the state of California, this restaurant has been around since 1849 and remains a popular destination for lunch and dinner.
3. Mission District
A traditional Latin neighborhood, living in the Mission District will mean having more than just access to the best burritos in San Francisco. Named after the iconic 18th century Mission Dolores which is the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco, the Mission District is known for its authentic taco shops, hip local boutiques, lively nightclubs, and unique cocktail lounges.
This ever-evolving neighborhood has seen massive growth over the years as more families and young professionals are moving to the area due to the technology industry. Surrounded by breathtaking murals and colorful streets, the street art alone should make you want to visit the Mission. While the neighborhood may not be known for its safety ratings and you probably do not want to be walking around alone at night, this neighborhood is full of culture and it should definitely be considered as a place to call home.
- The Mission Dolores: Founded in 1776, this Spanish Mission was a key witness to the history of San Francisco including The Gold Rush and the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Visit the mission today for a service.
- Dolores Park: Spanning for 16 acres this park sits on the edge of the Mission District and is known for its open green space, dog park, playground, soccer fields, tennis courts, and basketball courts.
- La Taqueria San Francisco: When in The Mission it is tradition to try a mission burrito that is most notable for its large size and extra rice. When in the neighborhood this is a must-try.
- Bi-Rite Ice Cream: Only four minutes away from Dolores Park this ice cream shop is making homemade organic ice cream in unique and classic flavors. Try seasonal flavors such as the peach cobbler or the blueberry crisp.
4. North Beach
Often called “Little Italy,” the neighborhood of North Beach is home to a large population of Italian Americans. Close to the Financial District and Chinatown, living in North Beach is a great option for residents who work downtown. Find authentic Italian pizzerias, trattorias, coffee shops, and gelato all over town. Also known as a nightlife district, find yourself surrounded by eccentric nightclubs and craft cocktail bars.
Since this charming neighborhood is prized for its local history and Italian heritage, North Beach has risen to the top as one of the many popular tourist destinations in the city. Perfect for families, young couples, and retirees alike, living in North Beach means being surrounded by many open green spaces and parks as well as an abundance of things to do. In our opinion - North Beach is one of the best neighborhoods to call home in San Francisco, California.
- City Lights Bookstore: Known as one of the most infamous bookstores in the United States, City Lights features multiple author signings and publishing events throughout the year. Swing by today to pick up a new read and learn about this shop’s significance in the city.
- Comstock Saloon: As one of the cities oldest dining and drinking establishments, this saloon is a must-visit for cool cocktails and a happy hour that you can not miss. Check out this spot for weekend brunch!
- Washington Square Park: Found out front of Saints Peter and Paul Church, this park is a local go-to. Great for people watching and relaxing on a warm sunny day grab some classic Italian fare and have an impromptu picnic on the lawn.
- The Beat Museum: This museum houses artifacts and exhibits that remember the Beat Generation which shaped San Francisco’s history.
5. Russian Hill
The high-end upscale neighborhood of Russian Hill sits on one of the 44 hills in San Francisco. Originally named by settlers who discovered a Russian cemetery on top of the hill during the Gold Rush, this neighborhood is rich in history that the locals love to explore. Home to one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, make sure to visit Lombard Street which happens to be known as the “Crookedest Street in the World.” If you decide to bring your car to the city then it is a right of passage to drive down this street at least once. With plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars, Russian Hill has a perfect mixture of both trendy and classic hotspots. The neighborhood is also home to multiple pedestrian walkways and open green spaces that provide either a great workout or a nice place to enjoy the day.
- Saint Frank Coffee: The best way to start the day. Every coffee lover should make sure to stop into this minimalist coffee shop.
- Swensen’s Ice Cream: Now a worldwide chain, this ice cream shop is the original location and serves up cool unique flavors such as green tea alongside beloved classics.
- Russian Hill Bookstore: Selling both used and new books, this bookstore has been around since 1974 and is sadly one of the last independently owned bookstores in the city.
- Ina Coolbrith Park: Named after the famous librarian and poet Ina Coolbrith, this terrace park offers awesome views of the city both day and night.
Part of the counterculture movement in San Francisco during the 60s and 70s, the neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury remains standing today as a remembrance of this revolutionary time. Now a historical neighborhood with a distinct free spirit and hippie vibe, those that choose to live in Haight-Ashbury are surrounded by funky storefronts, vintage boutiques, and retro eateries. Considered one of the safest neighborhoods in San Francisco, both families and young professionals are flocking to this part of the city for its lively and eccentric atmosphere. Featuring many vibrant and colorful Victorian homes that line the streets, many famous celebrities such as Joan Jett, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix used to have homes of their own here.
- Amoeba Music: Around for decades, this music shop is most notable for its massive supply of vinyl records and vintage posters.
- Piedmont Boutique: Famous for its pair of legs hanging out of the window, this boutique happens to be the most photographed store in San Francisco.
- Golden Gate Park: The third most visited park in the United States.
- The Painted Ladies: One of the most notorious rows of Victorian homes in San Francisco. This popular historic landmark was used in many moves and television shows including Full House.
7. Pacific Heights
If you want panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge then look no further than Pacific Heights. Voted as one of the most prestigious and richest neighborhoods in San Francisco, Pacific Heights features showstopping Victorian-style homes that bring many families to this residential community. In fact, Billionaire’s Row is found in this neighborhood which has the largest and most expensive homes in the whole city that house most of the 48 billionaires currently living in San Francisco. Not only are the homes amazing, but Pacific Heights is known to have a below-average crime rate which makes it one of the most desirable places to live in San Francisco. Surrounded by lively streets, picturesque parks, and famous homes including the Mrs.Doubtfire house, living in Pacific Heights could be your next dream come true.
- Haas-Lilienthal House: Built in 1886, this historic home has survived many earthquakes and fires. Visit the home today to see how an affluent family lived back in the day.
- Lafayette Park: Found on a hill, this park and green space offer awesome views of the city, a dog area, a playground, a picnic area, and tennis courts.
- Alta Plaza Park: Found on the western side of the neighborhood, this park is the perfect spot for a picnic and to get some fresh air.
- The Snug: This restaurant and bar are serving up comfort food and craft cocktails in an intimate setting.
The Best Neighborhoods in San Francisco, CA - The Bottom Line
San Francisco has a neighborhood to fit any lifestyle and culture. Before buying your own home in this city full of character, make sure to reach out to one of our knowledgeable and experienced Realty Specialists to aid and guide you through the home buying process. No matter your budget, our team is here to help. Contact us today to find the home for you in San Francisco, California!
Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.