Few would argue that San Francisco's neighborhoods are as diverse as they are enticing. Quaint shops, colorful art scenes, trendy eateries, spirited nightlife- these may vary by area but the common denominator is the rich history of each neighborhood.

Here are just a few of our favorites:

The Mission District

Located in the eastern-central part of San Francisco, it is a hotbed for all things hip. The Mission District's Hispanic roots run deep; once referred to as "the Mission Lands" by the Spanish, it is home to Mission San Francisco de Asis, the city's oldest building. The area was also instrumental in the emergence of the Punk scene. Today, it is home to a thriving arts scene, murals, various genres of music, eclectic shops, and a bevy of festivals, fairs and parades; many celebrating the Latino heritage.

Nob Hill & Russian Hill

Located in the northeastern part of the city, this is actually two adjoined neighborhoods. Dating back to the Gold Rush days, the Cable Car made this hilltop area accessible and the early gold and railroad tycoons made their way here. Today Nob Hill is one of the most affluent neighborhoods; home to charming shops, luxurious hotels, and fine dining. Due to its location, the views of the city and the bay are wonderful.

North of Nob Hill lies Russian Hill, best-known for being home to Lombard Street; a winding section of street with eight switchback turns dubbed "The Crookedest Street in the World." Despite the hilly terrain, the streets were planned in a grid pattern, thereby making some of the steepest streets in the city. As a result, several streets are blocked to vehicles and are pedestrian only.

The Haight

The north central area of the city is home to two neighborhoods commonly referred to as The Haight: Haight-Ashbury, known as the Upper Haight, and Haight-Filmore, also called the Lower Haight. Not only are the two sections separated by a large hill, but also by separate identities. The famous Haight-Ashbury area was the proverbial ground zero for the hippie and counterculture movements of the 1960's. Today, it is an interesting mix of funky shops, cafes, and clubs sprinkled with affluent yuppies, aging flower children, and tourists. This section is also famous for its ornate Victorian houses,

The Haight-Filmore neighborhood is characterized by a more diverse population, as well as fewer retail establishments. The Victorian homes here tend to be somewhat less ornate.

San Francisco Bay Area Neighborhoods Image

The Castro

Southeast of Upper Haight you'll find "The Gay Capital of the World", as it's known. This neighborhood was one of the first gay communities in the U.S. It is heralded as a beacon of LGBT activism and freedom and was once home to Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to hold public office in the state. It is a lovely neighborhood full of shops, restaurants, free-spirits, and a vibrant nightlife.


Short for "South of Market", this northeastern area neighborhood has been home to industrial warehouses, gay bathhouses, the dotcom bubble, and now the tech start-up trend. It is also a culture hub with many art centers, museums, and nightclubs, and home of the San Francisco Giants.

The Marina

This north central tip of the city is popular with affluent young professionals. Both locals and tourists alike appreciate the chic fashion boutiques, trendy eateries, and health spas. It is also the site of the Palace of Fine Arts, an architectural marvel built to exhibit works of art for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Bernal Heights

South of the Mission District, this hilltop residential community's main strip is marked by quaint cafes, markets, fruit stands, and shops, as well as on-trend boutiques and restaurants. One of the few areas not completely devastated by the 1906 earthquake, it became home to many of the quake's refugees. Now popular with artists, progressives, dog-owners (for its yards and off leash areas), and families with young children, it is mostly residential in nature.

Fisherman's Wharf

This historical area on the northeastern tip of the city hosts more than 14 million tourists a year. Previously home to generations of fishermen who docked their boats here, today only about 30 fishing boats set out from the area. Souvenir shops and restaurants abound, as do themed museums such as Madame Tussauds. It's also where you'll find the landmark Ghirardelli Square.


Located in the downtown area, Chinatown is not only the oldest Chinatown in North America, but also home to the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Rich in history and traditions, this section of the city has its own languages, hospitals, social clubs, and identity.

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Edited/Contributed by: John C. Derrick
Published/Updated on: 12-20-2018

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