Out and about: Welcome to San Francisco's varied neighborhoods

February 1, 2009

San Francisco is an eclectic mix of districts, home to more than 40 neighborhoods. Here is a sampling of some of the neighborhoods you might run across during your stay in the city by the Bay. Then, turn to the San Francisco Attractions article for some activities in many of the various neighborhoods.

Key Points

San Francisco is an eclectic mix of districts, home to more than 40 neighborhoods. Here is a sampling of some of the neighborhoods you might run across during your stay in the city by the Bay. Then, turn to the San Francisco Attractions article for some activities in many of the various neighborhoods.

Fisherman's Wharf

Expect to find countless fishing boats, seafood stalls, steaming crab cauldrons and seafood restaurants, as well as sourdough French bread bakeries - not to mention numerous souvenir shops - in the world-famous Fisherman's Wharf.

North Beach - Telegraph Hill

Grab a cup of joe in North Beach by daylight, or stop by the vibrant neighborhood at night for some live music and dancing.

For sightseers, catch the No. 39 bus to the top of Telegraph Hill, where Coit Tower sits with breathtaking views. The tower is graced with painted murals on its ground floor walls, which were completed by local artists in 1933. This hill is also home to picturesque lush gardens.

Chinatown

Step inside the "Dragon's Gate" at Grant Avenue - San Francisco's oldest street - and Bush Street, and venture onto 24 blocks of exotic shops, food markets, temples and small museums.

Guests can taste samples at a tea bar or sample a "dim sum" lunch.

Embarcadero, Financial District, Jackson Square

Bounded by deep-water piers, The Embarcadero houses the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street, a public space for a food hall, restaurants and a farmers market. The Ferry Building serves as a terminal for ferries to Marin County, Vallejo, Oakland and Alameda.

Check out the views at Piers 7 and 14 of the Financial District skyscrapers and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

In Jackson Square, one of the city's historic districts, one will find buildings dating from the mid-1800s.

Union Square

If shopping is part of your plan while in the city, look no further than Union Square for nearly every apparel label imaginable. The park is a landmark in the center of the downtown shopping and hotel district.

Catch a cable car on Powell Street from here. Nearby is the Tenderloin, a 20-square-block district west of this district that includes jazz and blues clubs, restaurants and cafes.

Mission District - Bernal Heights, Potrero Hill

Laying claim to some of the city's best weather, the Mission District, along with Bernal Heights and Potrero Hill, features mostly fog-free days.

New restaurants and nightspots are always cropping up here. You'll also note a significant concentration of murals on city buildings and walls here.

Castro, Diamond Heights/Twin Peaks, Glen Park, Noe Valley, Upper Market

To locate Castro and Upper Market, take the city's F-line streetcars.

Recognized globally as the gay capital of the world, the Castro offers an array of restaurants and nightlife.

Near the Castro is Noe Valley, with its pedestrian-friendly streets.

The upper parts of Market Street wraps around the parts of Twin Peaks, which is famed for its broad vistas of the Bay. Glen Park, close to Diamond Heights, has a canyon park.

Haight-Ashbury - Alamo Square, Lower Haight

Alamo Square marks one of the most photographed regions of San Francisco, where there is a famous "postcard-perfect" cluster of Victorian houses with skyscrapers looming in the background.

Count on the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets to still show off its tie-dyed flair and vintage clothing, along with used books and records.

Locals might direct you to Buena Vista Park, which offers stunning city views.

For those seeking architectural delights, venture to Masonic, Piedmont and Delmar Streets.

Nob Hill - Russian Hill

Russian Hill got its name from the burial sites of Russian hunters who spent much time in California waters in the early 1800s. The region today is most recognized for the twisted curves of Lombard Street, "the crookedest street in the world," between Hyde and Leavenworth streets.

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