The 5 Most Desirable San Francisco Neighborhoods, Ranked by Their Walk Scores

|April 3, 2018

Our famous 7×7 city is home to MUNI, BART and countless neighborhoods with great walk scores. As such, it snagged the number one spot on this research-based list, The Best Cities for Living Without a Car — and our East Bay neighbor, Oakland, landed in the top ten, too!

But within the city itself, there are so many great neighborhoods within walking distance to convenient amenities, restaurants, coffee shops, and more. The website Walk Score measures the walkability of any address using a patented system and breaks down the walk score, the transit score, and the bike score. Based on these numbers, San Francisco’s top 30 neighborhoods are all ranked between 95 and 100 for walkability. Needless to say, we’re pretty proud of our commuter-friendly city, so we’re sharing our favorite characteristics, landmarks and eateries in the top five. Enjoy!

1. Union Square

Walk Score: 99 | Transit Score: 100 | Bike Score: 81

This small community is part of San Francisco’s bustling Downtown. With the 2.6-acre public plaza at its heart, the neighborhood is the teeming commercial hub of the city. Famous for the major hotels and department stores that call it home, you’ll also find coffee shops, upscale boutiques, restaurants, nightspots and galleries tucked between the towering buildings.

Find homes near Union Square.

Food + Drink

Hops & Hominy | This chic, rustic, red brick restaurant serves coastal Southern food alongside American microbrews.

E&O Kitchen and Bar | This modern Asian restaurant and lounge is worth a visit for the menu and the stunning design.

Mazarine Coffee | This neighborhood favorite serves some of the city’s best coffee along with delicious avocado toasts and other snacks.

Golden Gate Tap Room | This retro-inspired spot serves over 100 beers and offers table games like shuffleboard, SkeeBall, foosball, billiards and arcade games.

Mystic Room + Tavern | Inside Union Square’s Mystic Hotel, this intimate, film noir-inspired cocktail bar is one of our favorite places for live jazz.

Farallon | Now more than 20-years-old, this restaurant offers coastal cuisine, an oyster bar and a raw bar.

Attractions

450 Sutter Building | This 26-story Art Deco building was designed by San Francisco architect Timothy Pflueger and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Union Square | As the center of the neighborhood, this is the best place to start your shopping, sightseeing and eating itinerary.

The Geary Theater | This historic theater rose from the rubble of the 1906 earthquake and has been serving as an entertainment center ever since.

San Francisco Art Exchange | Self-titled as America’s most exciting gallery, this Union Square spot has worked with the art of Picasso, Chagall, Warhol, Dalí and more.

2. North Beach

Walk Score: 99 | Transit Score: 96 | Bike Score: 71

As San Francisco’s own Little Italy, North Beach is the headquarters of Italian American culture. With Russian Hill and Chinatown to one side and the Embarcadero on the other, it’s a picturesque spot in the city — especially when that’s paired with an authentic Italian pie. Ciao!

Find homes in and around North Beach.

Food + Drink

Vesuvio | This world-renowned saloon was established in 1948 and remains a historical monument to jazz, poetry, art and the life of the Beat Generation.

Mama’s | Expect a line at this neighborhood icon, but you can also expect a hearty breakfast and a menu of comfort foods.  

Sotto Mare | This authentic Italian eatery serves some of the freshest fish and shellfish in town, oysters and clams on the half shell, Boston style Clam Chowder, and so much more.

Scoma’s Restaurant | This waterfront restaurant serves seafood pulled straight from the Bay and fresh off the boat.

Original Joe’s | Originally opened in 1937 as a 14-stool counter, Original Joe’s got a revamp after a 2007 fire and is still one of the neighborhood’s favorite eateries.

Attractions

Beat Museum | This quirky museum shares the work and the spirit of the post-WWII Beat generation, including the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers | Co-founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti himself, this landmark independent bookstore and publisher specializes in world literature, the arts and progressive politics.

Coit Tower | This 210-foot tower sits atop Telegraph Hill and offers 360-degree views from the observation deck.

Saints Peter and Paul Church | Known as “the Italian Cathedral of the West”, this stunning landmark is worth a visit — and a photo.

3. The Castro

Walk Score: 98 | Transit Score: 96 | Bike Score: 82

Famous as a center for the GLBT rights movement in San Francisco, The Castro offers an eclectic mix of history, culture and quirkiness. Suited for tourists and locals alike, you’ll find educational opportunities and historic landmarks alongside plenty of must-visit dining and drinking establishments.

Find homes in and around the Castro.

Food + Drink

Anchor Oyster BarSince 1977, diners have been coming to this nautical-themed eatery for some of the city’s best fresh fish and shellfish.

Mama Ji’s | Featured on our guide to SF’s best dim sum, this is a must-visit Sichuan restaurant no matter which neighborhood you’re coming from! 

Blush! Wine Bar | Modeled after the great wine bars of Europe, Blush! offers over 50 wines by the glass to be paired with a delightful dinner menu.

Fable | In a storybook-inspired setting, this casual eatery serves a constantly rotating menu of modern American brunch and dinner options.

Twin Peaks Tavern | This landmark neighborhood bar offers classic cocktails and beers on tap alongside vintage furniture and big glass windows.

Kitchen Story | This cozy eatery serves up Californian cuisine with Asian influences and one of the best Bloody Marys in town!

Attractions

GLBT History Museum | This museum exhibits over 100 years of Bay Area GLBT history with aditional programming throughout the year.

Castro Theatre | This historic movie palace became San Francisco Historic Landmark #100 in September 1976!

Rainbow Honor Walk | This sidewalk tribute honors the heroines and heroes of the LGBT communities and is entirely run by volunteers.

Mission Dolores Park | Encompassing nearly 16 acres, Mission Dolores offers green lawns, a soccer field, six tennis courts, one basketball court, a multi-use court, a playground, and two off-leash dog play areas!

4. Hayes Valley 

Walk Score: 97 | Transit Score: 99 | Bike Score: 92

This hip, revitalized neighborhood in the Western Addition has become one of the city’s most popular destinations for new eateries and upscale shopping. While perusing fine boutiques for designer fashions and home decor, you’ll find some of San Francisco’s trendiest dessert shops, watering holes and restaurants.

Find homes in and around Hayes Valley.

Food + Drink

Straw | As Instagrammable as it is delicious, this circus-inspired restaurant serves up dishes like the Fried Chicken-n-Waffle Monte Cristo and the Famous Donut Burger.

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar | This French and Northern Italian-inspired brasserie offers must-try cuisine alongside creative cocktails.

Zuni Cafe | This nearby café earned the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant in 2003!

Monsieur Benjamin | Housed in a picturesque setting complete with rustic reclaimed wood and stark white accents, this bistro serves modern French cuisine. 

Chez Maman | Inside a casual, bistro-style dining room, Chez Maman dishes up authentic French Provencal fare. 

Fig & Thistle | This rustic wine and beer bar will become your new Hayes Valley locale — especially when you taste the meat and cheese boards!

Attractions

Patricia’s Green | This urban park offers a green space, benches, picnic tables, a play area and rotating art exhibits. 

War Memorial Opera House | As stunning outside as it is inside, this venue and performing arts center hosts some of the city’s most important concerts and shows.

Nourse Theatre | This elegant 1927 theater now showcases public radio-affiliated lectures and arts-related conversations on stage.

San Francisco SymphonyHome to the SF Symphony, this concert hall seats more than 2,700 and offers several cafes and bars.

Page Street Community Garden | One of 35 community gardens on city-owned property, this Hayes Valley spot is volunteer-operated and offers several plots which you can reserve online.

5. Lower Pacific Heights

Walk Score: 97 | Transit Score: 81 | Bike Score: 84

Nestled just below Pacific Heights and bordering both the Fillmore and Japantown, this central San Francisco neighborhood is one of the best-connected and culturally interesting spots in the city. And with UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion at its heart, the community offers plenty to love for residents as well!

Find homes in and around Lower Pacific Heights.

Food + Drink

Sweet Maple | This laid-back neighborhood restaurant, coffeehouse and meeting place is the go-to for homemade morning and lunch fare.

Jane | As one of San Francisco’s best bakeries, Jane offers brunch items, pastries, fresh-baked bread and one of the best avocado toasts in town!

b. patisserie | This noteworthy pastry kitchen offers a menu of modern, French-style pastries along with American flavors and local influences.

The San Francisco Athletic Club | One of the city’s best sports bars, this spot features a full bar, wines on tap and a couple dozen big-screen TVs.

Wild Hare | Amidst Alice in Wonderland decor, you can enjoy hearty pub grub and craft cocktails at this inventive eatery.

Roam Artisan Burgers | This local chain makes delicious burgers, sides, shakes and sodas in true pasture to plate style.

Attractions

Russian Center of San Francisco | Offering events, classes and the premier annual Russian Festival in the region, you can travel to Russia without ever leaving the Bay Area!

Boom Boom Room | One of the best places to hear live jazz in the city, this veteran club features a dance floor and live music that covers funk, jazz and blues. 

St. Dominic’s Catholic Church | This jaw-dropping and ultra-welcoming sanctuary is one of the most beautiful churches in the United States.

Lyon Street Steps | You’ll get a workout while traveling this picturesque staircase, which connects Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights, but you’ll also earn a spectacular SF view!

Alta Plaza Park | Offering panoramic views of the city and the Bay, Alta Plaza offers a children’s playground, a basketball court, tennis courts and an off-leash dog play area.

Want to know where your neighborhood ranks?

Check out Walk Score here.

Category Community Guides, San Francisco

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McGuire Real Estate

McGuire Real Estate

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