Moving to San Francisco—even relocating within the city—can be an intimidating endeavor. And whether you’re motivated by price, amenities, neighborhood character or weather, you’ll find something different within every neighborhood. We’re not exaggerating when we say every single one has its own microclimate!
To help you find the right location, we selected a handful of categories—from the first-time homebuyer to the foodie to the history buff—and chose the best neighborhood option for each one. In this guide, you’ll find tips on real estate, local businesses, parks and open spaces, local events, and more.
To learn even more about Bay Area cities, towns and neighborhoods, check out our Community Search. There, you can find everything from history and local attractions to housing trends and homes available right now.
For the First-Time Homebuyer: Bayview
Any of the neighborhoods in the 15 Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area would be a good choice for a first-time home buyer in regards to both the community’s average price and predicted growth. Bayview, one of the San Francisco neighborhoods on that list, is one of the sunniest areas in the city and boasts a large concentration of homeownership compared to the rest of San Francisco. Reported together by Census Reporter, 55% of units in Bayview and Hunter’s Point are owner-occupied and 70% of the properties are single units.
The neighborhood is also one of the fastest growing communities in the city with industrial warehouses and buildings being converted into lofts and businesses. Today, the neighborhood offers trendy spots like Craftsman and Wolves alongside character-driven organizations like Imprint City, which are working to preserve the Bayview’s unique culture and history.
To find properties for sale in Bayview, click here.
Whether you’re there for the Mission Burrito or for a meal at one of San Francisco’s trendiest restaurants, the Mission is where you go for good food. In an area that covers about 1.5 square miles, you’ll find more than 130 food and drink businesses. That means you can find locals’ only joints like the cash-only Taqueria el Farolito in the same neighborhood as foodie destinations like Tartine Manufactory and El Techo.
And while you’re eating and drinking your way through the neighborhood, be sure to make stops at cultural must-sees like Balmy Alley, Clarion Alley and Mission Dolores Park.
To find properties for sale in the Mission, click here.
Noe Valley has long been known for its high concentration of families, and a quick look around the neighborhood proves why it’s a great spot for kids. Nestled between the Mission, Bernal Heights, Glen Park, Twin Peaks and the Castro, the neighborhood is set apart from the hustle and bustle of the big city without being too far away from those attractions and amenities.
Inside Noe Valley, you’ll find some of San Francisco’s best kid-friendly spots, including Charlie’s Corner, a kid-centered bookstore which regularly hosts fun events and storytimes, as well as Noe Valley Town Square, where you can attend community events like the Noe Valley Farmers Market, Acoustic Music in the Town Square, and the Tree Lighting & Caroling. You’ll also find weekly, free events like yoga classes, meditations and more. The neighborhood boasts several playgrounds, open spaces, libraries and schools, and you’ll even find an off-leash dog play area at Douglass Playground!
For more local attractions, entertainment and eats, head to 24th Street where you’ll find the highest concentration of all three, including businesses like Noe Valley Bakery, The Valley Tavern, The Little Chihuahua and Fresca.
To find properties for sale in Noe Valley, click here.
Outdoor enthusiasts have found a happy home in San Francisco. According to the Trust For Public Land, it’s the only major city in America where every home is within at least half a mile of a public park. And residents who really love to opt outside should consider the Richmond District. Comprised of Inner Richmond and Outer Richmond, this community is nestled between the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Lands End and the northern end of Ocean Beach.
We especially love the Inner Richmond for its diversity of restaurants, specialty stores and family-friendly character. And if you’re looking for even more outdoor adventure and stunning views, the neighborhood is just a scenic bike ride from the Golden Gate Bridge and all the recreation attractions of Marin County!
To find properties for sale in Inner Richmond, click here.
Found on The 15 Most Prestigious Neighborhoods to Live in the Bay Area, Pacific Heights is one of San Francisco’s most luxurious and exclusive neighborhoods. It’s situated between Cow Hollow, Presidio Heights and the Western Addition with easy access to the open spaces and attractions of the Presidio. And this ideal, hilltop location offers some of the most stunning views of the city, the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Here, you’ll also find block after block of beautiful, turn-of-the-century homes, like the Haas-Lilienthal House, Spreckels Mansion and the Bourn Mansion, a home that was originally built by the richest man in San Francisco and is perched right at the highest point in Pacific Heights.
If you’re looking for world-famous views, we recommend heading to Lafayette Park, Alta Plaza Park or the Lyon Street Steps. For local eats, head to Fillmore Street, where you’ll find Pizzeria Delfina, Jane on Fillmore and Smitten Ice Cream.
To find properties for sale in Pacific Heights, click here.
Bernal Heights is a proud, quiet community that feels a little bit out of the way, but as a result, residents created their own little village in San Francisco. Spotted with several community gardens and defined by open spaces like Bernal Heights Park and Precita Park, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to spend time outdoors and gather with that tight-knit community.
When looking for local businesses and eateries, we recommend heading to Mission Street on the northeast side where you’ll find a high concentration of spots like Mitchell’s Ice Cream and The Front Porch. Other local favorites in the neighborhood include Precita Park Cafe and Barebottle Brewing Company, one of the city’s best breweries. And because Bernal Heights is directly south of the Mission District, residents are never too far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
To find properties for sale in Bernal Heights, click here.
For the Socialite: SoMa
South of Market, affectionately nicknamed SoMa, is the heart of San Francisco’s downtown and offers an eclectic mix of culture, events and things to do. Artists can enjoy Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SFMOMA and the Museum of the African Diaspora. Sports fans are in the same neighborhood as AT&T Park and the new Chase Center. Families can explore the Children’s Creativity Museum. Historians can tour the San Francisco Mint. Craft beer aficionados can hit Cellarmaker Brewing Co., 21st Amendment Brewery and Local Brewing Co.
Tank18, Terroir, Wine Down SF and Bluxome Street Winery are the perfect stops for wine, and Marlowe, Alchemist Bar & Lounge and Vive la Tarte offer some of the city’s most talked about eats and drinks.
As the heart of downtown, SoMa is an energetic neighborhood—the epicenter of urban living in San Francisco—and is perfect for people who always want something to do and new things to see. Local real estate offers sleek, luxury condominiums alongside towering high rises.
To find properties for sale in SoMa, click here.
For the Commuter: Nob Hill
Nob Hill is a small and historic neighborhood nestled between Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, Chinatown and the attractions to downtown San Francisco. Thanks to its central location and dense amenities, the neighborhood snags a transit score of 100 and a walk score of 98. So, whether you’re commuting to the Financial District or Silicon Valley for work, Nob Hill is a great home base.
In the neighborhood, you’ll find some of the city’s most talked about businesses, like Swan Oyster Depot, Bob’s Donuts and Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar inside Fairmont San Francisco. Concentrated along Polk Street on the west end of the neighborhood, Nob Hill is famous for its boutique shops and markets, but it maintains a clean, safe and relatively quiet atmosphere despite its popularity.
To find properties for sale in Nob Hill, click here.
The Western Addition stretches roughly from Van Ness to Divisadero and from Fulton to Geary, bumping up against Civic Center, Lower Pacific Heights, Anza Vista, NoPa and Hayes Valley. It also includes Japantown and much of the Fillmore District, a neighborhood famous for its rich African American, Japanese American and jazz history.
We think it’s the perfect choice for artists because of its history, its historic music venues and its famous parks. The Western Addition is adjacent to the quirky and creative Haight-Ashbury but is even closer to the art destinations of Civic Center and SoMa, including the Asian Art Museum and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in Civic Center and Yerba Buena Gardens and SFMOMA in SoMa. The Great American Music Hall is also just a few minutes away!
Thanks in large part to the Fillmore District, a neighborhood within the Western Addition, this area also boasts its own art and entertainment destinations. These include the African American Art & Culture Complex, The Fillmore, SFJAZZ and the War Memorial Opera House. Looking for open space and outdoor inspiration? Head to Jackson Square Park or Alamo Square Park in the neighborhood or Golden Gate Park just a few blocks away!
To find properties for sale in the Western Addition, click here.
North Beach, also referred to as Little Italy, is located at the heart of some of San Francisco’s richest history. The area itself was once part of the infamous Barbary Coast and its historically high concentration of Italian families has resulted in some of the city’s best Italian eateries and pizzerias. To see some of San Francisco’s oldest structures, head to the south end and Jackson Square where you’ll find one of the oldest commercial neighborhoods in the city, featuring buildings from the 1850s and 1860s that survived the 1906 earthquake.
Literary buffs will also love North Beach and Jackson Square thanks to characters like Jack Kerouac, who once called the area home and local businesses like City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. Other hallmarks of the neighborhood include PIER 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf on the north end, the Embarcadero, Washington Square, and Coit Tower, a 210-foot tower built between 1932 and 1933.
To find properties for sale in North Beach, click here.
Do You Have More Questions?
Here at McGuire Real Estate, we’ve been working, living and serving in the Bay Area for 100 years, and we’ve become local experts on all things San Francisco. If you have more questions about local neighborhoods, real estate or things to do, please contact us directly here.