Painted Ladies in San Francisco, California

City Guide / San Francisco

The Best Neighborhoods in San Francisco

By Landing | Apr 7, 2020

From its rolling hills and stunning architecture to its self-starter energy and diverse eateries, San Francisco has long been the crown jewel of the West Coast. Known to Northern Californians as “The City,” San Francisco is a buzzing metropolitan area filled with eclectic neighborhoods. 

If you’re moving to the city for the first time, it can be difficult to get acquainted with all of San Francisco’s charms—there are simply too many! 

Luckily, this guide will walk you through the 15 best neighborhoods in San Francisco to give you a taste of what you can expect if you decide to live there. Keep reading to take a look at some of the places you might call home in SF, including: 

  • Marina
  • Presidio
  • Russian Hill
  • Inner Sunset
  • Nob Hill
  • North of the Panhandle
  • North Beach 
  • Hayes Valley/Lower Haight/Duboce
  • Mission District
  • Noe Valley 
  • Pacific Heights
  • The Castro
  • Mission Bay 
  • Rincon Hill
  • Dogpatch/Portero Hill

Let’s get started! 

1. Marina

Located in the north of the city near the waterfront, the Marina district is the perfect place if you’re looking for ocean views. Head over to the Marina Green for biking and running paths that lead to front-row seats to the Golden Gate Bridge. No matter how long you live in San Francisco, this classic bridge at sunrise stuns every time. 

For convenient and healthy dining options, walk up and down Chestnut Street to browse its numerous chic vegan eateries, including Wildseed and World Wraps. For a more upscale plant-based affair, Greens offers a mouthwatering brunch along the San Francisco waterfront.

Median rent: $3,500/month

2. Presidio

Bordering Marina, Presidio is a unique neighborhood with a storied history as a military reservation. Today, the Presidio is now a park offering plenty of outdoor activities, from golfing and hiking to water sports. If you plan to spend most of your time in the Bay Area in the great outdoors, there’s no better place to be. 

Observe the Golden Gate Bridge from multiple angles at both Baker Beach and Crissy Field East Beach. The latter is also a prime destination for kitesurfing and windsurfing. When you’re ready to relax, stroll over to Crissy Marsh for some unparalleled birdwatching. You might even spot a Great Egret if you’re lucky! 

Median rent: $3,500/month

3. Russian Hill

This San Francisco neighborhood is true to its name—the undulating landscape makes stairs a common sight throughout the area. If you’re looking for a more low-key neighborhood away from the crowds, Russian Hill might just be the place for you. 

Beyond the beautiful architecture and waterfront views, this part of San Francisco also boasts an upscale dinner scene with chic French restaurants, Cocotti and Cafe Jacqueline, and cozy Italian counterparts, Frascati and Seven Hills. Dine on the open patio at the latter for a seaside affair. 

Median rent: $3,000/month

4. Inner Sunset

Home to the UCSF Parnassus Campus, Inner Sunset has its fair share of university charm. Beyond its nostalgic college-town feel, this more affordable neighborhood also boasts a thriving food scene with can’t-miss coffee shops. 

Head down 9th Avenue for iconic local cafes, such as Beanery and Tartine Inner Sunset. Just a bit up north is the expansive Golden Gate Park, or visit the Inner Sunset Farmers’ Market for fresh produce, exquisite cheeses, and irresistible baked goods. 

Median rent: $2,700/month

5. Nob Hill

Boasting streets dotted with cable cars, winding roads, and classic architecture from past eras, Nob Hill is full of timeless grandeur. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Gothic-style Grace Cathedral and the glamorous Fairmont Hotel from the grassy meadows of Huntington Park.

If you’re a digital nomad, Nob Hill is an accessible location to settle in. With conveniently placed Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, as well as local options such as Sutter Fine Foods, you’re sure to find all the ingredients you need to craft a dinner with new friends. Want more luxury? Don’t miss the posh steakhouse scene at Osso and Harris’ Restaurant

Median rent: $3,200/month

6. North of the Panhandle

Commonly known as NoPa, this square-shaped neighborhood is centrally located within San Francisco and is perfect for residents who like to live in the thick of the city. With its outdoor seating, colorful Victorian architecture, and wide streets, NoPa offers an easy, convenient SF lifestyle with gourmet grocery options and charming cafes. 

Get a scoop of your favorite ice cream at the Bi-Rite creamery while shopping its selection of thoughtfully sourced meats or munch on the diverse collection of organic snacks at NoPa Corner Market.

Median rent: $3,000/month

7. North Beach

Tucked in the northwest corner of the city, North Beach is also known as San Francisco’s Little Italy. Historically home to the city’s Italian population, this storied Bay Area neighborhood boasts authentic and varied Italian cuisine. 

You won’t find better homemade, handcrafted pasta than at the Italian Homemade Company. After a hearty Italian meal, visit the Cavalli Cafe, a delectable dessert shop that’s famed for its cannolis and was once a bookstore. Residents can also stroll along Columbus Avenue to find a wide array of bars, including the Bodega North Beach, which offers unique wines, and The Devil’s Acre with its hip basement vibes. 

Median rent: $3,000/month

8. Hayes Valley/Lower Haight/Duboce

These centrally located neighborhoods are some of the trendiest places to live in the city. With community gardens, upscale boutiques, and a fantastic restaurant scene, Hayes Valley and its surroundings offer something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie, an artist, or a fashionista, these hotspot locations will steal your heart. 

After a work-filled week, spend the weekend meandering through art galleries like the Haight Street Art Center and the Hayes Valley Art Works. Filled with community and culture, they’re sure to help you recharge and hone your creativity. 

Median rent: $2,800/month

9. Mission District

A trendy neighborhood in the heart of the city, the Mission District is one of the hottest areas with its vibrant nightlife. From early-evening happy hours to late-night cocktails within lively clubs, there’s plenty to do.

Sip on a vintage cocktail at the ‘60s-inspired Beehive Lounge or hit the dive bars—you can’t miss the neon glow from The 500 Club, and you won’t want to leave the Prohibition-era atmosphere of Pop’s Bar

Median rent: $3,000/month

10. Noe Valley

If you’re missing that small-town feel, look no further than Noe Valley, which is home to roomy Victorian-style homes and a quiet atmosphere. Buried in the hills, this neighborhood features fresh and trendy food offerings the San Franciscans who live here love.

Head to the Noe Valley Farmers Market on Saturdays for artisanal cheeses and organic leafy greens, or take a walk down 24th Street for your pick of coffee shops and quick eats. For a no-fuss pick-me-up, stop at the local Philz Coffee, which offers a slew of hot breakfasts and baked goods like crunchy walnut baklava, butter croissants, and vanilla bean scones.

Median rent: $3,000/month

11. Pacific Heights

This upscale part of the city boasts sprawling properties, blooming flowers, relaxing green spaces, and clean streets. It’s all conveniently located within the city, but the neighborhood itself is a picture-perfect sanctuary from the hustle and bustle when you need it. 

Don’t miss the grand staircase and breathtaking views at the Alta Plaza Park. Residents can also be found playing tennis on the picturesque hilltop of Lafayette Park. And in the evenings, you can break out your swanky evening wear for a classic Old Fashioned at the cozy Laureate Bar & Lounge

Median rent: $3,500/month

12. The Castro

The world-famous Castro is the heart of San Francisco’s gay community, boasting a steadfast loyalty to the city and a strong community feel. With lively streets day or night, The Castro offers plenty to do, from comfort food to buzzing bars and trendy dance clubs. 

If you’re looking for a night to remember, stop by Twin Peaks Tavern, a legendary Castro stronghold with stunning floor-to-ceiling windows. Afterward, dance the night away at the neighborhood’s iconic gay bars such as Beaux and The Cafe

Median rent: $3,100/month

13. Mission Bay

Located on the east side of the city, Mission Bay is right on the water, offering breathtaking views of the bay and plenty of places to hike, eat, and play. This 303-acre planned neighborhood, a newer part of San Francisco, is a favorite among young professionals and digital nomads. 

Grab a coffee-to-go in the morning at Philz or Blue Bottle. For local options, take advantage of the nutritious bowls and hearty protein-filled breakfasts at Cafe Réveille, and choose from innovative drinks that range from simple to over-the-top at SPRO Coffee Lab

Median rent: $3,500/month

14. Rincon Hill

With its proximity to downtown and the Financial District—and some of the best coworking spaces in San Francisco—Rincon Hill is a popular neighborhood among young professionals. 

Practice mindfulness throughout the day with peaceful walks along the Bay Bridge, or head to the Ferry Building when you take that much-needed PTO. While you’re at it, don’t forget to visit the Ferry Building Marketplace, complete with a farmers market and San Francisco staples such as Blue Bottle Coffee. 

15. Dogpatch/Potrero Hill

Situated in the east part of SF, Potrero Hill, with its quaint Victorian architecture, contrasts perfectly against the neighboring up-and-coming Dogpatch, which is full of large open warehouses, wine bars, and art galleries. 

Spark your creativity with a visit to the Museum of Craft and Design on the weekend, or soak in the industrial vibes at Ungrafted, a wine bar offering tasting kits and classes. 

Landing: Make anywhere home

Whether you opt to live in a studio with a waterfront view or a two-bedroom in the city center, you can find your perfect home with Landing. We offer flexible, short-term rental options—each furnished and without security deposits or application fees—allowing you to explore all the beauty of San Francisco without the hassle that typically comes with finding a new apartment. Plus, when you join our membership-based network, you’ll also have access to thousands of apartments in cities across the country. 

Looking to move to the Bay Area? Browse our fully furnished apartments in San Francisco today!

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About the author

Landing

Fred may be the world's slowest typist and struggle to hold a pen, but he has mastered how to pursue a more flexible lifestyle throughout his airborne adventures around the U.S. Whether you're looking for more information before migrating to a new city or want to find an easier way to rent a nest—erm, apartment—Fred will always be here to share his best advice for where to live and how to thrive.