Are you traveling to San Francisco? Wondering where to stay in San Francisco? Looking for the best area to stay in San Francisco California, USA? Look no further. Here are the 15 best areas to stay in San Francisco
WHERE TO STAY IN SAN FRANCISCO: 15 BEST AREAS TO STAY IN SAN FRANCISCO
What are the best places to stay in San Francisco? What’s the best neighborhood to stay in San Francisco?
It really depends on personal preferences, needs, and budget.
But, here’s the ultimate guide to the 15 best neighborhoods in San Francisco to help you find the best stay for yourself on your trip to San Francisco.
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BEST AREAS TO STAY IN SAN FRANCISCO
1. MARINA DISTRICT
The Marina District is one of the loveliest oceanfront neighborhoods in San Francisco located between Fisherman’s Warf and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Marina has great views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge and it’s near many must-see sites in San Francisco. Chestnut Street is the main commercial strip, with stylish shops, upscale restaurants, and popular bars.
The Marina is a safe neighborhood and one of the wealthiest neighborhoods. So, it is one of the expensive areas to stay in San Francisco, but it doesn’t need to be out of budget. Airbnb offers some great and budget stays in Marina District. If you are traveling to San Francisco by car, Marina District has some great hotels with free and low-cost parking.
If you are interested in the best Airbnb rentals in San Francisco, I recommend reading: 15 Absolutely Best Airbnbs in San Francisco.
Best things to do in Marina District:
- visit the Palace of Fine Arts from 1912
- shop in Chesnut Street
- eat in one of the amazing restaurants in the Marina
- have picnic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island in the Marina Green Park
Check out accommodations in Marina District in San Francisco:
2. FISHERMAN’S WHARF
Historic Fisherman’s Wharf is an oceanfront neighborhood of San Francisco and the home of San Francisco’s fishing fleet.
It is one of the most famous San Francisco neighborhoods with many must-see tourist attractions like PIER 39, Ghirardelli Square, the National Maritime Museum, Anchorage Square, and Historic Hyde Street Pier. Therefore, it is one of the most touristy areas in San Francisco.
If you are traveling to San Francisco with your kids, you might want to stay in Fisherman’s Wharf as all fun activities are within a short walk. Beware, Fisherman’s Wharf is super touristy.
Best things to do in Fisherman’s Wharf:
- stroll Pier 39
- explore Aquarium of the Bay holding over 20.000 marine animals
- have fun at Musee Mecanique
- discover San Francisco’s dark history in a creepy tour of the San Francisco Dungeon
- take a ferry at Pier 39 and visit Alcatraz or Angel Island State Park
- watch a sea line colony next to Pier 39
- dine in a great seafood restaurant
- head to Ghirardelli Square
- buy a souvenir
- visit Madame Tussauds wax museum in San Francisco
Check out accommodation options at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco:
Chinatown is a centrally located neighborhood in San Francisco and one of the historic neighborhoods of San Francisco.
Chinatown is neighboring Nob Hill, North Beach, Union Square, and the Financial District.
San Francisco Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the second-largest Chinatown in America after New York City. It is one of the most interesting places to stay in San Francisco and is also not expensive. This might not be the safest area to be in San Francisco by night though.
Royal Pacific Motor Inn is a motel in Chinatown and a cheap place to stay in San Francisco and it offers free parking.
Grant Plaza Hotel is a budget-friendly hotel in Chinatown but with no parking.
If you are traveling to San Francisco on a budget, you might want to stay in Chinatown.
Best things to do in Chinatown in San Francisco:
- take a photo of Dragon Gate, the official entrance to Chinatown
- stroll the Chinese shops on Grant Avenue
- have authentic dim sum
- explore the Chinatown alleys
- buy a bag of Chinese fortune cookies at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Ross Alley
- see the Tin How Temple from 1852, the oldest Chinese temple in the USA
Check out accommodation options in Chinatown in San Francisco:
4. NORTH BEACH
North Beach is a centrally located SF neighborhood. Opposite to its name, it is not an oceanfront neighborhood.
In fact, it is surrounded by neighboring Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, the Financial District, and Russian Hill. And it overlaps with Telegraph Hill around Coit Tower.
North Beach is known as San Fransisco’s Little Italy with amazing restaurants for outdoor dining, delicious trattorias, pizzerias, coffee shops, gelato shops, live music clubs, and comedy clubs. The neighborhood is known as one of the ten “Great Neighborhoods in America”. It was also home to the Beat Generation in the 1950s and 1960s.
Needless to say, North Beach is one o the loveliest neighborhoods in San Francisco and one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco for foodies.
Best things to do in North Beach in San Francisco:
- join the food tour and have an Italian dinner
- visit the Beat Museum
- head to Coit Tower in neighboring Telegraph Hill
- grab a book in the iconic City Lights Bookstore opened in the 1950s
- grab your ticket for a comedy show at a comedy club
- listen to a concert at Bimbo’s 365
- visit the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi
- see North Beach street festival in June
Check out accommodation options in North Beach in San Francisco:
5. RUSSIAN HILL
Russian Hill is San Francisco’s neighborhood just up the hill from North Beach.
Russian Hill is an affluent residential neighborhood with the world-famous crooked Lombard Street. There are many great restaurants, wine bars, and shops along Polk Street.
Russian Hill is one of the safest and most expensive areas to stay in San Francisco. And definitely one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
Best things to do in Russian Hill:
- take a photo of ‘Crookedest Street in the World’
- get ice cream at legendary Swensen’s at the corner of Hyde and Union streets
- explore the wine bars, like Amelie if you are a wine enthusiast
- head to Seven Hills for amazing Italian food
Check out accommodation options in Russian Hill in San Francisco:
6. TELEGRAPH HILL
Telegraph Hill is an oceanfront San Francisco neighborhood.
It is a quiet and small residential neighborhood and one of the original ‘The Seven Hills of San Francisco’. There are no hotels in Telegraph Hill and the neighborhood is utterly picturesque and cozy. Telegraph Hill is a famous spot for watching the flocking of colorful parrots and the oldest bars in SF.
Best things to do in Telegraph Hill in San Francisco:
- visit Coit Tower and see amazing murals of 26 artists made in 1934
- walk down 400 stairs of Filbert Steps and witness beautiful homes and cascading gardens along the way
- see Levi Strauss Plaza, the headquarters of Levi Strauss & Co.
Recommended stay in Telegraph Hill in San Francisco: Waterfront Penthouse
Mission District in San Francisco is a bohemian, arty and multicultural neighborhood with Latino roots.
The Mission is known for magnificent murals, art galleries, trendy boutiques, great restaurants, and the 18th-century Mission Dolores.
It is one of the coolest neighborhoods in San Francisco. And one of the oldest as well. Please note, all parts of the Mission District aren’t the safest areas by night.
Mission District is one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco for creative and arty souls.
Bets things to do in Mission District in San Francisco:
- see the colorful murals in Clarion Alley
- visit Mission Dolores Basilica, the oldest building in San Francisco
- head to Dandelion Chocolate factory for the finest hot chocolate made from top-rated cacao beans from Madagascar, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala, etc
- explore ethnic restaurants and cool bars on Valencia Street
- discover tasty Mexican food on Mission Street
- have a break and relax in Mission Dolores Park
Check out accommodation options in Mission District in San Francisco:
The Castro is one of the most famous neighborhoods in San Francisco.
It is located on the slopes of Twin Peaks between the arty Mission District and the chic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The Castro is famous for the LGBT community, great nightlife, street art, and the iconic Castro Theater from 1922.
Castro is a diverse, liberal, and friendly neighborhood in San Francisco.
San Francisco is one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco for LGBTQ and liberal people and for great nightlife.
Best things to do in Castro in San Francisco:
- watch a movie in the historic Castro Theatre
- shop at iconic Cliff’s Variety
- visit Twin Peaks Tavern, the oldest gay bar in the Castro
- and just stroll through adorable Castro
Check out accommodation options in Castro District in San Francisco:
Haight-Ashbury is a historic San Francisco neighborhood with well-preserved and colorful Victorian buildings, vintage and quirky shops, bookstores, exotic restaurants, and the 1960s vibe.
Haight-Ashbury was the center of the hippie movement in the 1960s and the home to ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967. Today is the center of alternative lifestyles, fashion, and food. It is a free-spirited neighborhood. So, not surprisingly you can encounter people with alcohol issues in some parts of Haight-Ashbury.
Haight-Ashbury is not a touristy area in San Francisco. It is nestled between San Francisco downtown and San Francisco Mission District and Castro.
Haight-Ashbury is one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco if you visit SF by car or if you don’t mind using public transport.
Best things to do in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco:
- check out vintage clothing and shoe stores along Haight Street
- inspect iconic Amoeba Music in Haight Street for some vintage vinyl records, unique posters, and rare book
- try out some ethnic food: Italian, Thai, Mexican Chinese cuisine
- appreciate the architecture of Victorian houses from the late 1800s and the early 1900s
- head to the top of Buena Vista Park for the impressive views of the city
- see captivating Haight-Ashbury murals
Check out accommodation options in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco:
10. PACIFIC HEIGHTS
Pacific Heights is a historic and upscale San Francisco residential neighborhood with beautiful historic architecture and amazing 360 views of San Francisco city.
The neighborhood features homes of the richest San Franciscans, classy fine-dining restaurants, and high-end shops. Pacific Heights is home to some most expensive houses in the world. The stretch of opulent houses in Pacific Heights is called Billionaires Row. Arguably, it is the most elegant neighborhood in San Francisco.
Filmore Street is the main commercial strip in Pacific Heights. Union Street, Downtown, Russian Hill, Noble Hill, and Marina District are within a short walk from Pacific Heights. Wonderful Alta Plaza Park and Lafayette Park are in Pacific Heights, and Allyene Park is nearby.
Pacific Heights is one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco for luxury travelers.
Best things to do in Pacific Heights:
- shop and dine in Filmore Street
- head to Alta Plaza Park and Lafayette Park and chase great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay
- climb the Lyon Street Steps for impressive views of the city
- admire colorful Victorians from the late 1800s
- walk deluxe Billionaires Row and see some of the most expensive mansions in the world.
- visit Haas-Lilienthal House, a wonderful Victorian open to public
Check out accommodation options in Pacific Heights in San Francisco:
11. WESTERN ADDITION
Western Addition is a centrally located and trendy neighborhood in San Francisco, well-known for its multicultural history.
Western Addition covers a part of above mentioned Fillmore Street, Japantown, Alamo Square, Hayes Valley, and Lower Pacific Heights. Some of the finest examples of Victorian architecture buildings, including the iconic ‘Painted Ladies’ of Alamo Square, are in Western Addition. Fillmore Street is historically related to nightclubs, jazz music, and vibrant nightlife. This is the place where Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday played.
Western Addition is a working-class neighborhood in San Francisco. It is a budget-friendly area to stay in San Francisco.
Western Addition is one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco for music lovers and the nightlife.
Best things to do in Western Addition:
- head to Alamo Square and see the painted Ladies
- visit Japantown and the Japantown Peace Plaza with the Peace Pagoda
- see a concert at The Fillmore, the iconic ’60s counterculture music venue
- attend Fillmore Jazz Festival in July
Check out accommodation options in Western Addition in San Francisco:
Presidio is the greenest neighborhood in San Francisco and the largest outdoor recreational area in the heart of San Francisco.
In fact, it is a national park and National Historic Landmark District with epic viewpoints, great hiking trails, wonderful cycling paths, gorgeous picnic spots, beautiful beaches, playgrounds, tennis courts, and more. It covers 20ish micro-neighborhoods within Presidio Park.
Presidio is the oldest neighborhood of San Francisco and the core of the city where San Francisco started.
Presidio overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay.
Presidio is a good area to stay in San Francisco for visiting Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge, the Exploratorium Museum, and the Disney Museum. But Presidio is a little bit far from main tourist attractions like Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, or Union Square. Presidio is a good San Francisco area to stay in if traveling by car.
Presidio is one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco for outdoor lovers and road-trippers.
There are two historic hotels within the Presidio Park worth staying in Inn at the Presidio and the Lodge at the Presidio.
- explore walking trails, beaches, and bay views of Crissy Field, the favorite outdoor recreational area of San Franciscans
- Presidio Social Club
- visit the Walt Disney Family Museum if traveling with kids
- have a picnic in Presidio Park
- hike the 6.4-mile Presidio Immersion Hiking Trail
- take the Ecology Trail to Inspiration Point for the panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, and Angel Island.
- check out Presidio Golf Course, a top public golf course with 18 holes
- head to the Golden Gate Overlook for the views of the Golden Gate Bridge
- go to Baker Beach for stunning sunsets
- visit the nearby Palace of Fine Arts
Recommended stay in Presidio in San Francisco: Beautiful Serene 2 Bedroom Home in San Francisco surrounded by nature
13. FINANCIAL DISTRICT
Financial District is the business center of San Francisco, popularly called ‘The Wall Street of the West Coast’.
The Financial District is also commonly called Downtown San Francisco. San Francisco downtown covers a broader area than Financial District though. The neighborhood is dotted with business skyscrapers and offices, including the headquarters of several Fortune 500 companies, luxury hotels, upscale restaurants, and chic bars.
The most famous landmark of the Financial District is the Transamerica Pyramid. The Transamerica Pyramid dominates not only the Financial District but the San Francisco skyline. Financial District is close to Union Square, and several blocks from Chinatown, Ferry Building, and North Beach.
Financial District is a safe area to stay in San Francisco. It is also a quiet area after business hours.
Obviously, the Financial District is the best area to stay in San Francisco for business travelers.
Best things to do in Financial District:
- admire The Transamerica Pyramid at 600 Montgomery Street
- find the statue of Mark Twain next to the Transamerica Pyramid
- join a Walking Tour of the San Francisco Financial District
- take a cable car ride at the California Street cable car line
- shop and dine at the Embarcadero Center
- watch a show at the Punchline Comedy Club
Check out accommodation options in Financial District in San Francisco:
SoMa, or South of Market Street, is a rare flat neighborhood of San Francisco.
Soma is located just within a short walk from downtown San Francisco, and Union Square. Fisherman’s Wharf and Castro District can easily be reached by public transport from SoMa.
Once an industrial district with warehouses, today SOMA is an art hub with a dozen museums, hip nightclubs, chic boutiques, and fine restaurants. SoMa is home to the dot-com revolution from the 1990s. Today entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and business people rub their shoulders with artists in SoMa. Google, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Dropbox, and LinkedIn have tech offices in SoMa.
SoMa is one of the largest neighborhoods in San Francisco and one of the most diverse areas in San Francisco. Mission Bay, South Beach, and Yerba Buena are micro-neighborhoods within SoMa.
SoMa is well-connected with Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport, Berkley, Oakland.
SoMa is one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco without a car as it is a well-connected neighborhood.
Best things to do in SoMa in San Francisco:
- watch a Giants game at Oracle Park
- enjoy the light art of the Moscone Convention Center
- visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
- have a break in Yerba Buena Gardens
- go to the Children’s Creativity Museum with kids
Check out accommodation options in SoMa in San Francisco:
15. NOB HILL
Nob Hill is one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in San Francisco. Moreover, Nob Hill is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the USA.
Nob Hill is sandwiched between Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, Union Square, and Civic Center, Chinatown, and the Financial District. Telegraph Hill and North Beach are nearby. In short, Nob Hill is at the core of the heart of San Francisco.
Nob Hill is one of the original ‘The Seven Hills of San Francisco’. It is often voted as the best area to stay in San Francisco.
Nob Hill is of the most expensive areas to stay in San Francisco. It is safe, clean, and close to all main must-see sites in San Francisco.
Nobil Hil is dotted with ultra-rich historic Maisons, top luxury hotels, extravagant restaurants, amazing art galleries, and upscale shops.
Best things to do in Nob Hill in San Francisco:
- catch the cable car that runs along California Street
- visit the Grace Cathedral, a landmark of Nob Hill
- admire the iconic Fairmont hotel, a landmark of Nob Hill
- go to the Cable Car Museum and learn about the history of cable cars and the lines
- join a Nob Hill walking tour
- have a break in Huntington Park
- indulge in extravagant shopping in high-end shops in Nob Hill
- head to the Top Of The Mark bar on the 19th floor of the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental for cocktails and impressive 360-degree views of San Francisco
- see the Hotel Vertigo in Nob Hill where Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo was filmed (the hotel was called the York Hotel at that time)
Check out accommodation options in Nob Hill in San Francisco:
Best neighborhoods to stay in San Francisco
Where to stay in San Francisco with kids?
Fisherman’s Wharf as it near all fun activities. But be prepared for the tourist crowd as it can too touristy though.
Where to stay in San Francisco with family?
Fisherman’s Wharf, Marina District, and North Beach.
Where to stay in San Francisco with a car?
If you are renting a car, you might want to stay away from the city center. Haight-Ashbury is a good choice if you are visiting San Francisco by car. Presidio neighborhood is also a great area to stay in San Francisco with a car. Marina District is centrally located but it is also a good choice as it offers hotels with free or low-cost parking.
Where to stay in San Francisco on a budget?
Chinatown is one of the most interesting and budget-friendly neighborhoods in San Francisco.
Although the Marina district is a bit expensive neighborhood in general, Airbnb offers affordable stays in the Marina district. The Marina is safe, near many must-see sites and you don’t need to break the bank to find a decent stay.
North Beach is also one of the best areas to stay in San Francisco if you are traveling on a budget.
Where to stay in San Francisco cheap?
Generally speaking, SF is an expensive city. If you are looking for cheaper stays check out affordable Airbnb or places near San Francisco if traveling by car. San Francisco Chinatown is also a budget-friendly area in San Francisco.
What area to stay in San Francisco?
It really depends on preferences, needs, and budget. Fisherman’s Wharf is near to all must-see attractions but is too touristy. Nob Hill is the safest neighborhood area, but ultra-expensive. North Beach is a lovely neighborhood with great restaurants. SoMa is a well-connected neighborhood with airports and downtown.
What areas to avoid in San Francisco?
The Tenderloin is dirty and dangerous. If you are traveling to San Francisco on a budget, Union Square is too touristy and too pricey. If you dislike tourist crowds you might not enjoy staying in touristy Fisherman’s Wharf.
What places to avoid in San Francisco?
The Tenderloin is the most dangerous place in San Francisco for homeless people who live there and might have issues related to drugs and alcohol. Union Square and some parts of Mission District can be challenging too.
Where not to stay in San Francisco?
What are the safe areas in San Francisco?
Nob Hill. Then Marina District, Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, and North Beach
What is the safest place to stay in San Francisco?
Nob Hill but it’s super-expensive.
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