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10 San Francisco Neighbourhoods not to miss

10 san francisco neighbourhoods

When you travel do like to take in the local flavour and actually walk through some the city’s key neighbourhoods? Indeed, there are many worthy of note San Francisco neighbourhoods to see, visit and enjoy.

Whether you are planning a visit San Francisco, or if you live here but haven’t yet strolled through these neighbourhoods, this list is for you.  In our research to develop a Tourist Scavenger Hunt in San Francisco, we’ve come across much information, some of which can only be gleaned when doing the actual scavenger hunt.

However, we also wanted to share some of that information with you for your visit planning. Here are 10 San Francisco neighbourhoods not to miss.

10 San Francisco neighbourhoods you should see

  1. chinatownChinatown
    • Enter Chinatown through the Dragon’s Gate, 3 blocks north-east of Union Square. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest outside Asia and the oldest of its kind in North America. It was entirely rebuilt following the 1906 earthquake. It houses theatres, temples, teahouses and a whole lot of souvenir shops.
    • The first Chinese immigrants came to San Francisco in the early 1800s and settled here. They came fleeing the Opium Wars in search of a better life. They worked in the gold mines and later built the railroads. Chinese Americans were denied the opportunity to buy homes outside of Chinatown until the 1950s.
  2. Civic Center
    • The Civic Center is filled with Beaux Arts buildings such as the San Francisco City Hall, Asian Art Museum, and the War Memorial Opera House. It offers a more European feel in its layout of buildings, parks and avenues.
  3. Fishermans WharfFisherman’s Wharf
    • Fisherman’s Wharf was developed in the mid to later 1800s when Italian immigrant fishermen came to the city because of the gold rush. Italians, however, had no luck in their quest for gold. Much better skilled in the seafood trade, they settled the area and fished for the Dungeness Crab.
    • Today it is one of the biggest tourist draws as most harbour cruises and Alcatraz visits depart from here. Most bus tours also start their routs here. You will find a large number of local restaurants such as Gardino’s and the Chowder Hut Fresh Grill, as well as chain favourites like Applebee’s.
    • Two historic ships berth here at Pier 45. The USS Pampanito (SS-383, Balao class) is a decommissioned WWII submarine (served from 1944 to 1971) and the SS Jeremiah O’Brien which is a 1940’s Liberty Ship Memorial. The latter is a still active passenger vessel which served throughout WWII and beyond. It made its way to Normandy in 1994 to commemorate Operation Overlord.
    • Other attractions here include Madame Tussauds, the San Francisco Dungeon and Ripley’s Believe it or not.
    • When here, take the time to seek the historical signs that explain the history of the wharf, fishing and cooking. Another sign indicates the type of fish most caught around these parts such as the California Halibut, Pacific Sardine, California King Salmon and the Dungeness Crab.
    • Find out more in my post “10 Attractions to see at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco
  4. painted ladiesHaight-Ashbury
    • The Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood is the perfect place to see long rows of individually unique Victorian homes. It extends east from Golden Gate Park and includes the Panhandle park between Fell and Oak Streets as well as the Buena Vista Park. This is where you will find Almo Square and the famous Painted Ladies.
  5. The Marina District
    • A waterfront neighbourhood facing the north between the Presidio and Fisherman’s Wharf. It is the stereotypical home to the city’s yuppies. The Palace of Fine Arts is in the Marina District.
  6. The Mission District
    • This traditionally Latino community has a lively nightlife. It is very popular among hipsters with its foreign cinema, family run restaurants and art galleries. It is located on the Bay side of San Francisco (east). Here you will find Mission Dolores and Mission Park.
  7. Grace CathedralNob Hill
    • Nob Hill is close to downtown San Francisco and Chinatown. It boasts Grace Cathedral which was inspired by Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. It is also home to the Fairmont San Francisco, the city’s main Masonic Lodge, the Cable Car Museum and Huntington Park.
  8. North Beach / Telegraph Hill
    • North Beach is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods and the birthplace of the Beat generation. It is rich in Italian pastries and restaurants. Here you will find Washington Square and the Coit Tower.
  9. Russian Hill
    • Russian Hill is one of the original “Seven Hills” of San Francisco but in fact is one of its 44. This neighbourhood dates to the Gold Rush era when settlers discovered a Russian cemetery at the top of the hill. Russian naval and merchant ships were regular visitors to San Francisco in the 19th century. This is where you will find the crookedest street in America: Lombard Street.
  10. SoMa (South of Market)
    • This previously industrial neighbourhood is rapidly becoming a cultural hub with museums, art galleries, nightclubs and restaurants. It is also home to the San Francisco Giants.

Tourist Scavenger Hunts

In summary, we invite you to try our San Francisco Tourist Scavenger Hunt. All in all, this 2-hour self-guided walking tour takes you through the heart of San Francisco. Also, you’ll complete challenges and discover your next destinations directly on your mobile phone (how it works).  In short, it costs $30 for your group but is currently free. Moreover, you will enjoy seeing San Francisco’s neighbourhoods while learning about San Francisco’s history.