The 5 most walkable neighborhoods in San Francisco

Robot cars and electric trains are well and good, but at the heart of it—or perhaps the sole of it—the basic principle of transit is putting one foot in front of the other.

And walkability is also a basic driver of home values in modern cities. As CityLab pointed out in 2012,“You’ll pay a lot more to live in a downtown apartment, above a grocery store, next to a bar strip and within walking distance of your work.”

In 2007 the Seattle-based pedestrian analysis company Walk Score (now owned by real estate aggregate site Redfin) started ranking Northern American neighborhoods by sheer power of pedestrian allure.

According to Redfin, a Walk Score of at least 90 means that the average resident can get most everyday errands done on foot thanks to relatively dense and easily accessible clusters of nearby amenities.

A score of 24 or lower means residents have to use a car for almost every little thing. The site also ranks neighborhoods by bike and transit access.

Walk Score ranks San Francisco as one of the most walkable cities in America; however, not all neighborhoods are equal when foot hits pavement. Here are the local locales that will have pedestrians walking on easy street:

Crowds of people at Chinatown’s Moon Festival.Photo by Michael Urmann


Chinatown’s motivated showing here should be no surprise, although it’s worth noting that it bucks the general trend of walkability equating to generally more expensive housing stock, albeit on account of obvious special circumstances.

Nearby transit lines of note include the 30-Stockton and 45-Union, and the upcoming Central Subway.

  • Walk Score: 100
  • Transit Score: 100
  • Bike Score: 72
Photo by eakkarat rangram

Downtown/Union Square

Again, little surprise on this front: If a downtown area isn’t easily accessible by pedestrians, it’s reasonable to wonder how it even qualifies as a downtown at all. And while not many people live in Union Square, there are a good amount of residents in the surrounding area.

Transit lines include the 38-Geary, 30-Stockton, 45-Union, 3-Jackson, 2-Clement, 1-California, the Powell BART/Muni station, and—of course—the historic cable cars.

  • Walk Score: 99
  • Transit Score: 100
  • Bike Score: 81
Photo by Osbornb

Lower Nob Hill

By now it should be easy to figure out that the most important variable for determining walkability is core density. This, of course, is why San Francisco in general does so well on walk rankings.

Bordering downtown/Union Square, this prized neighborhood (sometimes referred to as the Tendernob) has access to ample bus lines, including the 2-Clement, 1-California, 19-Polk, and 3-Jackson.

  • Walk Score: 99
  • Transit Score: 100
  • Bike Score: 74
Photo by Todd A. Merport

The Tenderloin

Although walkability can be a great equalizer between seemingly unalike neighborhoods, it’s almost certainly not a coincidence that most of these neighborhoods border on at least one of the others.

Perhaps the biggest draw to the TL is its close proximity to Market Street, the city’s main artery, as well as Muni and BART.

  • Walk Score: 99
  • Transit Score: 100
  • Bike Score: 90
         By randy andy

North Beach

Of course, there is one catch when it comes to Walk Scores: They don’t necessarily indicate the ease of walking. It may be that North Beach offers shorter trips to common destinations than, say, SoMa (which has a 96 Walk Score itself), but depending on how well you handle hills, it may take a bit longer to get there anyway.

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

No other neighborhood breaks the 99 threshold right now, but by and large very few neighborhoods have a poor showing. Out of 110 ranked locales, 46 have a score of 90 or better, and 70 have a score of 80 or better.

The worst Walk Score in the entire city: Treasure Island, with a score of 36. But with recent developments, expect that sad number to rise in the future.