The Best Areas to Stay in the City
We always get the question, “What’s the best area to stay in when visiting San Francisco?” Our answer: everywhere. However, depending on what kind of trip you are making and who is coming along, there may be neighborhoods that align better with your plans. This is our attempt to answer in a unique way that burning question we get all too often. We’ve distilled the answers down to experiences; you’ll find a different one in each part of the city.
The Best Area to Stay If You’re a Foodie: SoMa
San Francisco’s dining scene is at the top of its game. Just ask Bon Appetit. To maximize the delicious meals per block metric (it’s science), look for a hotel room in SoMa. An acronym for South of Market, this neighborhood has had an influx of new and innovative eateries open up in the past year. It also has great access to the Mission District, the undisputed king when it comes to delicious meals with moderately priced entrees.
The Best Area to Stay If You Want Fresh Seafood: Fisherman’s Wharf
You’re almost obligated to include Fisherman’s Wharf on your San Francisco travel itinerary. This popular tourist attraction puts you right on the water, where you get to see the fishing fleet, walk along Pier 39 to hear the calls of the sea lions, taste the freshest seafood you’ll ever put in your mouth and explore maritime history.
Nearby hotels include: Hotel Zephyr, Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf, Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf, Argonaut Hotel, Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco, Hotel Zoe San Francisco, San Francisco Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 2620 Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf.
The Best Area to Stay for Families: Noe Valley
Stay like a local at Noe’s Nest Bed and Breakfast, a charming Victorian house centrally located in the heart of the Noe Valley. Located right in the middle of San Francisco, this primarily residential area has ample sidewalks and a pedestrian-friendly layout that encourage the admiration of classic San Francisco townhomes while its position in town reduces the amount of fog that rolls in.
The Best Area to Stay For Italian Vibes: North Beach
Welcome to Little Italy. If you have a driving need for pasta, gelato, espresso or the many other culinary delights introduced by Italian-Americans, this area is going to fill your stomach as soon as you step foot in the neighborhood.
The Best Area to Stay for Pride: Castro
The Best Area to Stay to Experience Chinese Culture: Chinatown and Richmond
Head through Chinatown’s Dragon’s Gate and prepare yourself for 24 blocks of Chinese restaurants, food markets, street food vendors and locally owned shops.
Richmond is sometimes referred to as the second Chinatown, as many Chinese-Americans call this area home. The Cliff House restaurant also resides in this neighborhood, along with several museums.
The Best Area to Stay If You Are a Health Nut: Embarcadero
It’s not about having access to a gym, but access to great outdoor spaces that will elevate your heart rate. Hotels along the Embarcadero give you that and a gorgeous morning view of the Bay Bridge. Get up to see the sunrise and work out like a local by running along the Embarcadero by the Ferry Building to PIER 39 and back again.
The Best Area to Stay if You Want a Classic San Francisco Experience: Nob Hill
Visit one of the original seven hills of San Francisco in the Nob Hill neighborhood. The Fairmont Hotel, Scarlet Huntington Hotel and Stanford Court are a few of the luxury hotels that position this area as one of the most affluent in the city.
The Best Area to Stay If You Want to Shop: Union Square
Are you in the mood for some serious shopping? Then this is the perfect neighborhood to shop the major retail brands. Here you’ll have your pick of the litter as most of the city’s hotels reside here. Another great reason to stay in Union Square: it’s a transportation hub, so it’s easy to get everywhere else.
Popular hotels in the area include: Hilton San Francisco Union Square, San Francisco Marriott Marquis Union Square, Hotel Nikko San Francisco, Grand Hyatt San Francisco, Axiom Hotel, The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square, Clift San Francisco, Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel, Hotel Zetta San Francisco and Hotel G San Francisco.
The Best Area to Stay If You Want the Classics: Civic Center
If you’re into the classics, this is the neighborhood. You can hear the San Francisco Symphony, go see the Opera or Ballet (Dec.-May) and drop into a Jazz session at SFJAZZ Center. And if you’re looking for more beauty, including magnificent Beaux Art architecture, go to the Asian Art Museum and view one of the most complete and renowned-collections of Asian art in the world. These are all within Civic Center.
The Best Area to Stay To Catch a Show: Hayes Valley
Do you love old houses, especially Queen Anne and Edwardian? Walking along this neighborhood lets you appreciate the fine quality that goes into these townhouses. The SF JAZZ Center puts on plenty of performances that have you dancing in your seat and high-end boutiques satisfy any shopping needs.
The Best Area to Stay for Peace, Love and Happiness: Haight-Ashbury
Come to where it all started for the hippie movement and see the influence of the 1960s counterculture. Victorian houses are decked out in bright, cheerful colors and you can find vintage shops, thrift stores and other businesses harking back to the area’s hippie roots. Stay at the historic Stanyan Park Hotel. Built in 1883, this boutique hotel is one of the oldest hotels on the border of Golden Gate Park.
The Best Area to Stay If You Have a Car: Marina
Honestly, we don’t think you need a car while you visit San Francisco. It’s easy to get around the city without one. However, if you do have a car, the best area in San Francisco to stay would be in the Marina. Within this neighborhood, hotels with free or low-cost parking dot the northern part of Van Ness Avenue and Lombard Street. With the Golden Gate Bridge within eyesight, this is a great neighborhood to start and end your day.
The Best Area to Stay for Bay Views and Gorgeous Parks: Pacific Heights
Get world-class views of San Francisco when you wander through Pacific Heights. This is a residential neighborhood that’s home to many influential and famous people and dotted with gorgeous parks.
The Best Area to Stay if You Love Jazz: Fillmore
Fillmore’s diversity shows through in its range of businesses. Locally owned shops sit alongside well-known chains, countless ethnic cuisines offer a restaurant experience perfect for variety-lovers and jazz clubs are commonplace throughout the area.
The Best Area to Stay to Experience Japanese Culture: Japantown
Enjoy the oldest Japantown in the United States when you come to San Francisco. Stay at the elegant Hotel Kabuki, just steps from many Japanese shops call this area home, such as the Kinokuniya bookstore. The Japan Center is a mall that lets you journey through the sheer variety here.
Best Area to Stay for Nature and Bridge Views: Presidio
Head to the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge to explore Presidio. This neighborhood was formerly a military base but has been turned into the Golden Gate Recreation Area.
The Best Area to Stay if You’re Bringing Your Best Friend (a.k.a Your Dog): Nob Hill and Fisherman’s Wharf
San Francisco is a city for everyone, even the furry ones in our lives. We know how important they are to you, so if you’re bringing your pets with you on your trip, you’ll want to stay in Nob Hill or Fisherman’s Wharf. These two neighborhoods in the heart of San Francisco give you and your pet a spectacular view and access to the bay breeze.
Popular pet friendly hotels include: Hotel Zephyr San Francisco, InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco, Argonaut Hotel, Fairmont San Francisco, Hotel Zoe San Francisco and San Francisco Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf.
The Best Area to Stay for Surf Culture: Sunset
If you’re coming to San Francisco for the beaches, the Sunset District is calling your name. It’s got the surf culture you want – to the point of being called Beachtown by many people.
The Best Area to Stay to Explore the Arts: Bayview
You get a very literal neighborhood name with Bayview. It has a massive artist colony, which allows you to explore the latest in the San Francisco art scene.
The Best Area to Stay to Enjoy the San Francisco Skyline: Treasure Island
This artificial island sits in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge. Public art and multiple wineries make this neighborhood the perfect place for a leisurely afternoon.
The Best Area to Stay for Great Weather and Trendy Restaurants: Mission
View a living piece of history by visiting the oldest building in San Francisco, Mission Dolores. You get great weather, many art galleries and the trendiest restaurants in town when you head to this corner of SF.