Guides

San Francisco Neighbourhood Guide: Where To Stay In The Bay

Hanging out in San Francisco can get real pricey real quick. And it’s not hard to figure out why. Silicon Valley is home to some of the biggest tech companies and start-ups in the world, and their employees are easily some of the most well-paid. They’ve got more cash to splash, and that’s raised the prices of, well, everything. But it’s possible to see the best San Francisco neighbourhoods without paying top dollar the whole time.

One way you can see the city for less is with your accommodation. Choosing where to stay based on what you want to see and do in the city will pay off big in the long run. So, to help with that decision, we’ve put together this handy San Francisco neighbourhoods guide.

Union Square

 

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An easy choice to kick off this list, downtown’s Union Square is at the heart of the city, making it a good choice for a first-time visitor. Named after the public plaza within it, the neighbourhood is home to theatres, museums, shops, bars and restaurants.

You name it, it’s more than likely Union Square will have it. And that means there’s no shortage of accommodation either. Take your pick from dirt-cheap hostels, swanky hotels and everything in between.

Fisherman’s Wharf

 

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Another iconic neighbourhood and a great pick for a first-timer is Fisherman’s Wharf. Located along the city’s northern waterfront, it’s like Union Square in that it’s crowded with tourists, but has everything you could need within it.

Unlike its tourist hub counterpart though, Fisherman’s Wharf has a busy pier with sea lions, a cable car and the first-ever Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop.

The Mission District

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For better or for worse, the Mission is the city’s finest example of gentrification. Once home to a large population of Latinos and Hispanics, many of them have since been forced out to make way for the techies. Today, you’ll still find strong influences of their culture (read: finger-licking-good Latin American and Mexican food).

The neighbourhood also boasts excellent views of downtown SF, particularly from the popular Dolores Park and a lot of incredible street art.

SoMa

 

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Located South of Market, SoMa is another prime example of a neighbourhood seemingly gentrified overnight. Like the Mission, you’ll still find some questionable, desolate blocks, but for the most part, SoMa is a buzzing cultural hub of museums, art spaces and warehouses with tech companies and boutique hotels interspersed in between.

If you’re staying here though, a word of warning: the neighbourhood is super spread out so you’ll want to check out a map. Otherwise, there’s a lot you could end up missing out on.

North Beach

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Done the whole sightseeing thing on your first trip to SF, and keen to see how young people in this corner of the world do life? Try North Beach. Also called Little Italy, the neighbourhood sees crowds of trendy folk spilling out from restaurants and bars every Friday and Saturday night.

During the day, pop into cute cafés for espressos, browse independent bookshops for rare finds or slurp on spaghetti from an authentic Italian restaurant.

Embarcadero

 

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If seeing the Bay Bridge all lit up at night is your thing, stay in Embarcadero. The neighbourhood on the city’s eastern shoreline boasts the best views of them. And the hip and happening ‘hood has plenty of waterfront spots to enjoy them from. Among them is the historic Ferry Building, a must-see sight in SF, which has a food hall filled with food, drink and a farmer’s market.

Sunset District

 

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Bet you didn’t know SF had a beach. It’s called Ocean Beach, and if you want to experience it – though probably not swim in it, unless you’re cool with freezing, cold water – stay in Sunset.

The city’s southwest district has a distinct surfer feel with surf shops, nighttime bonfires and an overall chilled out vibe. There’s plenty to explore within Sunset like the San Francisco Zoo, San Francisco Botanical Garden and a handful of museums.

Sausalito

 

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Even if you don’t ending up staying here, Sausalito is still worth seeing. Though it’s actually classified as a city in its own right, the area seems like a charming, small town.

Like other areas around the Bay, it’s hilly. But that’s something you may not even notice – most of its restaurants, art galleries and boutique shops are concentrated on the shorefront. Pass your time here wine tasting, soaking in city views or gaping at million-dollar mansions.