Think of exploring San Francisco’s lesser-known neighborhoods as something of an urban treasure hunt; you’ll discover enough eccentric charm to leave your heart in SF all over again. Little cable cars might not rattle along in the Sunset, Richmond or Ingleside neighborhoods, but you’ll find that parking is easier and there are fewer tourists. You’ll also discover some of the tastiest, most authentic eateries in the West Coast.
A View of Bernal Heights
Trek up Cortland Avenue in Bernal Heights and take in a sweeping view of the city. This quaint and artsy neighborhood, with streets too narrow for two-way traffic, perches on a hill above the Mission. Enjoy progressive neighborhood vibes while you stock up on greens at the Alemany Farmers Market, acquire jade plants at Succulence, or sip a bottle of Radeberger in the beer garden at Wild Side West.
Life’s a Beach in the Outer Richmond
Beachfront doesn’t mean touristy in San Francisco. Bordered by the Pacific and Golden Gate Park, the Outer Richmond is low-key and low-cost. Here you’ll find the Legion of Honor Museum and Sutro Heights Park. Start the day with a latte at Simple Pleasures Cafe, then hike cliff-hugging Lands End Trail for jaw-dropping views of Baker Beach and the Golden Gate Bridge. Catch a film at Balboa Theater in the evening, or fall in love with the Shanghai soup dumplings at Sichuan Table.
In the Know in Ingleside
Quiet and mostly tourist-free, find Ingleside in the Southwestern section of the city near San Francisco State University. Stroll through the shops and eateries that line Ocean Avenue, and don’t miss unsung neighborhood gem Orizaba Shields Rocky Outcrop Park with its 360-degree view of the city. Trot over to Ingleside Terraces—the former Ingleside Racetrack— to photograph the huge sundial in Entrada Court.
Small-Town Charm at the Inner Sunset
The Inner Sunset borders the south side of Golden Gate Park from Haight-Ashbury to 19th Avenue. Trendy but friendly, the Sunset’s magic doesn’t wait for twilight. Ride a painted pony on the enchanting classic carousel in the park, or stroll world ecosystems at the Botanical Garden. Take the elevator up the de Young Museum tower for a view of the ocean. Explore eclectic 9th Avenue shops like Alaya for hip clothing and Great Overland Books for used books.
Queen Anne, Edwardians and Victorians, Oh My!
Stroll through the affluent Lake District to admire the grand Edwardians, Victorians and Queen Anne homes that San Francisco is famous for. Enjoy a picnic beside one of the city’s last-surviving freshwater lakes in lush Mountain Lake Park, keeping an eye out for visiting migratory bird species. Practice your slice serve on the park’s tennis courts or enjoy nine holes at the nearby Presidio Golf Course, open every day but Friday. Try the scrumptious Salade Landaise at Chapeau! for dinner.
Barking Up the Right Tree in Dogpatch
Dogpatch is a cool neighborhood on the eastern bayfront, once filled with warehouses, canning factories and shipyards. The buildings have now been transformed into live-in artist studios and hip shared spaces. It’s a hub for artists, designers, entrepreneurs and farm-to-table restaurateurs. Try the fluffy, sugar-dusted beignets at Just for You Café; thin-crust pizza at Piccino; or crispy fried chicken at the Hard Knox Cafe. Ogle the vibrant messenger bags at Rickshaw Bagworks and the innovative creations at the Museum of Craft and Design.