The best area to stay in San Francisco

The best area to stay in San Francisco

Are you planning a trip to the United States, more specifically California? Discover the best neighbourhoods to stay in San Francisco!

Known worldwide for its Golden Gate Bridge and for hosting innovative startups, San Francisco is the third largest tourist destination in the United States. With a population of 852,469 inhabitants, California’s fourth largest city is also known for its sloping streets winding through the city’s hills as well as its vintage cable cars. San Francisco is world famous for spearheading counter-culture and progressive movements: from the welcoming of undocumented immigrants, to LGBT and hippie movements, as well as ecology and waste management, tolerance and emancipation of minorities, and civil rights movements.

San Francisco is divided into about fifteen districts. Market Street separates the city’s famous northern neighbourhoods from the less busy southern neighbourhoods. To help you prepare your trip, here is a presentation of the neighbourhoods to stay in San Francisco.

Downtown

Downtown, best area to stay in San Francisco

Photo credit: Flickr – Patrick Nouhailler

Where to stay in San Francisco? If you don’t have much time in the city, look no further than the centrally located Downtown area. Ideally situated, you won’t be using public transport much. The Downtown area actually includes three neighbourhoods: Union Square, Civic Centre, and Tenderloin. A hub of tourism and trade during the day, the atmosphere shifts in the evening and becomes cloaked in a somewhat more seedy atmosphere where the streets can be seamy. It is not a cut-throat area for all that and most of the hotels of the city are concentrated there. If you come here to shop, there are good deals to be made. Downtown is also known for its street-art murals and rooftop gardens. Downtown is a good place to stay in San Francisco, but it’s a rather expensive area.

South of Market

Soma, best area to stay in San Francisco

Photo credit: Flickr – Chris Clogg

Located east of the city centre, South of Market – named SOMA – is THE place where you’ll find a profusion restaurants and youth hostels. Bordered by San Francisco Bay to the east and Market Street to the west, it is a former working-class neighbourhood where sailors and workers lived in Victorian homes. Today, the district is undergoing a gentrification process, where the old warehouses are gradually being rehabilitated and renovated into comfortable hotels and lofts. The neighbourhood maintains a large gay community that participates in the Folsom Street Fair, a parade held on Folsom Street every September. Also, be sure to visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Cartoon Art Museum, or the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf, best area to stay in San Francisco

Photo credit: Flickr – Gregory Trieste

At the northeastern end of the city, you will find an interesting range of affordable hotels, although accommodation rates are rather high, as everywhere in San Francisco. This area is very popular with tourists, especially because of its many museums, from Van Ness Street East to Pier 39. Fisherman’s Wharf is accessible via the Embarcadero, which runs from Downtown to North Beach. The Navy Museum, the restaurants located on the seafront, and the proximity with the island of Alcatraz make it a very popular place. It was here that Otis Redding (1941-1967) composed (Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay, one of his greatest hits, a few days before he perished in a plane crash.

Chinatown

Chinatown, best area to stay in San Francisco

Photo credit: Flickr – Giuseppe Milo

Do you feel like exploring a part of China in America? Enjoy a little concert of traditional Chinese music in Chinatown! With its 100,000 inhabitants, it is in fact the world’s largest Chinese enclave outside Asia after the district of New York. And don’t miss a visit to the market, the typical attraction coming straight from traditional China. It feels like being in central Taipei or Beijing!

Mission

Mission, best area to stay in San Francisco

Photo credit: Flickr – emile lombard

The Mission District is San Francisco’s historic Latino neighbourhood. Its roots date back to the foundation of the city by the Spaniards who chose this area to establish the Dolores Mission in 1776. It is one of the city’s most lively and colourful districts, renowned for its mural paintings. Having maintained the Spanish language, it exudes an authentic Latino character and feel. In fact, Mission attracts the artsy and intellectual youth from wealthier neighbourhoods. The area features very nice places to go out, and is a rather pleasant place to stay in San Francisco day and night.

Nob Hill

Nob Hill, best area to stay in San Francisco

Photo credit: Flickr – John Weiss

Sometimes nicknamed “Snob Hill”, Nob Hill is a middle-class neighbourhood where San Francisco’s well-heeled families reside. This quiet district perched on the city’s heights offers a central location and a panoramic view over the Golden Gate Bridge. If you can afford it, it’s a good neighbourhood to stay in in San Francisco. Yes it’s expensive, but staying in Nob Hill will give you breathtaking views of the slopes overlooking the bay. Your pictures of Nob Hill will be easily mistaken for postcards!

I grant myself at least 3 to 4 trips each year to the four corners of the world, whether it is very close to my home, as in South America, Europe or Southeast Asia. A question about a destination, a visit, a deal? I answer them in the comments.

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