Other NEIGHBORHOODS, San Francisco
Favorite thing: Pacific Heights is a nice place for a mid-day stroll. The neighborhood is generally defined as being bounded by Pine Avenue on the south, Vallejo on the north, Van Ness in the east, and Presidio in the west. The main shopping street is Fillmore, which has some decent and surprisingly affordable restaurants and boutiques along with those which confidantly cater to the chi-chi aristocracy nearby.
Favorite thing: Pacific Heights is probably the most glam part of San Francisco. It looks like a Hollywood movie set version of S. F., which makes sense because a number of Hollywood films have been made here. A few years ago there was a film called "Pacific Heights" - an "evil roommate" thriller for yuppies. But generally, good things happen to people in this neighborhood. It's the kind of place where you can imagine Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks living happily ever after.
I am very distantly related to the Huntington from whom the Huntington Hotel on Nob Hill is named. But so what.... Just enjoy the view. Visit Grace Cathedral! On Sunday AM there usually are artists who exhibit in the Cathedral area and courtyard!!
Fondest memory: Taking the Cable Car up Nob Hill - a great ride.
If youy have time you might take the bus to Japan Town to get yet another view of the city.
Nihonmachi Mall was designed to imitate a traditional Japanese village.
Iread that there are 12,000 residents who are of Japanese descent.
Go out Geary to Laguna
Known for being eclectic the Castro areas is quaint and perhaps part of the soul of the community. Head to about 18th and Castro Street or take the Muni Metro down Market.
The Castro Theater wasbuilt in 1922.
The Names Project houses the AIDS memorial quilt and is at at 584 Castro Street.
North Beach along with being the city's premiere entertainment neighborhood, has another feather in it's hat. It is also where most of the city's Strip Clubs (Gentlemans Clubs) are located. Just walk down Broadway and you can't miss them. They're all here Roaring 20's, Lusty Lady: America's first worker-owned peep show, Deja Vu's Showgirls: The place to watch incredible pole dancers, Larry Flynt's Hustler Club: Classy and comfortable club with beautiful women of more diverse ages body sizes, from the famous Larry Flynt.
Fondest memory: Getting Plastered in NB.
Favorite thing: San Francisco is still notorious for the days following the 1849 Gold Rush when its waterfront area was known as the 'Barbary Coast' (named for the famed Tunisian coastline that was a haven for pirates). Today, the Barbary Coast has rduced itself to a few pathetic strip clubs along Broadway in North Beach. However, the notorious rough and gritty area has transferred itself to the Tenderloin, a region situated roughly between Civic Center, Union Square, and Nob Hill. The Tenderloin isn't exactly as rough as conservative newspapers like the San Francisco Examiner would like to believe. I have not seen the claims of open knife fights or folks crawling around on the ground to find grains of cocaine manifested. The area around Sixth and Market streets, supposedly the roughest and most notorious area, seems quite calm and harmless actually. If you're afraid of prostitutes, homeless, and garish strip clubs, don't wander near here. Stay up on the pretty hills with Victorian houses spilling to the sea. If, however, you want to experience the adverse effect the city's rapid gentrification has caused- the homeless problem- and the last truly gritty urban zone in a city formerly notorious for them, take a walk through this area. Don't bring small children. Don't bring senior citizens. Hold your camera very, very tight or hide it completely. But don't deny yourself the experience of seeing such a compelling and visually stimulating (if not attractive) area.
Every trip to SF includes these neighborhoods: Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, Union Square, North Beach, The Marina and Golden Gate Park. Ninety percent of your trip will be exploring these districts.
Locate these districts on a map and plan your itinerary - one district/neighborhood at a time.
For highlights by district, here's a helpful site -www.sfgate.com/traveler/guide/sf/neighborhoods
The most touristed part of the city resembles a slice of pie,
with Van Ness Ave and Market St making the two sides and
the Embarcadero the round edge of the pie. The steaming
toppings of this homebaked slice are the classy shops
around Union Square, the highrise Financial District, the
Busy Civic Center, the down-and-out but up-and-coming
Tenderloin, swanky Nob Hill and Russian Hill, Chinatown,
North Beach and the epicenter of tourist kitsch,
Fisherman's Wharf. To the south of Market Street lies
SoMa, an upwardly mobile warehouse zone of clubs and
bars that fades in the southwest into the Mission - the
city's Latino quarter, and then the Castro, the center
of gay life.
Favorite thing: There's always something to do in North Beach, and much of the activity involves eating. The area is jam packed with cafes, restaurants, and bakeries, each one more appealing than the next. Years ago there really was a beach in North Beach. At the time of the Gold Rush the bay extended into the hollow between Russian and Telegraph Hills, though today landfill has pushed the waterfront farther north. The name North Beach stayed behind and came to denote a one-square-mile area settled by Italians who came to San Francisco after the gold rush and went into the fishing and produce business. Today North Beach is one of the city's most cosmopolitan neighborhoods. Its traditional Italian heritage shows on the picture.
Clement Street runs parallel to Geary Blvd., one block north, from Arguello Street across Park Presidio Blvd. and nearly all the way to the ocean. It's a REAL neighborhood, not a synthetic tourist environment.
Fondest memory: Clement St. used to be a rather pedestrian middle-class neighborhood, but in the past 20 years the ethnic composition has shifted towards the Asian as people move west out of Chinatown. Still, it's a fascinating, diverse area -- Irish bars, Russian tearooms, a Middle Eastern deli, Mexican restaurants, espresso bars, dim sum and sushi, etc., etc.
Fondest memory: My best Memory of San Francisco was attending a celebration/service at the Justin Herman Plaza to remember one of our communities great leaders, Cesar Chavez who died April 23 1983. Since Cesar is known somewhat soley to the Latino community, it's usually just Latino's that speak and perform at these types of celebrations. But to my great suprise all different groups of diverse backgrounds and cultures were performing, participating and most of all supporting the Latino community. It was so touching at one pont I was tearing. It was so great to feel so united in a community with so much diversity. To me that is what San Francisco is!
Houses at Alamo Square
Fondest memory: San Francisco consists of various different quarters.
Japantown is relatively small and consists only of a few blocks, but it has a lot of shops and restaurants. The first Japanese arrived in the early 1860s in San Francisco, but the Japanese people settled in this quarter after the big earthquake of 1906. It is also called “Nihonmachi”. Nowadays this quarter is packed with small shops, restaurants, Art galleries, Japanese Baths and altars. The 30 meters high Peace Pagoda is a gift of Japan.
San Francisco has the largest population of Chinese people outside Asia and new immigrants of the Southeastern Asia area gave it’s new character to this quarter. It is a very crowded part of town, packed with all kinds of import shops. More traditional Chinese shops can be found one block west of Grant to Stockton Ave.
North Beach has an Italian character were you find lots of Italian restaurants.
Enjoy the diversity... Compare the loud, outdoors, red/gold of Chinatown with the serene, interior, earth-tones of Japantown... See the Mission with its Native-American influenced interior, and treat yourself to a taqueria... See the Castro and try a cool non-chain coffeehouse in the Noe Valley... Don't forget to eat well in Italian-American North Beach... The 'crookedest street'--Lombard Street--is a cliche but still worth it... A dynamic, diverse, cultured, multifaceted gem of a city!!!
Fondest memory: Enjoy the scenery on the coastal highway south to Big Sur and north to Mendocino; it was white-knuckle for me much of the time but still unforgettable. See a winery in the Napa Valley.
Here is an overview of the areas you may wish to explore.
North Beach: great food, beatnick vibe, crowded, there's no beach, good bars and history (Spec's and Vesuvios and City Lights Books are a must).
Mission: excellent food, gentrification occurring (aka trendy), diverse, dirty, caution is advised on Mission street yet peace can be found a block away on Valencia.
Fisherman's Warf: AVOID unless you want to be smothered with tourists. Families dress the same so's not to lose each other (usually in yellow)...this is only mildly entertaining.
UpperHaight: Golden Gate park is a dream, OK food, no good bars, too many shoe stores, homeless 'rat-like' children with dogs 'spanging' (asking for spare change). Great history although there's a GAP store on Haight/Ashbury...Ugh. There's a beautiful vibe in GGP on Sundays when cars are not allowed...Sharon Meadow has a GREAT drum circle with freaks of ALL shapes and sizes.
Lower Haight: GREAT BARS but be cautious, there is a very seedy element (crack dealers in big puffy jackets) in this area...mind yourself and you'll be OK.
Market Street: Not worth the while but you'll have to go through here to get to many places.
Castro: gay and liberal, cool shops, great theatre, and friendly people (don't bring your homophobia!!), its definitely worth a visit!
Fondest memory: The concentrated diversity.