Areas to Avoid, San Francisco
I stayed at Fisherman's Warf which is a lovely place. There is a park nearby and there are always people around ... during the day.
But when the sun sets ... the whole place became so alien. For one thing, the areas are not properly lit. Some places are practically pitch black. If there is no full moon you won't even see the tree in front of you.
Then there are the muggers. Two people got mugged during our 5-day stay.
I was born and raised in San Francisco, I'm in weak LA now, but I want to help you all know exactly where those bad spots are in the city.
First, as you all probably know the Tenderloin and South of Market (SOMA) can be very dangerous at night, but in the day they can be just as bad. Also, be on the look out for the Civic Center (Maket st area). If you haven't been to these three areas, just think of "Skid Row," because that's exactly what they are. Other bad areas are the Fillmore, Chinatown at night, Broadway can be at night, the Mission from SOMA to Daly City and on 24th st. from Mission to Potrero, Excelsior, Lakeview, Hunter's Point, Bayview, Portrero Hill, San Bruno district, Visitacion Valley and the neighborhood I grew up in, Sunnydale (the swamp). I'm not saying you will try to go to these areas in the first place, but I have traveled and I know how easy it is to get stuck in the wrong neighborhood. Also you should probably stay out Golden gate Park at night, because you my get attacked in the dark by some hobo or something. It's pretty close to Haight st. so I felt I had to tell you all that, just in case you wander in there.
Do not come to this city like most other tourist do with a naive attitude, the city can be very dangerous, trust me I know, and I didn't have to act like a tourist to find out. Just be very aware do some researching and you should have a better time than those uninformed tourists. You can email me for any questions.
Tenderloin is triangular area between Market, Van Ness, and stops a couple blocks before Union Square (around HIlton). Some decent hotels are in the Tenderloin, but usually up near Sutter or Post. It's the "lower" Tenderloin (Market between 6th and Van Ness) that gets the seedy reputation. The "upper" part is fine.
Not so nice section of town is around 6th and 9th and Market, as there's some adult theaters and such there. However, it's easy enough to bypass that section of town by hopping onto the various Muni vehicles that travel on (or under) Market St. and pay the $1.25 fare (per person of course).
Should you need help, there's a police station right around 6th and Market (on Eddy actually) and another one around Hotel Renoir (8th and Market) usually with several squad cars around. Or just dial 911 on any public phone.
South of Market is extremely quiet at night except around specific night clubs and such. Definitely take a cab to your destination and a cab going back.
Consider joining one of those "party bus" tours on the weekends, or even hire a limo for pickup and drop-off (it's less expensive than you think though 15-20% tip is expected).
Civic Center (around city hall, 9th and Market) is tolerable, but you may see more homeless people than you're used to in a big city. However, they are generally harmless as long as you don't gawk.
In general, tourists are not bothered unless you're just plainly UNalert for dangers. Don't stray TOO far off the beaten path and you should have a great time in San Francisco.
Only a few areas warrant particular caution during daylight hours and are of particular concern at night. These include the Tenderloin (east of the Civic Centre); SoMa (near the Mission/Sixth Street corner); Mission Street from 13th to 22nd Streets; and in the Hunter's Point neighbourhood near 3Com Park. Golden Gate Park and the Haight-Ashbury should be avoided at night.
(photo - Russian Hill)
This part of San Francisco is naturally set up to take advantage of its 'fame' in tourist lore. It was interesting to actually be there and see the area, but it did seem to be very oriented towards milking the tourists for what they are worth. That being said, you do not have to walk very far to return to normality in downtown San Francisco. The hustle and bustle of this area is interesting but you will pay more if you actually stop and shop here!
San Francisco for the most part is a very safe city. I have walked all over this city during the day and at night, with friends and by myself. There are very few areas of this city that make me nervous. Like any big city you will need to be aware of your surroundings and walk with confidence. Don't get yourself into a situation where you get in trouble. OF course bad things can happen anywhere in a big city but in SF there are a few main areas where bad things are more likely to happen. These are the areas that I would avoid especially after dark and especially if you're by yourself. See the following tips for more detail.
Like with any other major city in the States there are some neighborhoods that are better (or worse) than others. What different about SF is its geographical limitations. Located on a peninsula, there is no room for new money to expand letting ghettos fill the void of the businesses or residents that would have relocated. In SF you can walk for 6 block and hit two “high rent” hoods and two ghettos. (a little exaggeration but you get the idea)
The neighborhoods that have a worse reputation are The Tenderloin, The Mission and SOMA. (I would rank them in this order as well – from bad to not as bad) There are a few others, but these 3 areas do have nightclubs and bars that attract the nightlife. The only precautions would be 1) be aware where you park if you have a car and 2) don’t walk around these places at night SOLO. The safest bet is to take a taxi from where you are staying to your destination, and you will have no probblem.
You look around you before you enter unknown territories. Most of the hotels are located in the downtown or Union Square area which is right next to the Tenderloin area which is like the second worst part of town. During the day it's not pretty but ok to walk through if you keep an eye out on your things. At night, don't go there. Just don't. Take a cab versus walking though, even if it's just three blocks. This is especially true for women. True, some people in the Tenderloin are just like you and me but they tend to be the minority.
Many tourist areas are sprinkled with the city's homeless (the Union Square area, for example), who beg for change but for the most part are harmless. Don't flaunt purses, shopping bags or cameras; avoid walking through dark streets and alleys; try not to look too much like a vulnerable tourist. If you drive and park a rental car, lock all valuables out of sight.
Although I love San Fran very much, I will not delude myself into think that it's perfect and doesn't have crime. There are simply some parts that should not be wandered around along, or if possible frequented after dark. This includes the Tenderloin; SOMA Mission Street from 13th to 23rd Streets; and in the neighbourhood near 3Com Park called Hunter`s Point. Also the Golden Gate Park and the Haight-Ashbury should be avoided at night. The worst is the tenderloin. Strangely though, some of the nicest hotels in the city were built there. The security in hotels tends to be very good, so it should be okay, but if you're a nervous person you might want to make it a trip full of early nights.
I have heard that the highest murder rate is somewhere near the corner of Mission Street and 7th St. Market and Mission Streets south of 6th St. and near City Hall (Tenderloin District around Eddy Street) tend to be scarier after dark. (credit should be given to topoftheworl who suggested a correction)
SOMA does not mean walk south along Market Street. That was what I initially thought and I ended up in the Tenderloin, an area with homeless people, drug addicts and crack dealers. Not an area to be stuck in late at night.
like in most American cities the criminiality-rate is also relatively high in San Francisco unfortunately. Ask your tour guide (or hotel employees if you don't have a tour guide) about which parts of the city to be avoided and at what time to be back at the hotel in the evenings.
Tenderloin is a very dodgy area and very easy to walk in to. It's just north from Market Street about half a mile along from the Virgin Megastore. You should know when you're close by on Market Street because there are no department stores, just sex shops. Turn around and walk back!
This is a big city... so just ensure that you take the usual cautions.
The Tenderloin (an area west of Union Square and east of Van Ness) and parts of Civic Center should be avoided at night at all cost!
Also AVOID 6th Street below Market. If you must be at these areas at night, take a cab. It's much safer this way.