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San Francisco

safe neighborhhoods convenient to attractions

We are looking at going to san Francisco in july and were looking at doing vrbo but were wondering what areas were safe and close to attractions ( ie: marina,sunset, castro,mission, haight ashbury,portero,noe valley,presidio).Also, we were wondering what are some must sees since we will only be there 3-4 days before heading to monterey. We didn't know if alcatraz was worth seeing or if there were other sights more interesting.

8 Answers

answered by
mariella from Philippines

Anywhere Downtown San Francisco is always a safe bet, since its much closer to the establishments you've listed. Accommodations get more expensive as you draw closer to Union Square. Parking is expensive downtown. Cheaper accommodations may be available out of downtown, just consider its proximity to the BART (transit) stations. the closer you are to the stations, the better. Elevated accommodations (ones located on hillsides or what) give you spectacular views of SF especially at night. :) Commuting is fun but might be a tad bit of a hassle during rush hours. Lots of food options too in places like San Mateo! Try Alcatraz Night tours, book early as its slots fill out fast. SF is known for nature sceneries as well, try to make trips down to Pacifica State Beach-drop by the most beautiful Taco Bell, Santa Cruz-have some churros and garlic fries, and Napa- for wine and cheese, if you can! Have fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Downtown San Francisco (attraction)
  2. Union Square (attraction)
  3. San Mateo (city)
  4. Alcatraz (attraction)
  5. Pacifica State Beach (attraction)
  6. Taco Bell (restaurant)
  7. Santa Cruz (city)
  8. Napa (city)
6 thankscomments (1)

answered by

San Francisco in general is a very safe place.  If you are concerned for safety there two neighbors that are slightly sketchier... Mission District and Tenderloin. Although I have spent a lot of time in both districts and during the day I feel very safe.  The marina is beautiful but not easily accesible by Bart.  The fastest way around the city is the Bart.  The bus system is massive and convenient too but will take almost an hour to get from one side of the city to the other.  I lived in Sunset District for awhile which is the end (most west) of a lot of bus stops... lots of Asian food though and close to the ocean!  Honestly if you can stay near a Bart stop or the downtown area it is the most convenient.  I also lived in Oakland for awhile ... Lake Merritt is really close to the Bart (15min into the city) and a very safe and pretty part of town if you want to stay outside the city.  As for touristy things, it depends on what you like to do.  Ocean Beach & Golden Gate Park are beautiful!  Golden Gate Park is massive and you can get lost in there all day - there are also buffalo in the park that you can run into (they are not aggressive either).  There are some museums and gardens in Golden Gate Park worth checking out. That can take you a whole day if you are interested.  If you want to do some hiking, I highly suggest going north of the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin Headlands. Lots of hikes right along the coast! Haight-Ashbury district has some great shopping if you are more into little shops & thrift stores.  There is obviously downtown shopping and The Embarcadero, which is all the piers and lots of toursity things to do.  Sea Lions on Pier 39 are definitely worth checking out. I would spend a day at Embarcadero. Also there is Lombard Street which is a really windy street. Pretty cool in pictures.   Then there is 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project tiled step project which is a quick but awesome picture. I really liked the tour of Alcatraz; reserve ahead of time and it is only a couple of hours at that. They give you headphones and you listen to some old prisoners and guards walk you through the main prison, which was cool!  Also San Fran is a huge foodie town. Lots of ethnic restaurants to check out!  Fish and sushi are good choices there.  Hope that helps!  Have fun!  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mission District (neighborhood)
  2. Tenderloin (attraction)
  3. Sunset District (attraction)
  4. Oakland (city)
  5. Lake Merritt (attraction)
  6. Ocean Beach (attraction)
  7. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
  8. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  9. Marin Headlands (attraction)
  10. Haight-Ashbury (attraction)
  11. The Embarcadero (attraction)
  12. Pier 39 (attraction)
  13. Lombard Street (attraction)
  14. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project (attraction)
  15. Alcatraz (attraction)
4 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Serena from San Francisco

Hi Kym,

Like others said, you want to stay away from the tenderloin, but still be central. Whenever people visit, I always suggest the Russian Hill/North Beach/Nob Hill area because you're conveniently located to many of the top sights in San Francisco, and you definitely get a very local SF feel when you stay there. 

I live in Russian Hill, and from my apartment, you are central to the following:

***easy access (less than a couple blocks) to both Cable Cars lines

***5 minute walk to the cafes, pizzerias and wine bars of North Beach North Beach, also known as SF's Little Italy

***10 minute walk to San Francisco Chinatown

***15 minute walk to Fisherman's Wharf

***15 minute walk to the the Marina

***20 minute walk to Union Square

***20 minute walk to Ferry Building

Personally I wouldn't stay in the Sunset or Potrero - neither of them are that central to most of the activities/sights you would probably be interested in.

The mission is great and central to a lot as well. There are some sketchy areas, but if you can find a place near Dolores Park, you'll love it.

Hope this helps!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cable Cars (attraction)
  2. North Beach (neighborhood)
  3. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
  4. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
  5. Union Square (attraction)
  6. Ferry Building (attraction)
  7. Dolores Park (attraction)
4 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Lynton from San Diego

I concur with Ed's awesome answer but have a few things to add.  Try to get tickets to a Giants baseball game AT&T Park.  Even if you don't like nor care about baseball its a classic SF experience and there's really not a bad seat in the house.  You can usually buy bleacher seats on site or scalp some tickets day of without breaking the bank.  Also don't miss the Lands End hiking trail along the northwest side of SF.  Go the entire way around to the Sea Cliff district to see where some celebrities live and get one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.  For an awesome view and a great way to get oriented go up Twin Peaks  but wear layers no matter what you do.  Don't leave your room without a sweater and wind breaker no matter how nice it looks.  July can be foggy cold and windy especially on the west side of town and especially in the afternoon.  Have a blast!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. AT&T Park (attraction)
  2. Lands End (attraction)
  3. Sea Cliff (attraction)
  4. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  5. Twin Peaks (attraction)
4 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Clément from Nice

Hey Kym !

You have several options as of where to stay :

- Noe Valley, very calm and safe neighborhood, close to the mission were a lot of things happen at night 

- Pacific Heights, very safe too, close to the Marina and Polk street to hang out.

- SOMA : close to downtown.

Basically, there is not a "central" neighborhood from where you'll be able to walk everywhere. But transportation is quite easy in the city, especially with a combo BART/Muni and Uber/Lyft !

Alcatraz is definitely a must see. you'll get an awesome tour, plus amazing view of the bay and the city. However, you need to book your tickets at least 2-3 weeks in advance, as they sell out very quickly !

As for what you need to see :

Alcatraz, walk around The Embarcadero, Sausalito (take the ferry there), Twin Peaks at night for the amazing view, Pier 39, walk around North Beach (Washington Square Park), Lombard StreetUnion Square and around. Painted LadiesGolden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park.If you have time, I would recommend rent a car and go to Marin County to have amazing view on the Golden Gate Bridge and the city. Sunset is nice too, the Presidio is pretty good looking as well.

As for nighlife, good spots to have nice dinners and drinks : Mission District, Marina District, Polk Street (between California and Green), Downtown San Francisco

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Noe Valley (neighborhood)
  2. Pacific Heights (neighborhood)
  3. SOMA (neighborhood)
  4. Alcatraz (attraction)
  5. The Embarcadero (attraction)
  6. Sausalito (city)
  7. Twin Peaks (attraction)
  8. Pier 39 (attraction)
  9. North Beach (neighborhood)
  10. Washington Square Park (attraction)
  11. Lombard Street (attraction)
  12. Union Square (attraction)
  13. Painted Ladies (attraction)
  14. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  15. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
  16. Marin County (region)
  17. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  18. Presidio (neighborhood)
  19. Mission District (neighborhood)
  20. Marina District (attraction)
  21. Polk Street (attraction)
  22. Downtown San Francisco (attraction)
3 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Caroline from Iowa

My family and I just went there for Spring Break! We stayed in a flat on Lombard Street, so it was in North Beach. Really safe and nice area, with a beautiful view! Alcatraz was definitely one of my favorite places to go on the trip. If you go, I suggest doing the audio tour. Things you need to do in San Francisco: 1. ALCATRAZ! 2. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge 3. Cable Cars 4. Muir Woods 5. Ghirardelli Square Shopping Center and other local shops. If you're a Full House Fan like me, you should swing by "Full House" House and check it out 1709 Broderick San Francisco, CA 94115. Also, I recommend eating at Tacolicious! It is my new favorite restaurant and it offered superior service! Have a great trip and I hope I helped!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lombard Street (attraction)
  2. North Beach (neighborhood)
  3. Alcatraz (attraction)
  4. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  5. Cable Cars (attraction)
  6. Muir Woods (attraction)
  7. Ghirardelli Square Shopping Center (attraction)
  8. "Full House" House (attraction)
  9. Tacolicious (restaurant)
3 thankscomments (3)

top answer by
Ed from San Francisco

Do your best to stay away from the Tenderloin, that's probably the sketchiest part of town. Parts of the mission can be dicey as well, though there are a lot of great restaurants and bars in some parts of the mission. Some places that I think are worth seeing:

  • If weather's good and you're in shape for it, absolutely rent a bike from somewhere around the northern part of the city and bike across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, grab a meal there, then either bike back or take the ferry back from Sausalito to SF. If you're in very good biking shape bike to the top of the Marin Headlands / Hawk Hill, it's an incredible coastal ride on the back side of Hawk Hill
  • Either on the bike ride or separately check out Crissy Field, there's a nice beach overlooking the bay there where people often kitesurf / windsurf. Good place for a picnic/bbq
  • Try restaurants and bars around city. Some good neighborhoods are in the Mission around 16th and Valencia (Limon and Monk's Kettle are good), Hayes Valley, the Marina around Chestnut or Union St, and North Beach. Most of the Italian restaurants in North Beach are tourist traps though
  • SFers love coffee shops, so try one of the Blue Bottle Coffee locations, Philz CoffeeSightglass Coffee, Ritual Coffee Roasters or one of the other top shops
  • Golden Gate Park is a large park and nice as well
  • Walk around the Presidio, a scenic, large historic area
  • Check out Haight-Ashbury if you're looking for the 60's hippy vibe, probably the closest thing to the hippy culture left in SF
  • For a nice coastal drive and some surfing, you can check out Pacifica or Ocean Beach
  • Some of the other standard tourist activities aside from checking out the Golden Gate Bridge are Fisherman's Wharf and seeing sea lions, Alcatraz, riding one of the cable cars, and checking out the Ferry Building. Maybe Chinatown as well, though I'm not sure there's anything special about the Chinatown in SF vs. one in other large American cities. Most of the good Asian food is actually in the Sunset District or Inner Richmond. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tenderloin (attraction)
  2. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  3. Sausalito (city)
  4. Marin Headlands (attraction)
  5. Crissy Field (attraction)
  6. Hayes Valley (neighborhood)
  7. North Beach (neighborhood)
  8. Blue Bottle Coffee (restaurant)
  9. Philz Coffee (restaurant)
  10. Sightglass Coffee (attraction)
  11. Ritual Coffee Roasters (restaurant)
  12. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
  13. Presidio (neighborhood)
  14. Haight-Ashbury (attraction)
  15. Pacifica (city)
  16. Ocean Beach (attraction)
  17. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
  18. Alcatraz (attraction)
  19. Ferry Building (attraction)
13 thankscomments (5)

answered first by
Emi from San Francisco

Hi! How fun. You could stay in Nob Hill, which is close to Union Square and not too far to the water. Otherwise, try Pacific Heights! Here's our SF guide! Xo

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Nob Hill (neighborhood)
  2. Union Square (attraction)
  3. Pacific Heights (neighborhood)
1 thankscomments (1)

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