SF Neighborhoods

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San Francisco offer many unique neighborhoods that appeal to a diverse population. Although it is difficult to describe the unique characteristics of each neighborhood, we've included general descriptions that will help to familarize you with the area. Other excellent map guides to San Francisco can be found at Google Maps and SF MUNI.


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***USF students/community typically search and live in the following neighborhoods: Richmond, Sunset, USF Panhandle, and Anza.

Click on a neighborhood below to skip down to the description.



Castro

Located at the upper end of Market Street, “the Castro” is home to the city’s gay and lesbian community as well as many young single people. A variety of restored Victorian and modern housing dwellings fill the neighborhood and surround the busy Castro Street shopping and night life district. The atmosphere is vibrant, youthful and fun.

Approximately 30 minute bus ride to USF.

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Civic Center

Although this area of town is most closely associated with City Hall, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, and the War Memorial Opera House, apartments are also available. The area centers around Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, and City Hall, and includes a variety of rental housing. The atmosphere is lively during the day but quieter at night.

Approximately 25 minute bus ride to USF.

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Cole Valley/Haight

The Haight is located south of Golden Gate Park’s Panhandle. Most rentals in the area consist of large Victorians, many of which have been restored. Some of the more upscale rentals are located in nearby Cole Valley and Ashbury Heights. The Lower Haight has recently experienced a renaissance and is a haven for the young arts crowd. The atmosphere is laid back and casual with a 1960s counterculture vibe.

Approximately 15 minute walk or bus ride to USF.

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Cow Hollow/Marina

Occupying the northern tip of the city, the Marina district is generally a quiet, clean neighborhood. The Marina is a popular address among young professionals and lifelong residents. Rental prices are on the upper end of the scale, and apartments are available in charming older buildings or in modern facilities. Nearby Chestnut Street is a popular shopping and dining area as well as “hang out” spot. The Marina green is also nearby and is an ideal place for jogging, biking, or sunbathing along the waterfront. South of the Marina and across busy Lombard Street is Cow Hollow. The Union Street shopping area is the central hub of Cow Hollow, with classic Victorians that have been transformed into trendy restaurants, chic boutiques, and upscale coffeehouses.

Approximately 40 minute bus ride to USF.

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Mission

Home to the Hispanic, Latino, Filipino, and Vietnamese communities of San Francisco, the Mission district is often sunny when the rest of the city is shrouded in fog. Located south of Highway 101 and Market Street, the Mission is one of San Francisco’s oldest neighborhoods. Local attractions include spicy taquerias, painted wall murals, Mexican bakeries, colorful variety stores, the original Levi Strauss factory, and the historic Mission Dolores. Rental prices tend to be on the lower-to-moderate end of the scale, relative to San Francisco prices. The atmosphere is dynamic with lots of people around day or night.

Approximately 45 minute bus ride to USF.

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Nob Hill

Along with most of the luxurious hotels in San Francisco, Nob Hill also has many of the city’s most elegant apartment buildings. Downtown, North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown are all within walking distance. Not surprisingly, rental prices tend to be higher here compared to the average San Francisco rent price. The atmosphere is trendy, touristy and colorful.

Approximately 40 minute bus ride to USF.

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Noe Valley

Located in the valley on the east side of Twin Peaks and south of the Castro, Noe Valley is a highly sought-after area to live. The community atmosphere and renovated Victorians attract families, young professionals, and students. Turnover tends to be lower here than in other districts. Noe Valley is also known for the popular 24th Street shopping district.

Approximately 45 minute bus ride to USF.

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North Beach

Narrow, awning-lined streets partition this historically Italian neighborhood, centered on Columbus Avenue between Broadway and Lombard streets. Rental units run the gamut here, from old apartment buildings to single-family homes and renovated flats. Nestled between Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach is known for Italian cafes, coffee-houses, saloons, trendy boutiques, Washington Square Park, and Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The atmosphere is European and community oriented.

Approximately 40 minute bus ride to USF.

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Pacific Heights

Perched above the Marina and the Presidio, this majestic area incorporates Laurel Heights and Presidio heights, which fronts the former Presidio Army Base. Since the early 1900s, the mansions of Pacific Heights have offered spectacular Bay views and lush landscapes to many of the city’s most influential residents. Detailed Victorian apartments and luxury modern apartments are also available, usually at the upper end of the rent scale. Alta Plaza and Lafayette Park offer great views, tennis, and grassy retreats. Fillmore Street is the area’s shopping district, along with upper Sacramento Street. Rental prices are more expensive here.

Approximately 35 minute bus ride to USF.

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Potrero Hill

Located in the southeastern corner of the city, Potrero Hill is filled with families and singles living in restored Victorians, stucco homes, adobe-style houses, and modern apartment complexes. This area often has the sunniest weather and the best views of the San Francisco skyline and the East Bay.

Approximately 40 minute bus ride to USF.

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Richmond/Sunset

Row after row of rental units predominates in these two neighborhoods separated by Golden Gate Park and extending west to the Pacific Ocean. Rolling fog often covers this flat, residential district. Two-story homes partitioned into apartments and flats are common in the Richmond, which runs through the avenues north of the park. The Sunset runs south of the park and is similar to the Richmond, except with more hills. The USF campus is located in the Inner Richmond. The UC San Francisco campus sits at the northeastern edge of the Sunset, bordering the Haight. The atmosphere is suburban and community-oriented with excellent proximity to Golden Gate Park.

Approximately 30-40 minute bus ride to USF.

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Russian Hill

With its wonderful Bay views and gardened cul-de-sacs, Russian Hill is primarily residential. Russian Hill is considered prime property, and the rents will reflect this economic fact. Nearby Polk Gulch incorporates two miles of boutiques, restaurants, nightspots, and coffeehouses.

Approximately 40 minute bus ride to USF.

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South of Market (SOMA)

South of Market (SOMA), a neighborhood in transition, is located south of the Financial District and Market Street. Though rents are often more affordable than other parts of the city, the area is under tremendous growth and redevelopment, a factor which will likely mean higher rents in the future. Many modern apartment complexes line the area immediately south of the Financial District; however, rents tend to be on the high end of the scale. The atmosphere is a blend of the new professional and industrial change.

Approximately 45 minute bus ride to USF.

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Telegraph Hill

The maze-like streets of Telegraph Hill offer views of the East Bay, Fisherman’s Wharf, Downtown and even Twin Peaks. Chinatown and North Beach are located at the foot of the hill. At the top of Filbert Street is the famed Coit Tower. Rents are expensive, and parking is rather limited in this neighborhood.

Approximately 45 minute bus ride to USF.

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Tenderloin

In between the Civic Center and the Financial District, the Tenderloin is one of the most affordable districts in San Francisco. However many students do not live there because of safety and security concerns. Renters here need to be “city-smart” in order to live comfortably and safely in this area.

Approximately 15-20 minute bus ride to USF.

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Twin Peaks/Diamond Heights

At the upper end of Market Street, the highest point in the city, you will find a residential area with modern buildings and condominiums clinging to steep and often foggy and windy hills. Diamond Heights is located southwest of Twin Peaks, offering a similar residential neighborhood. Diamond Heights has a convenient shopping center. Parking is fairly easy in both neighborhoods, and many buildings offer garages and carports. This area can be one of the coldest and foggiest areas of the city at times.

Approximately 40 minute bus ride to USF.

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Western Addition

The Western Addition, is the area east of Masonic, south of Geary Boulevard, and north of Haight Street. This part of the city is generally more affordable than many of the more upscale neighborhoods. It is very close to campus and the atmosphere is very residential.

Approximately 5 minute bus ride to USF.

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