There’s a place in San Francisco for everyone. Businessmen, tourists, sports fanatics, vegans and health nuts… everyone gets their own little area, and each one has its own charm.
The story of each neighborhood follows a similar trajectory. First inhabited by working class immigrants, the next generation transforms it. Corner grocery stores now neighbor ultra-premium coffee shops, and liquor stores have been replaced with more expensive liquor stores. But, in some areas, you can still see the ghosts of the past.
From the preppy shores of the Marina District to the tragically hip Mission District, San Francisco encompasses only 47 square miles, but with 119 distinct neighborhoods, according to Wikipedia. Here are some of the more notable ones…
This touristy area is a great place to buy stuff that says “San Francisco” on it. Located right next to the water, you can sometimes see sea lions lounging nearby. The area is also known for fresh seafood and some great views of the Bay.
In 1967, Haight-Ashbury was the epicenter of the Summer of Love. Over 100,000 hippies converged in this neighborhood to celebrate music, peace, and free love. These days, nothing is free there, but you’ll still find vestiges of the counter-culture and alternative lifestyles that made the area famous. This is a great place to visit thrift shops, find rare LPs, and watch people do drugs in front of cops.
The Mission District
This area embodies the latest wave of gentrification that has taken over San Francisco. Once a predominately Hispanic area, The Mission has quickly became a destination for the modern day yuppies and gen x-ers. It’s hip, it’s fashionable… the art and music scene here is booming, and it’s still the best place to find good Mexican food.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in America, and it represents the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Visit the trinket shops for some interesting oddities, and munch on a few pork buns.
North Beach serves as San Francisco’s Little Italy. Made famous by Beat generation writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, North Beach has a long history as a delta of high and low culture. It’s equally famous for landmarks like The City Lights Bookstore as it is for its appearances in movies and TV shows, like Streets of San Francisco, Presidio and Mrs. Doubtfire.
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