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Just like many other American cities, one of San Fran’s main draws is its diverse array of neighbourhoods. You can be somewhere, walk a few metres down the road, and feel like you’re in an entirely different state. It’s almost as if these areas specialise in something, while still offering a broad range of things to do ‘n see.
To get you prepped for your imminent trip there / help wrap your head around why it needs to be on the ol’ bucket list, here are a few of our favourite neighbourhoods this damn-fine city has to offer.
Counterculture’s water broke while strolling through Haight-Ashbury, and it end up giving birth right on the footpath. Creatives from all corners of the globe migrate here to cut their teeth and live surrounded by likeminded people – establishing it as a hub of nonconformity that makes a place like Sydney’s Newtown look bland. Its colourful / bold architecture only enhances the attraction of the left to this neighbourhood. Expect: exclusively organic eateries, eclectic holes-in-the-walls, and for a suit-wearing businessman to stand out like a sore thumb.
WHERE TO HEAD
AMOEBA MUSIC – Vinyl Records / Live Gigs / Merch Provider
Gird your vinyls, record fiends. With three stores across the US, Amoeba is definitely one of the most iconic music chains in country – and its San Fran arm is no exception.
Photo: Amoeba Music.
THE ALEMBIC – Specialty Cocktails / Good Grub
If you’re hungry, thirsty (or both), then this joint is a must-see.
Photo: @alembicsf / Instagram.
THE BOOKSMITH – Book Store
If you’re fond of uncovering hard-to-find reads, then give yourself a couple of hours to properly sift through all of this well-loved establishment’s shelves.
Photo: The Booksmith / Facebook.
THE MARINA DISTRICT
In the Marina District, Perrier-Jouët popping punters exchange Instagram handles, settle business deals and book dates simultaneously. This particular neighbourhood is almost at odds with its surrounding grunge / tech counterparts – opting to be at ease, accept and even celebrate what some people would consider to be a superficial lifestyle. Beautiful people shop on its streets, run on its tracks and drink in its bars all whilst taking in the jaw-dropping views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
WHERE TO HEAD
LE MARAIS BAKERY & BISTRO – High-End Bakery
Head to this joint for carbs in their classiest iteration.
Photo: @lemaraisbakery / Instagram.
THE INTERVAL – Chic Bar / Specialty Cocktails
Prepare to feel like you need to sip your drink with your pinky finger extended.
Photo: The Interval.
In its heyday, the Castro District was the heart of San Francisco’s LGBTQIA+ community, and arguably the world. While that title’s slipping a bit of late, it’s still widely recognised as just that. Sure, it boasts its fair share of gay clubs and bars respectively, but that’s certainly just the surface-level of its overall offering. Some of San Fran’s best cafes, restaurants, bakeries and boutiques are residents to the area.
WHERE TO HEAD
CASTRO THEATRE – Indi Films / Piece Of History
One of the most adored cinemas in America, the Castro Theatre pays homage to its roots in diversity and chiefly airs progressive flicks.
Photo: Castro Theatre / Facebook.
THE CAFÉ – Iconic Gay Bar / RuPaul Performances
Local law demands that a night out in Castro MUST start at The Café.
Photo: JC Events / Facebook.
SOUTH OF MARKET (SOMA)
SoMa kind of personifies the changing face of San Francisco. It’s home to .com’ers, start-up savants, thirsty party folk, the too urban to function and artists offering all things bespoke. Because of its diverse community, SoMa is perfect for some cheap specialty shopping during the day. By night, however, its industrial roots come alive once more – its huge warehouses have been transformed to house some of San Fran’s best gay clubs. Also, if you’ve always wanted to see a baseball game IRL then you’re in luck – SoMa’s the home of the San Francisco Giants.
WHERE TO HEAD
SLIM’S – Live Music Venue
Considering that Radiohead, Kings of Leon and Prince have all played here, it’s probably best you drop by.
THE STUD – Gay Bar / Fabulous Happy Hours
The Stud‘s been open for more than 50 years, so I guess its doing something right?
Photo: Kegan Marling / The Stud.
San Francisco’s rich history means that there’s more things to do there than you could poke a bloody stick at. Because of that, if it’s not at the top of your travel bucket list then surely you’re gonna whack on there ASAP, right???
If that’s the case, then consider flying with Air New Zealand. Check out why it’s quicker and easier to transit via Auckland when heading to San Francisco / LA / Houston / Buenos Aires / Vancouver by heading HERE.