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Area Guides-San Francisco

Financial District

Shining skyscrapers, sharp suits and swanky shopping is what characterises this area, with every street and every building designed to meet the needs of busy businesspeople with demanding schedules. Visit during working hours and the streets might seem quiet - but get caught in the lunchtime rush and you’ll find yourself amidst a sea of suits, hurried conversations over mobile phones and the smells and sounds of busy food vendors feeding the masses. If you’re in San Francisco for business, this is where you are likely to find yourself - amidst everything you might need for a productive stay. Visit the Financial District for leisure and you’ll feel at home in the Embarcadero’s Ferry Building, where independent cafés and quirky boutiques offer a welcome splash of fun into this sleek and serious neighbourhood. Visit the Financial District Market in the Ferry Market Building to explore some organic produce and try some tasty samples.

Although the Financial District is mostly made up of towering skyscrapers and revolving glass doors, the neighbourhood has managed to hold on to its character with some of the city’s original architecture juxtaposed against the sleek metropolis. There are plenty of places to visit in the Financial District, whether you have a little time or a lot of time. City slickers make the most of the good weather by taking their lunch hour in outdoor restaurant terraces, which turn into lively drinking areas come happy hour. Far from generic when it comes to flavour, the Financial District offers a huge range of independent restaurants, sandwich shops and food trucks.

Make your way to the waterfront and you’ll find a more casual vibe, with people exercising or hanging out with friends after work. Ready to go somewhere a little different? Hop on an old-school streetcar and find yourself in an entirely new neighbourhood within minutes. Check out the San Francisco area guide for more ideas.

Japantown

San Francisco’s Japantown is both the oldest and the largest Japantown in the United States, and as such it is steeped in rich history and culture. Known colloquially as ‘J-Town’ or as ‘Nihonmachi’ by the locals, Japantown takes up a six-block slice of San Francisco’s northwest, in the Western Addition District. Centred on the bustling Japan Shopping Center, the neighbourhood is a much-loved cultural enclave that is well worth a visit to learn about the unique Japanese culture and its significance in San Francisco’s history.

One of the most popular places to visit in Japantown is the Peace Pagoda, a monument designed to inspire peace amongst people of all races. Japantown’s residents keenly follow this ideology, making Japantown an incredibly friendly and welcoming place to be. Bearing a resemblance to Tokyo’s Ginza district, San Francisco’s Japantown has remained authentic and free from tourist traps – one of the many reasons it is a popular addition to any San Francisco area guide.

As with any Japantown, one of the highlights for most visitors is the cuisine. From sit-down restaurants, to street food and classic Japantown markets, there is plenty of authentic Japanese, Chinese and Korean food to sample in Japantown. The neighbourhood is also host to two large cultural festivals every year. The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival takes place here every April, and the Nihonmachi Street Fair is held in August. There is plenty to do in Japantown at anytime of year though, so be sure to pay a visit to this neighbourhood during a stay in San Francisco.

Mission District

Home to everyone and anyone, the Mission District is a place of constant contrast. Catering to people from all walks of life, the neighbourhood has been influenced by everybody who has walked its streets. One of the strongest influences in the Mission District is the tight-knit Latino community, which has benefitted the neighbourhood in terms of its shopping, arts and food outlets.

Indulge your taste buds in a huge range of culinary options, from Mexican meals to Vegan dishes. The Humphry Solcombe Creamery is a popular name in any San Francisco Area Guide, where crowds spill out on the streets as they wait for a sweet treat. When you’re feeling sufficiently fueled, it’s time to hit the shops, where you’ll find a huge array of surprising items from different cultures. If you can’t decide what to do in the Mission District, simply wander the streets and take in the neighbourhood’s incredible street art scene – where the simple concrete walls have been turned into expressive masterpieces.

Thanks to its passionate café culture, there are plenty of places to visit in the Mission District when you need a coffee fix. Sitting in a coffee shop and mulling over a newspaper is a neighbourhood pastime in the Mission District, so don’t be afraid to take your time. It’s no wonder the area needs a bit of caffeinated assistance in the mornings, either – the nightlife is so great, it’s difficult to get an early night. From late night art exhibitions to bars and live music, the nightlife in the Mission District is just as diverse as everything else. Luckily, the hardworking locals have made it their mission to serve you food until late, so you’ll always be able to find that slice of pizza, or taco, or pretty much anything else, after hours.

Nob Hill

Home to giant Victorian houses, pampered pets and pristine shop fronts, Nob Hill evokes a sense of exclusivity from the moment you step on to its streets. There are plenty of places to visit in Nob Hill if you wish to get a sense of how the locals live. Residents of Nob Hill spend their time brunching, shopping and sipping cocktails in the neighbourhood’s stylish bars. Take in the culture under the shadows of the gothic-style Grace Cathedral, pay a visit to the Cable Car Museum or enjoy sweeping views of the harbor from the neighbourhood’s towering hilltops. And don’t be intimidated by the neighbourhood’s affluent local community – Nob Hill’s residents are as relaxed and inviting as their surroundings.

Highly central and close to the Financial District, Nob Hill is a popular feature in any San Francisco area guide. It is a welcome break from the more bustling streets of nearby Chinatown and Union Square, with small but pristine green spaces, boutique shops and a classy nightlife scene. Nob Hill markets and shops are ritzy, with organic produce featuring strongly. Also offering some of the best views of San Francisco’s spectacular harbor, the neighbourhood’s hilly streets are the stuff of postcards.

Nob Hill’s location is highly convenient for business or leisure visitors, with the Financial District, the Theatre District and the city’s best shopping in neighbouring areas. San Francisco’s top tourists spots, from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Park, are just a short journey away on public transport. A world of its own away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco’s downtown core, Nob Hill is the perfect place for anybody who appreciates a touch of luxury. Can’t decide what to do in Nob Hill? Take a look at our suggestions.

SoMa

Once a humble industrial area, and now a hipster’s hotspot, the South of Market (SoMa) area is a melting pot of unique characters and inventive venues. A popular area amongst tech entrepreneurs, the neighbourhood is close to Twitter’s headquarters, and has hosted some of its own famous startups too. Balancing high-tech with history, the area is also home to a number of well-established museums and arts venues. The neighbourhood truly comes to life on game day, though, when city-dwellers and passionate away team fans flock to the AT&T Park to support their team over a few beers and a slice of pizza. With a cool crowd and plenty of entertainment on offer, it’s no surprise that SoMa makes the top of any San Francisco area guide.

Most of the neighbourhood’s industrial warehouses have been vacated and then converted into stylish art galleries, indie coffee shops and exciting nightlife venues. SoMa markets and stores often focus on quality, organic food, so even shopping is a pleasure here. Cheesy gay clubs and classy wine bars line the streets, along with plenty of dining options that offer something a little different. Daytimes are well spent in in the Yerba Buena Gardens, where a diverse arts scene, a range of entertainment options and a vast stretch of green space attracts locals and visitors every day. If you can’t decide what to do in SoMa, just go to the Gardens and do it all! You can go museum hopping, ice-skating or bowling here, and that’s just the beginning of what’s on offer.

There are plenty of places to visit in SoMa, but one stands out from the rest. Naturally, most weekends revolve around the AT&T Stadium, which is easy to access via public transport. Get there early and enjoy a few cold ones at one of the sports bars, or have a pre-game meal at one of the restaurants. Weekdays are a hive of business activity, with commuters catching the Caltrain to Silicon Valley or walking to one of the local SoMa technology companies. Visit The Creamery – a humble dessert café known for being the site of many big business deals. You’re sure to get inspired!