7.7 out of 10

Downtown

Ranked 28th best neighborhood in San Francisco
37.7882051798602 -122.411257221047
Great for
  • Eating Out
  • Shopping Options
  • Internet Access
  • Public Transport
  • Nightlife
Not great for
  • Parking
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Jul 18, 2015

"Touristy"

This is the place for shopping, and doing the touristy stuff. You can get pretty much anywhere in the city via public transit from here.
Pros
  • Public Transit options
Cons
  • crowds
Recommended for
  • Tourists
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"The High Class Commercial Heart of SF"

When you start talking about Downtown San Francisco you have to start with Union Square one of the best shopping districts in all of SF. If there is any spot in SF where you could mistake the area for New York City, it is Union Square.
From the multiple story department stores, to the classy hotels with doormen as heralds, the area just exudes the commercial vibe of a large metropolis. In December all you would need is some fake snow to the get the same cheer you find in a New York.

So what is there to do in this area?

Shopping: Let’s start with the department stores: Bloomingdale’s, Nordstroms, Macy’s, even a Loehmann’s. And that’s just department stores. Looking for jewelry? You can find more than a dozen jewelers in this neighborhood. Want original artwork? You have a gallery for each finger on both your hands. A great bookstore: those covered too. Put simply, if it is pricey—you can find it here.

Hotels: The Four Seasons, Donatello or Palomar are right in the square and the Intercontinental and its clutch of high class rivals are just a few blocks north in Nob Hill.

Restaurants: Five-star restaurants where you can spend as much on one meal as some people make in month? Try Masa, for French; Farallon, for seafood; or the classic Morton’s, for a good bloody steak.

Bars: You also have a range of night spots, from high class joints like Summer Place to dives like Chelsea Place, you’ll find them here.

Theaters: Of course this is also the epicenter of the theater district, including one of the very best West Coast companies, the ACT and the Geary Theater. The Curran is also here, so you definitely have your bases covered when it comes to high brow art.

Put simply, if you can’t find something to like about this area (even if you can’t afford any of it), then you should really check whether you are still alive.
Pros
  • great live theaters
  • many stores
  • union square park
Cons
  • expensive
  • crowds
  • homeless population
  • Full of tourists
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Best place for shopping"

Downtown really is a one-stop shopping hub. There are so many different stores in this area. Anytime I need to buy anything, I go here. One great spot is the Westfield Mall that is located on Market Street. It has a lot of popular stores and even has a really delicious food court. This isn't like a Sbarro's/Orange Julius type food court; they have a vegan spot, great Asian choices, etc. It seems more upscale than other food courts I've been to.

North of Market, there's more shopping. You'll hit the big stores like Macy's and Nordstrom's, which sit on Union Square Park. This is a really great part. It's not full of a lot of greenery, but doesn't have places to take you're lunch if you work in the area. I was also there one time when a live band was playing on a stage in the center of the park.

I would recommend avoiding the south end of Powell, where it meets Market Street. This is where the cable car picks up tourists and it's usually mobbed during the day.
Pros
  • many stores
  • union square park
Cons
  • homeless population
  • crowds
  • chain restaurants
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Students
4/5
2yrs+
Cons
  • Full of tourists
5/5
2yrs+

"Culture and Retail Therapy"

Downtown has so much to offer - hotels, spas, shopping and the cultural mecca of Union Square. In the winter time, Union Square hosts a skating rink, one of 2 that are put up temporarily for the holidays.

2 times a year (December and April) you can witness some amazing Fire Dancing in Union Square hosted by the premier poi fire and flow dancing school in the world, Temple of Poi (http://templeofpoi.com). Don't know what fire dancing is? Check out this clip from Union Square:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgU95bBfUmk

If you want some retail therapy, enjoy the shopping at Macy's, in San Francisco Center and in and around Powell Street. If you want some classy night life and dancing, Vessel is a great spot to check out.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
4/5
2yrs+

"Downtown has it all"

Downtown San Francisco is centered around Union Square and the neighborhood overflows with an eclectic mix of stores, boutiques, retail spaces, and offices. There is a residential 1920s apartments, condominiums, and a handful of lofts as well.

Local shoppers and tourists flood in by all means of public transportation including the cable car. Large retail destinations include Macy's, Niketown, Crate & Barrel, H&M, and the vertical shopping malls at the Westfield Shopping Center and San Francisco Centre. There are also the finest in luxury shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus, Gucci, and Tiffany & Co.

Eating options abound in downtown San Francisco. Some of the options include Michael Mina or Millenium (offering luxurious vegan cuisine - my personal favorite). Sears Fine Food boasts their eighteen Swedish pancakes, which is a favorite among the locals.

Be sure to catch a show in the theater district at such venues as ACT's Geary Theater or the Curran Theater. For more wild and late night shows check out Ruby Skye and the perennial Gold Dust Lounge.

Downtown San Francisco is absolutely stunning at night. The lights are amazing from a high rise hotel and you will truly fall in love with this wonderful city.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
2yrs+
Downtown is the beating heart of San Francisco. Its filled with upscale shopping, extravagant hotels and larger than life office buildings. During the day, the streets are buzzing with traffic, window shoppers and suited business people. It’s a great place to walk around and enjoy the massive buildings and exquisite architecture.

Upscale shopping boutiques and big name brand stores (like Macy’s, Apple Store, Sak’s Fifth Avenue) line Market Street. If you’re looking to unwind, grab a bite to eat and relax at Union Square. The 1x1 block gives out-of-towners a nice open space to enjoy the sun. On weekends, street performers fill the sidewalks offering some urban entertainment. The talent ranges from hip hop dancing to drum solos performed on empty buckets. If you walk a block off market, there are plenty of happy hour spots for people to grab drinks with coworkers. The crowd is mostly young, well-dressed and ready to blow off some steam.

There is always plenty to do in downtown San Francisco. The Museum of Modern Art is a great option for people who want to soak up some San Francisco culture. During the winter, most of the downtown area is elaborately decorated with Christmas ornamentations and people can enjoy a temporarily installed skating rink at Union Square.

Transportation is easy to come by. San Francisco offers a monorail system called the Muni (for short) which connects people to every part of the city. Commuters from the East Bay and down the San Francisco peninsula take Bart into the city. Downtown San Francisco is also bike friendly with many residents riding to and from work. Traffic is pretty congested in San Francisco, especially during work-commute hours so many people take Bart in from the East Bay or down into South San Francisco.
Pros
  • many stores
  • union square park
Cons
  • crowds
  • homeless population
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"The Center of San Francisco"

Downtown has everything you will need in terms of shopping and things to do. You will find a plethora of shopping malls and stores around Union Square and various locations throughout Downtown. You’ll find big name retail stores and all kinds of restaurants and cafes. What you’ll find a good number of are classy restaurants, I’ve been to a couple of the steak restaurants in the area before, great food I’ll say. You’ll also find small pizza places, burrito shops, etc. The area in Downtown San Francisco is relatively clean and looks really nice on a good warm sunny day. The streets and sidewalks are pretty clean, but because of the number of people walking by it’ll look pretty dirty. For some the street performers, street stores, and the homeless people might make Downtown San Francisco unattractive, but don’t let that deter you from this area.

Walking through Downtown may feel like forever because of the long blocks, and also because of the big buildings you walk by. In Downtown you’ll find a plethora of people hanging around, whether it be bikers, street performers, or just a bunch of people hanging around and talking. The traffic is pretty heavy too in Downtown, it is sometimes blocked, other times it’ll flow smoothly but with a lot of cars. The large number of bikers through Downtown also adds to the traffic, pedestrians should be careful when crossing the street because of the constant rush hour of bikers.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
5/5
2yrs+

"One of the best downtown areas in the world!"

Downtown San Francisco is gorgeous and exciting. I felt as though I could shop and shop for days. Of course, you will find all the typical stores you would expect in any other big city such as Macy’s, Saks, Gucci, The Apple Store, Coach etc. However, you can also find some charming eclectic stores downtown as well.

Don’t miss shopping at Union Square, which is just amazing. This area has the best shops as well as a lot of art galleries as well. Union Square also seemed to have an endless amount of restaurants. If you stay downtown when you visit, you will find that there are an endless array of delicious, famous restaurants.

The A.C.T American Conservatory Theatre is also located right on Geary Street in Union Square. This is a gorgeous building and the theatre has an amazing history. I didn’t get to see a performance there, but I would have if I had planned in advance. Of course, downtown San Francisco also has additional entertainment options including the Opera House, Symphony Hall and the Museum of Modern Art.

Not surprisingly, downtown SF also has tons of nice hotels. I stayed at the Westin St Francis, which was extremely convenient. It was directly facing Union Square. It’s very cool to sit in the lobby and watch the cable cars go by.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"From the Tenderloin to the TenderNob."

My first apartment in the city after moving out of the dorms was in the Ternderloin (Hyde at Ellis). I lived in a cramped studio for over a year before I finally managed to move out and up next to Nob Hill (Pine at Mason).

The difference really is like night and day, and it's only six blocks up! You can clearly see the shift away from the Tenderloin as you go up, and the slide into Chinatown as you go down towards Fisherman's Wharf. I can walk outside at night without being afraid of being mugged (although I still watch my back), and I can go down the street to the store without being harassed for change or yelled at incoherently by a crazed homeless man.

The area hosts a plethora of restaurants (as with most of SF) that I've just begun to explore, as well as three different convenience stores in as many different directions, and that's just within one to two blocks of my front door. traffic on Pine can get obnoxious when the workday comes to a close, but I'm a cheap pedestrian, so all the cars serve as good people-watching from my front window.

Travelling to Downtown?

Find Hotels

Best Streets in Downtown

1

Powell St

4/5
"Should be Called San Francisco Street!"
37.788676185766 -122.408482415577
"Looks like that San Fran street from that old 80's TV show."
37.7912387636782 -122.41548653442
3

Stockton St

4/5
"Eating and Shopping Mecca"
37.7880943069796 -122.406693429211
4

Kearny St

3.5/5
"A quiet residential place to live"
37.7887519948802 -122.403635223491
5

Maiden Ln

3.5/5
"A European feel"
37.7882300066719 -122.405131336713
6

Post St

3.5/5
"High end shopping mecca!"
37.7879349362834 -122.411210345738
7

Sutter St

3.5/5
"Trendy Art District"
37.7889764807738 -122.410550292497
8

Bush St

3.5/5
"It was very noisy for me but great for other things"
37.7896248723159 -122.412984546621
9

Geary St

3.5/5
"A convenient place to live"
37.7875608209147 -122.406644810993
10

Taylor St

3.5/5
"Beautiful Scenic Tours"
37.7888381613289 -122.411893298714

Best Neighborhoods to Live In

Best Cities to Live In

Tell everyone what you love about your neighborhood!

Leave a Review

Have a question?

How are schools? Is the area safe? What about public transit options?" Why not ask our community of locals!

Ask Now

Selling or Renting Your Home?

Maximize the selling price of your home by sharing what you love about your suburb to increase its appeal...

Leave a Review

Corporate Relocation Manager?

Enable your employees to share local knowledge in a private, trusted environment with those relocating... while building community.

Learn More