7.8 out of 10

Alamo Square

Ranked 26th best neighborhood in San Francisco
37.7768622070932 -122.433712147899
Great for
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Public Transport
  • Internet Access
  • Eating Out
  • Neighborly Spirit
Not great for
  • Parking
  • Cost of Living
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Childcare
  • Schools
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+
Editors Choice

"For Painting the Town Not Just the Ladies"

Of course, when it comes to Alamo Square, you have to start with the Painted Ladies, that row of stick Victorians that were the pretend house front for the television show, Full House. (They make their appearance in a number of other movies and programs as well, from the Bachelor to Tales from the City.)

Now, I like the Painted Ladies as much as the next guy, but I must say that I have always found Alamo Square to be overrated in terms of its looks. First, although the Painted Ladies are a nice tourist spot, I’m not sure that the rest of Alamo Square is really all that attractive. The park, for example, that the Ladies fronts, is really not that much better than the parks in Pacific Heights. And the streets that surround this touristy area are not particularly attractive to me. The other Victorians in the area are touch on the run down side, and there is a sort of an open air, hilltop feel to Alamo Square that seems more empty to me rather than refreshing.

I recognize of course that “feels” are purely subjective, but I know other people have felt the same way. Okay but this is all fairly superficial.

One of the things that Alamo Square does have going for it, is a feeling of community. Every so often the residents take a page from the Dolores Park and play movies in the park in the summer time. Though given how cold the summers have been the last two years I’m not sure many people want to hang out at a hillside park on top of a hill in the middle of summer.

Bars--One thing that you definitely do have in Alamo Square is a lot of choices in terms of nightspots where you can get a drink. Just about all of these are down on Divisidero. The bars here have a slightly snooty feel to them. You have wine bars like Corkage and Fat Angel (which bills itself as a gastropub—meaning you can grab a bite to eat there as well). My favorite of the bars there is the Madrone Art Bar, whose walls are packed with frames and which has a really cool lounge with cool cushioned chairs and couches. The bartenders are really cool too—I highly recommend it.

Restaurants--There are also a number of restaurants along Divisidero including Bar Crudo (a raw food joint—yuck!). My recommendation would be the Sheba Piano Lounge where you can catch great live Jazz like the local Louisiana style band, Bohemian Kunckleboogie—put simply, a really great date spot. It’s an Ethiopian (“Abyssinian”) Vegetarian place, so the whole experience is really an adventure—perfect for showing off SF’s cosmopolitan delights. If you’re not into Ethiopian food but still want something spicy, try the Saffron Grill—a postage stamp sized Indian place just a little ways north on Divisidero. Delicious and very, very romantic.

Gyms--One thing that Alamo Square does not have are good gyms. If you want to find a good gym where you can take a dip you will have to go up to Pacific Heights—which of course means slightly higher gym membership prices. Of course, you could always go the Buchanan Y—the adult membership is $44/mo while a family membership is $99. Given the facilities that doesn’t sound too bad to me.

Parking—How bad is the parking in Alamo Square? So bad that the residents have set up a Facebook Page trying to get residential permits specific to their neighborhood. In the words of residents, parking is “a nightmare.” Here’s the URL if you want to check that out: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=21194612665
Public Transportation: Public transportation is really pretty good around here with MUNI lines on Fillmore, Divisidero, Hayes and MacAllister. Not to mention that you are so close to most places in the city that you could easily bike or even walk to them. So get with it and get off the carbon—no excuses if you are living here.

Childcare—the Phoebe Hearst Pre-School is just north of the park and you could also try the Montessori up in Japantown.

Rents—A lot of variation—I’ve seen studios for around $500 (though this is not typical) and I’ve seen them for $1800. The
average seems to be somewhere around $1200 to $1500. The farther north and east you go the higher.

Okay, so even though I don’t really find it all that attractive an area, I would definitely have to give it kudos for being a great nightlife destination right by its border with NOPA.
Pros
  • Affordable Rents
  • Great Nightlife
  • great views
Cons
  • Terrible Parking
  • No Gyms
  • Not That Pretty to Me
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
2yrs+

"San Francisco's Hayes Street Miracle Mile"

OK, so I'm not only reviewing Alamo Square but how can you talk about Alamo Square without also mentioning Hayes Valley and the NOPA area? The mile-long stretch of Hayes Street that spans east-to-west from Franklin Street all the way to Divisadero offers a chic, funky and creative mix of individually-owned boutiques, cafés and restaurants, a spectacular 12.7-acre park with panoramic views of downtown San Francisco as well as some of the most beautiful Victorian and Edwardian homes in the city. The Hayes Street neighborhood’s proximity to the airport, both bridges, Golden Gate Park, downtown as well as its ideal location, a few short blocks to the San Francisco Symphony and Opera, make it one of the most culturally rich, convenient and just plain fun places to live.

At the eastern end of Hayes Street, local merchants, residents and city planners have worked together to create an animated, pedestrian-friendly shopping and dining destination known as Hayes Valley. From the urbane to the everyday, the classic to the eclectic, there’s something to suit just about every taste. The nearby San Francisco Symphony, Opera, Music Conservatory and French American International School all contribute to this friendly, vibrant community that moves day and night. The new Jazz Conservatory being erected at the corner of Franklin and Fell Streets continues the march forward to maintaining the neighborhood’s reputation as San Francisco’s cultural hub. While I could list the many cool boutiques, cafés and restaurants that line this end of Hayes Street, the point is to go there and explore it for yourself. The merchants and residents have done an outstanding job of keeping the big chains out and keeping fun and creativity in.

About mid-way up the Hayes Street mile from the cafes, boutiques and restaurants of Hayes Valley lies picturesque Alamo Square; a four-block, tree-lined park with amazing views of downtown San Francisco, the Transamerica Building, the Bay Bridge, all framed in the foreground with the famous row of Painted Ladies. Palms and colossal cypress trees line the wide paved paths that twist their way through this famous San Francisco landmark. The Alamo Square Neighborhood Association is very active and works continuously to improve park facilities to maintain the charm and improve access to this municipal treasure. Children and parents love the kids playground located on the eastern side of the park with its great views of City Hall’s beautiful gilded dome and downtown. Since the area around Alamo Square Park was largely untouched by the Great Earthquake of 1906, many of the original Victorian homes still remain. In fact, Alamo Square was a refuge for San Franciscans after the earthquake and citizens gathered on the Hayes Street side of the park to watch the city's destruction from fire; many with only the clothes on their backs. Today, the neighborhood immediately around the park is a historical district and contains the second largest concentration of Victorian and Edwardian homes over 10,000 square feet in San Francisco. The Victorian Alliance, an organization committed to the preservation and restoration of Victorian and other historic structures, is very active in the Alamo Square area and schedules historic home visits and other related events on a regular basis. While the word bargain is clearly a relative term when referring to San Francisco real estate, the magnificent period homes in and around Alamo Square built between the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s are a bargain, selling at somewhere between 60 to 70 percent of the price of comparable homes in the Pacific Heights or Russian Hill neighborhoods.

Continuing another couple of blocks west on Hayes Street from Alamo Square to the North-of-the-Panhandle (NOPA) neighborhood at Hayes and Divisadero, a kind of renaissance has taken place; some of it a result of positive vibrations from both Hayes Valley and from gentrification in the NOPA area itself. However, ample credit should be given to the beautification projects undertaken by the city in the past four years such as adding the tree-lined median strip down the center of Divisadero, making it less of a to-and-fro and instead, more of an actual destination. These improvements have encouraged merchants to move in and create some very cool shopping and dining attractions. One recent example is the much-anticipated opening of the new Bi-Rite Market and Creamery set to open in late 2012 next to Nopa Restaurant near the corner of Divisadero and Hayes. Just a block off Hayes Street on Divisadero, the modern music venue, The Independent, attracts some of the biggest names in popular and alternative music. Its intimate theater setting makes it a great place to see your favorite artist up close while still a big enough venue to hear it played good and loud.

There’s really no other neighborhood in San Francisco that offers Hayes Street’s variety of eating, shopping, highbrow and lowbrow musical options, not to mention just plain old people-watching in Alamo Square or in one of the many cafés, and yet with such incredibly easy access to just about anywhere you may need to get to in the Bay Area. Just how easy, you ask? How about 19 minutes from Hayes and Steiner to curbside at SFO? The downside; you’ll get there so quick that you’ll probably have to circle the terminal a few times; that is, unless you’re particularly adept at finding an SUV to hide behind from the guys and gals in the reflective chartreuse vests waving their flashlights at you.
Pros
  • great views
  • Great Nightlife
  • pretty house
  • quiet
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
4/5
2yrs+

"One of my favorite neighborhoods"

Alamo Square is one of the prettiest areas in the city. I would love to live here. I'm always telling people that my top street to live on is Steiner Street. The houses are gorgeous! Of course, these houses also included the famous "Painted Ladies," a row of homes that includes the "Full House" home. Tourists often congregate here and take pictures. I wouldn't suggest living lose to these homes, because it seems like the homeowners have become annoyed about the constant attention. One house had a sign in the window that said, "This house is NOT the Full House house."

The centerpiece of this area is Alamo Square Park. The park takes up a four-block area and sits on a very steep hill. It's a great place for people watching and relaxing. You can get a great workout if you're willing to run on the hill. The park also includes a tennis court.

Alamo Square Park also boasts great views to the North and east down Hayes Street. Recently, San Francisco's famous Bay to Breakers race occurred, and you could see crowds of runners all the way down Hayes.
Pros
  • great views
  • quiet
  • pretty house
Cons
  • no restaurants
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
2yrs+

"Known for its Painted Ladies"

Alamo Square is a beautiful residential neighborhood made up of hundreds of stunning Victorian houses tightly packed into a modest size neighborhood. The neighborhood is friendlyl and saturated with middle-class families peppered with brightly colored mansions and small businesses. It is located in the Western Addition, bordered by Hayes Street to the south and Fultron Street to the north. The district also features a row of iconic Victorians eloquently called the “Painted Ladies.” You might recognize the the houses from the popular 80s television show “Full House.”

Alamo Square Park is one of the long-time favorite destinations for the local community. It is characterized by one of the best views of the city, overlooking much of the Golden Gate bridge and the tops of the high rise financial buildings. The park also offers a tennis court, a basketball court and a small playground.

Since the neighborhood’s total size is relatively small, there is less to do. Nightlife is mostly non-existent while fine dining experiences are just as hard to come by. However, one can travel just a couple more blocks to Haight street where one can find plenty of eclectic joints and upscale bars.

Four Muni lines serve the community in this neighborhood. The 5 and 21 travel east and west while lines 22 and 24 traverse the district north and south.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Hipsters
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Not So Priceless Postcard"

If you've read the other reviews, most of them mention this, so I won't dwell on the colorful row of seven houses on Steiner Street that look out on Alamo Square Park, which is actually one of my favorite stroller parks. Frisbees, dogs, and rarely a scary inebriated individual in sight.

If you like to keep your day life and your night life separate, living near Alamo Square in the Western Addition is a choice that makes sense. My friend Kathi, a realtor at Alain Pinel did an open house on Steiner last year. Market circumstances taken into consideration, the 2/1 ended up selling for about 670k, which is fairly median for a condo in the city, or a 3/2 detached house in the south bay. Of course, I can't throw a frisbee in the park while looking at the houses featured in the opening of an 80s sitcom that made John Stamos seem cool, I can throw a frisbee in my good-sized backyard when we get home from daytripping to SF.
Recommended for
  • Retirees
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
2yrs+

"Full House!"

Alamo Square is the place to be, especially those who love the hit TV show Full House. When you think Alamo Square, you should think about the green grass of a park shown in the introduction of Full House. You can basically sit in the same spot as the actors had in the show. Basically Alamo Square is just a big rectangular (or square) shaped park. It is equivalent to the size of four blocks, pretty big isn’t it. Here at Alamo Square you’ll find green grass, big trees, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a play structure. But those aren’t the only things to do here. This is the perfect place to tan at, sit and read a book, have a picnic, or play with your pet. The area of this park is so vast that you won’t be bumping into other people.

If you know Full House, I’m sure you’re aware of the beautiful homes in the background of the introduction. Once again those homes are here in Alamo Square. While walking around this neighborhood you’ll come across a plethora of these beautiful homes.

Lastly, from the top or center (or just about anywhere) of Alamo Square you’ll get a great view of San Francisco, not the whole city obviously but you’ll get a really great view. I would say living here is great; however I do not know the affordability of homes here.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"My favorite San Francisco neighborhood!"

Location, beauty and community make Alamo Square my favorite San Francisco neighborhood. Perched on the slopes above downtown, Alamo Square Park has a delightful view. On a clear day you can see all the way across the Bay to Mount Diablo. Alamo Square is a small yet dynamic park, and its steep paths offer a great workout. There is a tennis court, a playground and even a secret shoe garden tended by an elusive gardener. The east side of the park is visited daily by busloads of tourists who come to snap photos of the view and gaze at the “Painted Ladies”, a row of pretty Victorian era homes. The east side also boasts a sprawling lawn and flowerbeds. Many locals gather in the early evening hours or on weekend afternoons to picnic and sip wine. The west side of the park is less manicured than the tourist side, but it’s beautiful. There is a makeshift dog section where enthusiastic dog owners gather to hang out and watch their animals play. The west side also has a great view of Cole Valley, Sutro Tower and Saint Ignatius Church. On sunny afternoons, the west lawn is the perfect place to sunbathe and catch the sunset.

Alamo Square neighborhood is great for walking, busing, biking and driving—except that parking can be challenging, especially during rush hours and at night. “The Wiggle”, a popular bike route, runs along Scott Street before it turns left towards Golden Gate Park. From Alamo Square one can quickly walk to the up-and-coming “NoPa” neighborhood (North of Panhandle) along Divisidero Street—a hip mecca of cool artsy bars and restaurants, galleries and boutiques. The Lower Haight (LoHa) also borders the Alamo Square area to the south and is filled with fun restaurants and bars.

Weather in the Alamo Square area is pleasant with fresh ocean breezes blowing down the hill from Golden Gate Park. The neighborhood is located near the Mission fog break so sunshine tends to break through the fog sooner than in eastern parts of the city.

The Alamo Square community is strong, friendly and active. There is a neighborhood association that throws an enormous yard sale fundraising event each year. Also, the group has rallied to win grants in support of a neighborhood farmer’s market and improvements to the park. I lived on Scott Street for a very happy three years. I commuted to my job in the East Bay by bus to BART, or sometimes would walk down the hill (20 minutes) to catch BART at Civic Center.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
4/5
2yrs+

"Painted Ladies beside a beautiful park"

Alamo Square is perhaps most famous for the “Painted Ladies.” These lovely pastel colored Victorian homes line the park and are quite picturesque. In fact, this San Francisco neighborhood gets a good deal of screen time in movies and tv shows. Many people remember these homes from the shot in the opening credits of the tv show Full House. I really didn't like that tv show, but if you can remove all memories of the show from your mind, you can definitely enjoy this neighborhood!

Alamo Square would be a perfect place to buy a home. Well, that is if you can afford one! Due to the location, architecture and size of homes in this area, costs can be quite high!

This really is a lovely park where lots of people hang out with their dogs and friends. It’s not a large park, but its definitely worth visiting. In fact, lots of tourists visit this locale to take photos when they are visiting San Francisco. Another great thing about the park in Alamo Square is that you can easily see views of the Golden Gate bridge. This part of town gives you a total San Francisco experience.

When I was in Alamo Square I ate at the Alamo Square Seafood Grill which borders the park. The food and atmosphere are recommended. They also havea half price wine list on Monday.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"Full House Neighborhood"

I lived in Alamo Square for a year and it’s really a beautiful neighborhood and great weather. Yes! The very popular television show full house featured the homes across from Alamo Square Park. That was really exciting for me. The park is spectacular kids are always playing in the park. I would jog in the park everyday. The people are really nice too. The San Francisco skyline offers a great view from Alamo Square. It’s really an attractive neighborhood while I lived there I wanted to be outdoors all the time because it’s such a great place and very safe. I also enjoyed the restaurants. They offered great food. I would recommend the Alamo Square Seafood Grill. Yummy!!! I always did the Prix Fixe menu which was fairly inexpensive and delicious.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
4/5
2yrs+

"Missing the Mark"

The TV show "Full House" used to feature the outside of the houses right across the street from Alamo Square Park -- a site I've heard referred to as "The Painted Ladies." While this is a "picture perfect" view often seen on postcards, I think it just misses the mark. Just a bit down the hill and past the Painted Ladies you'll find the intersection of Grove and Steiner.

From here you get an absolutely spectacular view of city hall. I went to do some filming with my friend last year and we filmed at sunset. When the sun came down and hit the top of City Hall, the colors just lit up this amazingly vibrant shade of golden hues. The site is profoundly beautiful at just the right time because of all the gold paint reflecting the dying rays of the day's sun.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5
2yrs+

"Postcard Row in Alamo"

Alamo Square is an impressive neighborhood that is best known for its "Postcard Row," a stunning view of the beautifully restored Victorian houses against a backdrop of the San Francisco skyline. Clearly one of the most classic images of San Francisco.

The overall neighborhood is much more than the Alamo Square Historic District. Real estate consists of early 20th century flats throughout the community. The area is now booming with many new parents and young singles alike, making the Square a great place to live.

Due to the influx of residents, restaurants, cafes, and bars have been springing up quickly. Consider a homey breakfast at Eddie's Cafe and amazing dessert that is out of this world at Candybar. Funky and ecclectic bars include Fly Bar, Bar 821, and Madrone. And, don't forget to stop by the unique clothing boutique named Still Life - if you can get by the taxidermy and make your way to a dressing room, you'll be doing great.

From historic to modern, elegant mansions to flats, Alamo Square has it all.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees

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