6.9 out of 10

Central Sunset

Ranked 61st best neighborhood in San Francisco
37.7463014578285 -122.485311142174
Great for
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Safe & Sound
  • Public Transport
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Clean & Green
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Cost of Living
  •  
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Singles
  • Hipsters

Reviews

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

"Central Sunset: Good Things Come in Well-Ordered Packages"

The Central Sunset is a study in contrasts. This windswept, foggy district is built on a stretch once covered in bleak sand dunes and marshes. And although it is still shrouded in marine layer on many days, on others it can be blindingly clear, its pastel homes brilliant against a blue sky. The linear layout and freedom from steep hills elsewhere in San Francisco make it a welcome refuge for more than 50,000 residents, many of them immigrants.

The neighborhood stretches south from the emerald expanse of Golden Gate Park in arrow-straight rows of low-profile houses that create the illusion, from above, of a colossal circuit board, the uniform grid interrupted here and there by a curved cluster of trees or an oval athletic field. The seeming anonymity of this vast neighborhood derives primarily from the Sunset's boom before and after World War II, when blue-collar workers and returning GIs sought affordable homes for their wives and kids, the Baby Boomers of today. Developers obliged them, plunking down modest stucco houses, one after the other, each floor plan invariably a Model T of efficiency: living room over garage, steps leading to a small covered porch, postage-stamp front yard. The resulting architectural monotony was relieved occasionally by whimsical homes designed by Oliver Rousseau in the 1930s, their facades inspired by storybook cottages and castles. Nearly all the homes came with mini-gardens in front that many owners cultivated ingeniously: sculpted junipers surrounding heirloom roses or exotic camellias, framed by perfectly trimmed knee-high hedges. That this greenery survived the oft-chilly and fogbound patch of ground near the Pacific Ocean and, moreover, that it thrives today, is one of San Francisco’s enduring puzzles.

Get there on a sunny day (not as rare as you may think; based on data from solar monitoring stations placed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the amount of bright sunlight, absent cloud and fog cover, is not far behind sunnier areas of the city); you’ll witness the rectangular symmetry of a neighborhood that seems at first glance neat, tidy, cute--and dull. But a noticeable lack of neon attractions (the area has no cinemas, theaters, or nightclubs to speak of) has its upside: tranquil nights. And there is, of course, more to this sprawling district than boxy two-story houses in shades of sterile white and beige. The well-ordered side streets offer a safe and quiet refuge from busy 19th Avenue. A preponderance of garages means that parking is relatively easy, even near shopping corridors, which harbor numerous owner-operated businesses, restaurants, and shops coveted by a city whose residents frown on franchises.

The area is also well served by numerous MUNI bus routes (including the No. 71, which travels to and from downtown; the No. 29, which traces a rectangle on the edges of the Central Sunset; and the No. 48, which goes from the Pacific Ocean crosstown to the Mission District), as well as two MUNI Metro lines, the L Taraval and the N Judah (both of which run along trolley tracks on those same streets).

Irving Street is the nerve center for most commercial activity, although it is considerably less animated (especially in terms of nightlife) than its antecedent in the Inner Sunset east of 19th Avenue. Here residents can find any number of Asian eateries, along with stalwarts of any San Francisco neighborhood, pubs and taverns (most of which attract a local—and generally friendly and quiet—clientele). Shopping for everything from food to shoes is also a snap; the stretch includes a couple of grocers (including Sunset Supermarket) and produce stores (like 22nd & Irving Market). There’s a U.S. Post Office on 22nd Avenue (near Irving) and a number of banks, domestic and foreign. Two other commercial strips front Noriega and Taraval Streets, which also cut east/west paths across the neighborhood, each offering a smaller selection of the same fare: Asian restaurants, pubs and bars, convenience and liquor stores, the odd bank, a big grocery (Safeway on Noriega), chain drugstores, and an assortment of coffeehouses, donut shops, diners, dry cleaners and specialty stores.

The Central Sunset is not especially known for its parks. Perhaps it is because most homes have a small backyard, perhaps it is because the district abuts Golden Gate Park, a marvel of urban parkland. But one often overlooked gem is Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove, a 33-acre crescent of eucalyptus and pine that fronts Sloat Boulevard at the Central Sunset’s southern edge. Here, a series of summer concerts attract throngs from throughout the Bay Area. A onetime marsh and its surrounding slopes have been transformed into a performing arts amphitheater that rivals many outdoor venues for acoustics and close-up views of performers. Many performances are part of the free Stern Grove Festival series of concerts given on Sunday afternoons in the summer, from ballet to bluegrass and pop to opera. And the adjoining Pine Lake Park offers dog lovers in the neighborhood a chance to run their pups off leash.

The neighborhood schools and childcare centers are among the top reasons many families gravitate to the Central Sunset, especially its primary schools. Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary earned a 10 (out of 10) rating from GreatSchools, and the new Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, built in 2006, got a 9 rating. Private schools, most of them elementary and preschools, both parochial and nonsectarian, complete the educational picture for pre-kindergarten and grade-school students in the Central Sunset. Abraham Lincoln High School, with its Biotechnology Academy, draws students from grades 9 though 12 from throughout the city; it got a 7 rating from GreatSchools.

As the businesses along Irving and other strips imply, the Central Sunset population has a largely Asian component. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, residents of Asian race comprise about 50 percent of the total near Golden Gate Park to a bit more than 60 percent in the blocks farther south. (Non-Hispanic and Hispanic whites make up the rest, for the most part, with African Americans and people of two or more races representing a small percentage.)

Most people rent (54 percent) rather than own their homes (45 percent). Nearly 85 percent are high-school graduates, and the percentage who hold bachelor’s degrees or higher is almost twice the national average. In general, everyone contributes to a healthy economic base: More than 50 percent of Central Sunset residents earn $60,000 or more annually.

With a median home price of more than $700,000 and good resale prospects, as well as average rents below $1,400 for a one-bedroom, the Central Sunset offers all residents an affordable, stable neighborhood with low crime (the area is served by the Taraval Police Station on 24th Avenue; there have been no murders in the last year and assaults are rare, according to San Francisco Police Department statistics), explaining the mix of families, retired people, and single professionals over age 25. It’s an orderly place to live, and those who like a little variety with their order will like the Central Sunset.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"At least try the food"

The very middle of the Sunset? Please: Nobody goes there unless they LIVE there.

Exactly! That’s what makes this area such a gem. It’s got all the trappings of a more popular neighborhood, but it’s peaceful, calm, and quiet.

Start your trip with a visit to Sunset Reservoir, one of the bigger bodies of water in the city. You can lose track of a whole afternoon just sitting along the edge of the reservoir and staring at it. (Believe me, I’ve done this.)

Down on Taraval Street, life picks back up again. Kingdom of Dumpling has some of the best soup dumplings not just in San Francisco, but in the U.S. I’m deadly serious, you have to try these --- they might change your life. Parkside Tavern has a ton of character and definitely deserves a stop-by. And the Trolley Café --- just go take a look at it!

Wanna get out a little? Just head further down into Parkside to Pine Lake Park or Sigmund Stern Grove, two of San Francisco’s greatest gems when it comes to park spaces. Laguna Puerca alone is worth a pit stop (here I go again – more staring out at a lake). Seriously, if you don’t head out to Central Sunset for any other reason, just visit it for this park.
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 5/5
2yrs+

"Nice Older Semi Suburban Neighborhood"

You could actually divide Central Sunset into three separate neighborhoods: the Northern, Middle and Southern sections. The northern part of Sunset skirts Golden Gate Park and feels the oldest sections. You can find some pretty good deals on rents here and some fairly large old park side homes.

The middle section of Sunset is the most crowded of the three and has the most activity. It’s where you will find the schools and the Safeway. It has lots of cool looking markets that have managed to survive gentrification so far. You will also find the occasional university student living here.

As you near the southern end of Central Sunset the rents start to rise, especially around Pine Lake Park on the southern end.

Throughout the Sunset, you find smaller quainter homes with garages and little staircases leading up to front doors. Many have nice backyard plots perfect for vegetable gardens and that sort of thing. It all has a very old school sort of feel.
Central Sunset’s location has kept it somewhat protected from the forces of gentrification that have affected the rest of the city. Partly this is because commuting from here is a little tricky and partly it the weather which is a bit too foggy for most people.
The nightlife isn’t too bad around here either. If you are into dive bars, you find at least half a dozen of them in the Sunset. Some of my favorites are The Boomerang and the Chug Pub. You can find a bunch of pizza places here too, including a North Beach Pizza on Taravel (one of the main drags) and the unusual combination of and Indian pizza place, Golden Gate Pizza and Indian Cuisine. Now that’s not a mix you see everyday.
Pros
  • Great Parks
  • Rleatively Affordable Rents
  • Quieter neighborhood
Cons
  • Morning traffic
  • Often cold and foggy
  • Removed from major attractions
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
2yrs+

"Quaint Suburbia"

Central Sunset is a quiet, family friendly neighborhood. With that being said, the neighborhood is not really known for much else. Many of the houses are painted with bright colors, built with stucco and are of relative shape and size. Front yards are typically petite, with small fences or gardens lining the edges. Asians make up about half the community while the other is split between white and hispanic ethnicities. Weather, like most San Francisco neighborhoods, is a bit of an issue with more days being gloomy than sunny.

From north to south the district is bordered by Golden Gate Park and Lakeshore, respectively. Many of the locals congregate to Golden Gate park on sunny days. There they have an abundance of open space for picnicking, lawn games and disc golf. Sigmund Stern Grove Park is one of the few attractions in the neighborhood which hosts free concerts in the summer for picnickers. For nightlife, the locals have little to choose from while a crop of asian cuisines have sprouted up in recent years.

Central Sunset offers plenty of options for public transportation. The 21, 48 and 71 Muni lines all cut through the area quite frequently. On busy commute hours, the 71 is usually crowded as it runs to and from the Financial District. The N Judah and L Taraval also connect passengers to the downtown area. However, most San Franciscans are not too familiar with this area unless they live relatively close.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
2yrs+

"Best in the summer"

San Francisco's Parkside neighborhood is not talked about all that frequently, but it is know for one thing in particular in the summer time - Stern Grove. The park, known fully as Sigmund Stern Grove Park, offers free concerts every Sunday from mid-June to mid-August. On any given Sunday, the amphitheater-style seating fills up as people congregate with picnic blankets, bottles of wine, and yes, the occasional 420.

Parking is scarce on those days, which is unusual for this particular neighborhood. For some reason, the park is positioned such that it gets an unusual amount of sun for being so far west, and as a result, it is far warmer here than one would expect. The ambiance is mostly young singles and couples in their 20s and 30s, but you will also see families, college students, and even older people here. A lot depends on the act.

The rest of the time, there is not much to write home about here. The park is pretty, the fog is prevalent, and the rest of the neighborhood is quiet. Morning traffic on 19th Avenue tends to be rather blocked.
Pros
  • Great park
  • Great summer concert series
  • Quieter neighborhood
Cons
  • Removed from major attractions
  • Often cold and foggy
  • Morning traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"Central Sunset - Great place to live"

Well I had lived in Central Sunset for a few years so I am quite familiar with the area. Being that it is in San Francisco there are plenty of things to do. The restaurants there have terrific food, and even if some are a little pricey they are worth it. If you are thinking of moving to Central Sunset it shouldn’t be too hard to find someplace to live because there are numerous apartment complexes of good quality. However if plan to live in Central Sunset be prepared to be making a decent amount of money because the cost of living is higher, like much of California, compared to the rest of country.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • 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 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
2yrs+

"A safe, relaxing environment for families"

The Central Sunset District is in an interesting location. It is directly south of Golden Gate Park, North of Lake Merced and directly east of the ocean. Central Sunset is to the east of Outer Sunset, which is located closer to Ocean Beach. All this means that you are a short walk to Golden Gate Park, which is a definite plus. Also you are close to golf courses and the Zoo. So for access to recreation, Central Sunset gets two thumbs up.

This neighborhood was developed along with Golden Gate Park in the late 1800’s. It was built in a grid pattern, which gives it a different look and feel from much of San Francisco. Since you are by the ocean, it can get pretty foggy in Central Sunset. Also this neighborhood seems very safe, and that is a major plus in my book. You definitely feel a bit more like you are in the suburbs rather than a city.

A good part of Central Sunset’s population is Asian. In fact, most of these residents are Chinese. You will find lots of Asian stores and places to eat. In fact, some people call this area a mini-Chinatown. Other than the neighboring recreational activities, there isn’t too much to do in Central Sunset. You are a bit removed from some of the fun and entertainment that the city offers.
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
2yrs+

"Quiet neighborhood in the residential side of San Francisco"

Central Sunset is a pretty “bleh” neighborhood in my opinion in terms of entertainment and fun, but if you would like to live here, then I’d say Central Sunset is one of the best, quietest, and safest areas to live in, in San Francisco. I myself don’t live in Central Sunset, I live in the Outer Sunset, but the three sections of the Sunset are much alike, however, I’d say there’s a bit more to do in Central Sunset than the Outer Sunset because stores and shops begin to appear in Central Sunset, mostly Chinese/Asian stores and restaurants though, mainly on Noriega, Judah, Irving, and Taraval. Although there are many stores and markets to get your groceries from and great Asian restaurants to eat at, there really isn’t anything else to Central Sunset other than that. There’s Sunset Boulevard, where people usually jog and bike on, but mainly inhabited by traffic and cars. If you’re looking for fun things to do or places to go to in the Sunset, I wouldn’t recommend Central Sunset, rather Outer and Inner Sunset. Like I’ve said before, living here is great as there are always houses being sold here on the market, quite expensive but is definitely worth it in the long run.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"The Quietest neighborhood in San Francisco"

I've lived on 34th and Ulloa for well over fifteen years, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that this area is the quietest neighborhood in San Francisco. Why is that you may ask? That's because nothing happens here! It's so quiet here on 34th Ave, that on many occasions, you can hear the howler monkeys at the San Francisco Zoo, that's over a mile away! Not only is my neighborhood extremely quiet, but this neighborhood is fantastic for families with kids, couples, singles, and the elderly. If you have a dog, no problem, just take it down to Pine Lake Park where it can frolic with all the other dogs. There's always parking here for your car no matter what size vehicle you drive. If you don't have a car, no worries, the 29 and L train are just a few blocks away! I love 34th Ave, and I encourage anyone who wants to live in a peaceful neighborhood to come on by and enjoy the wonderful tranquility that is 34th Ave in between Ulloa and Vicente.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5
2yrs+

"Can you say Grid?"

Much like the housing in the rest of the Sunset districts, this are features modest homes with driveways and good off street parking options – a good thing if you’ve ever confronted the DPT parking enforcement folks and the endless street cleaning tickets. Even if you don’t have a driveway or garage, this area has more parking than most.

Looking to go out or for supplies? You can hit up the ethnic foods, bar and hardware store over by Noriega ad 32nd. If you’re farther south, try Taraval and 32nd. Also, if you’re looking for gardening supplies, check out Urban Farmer where the service is amazing and the sales people know their product well.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5
2yrs+

"Adding some international color"

The city planners of San Francisco call Central Sunset the best place to rear children. It is certainly the heartland of middle class life within the city, largely because of the enormous single-family home density. This area used to be primarily white, middle class families, but the look is changing amid the pastel colored houses. There are a growing number of widows and Asians populating the neighborhood giving this area a great cultural mix.

Some of the major institutions in the area are the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Shriners Hospital. The neighborhood is also near the beach and holds one of the town's better classic movie theaters. Central Sunset has a lot to offer.

Central Sunset is clearly a suburb within the city. There are tidy streets, excellent schools, and many family-owned businesses. The community has a smaller population and is known as a great place to have a drink in one of the many Irish pubs or watch the local surfers head to Ocean Beach.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees

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Best Streets in Central Sunset

1

26th Ave

3.5/5
"Safe and Mundane"
37.7483084484003 -122.483582679569
2

28th Ave

3.5/5
"Nice Views of the Golden Gate Bridge"
37.7510239396385 -122.48592311971
3

20th Ave

3/5
"A quiet street till it hits stonestown."
37.7494214050203 -122.477209816642
4

Goleta Ave

3/5
"A very nice street"
37.7349554999979 -122.4832459998
5

Palos Pl

3/5
"Great street to live on"
37.7347299999972 -122.4849939999
6

Quintara St

3/5
"Long Street with lots of variety in housing. "
37.7482448590332 -122.485160673437
7

Sunset Blvd

3/5
"Fastest street to get around through the Sunset District"
37.7540221874034 -122.495190238155
8

23rd Ave

3/5
"Quiet neighborhood"
37.748837948584 -122.480395759419
9

Kirkham St

3/5
"Nothing all that exciting here"
37.7594135469149 -122.486352647916
10

Moraga St

2.5/5
"A great view of the Sunset District up on the Moraga Stairs."
37.7556855656999 -122.486168902609

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