7.9 out of 10

Twin Peaks

Ranked 24th best neighborhood in San Francisco
37.7541877422228 -122.444611996076
Great for
  • Internet Access
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Resale or Rental Value
  • Clean & Green
  • Neighborly Spirit
Not great for
  • Eating Out
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping Options
  • Cost of Living
  • Parking
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Tourists

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • 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+
Editors Choice

"Life at the Top"

They say San Francisco (like Rome and Moscow and many other cities) was built on seven hills. If that’s the case, then Twin Peaks taken together are among the official seven (although modern geographers protest that the city is built on dozens more). These rounded mounts (the highest of the two measuring 910 feet above sea level, second only to nearby Mount Davidson, the loftiest in the city at 925 feet), offer the kind of views you’d think people would have fought for since the Gold Rush days.

But to look at the neighborhood today, you’d never think of it as having the same historic cachet as, say, Telegraph or Nob or Russian hills. In fact, much of the housing is from the mid- to late-20th century, hardly historic given the city’s 160-year history (though a few turn-of-the-last-century abodes dot Corbett Avenue). And even if the area lies at the geographic center of San Francisco (and commands 360-degree views of the bay on the east and the ocean toward the west, the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County to the north, with the hills and coastal mountains of the Peninsula to the south), many of its streets feel decidedly apart from the city they overlook, like some impermanent collection of homes that are about to be moved and narrow streets about to be widened to accommodate the encroaching urban behemoth edging toward it.

Still, the record shows that Twin Peaks occupies its place in the history of the city, though not quite as dramatically as its sister hills. Once part of the Rancho San Miguel, the sprawling Mexican land grant from which much of San Francisco was carved in the mid-1800s, Twin Peaks (called “Los Pechos de la Choca”—Spanish for “breasts of the Indian maiden”) presented a formidable barrier between the eastern and western halves of the young city. Hence, for much of the late 19th century, it remained pasture, farmland, and pristine meadow (much as it appeared when the native Ohlones used it for hunting/gathering). By the 1860s, with the western side of San Francisco attracting visitors with beaches, wildflower fields, and a racetrack, entrepreneurs built a toll road along what is today Corbett Avenue and another along Portola Drive, offering access to the broad stretches that lie beyond the peaks. These roads, in turn, encouraged dairy and vegetable farmers to come and work the land on the eastern slopes, followed soon enough by real-estate developers. By the time a streetcar tunnel was built under Twin Peaks in 1918, the slopes were studded with homes and residences, many of them perched on stilts at the edge of narrow dirt roads.

It is this pattern of homes and apartment buildings built on extremely steep grades that has come to typify Twin Peaks today. Much of the land was so steep that it had to be terraced before it could be developed—hence the names of roads: Graystone Terrace, Villa Terrace, Perego Terrace. Building on such inclines required expensive new technology and materials (the back ends of some homes drop three and four stories from the street, necessitating some sturdy foundation work), but it also gave those who could afford the expensive construction wide-open views of the city. In time (especially after Twin Peaks Boulevard was completed in the mid-1930s, offering paved access to the summit of the peaks, and with the Market Street extension in place), Twin Peaks became a hotbed for residential development, much of it in the form of 1950s and ’60s boxy-concrete apartment complexes along the hillsides’ upper reaches (such as those on Gardenside and Crestline Drives). Though these buildings may lack the charm of their Victorian and even Deco counterparts elsewhere in the city, they claim unparalleled views—the top reason many choose to live here. Another reason is that much of Twin Peaks is now open space, off limits to further development—a state of affairs the Twin Peaks Improvement Association works to keep in place.

Because the neighborhood has a number of the city’s steepest inclines between its curving streets, it consequently has a number of its longest pedestrian stairways. The Pemberton Place Steps is one such walkway, much of it brick-paved, running from Clayton up to Crown Terrace. Adjoining homeowners have added landscaping; in spots it is even meticulously maintained. Not far away, near Corbett Avenue and Iron Alley, are the Iron Steps—a bit of a misnomer, as they are among the last remaining wooden steps in the city—and treacherous to boot, frequently closed after heavy rains when the slippery struts and rotting rails make using them dangerous. Farther south on Corbett, the Argent Alley stairway descends to Market Street; similar steps and spiral stairways link Corbett with streets on the other side of Market, in Noe Valley. Others run between Gardenside and Crestline, continuing (in one case) as a dirth path up to the Twin Peaks summit.

In all, about 10,000 people call the residential area of Twin Peaks home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, they are overwhelmingly middle-aged (median age is 40) and white (75 percent), with about 10 percent Asian and the remaining 15 percent either African American or a mix of two or more races. Their median annual household income is $80,000, and they tend to rent (60 percent) rather than own their homes (40 percent).

Though there are no parks per se in the neighborhood (beyond small, private enclosures where residents have come together to plant flowers and tend the landscape), there is all that open space on Twin Peaks, which can be awash in wildflowers in the spring or cloaked in nippy fog during the summer. Fall and early winter are best times for driving up Twin Peaks Boulevard or hiking up the hills. It is then that the generally clear air affords the best views of not only the city on all sides but also the East Bay and the Marin hills. Most San Franciscans and countless visitors make this vista stop at least once during their time in the city.

For all its views and other high-life amenities, however, Twin Peaks is no place to go shopping—for anything. Perhaps the absence of commerce is because the streets are, for the most part, narrow, winding, and steep. Perhaps it’s owing to the fact that parking in some places is tight. Or that the city (heeding the improvement association's wishes) has not granted any business permits. But there’s not a café or shop to be found in the whole of the neighborhood, meaning residents have to drive or take a hike to buy groceries, grab a cappuccino, or find a piece of hardware for repair jobs around the house. As a result, many people drive—to the Safeway in Diamond Heights, to the numerous coffeehouses and shops in the Castro, the Haight, or Noe Valley, and to the suburbs for big-ticket items like appliances.

Because this is a car-oriented district, there is but a single option for public transportation: the No. 37 bus, which snakes up and over the hills and cramped, curving streets and connects with the crosstown No.48 on Portola Drive and with the subway along Market Street.

Parking, while difficult to manage on the steep streets of the area, is generally not difficult to find during the day, though it can be another story in the evening, when all the residents return home and are looking for a spot. In spite of these difficulties, the city’s Department of Parking and Traffic has not issued residential parking permits for the area.

Twin Peaks is known for one of the most desirable public schools in San Francisco: Rooftop Alternative on Corbett Avenue. This K-8 elementary emphasizes self-learning and incorporates art, music, and drama in the curriculum. It was rated 8 out of 10 by GreatSchools.

Although crime is generally light overall and in the quality-of-life category (noise nuisances and graffiti), there are occasional burglaries and robberies in any three-month period. Two criminal activities—vehicle theft and car break-ins—are becoming more common (following a trend in San Francisco), particularly along quiet streets. Though violent crime is not unheard of (with one or two a month), there have been no homicides reported in the last three years.

Real estate prices in Twin Peaks have weathered the recent downturn and are edging back up, with a 9 percent increase from mid-2009 to mid-2010, according to Trulia. Most of what’s for sale is condominiums and tenants-in-common units, which range from the low $400,000s for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom to $850,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit. Single-family homes come onto the market occasionally, and they can range from $850,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom on Corbett Avenue to $2.4 million for a four-bedroom, four-bathroom designer home on Market. Rentals are fairly numerous and reasonable, with one-bed/bath apartments going for $1,200 to $1,700 a month, and two-bedroom/two-bath units listing for $2,000 and up. The price can go up depending on the view—which is, after all, what Twin Peaks is all about. Life at the top should generally include a panorama.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"For Squares"

What to say about Twin Peaks?

Well let’s start with, my ex-lives here with her new guy, the patent troll. This is mostly incidental except to say that it is the kind of area where a lot of lawyers and well-off types live. The houses here are all pretty much of the square, modernist variety with good views pointing mostly to the south, but also up towards the Golden Gate from some spots. Despite its notoriety it really is a fairly small spot right to the western edge of Castro.

The neighborhood really feels like a condominium complex in spots. The streets feel like the alleys between wings of an apartment complex with first floor garages and back windows facing down onto the street. It is all nice and clean without a lot of traffic once you are off Market/Portola.

Most homes are a little larger here than in other spots just to the east with a fair number of 3 bedrooms. Rents—to the extent that you can find rentals—are around $1700 per room for the most part though on some of the larger places it drops (per room, no overall). The area is actually pretty nice in terms of location, just far enough from things so that you can feel as if you are getting away from the city but not so far that you can’t be at a Castro or Cole Valley restaurant in a quarter of an hour.

There is virtually no crime here, because of the enclosed feeling. You just don’t get vagrants or that kind of element up from Market which works like a wall and moat for Twin Peaks.

There are really no stores or restaurants in Twin Peaks. Though there are a few close to the edges that people might try to count as part of Twin Peaks though they are really more properly part of the surrounding neighborhoods.

As to schools, there is an elementary school up here in the hills which is okay. Most people in this area, however, send their kids to private school—places like the Lycee Francais down in the eastern Sunset.

Overall, it is a nice residential neighborhood with really good views. Good if you can afford it or are married to someone that can.
Pros
  • Nice Larger Houses
  • Safe Neighborhood
  • the views
Cons
  • No Restaurants
  • Expensive
  • no shopping
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"The views!"

Usually people head to Twin Peaks for the views or the exercise that the hike gives you. There's not much else here. Both peaks are a vast open space. Of course, there are houses here, but they sit on steeps streets and you won't find any shops or restaurants rest at.

The views from the two hilltops are unparalleled. You can see downtown to the northeast and can look west over the Sunset neighborhood. Be prepared for it to be windy if you go to the top. Actually, be prepared for it to be windy if you're anywhere in San Francisco. The water brings in a lot of weird weather patterns.

I used to live near the Twin Peaks and I had a great view of both hills from my balcony. It was interesting to watch the fog roll in from the west and flow right over the peaks. Both peaks actually serve as a barrier to the fog that comes in from the western ocean-facing side of the city. This causes the western side of the hill to be foggier and colder than than the sunnier eastern side.
Pros
  • the views
Cons
  • no shopping
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Country Lovers
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

""Beat You At the Top""

My favorite visit toTwin Peaks was with my husband, then boyfriend. Enjoying the vistas after finishing the Bay to Breakers 12k in April, a little earlier that day, I was so glad that the peaks offered one of those glorious 25-cent pay-to potty portable toilets that have sliding doors reminiscent of old Star Trek episodes. Fortunately, we had the twenty five cents. Five of us waited patiently in line as a couple entered and came out of the sliding potty door a painful ten minutes later. Legs crossed and doing the potty dance, I awaited the next patron's exit. Meanwhile, those of us in line noticed a guy, a nonEnglishspeaking tourist, doing his own version of the dance and maneuvering closer to the automatic doors. Someone behind me pointed out that we were all waiting, but having traveled internationally, I know that being "in line" is not religiously followedl elsewhere like it is stateside. The lady ahead of me started to exit as the door slid open, and the closest I've ever been to a brawl ensued. Yelling and pushing, I stepped in and pushed him out of the way. He bullied the lady after me, but I felt l'd won the battle, if not the war. Other visits toTwin Peaks involved dinner parties at a friend's house. Their living room has floor to ceiling windows and an amazing view of the city at sunset and sunrise. We love staying with friends overnight in this hill- on-the-city because it's so close to golden gate park,where we like to walk, bike, and gawk at the dahlias outside the reconstructed arboretum. We also love the scrumptious palaak paneer at New Ganges restaurant on Frederick Street. They do take out which is great because if you time it right, you can pick up your food (their ambiance isn't stellar) and have a Twin Peaks summer sunset picnic (in the car if it's too windy on the hill). It's worth it.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"Spectacular views of entire Bay Area"

One of San Francisco’s landmark geographical features is Twin Peaks, a set of voluptuous hills that rise 900 feet above the city. The view from Twin Peaks, especially on a clear morning or evening, is spectacular. Even on foggy days there is an interesting view, as Downtown skyscrapers appear to float in a cloud-like city. A drive straight up Market Street onto Twin Peaks Boulevard is a definite must for any visitor or resident of San Francisco. There is a one-way road that circles the twin Eureka Peak and Noe Peak. There is no direct public transportation to Twin Peaks, however the 37 Corbett MUNI bus stops near a footpath that can be accessed on Crestline Drive.

There are no restaurants atop Twin Peaks. The area is protected and managed by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. Outside of the protected area, a residential area crowns the base of the peaks. Here along Market Street, homes with walls of huge panoramic windows and rooftop gardens enjoy glorious views of the entire city of San Francisco and Bay Area. The backside areas of the Twin Peaks neighborhood are pleasantly surrounded by leafy greenery. The only downfall of the neighborhood is the howling wind and fog that pours over Twin Peaks almost every afternoon.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
2yrs+

"The view is great"

Twin Peaks is the place to go if you’re a tourist in San Francisco, even if you aren’t you should at least visit Twin Peaks once in your lifetime in San Francisco. Although Twin Peaks cannot offer places to dine at or retail shopping stores, it really shows what the San Francisco landscape has to offer instead. By this I mean that Twin Peaks is one thing San Francisco is well known for, and here on Twin Peaks you get one of the best views ever of San Francisco.

The trail up to the highest point of Twin Peaks is quite an adventure. If you’re jogging or biking up the road, it’ll be a very strenuous and rough one as the whole road is very, very steep and maintains its steep slope for some time until you reach the top. At the top there is a parking lot and bathrooms, basically it. You’ll get a to see a good portion of San Francisco, including its many valleys and the Sutro Tower towards the Sunset. But be sure to take advantage of the view, take pictures, remember the moment, because most likely you won’t be returning to Twin Peaks for a while, or at all.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • 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 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"I wish I lived in this neighborhood!"

I know that all out-of-towners instantly think of the tv show when they hear the words “Twin Peaks.” However, this neighborhood is really unique for a few different ways. First of all, Twin Peaks is the geographical center of the city and also one of the city’s highest points. And you know what that means- superb views!

So where does the name "Twin Peaks" come from? There actually are two peaks that are fairly identical. You can climb up one of the peaks and drive up the other.

When you come to the city, you have to stop in this neighborhood if nothing else for the views. By the way, people told me to be prepared for wind. I wasn’t totally prepared... and my hat flew right off my head. So just keep in mind that it really is quite windy at the top of Twin Peaks.

Another great place to go is Kite Hill park. This little park is pretty unknown also has some amazing views.

I don’t think that there are many hotspots in Twin Peaks. I did check out Chan Chan Café Cubano just to get a drink. It was expensive, but I have a feeling that they would have very authentic Cuban food.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5
2yrs+

"Dramatic views for all ages to enjoy"

Twin Peaks reveals some of the most dramatic views San Francisco has to offer. On its eastern and northern slopes you will find the highest and most panoramic views of the city and bay, which explains the popularity of this mountain neighborhood.

Along the northern crest are some houses of villa dimensions; farther east the density increases to apartment houses. In the past ten years, the southern slopes were developed for single -family homes that gaze toward San Bruno Mountain and the ocean. The community overlaps upper slopes of Eureka Valley and the Mission District. The area offers unique vistas with amazing views boating a different aspect of the City for residents to enjoy. Homes in the area range from Victorians and mansions to family homes, flats and apartments.

A great shopping district supplies the area with a newly renovated Safeway, Burger King, dry cleaners, many restaurants and cash machines. There are plenty of hiking and dog walking trails in Twin Peaks. Heading west up 17th street off Market and Castro you begin the ascent to an area known as Corona Heights. Exclusively residential this area of the City is anchored on the north by Buena Vista Park, on the East by Corona Heights Park and on the southwest by Clarendon Heights. Clarendon Heights is the gateway to twin Peaks on one side and west of Twin Peaks and the Sunset on the other.

The lucky residents of the villas along the summits of the two 900-foot Twin Peaks are blessed with a spectacular view, as are most of the single-family homes and apartment buildings on the slopes. You can live anywhere in this community and reap the benefit that comes from the scenery.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5
2yrs+

"Watch out! One way!"

If you've never driven around Twin Peaks, you might not be aware of the funky nature of how the road works. You can go in a circle around each peak, or you can go around the outside of both, but you can't actually make a figure 8 around the both hills because the streets are one way. I was so confused the first time I drove there because of that. And it's somewhat disorienting to figure out how to get back down if you don't know what the streets are doing -- I strongly recommend you look at a map first!

I imagine it is obviously that the view is not to be missed -- look down at Market Street, appreciate the bridges, or simply go and make out - if you can find a parking spot. I've even gone there to spin fire and shoot a music video, but it's pretty windy and no matter how warm it might be down below, bring something to keep you warm up the hill because you're likely to catch a chill if you don't.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees

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Best Streets in Twin Peaks

"Just What Its Name Implies"
37.7558868470598 -122.440031450285
2

Short St

3.5/5
"A quiet, quirky little street."
37.7576731602223 -122.442786464164
"Somewhere with a dynamite view...."
37.7536186691923 -122.445123739759
4

Burnett Ave

2.5/5
"Congested but has a great view down the hill to the city."
37.7492399684895 -122.44481371693
5

Raccoon Dr

2.5/5
"Just off of Twin Peaks Boulevard"
37.756996899087 -122.446688538352

Unranked Streets in Twin Peaks

Crestline Dr

2.5/5
37.7505781214029 -122.446619208571
37.7544609409506 -122.44719015522

Eagle St

2.5/5
"Sort of like an eagle"
37.7584186686084 -122.443157628257
"A family affair"
37.757205098483 -122.445443212585

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