Imagine yourself strolling on grassy hills with magnificent views, walking down streets lined with elegant 19th-century mansions, and enjoying a Sunday brunch in one of the city’s finest gourmet restaurants. Luckily, this doesn’t just have to be a fantasy – not if you find yourself in Pacific Heights, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods of San Francisco.
San Francisco’s version of Hollywood is known to be one of the most architecturally significant areas, brimming with opulent buildings such as Spreckels Mansion and Haas-Lilienthal house. With verdant parks, lively streets with high-end fashion boutiques and cafes, this charming area situated on a primarily east-west oriented ridge is bound to win your heart.
Let’s take a peek into one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in the Bay Area, where modern style and old-school class come together in perfect harmony.
Pacific Heights: An overview
The neighborhood, which was first developed in the 1870s, was originally characterized by small Victorian-inspired houses. However, this changed after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when many of these buildings were replaced with period homes. Many wealthy families realized Pacific Heights had some of the best views in the city, which is why today, the area boasts some of San Francisco’s most magnificent homes. And with Mission Revival, Edwardian, Spanish-style, Victorian, and Chateau buildings, there’s certainly a lot to marvel at.
Pacific Heights is regularly named one of the most expensive neighborhoods in San Francisco, and even in the entire country, with the defining characteristic being “occasionally chic, hardly affordable, and always elite.” From the Co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corp to the Co-Founder of PayPal, the area is sought after by the most elite tech stars. It’s also where several countries have their consulates, including Italy, Greece, and Germany.
Things to enjoy in Pacific Heights
When in Pacific Heights, there are many things you can do.
Pacific Heights features two spectacular parks: Lafayette and Alta Plaza. Alta Plaza, in particular, offers prime views of the downtown, but also the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and Marin Headlands. This 12-acre park is an extremely popular hangout spot for locals – so visit it to enjoy its different perks, including a tennis pitch, an off-leash pet area, a playground for kids, and a beautiful southern-facing terraced lawn.
With locally-owned shops as well as internationally-recognized brands, Fillmore Street is certainly the place to go for some retail therapy. Even if you came for the big names like Prada, Ralph Lauren, or Marc Jacobs, make sure not to miss out on some local, independent brands. If you’ve exhausted your options there, check out the shops along Sacramento Street as well!
In many senses, Pacific Heights represents San Francisco as you see it in the movies. Due to its unique beauty, it has been featured in different films: If you want to see the house of “Mrs. Doubtfire”, head to 2640 Steiner Street at Broadway. Some of the picturesque estates to see also include Spreckels Mansion, a 27-room French Baroque chateau that occupies an entire city block, or the Haas-Lilienthal House, a Victorian home built in 1886 which is now open to visitors as a museum.
Food scene & nightlife
Exclusive dining venues or more casual gourmet options – Pacific Heights has it all. From Michelin-starred Italian restaurant SPQR to Slanted Door, with its rich Vietnamese street food served in an industrial setting, the neighborhood’s food scene is certainly a testament to a rich cultural intersection. For a cozy French-inspired bistro, opt for Curbside Café or B. Patisserie. For brunch, check out Ella’s, and if you’re craving pizza, head to Santino’s Vino.
Pacific Heights isn’t a noisy area. The way it values elegance and tranquility doesn’t make it a typical nightlife destination – but there are still diverse options to explore. Don’t miss Harry’s, a classic sports bar that will charm you with its elegant mahogany wood setting. Another iconic venue is The Snug, a quirky cocktail bar that also has a great variety of beers and wines.
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