Some of San Francisco’s most famous neighborhoods are in District 5 — which is truly the center of the city. Whether you’re looking for some bohemian culture in the diverse Haight Ashbury, or a night out in the Castro, or some plain old peace and quiet in Corona Heights, this multi-cultural and intriguing district can deliver in spades.
When most people think of the Haight, the first thing that comes to mind is Haight Street — the bustling, raucous and constantly changing retail strip that serves as the City’s best connection to its storied past (Summer of Love, anyone)? But the truth is, Haight Ashbury as a neighborhood is a lot more complex than its most famous street. It’s home to some of the city’s nicest Victorians, many of which have been split into gorgeous condominiums and TICs. The Haight was actually one of the few neighborhoods to be spared by the 1906 earthquake and fire (which stopped at Divisadero). Homes here begin in the mid $700s for a TIC. Walk two blocks in any direction from Haight, and you’ll find that the atmosphere of the place changes immediately, from crazy town to contemplative and serene.
In fact, all you have to do for a bit more of this serenity is keep on walking to Cole Valley/Parnassus Heights. This is one of San Francisco’s most coveted neighborhoods. It’s got a great mix of single family houses and multi-unit buildings. Even the parrots of Telegraph Hill love it here; on most summer mornings, you can find them around Willard, Belmont and Edgewood Streets. The neighborhood is anchored by its own retail and dining strip and has easy access to Muni. Homes here start in the high $900s. If you go way up the hill, you’ll find Parnassus Heights — which locals in the know used to call “Pill Hill” due to plethora of doctors who lived there and its close proximity to UCSF Medical Center. Homes in this part of the neighborhood start at $1.5 million, although you can still occasionally find a condominium for under a million.
Or consider taking a tour of Buena Vista/Ashbury Heights. Anchored by Buena Vista Park (the oldest park in the City, with some of the best views around), this enclave has an assortment of stately single-family Edwardian and Victorian homes as well as some nice multi-unit buildings. You’ll find condos here in the high $900s, with houses edging towards $1.2 million.
Corona Heights is next door, and it’s a fabulous neighborhood studded with a large, dog-friendly park (Corona Heights) and the Randall Museum. Panoramic views abound from the single family homes here, which start in the high $900s.
If you turn away from the gorgeous city views and look towards Mt. Sutro, you’ll see the tiny enclave of Clarendon Heights which is crowned by Tank Hill park. This lovely neighborhood is a hidden gem, with well-maintained single family homes with some of the most outstanding views in San Francisco. Though it can be windy and foggy here, it’s a great place to call home. Homes here start at $2 million.
One of the things we love most about San Francisco is the fact that two neighborhoods can literally sit next door to each other — and be completely different. Twin Peaks is remarkably different from Clarendon Heights in every way; it’s more than 1,700 units are comprised primarily of condominiums. Views are everywhere here, though you may find them hard to see through the abundant fog. Prices start in the $700s.
It’s safe to say that some of District 5′s most beloved neighborhoods sit outside of the fog belt: Noe Valley, Glen Park, Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights, Duboce Triangle and Mission Dolores have some of the best weather in San Francisco.
Noe Valley, formerly a working class neighborhood home to Irish immigrants, became the hottest neighborhood in town in the 1990s. Prices skyrocketed for every type of dwelling, from single family Victorians to broken-down cottages in serious need of some TLC. Maybe it was the allure of 24th Street, or the palm tress along Dolores Street. We can’t argue with the logic, since it’s one of the nicest places to live in the City with what many say is the best weather. These days, it’s pretty near impossible to find a fixer in Noe Valley; nearly everything we see has been seriously renovated and there’s a whole lot of charm nearly everywhere you look. It’s a great place for couples with kids to settle in — just try to navigate the pram jam on 24th Street on Saturday morning. Prices here start in the $700s for a condominium, and $1.2 million for a house.
The expense of Noe Valley may be why Glen Park experienced quite a resurgence in interest and home values. Many of our clients, who were priced out of Noe, found great homes here, either to renovate or to move right in. Once a neighborhood largely populated by the working class, now it’s a dynamic little enclave with its own happening retail strip and plenty of beautifully renovated properties. This is one of the older neighborhoods in San Francisco, and used to be home to the City’s power plant. Houses here start in the low $800s.
On the other side of Noe Valley, you’ll find the dynamic and constantly evolving subdistrict of Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights. This is the area home to the Castro, the bustling hub of gay-friendly bars, restaurants and stores. As you go up the hill towards Mt. Sutro, you’ll find all sorts of dense, narrow, curvy streets populated with a great mix of Victorians and Edwardians. There’s even a nice little park (Kite Hill) perched on a steep rocky outcropping. Houses here range widely in price, from the mid $700s for a condominium or TIC, to well over $2 million for a fabulously renovated home with a view.
Duboce Triangle, just north of the Castro, is a unique neighborhood in that its Victorians and tree-lined streets were spared in the redevelopment boom that took place in San Francisco in the 1950-1960s. Just one neighborhood over, in Hayes Valley, 1,000s of Victorians were razed in the name of building a better San Francisco. But Duboce Triangle’s residents fought to save their neighborhood, and the results are worth taking in: Chock-a-block with restored Victorians and plenty of trees, it’s a great place to live. Homes here start in the low $800s for a condominium.
Last but not least, Mission Dolores is one of the most historic neighborhoods in San Francisco. Home to the Misión San Francisco de Asís (a.k.a. Mission Dolores Cathedral) that was founded June 29, 1776, it is both the oldest original intact Mission in California and the oldest building in San Francisco. It’s also home to Mission Dolores Park, one of the City’s most happening parks on any sunny day. Homes here tend to be an even mix of Edwardians and Victorians, and homes that ring the park are highly coveted. You can get started here in a TIC in the low $700s, while a single family home begins in the low $1 million+ range.
Handy Links about District 5