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When tourists imagine San Francisco, nearly all of them envision some lovely street in Pacific Heights. Home to the rich and famous, panoramic views and some of the largest homes in the city, it’s a gracious neighborhood that sometimes offers weather that’s just a bit clearer than its neighbors to the west and south. The first building here was constructed in 1853, although most of the neighborhood was built after the 1906 earthquake. Pacific Heights is a veritable museum of 19th century Victorian museums (to wit: the Haas-Lillienthal House or the Spreckles Mansion, where Danielle Steele lives). Consulates for Norway, Germany, Greece, Russia, Italy, Portugal, South Korea and Vietnam all reside here.

There are plenty of famous residents of Pacific Heights, from Dianne Feinstein to Larry Ellison and Gordon Getty, although we can’t imagine them trotting down to upper Fillmore to poke through the fancy boutiques of Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren or Eileen Fisher.

That’s because the folks who might frequent these boutiques might just live in Cow Hollow, which sits at the foot of Pacific Heights. This tight little neighborhood is anchored by Union Street, a great shopping district and home to many terrific restaurants. It’s hard to imagine that this densely populated area was once home to cows and a freshwater lake, but it’s true: Cow Hollow was once a dairy. By the late 1800s, though, the cows had been banished, the lake filled in, and stately Victorians began to pop up. If you’re looking for a trendy, vibrant neighborhood that’s got easy access to the Presidio and Marin, this is the place for you. You can score a really nice condo here in the low $900s, with single family homes starting at $1.2 million.

Speaking of the Presidio (the largest undeveloped parcel of land in San Francisco), we should be sure to take a look at Presidio Heights. This gorgeous, small enclave (just 800 homes)  features houses built in the early 1900s, and is one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in San Francisco. Plenty of craftsman homes here, meticulously restored. But the good news is that there are more than mansions here; you may be able to find a condo starting in the mid $700s. But if you really need a big house, expect to spend upwards of $10 million for a starter mansion.

Everyone in Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights is of course fond of the Laurel Heights shopping village, just across the border in Jordan Park/Laurel Heights. Why, you ask? Well, Bryan’s Meats, of course — purveyor of white truffles in winter, prime New York strips in summer, and the freshest fish you can find.

Probably the most famous neighborhood in the district is the ever-popular and beautiful Marina. With a long, flat front yard (the Marina Green) and a vast assortment of multi-unit building and single family homes, the Marina is a surprisingly diverse place. People often say it’s the mix between the very young (under thirty) and the very old (over 80) that make this neighborhood what it is: the City’s latest up-and-comers and the old-timers who could possibly be the original owners of their homes.

Many people remember the 1989 earthquake by the startling images of buildings collapsing in the Marina. But in the wake of the earthquake, building standards were strengthened and red-tagged buildings were demolished. Most pre-earthquake buildings have be seismically reinforced, and of course all new construction is up to code. That’s why property values here have remained consistently strong, with condos and TICs approaching the $900s, and single family homes pushing well above $1.25 million.

A word to the wise. Next time you’re shopping on Chestnut Street, be sure to look up, past the fantastic boutiques and restaurants. This retail strip has one of the best collections of 1920s Art Deco facades in the city. And it’s also home to the Palace of Fine Arts, the last remnant of the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. And don’t miss the recently renovated Chrissy Field and Warming Hut, a great place for a stroll.

Handy Links

Pacific Heights Residents Association
Cow Hollow Neighborhood Association
Presidio Heights Neighborhood Association


415 771 2216

Garibaldi's on Presidio
415 563 8841

415 931 5100

415 929 8855

Baker Street Bistro
415 931 1475

The Tipsy Pig
415 292 2300

Presidio Social Club
415 885 1888


Consulates. Mansions. Boutiques. Views. Trees. Trails. Is there anything else you need?