Hayes Valley, San Francisco, served as my base for much of my week in the city. Charming, hilly, hip, and centrally located, it was a perfect spot to set up camp. My good friend Jordan had kindly offered me a place to stay and currently calls Hayes Valley home, so I got to see it from a true local’s perspective.
This neighborhood is situated a few blocks to the west of Van Ness and is bordered on the south end by Market Street and Herman Street. It also encompasses a small section of the ever-popular Haight Street, a funky, low-key part of the city that’s overrun with dive bars, eclectic shops, and young people. You’d also run into Japantown, the neighborhood I’d stayed in previously, by walking 7 or so blocks to the north.
Walking just a few blocks to the west (and leaving Hayes Valley proper) you’ll find Alamo Square park and those iconic San Francisco houses known as the Painted Ladies (cue Full House theme song)–not to mention a pretty spectacular view of the city.
I loved Hayes Valley right from the start. In true tourist fashion, I couldn’t help but take photo after photo of the classic architecture San Francisco is so widely known for. One of the most common styles is Italianate, a Victorian-era style that can be found all over the city. One source claims there are 13,000 Victorian homes still standing in San Francisco, which is wild when you consider they were built as early as the 1870s! Imagine all the earthquakes they’ve withstood. The style pictured here is a Slanted Bay Italianate, characterized by the slanted bay windows and oversized cornice.
Located mere blocks from my buddy’s place on Hayes Street was a lovely commercial area packed with boutique clothing shops, cafes, restaurants and wine bars. It was always lively and bustling with pedestrians, and it definitely gave me that unmistakable feeling of “Yeah, I could live here.”
Smack in the middle of this thoroughfare you’ll find Patricia’s Green, a narrow little park that’s a perfect place to relax, have a coffee, or admire the former Burning Man installation that now calls the green home. How they relocated this massive piece of art is a mystery to me, but I’m glad they did. It almost looks like it belonged in Hayes Valley all along.
It was here that Jordan introduced me to one of his favorite coffee shops, Ritual Coffee Roasters, one of a handful of small businesses housed in shipping containers. Nearby you’ll also find a German beer garden, juice shops, ice cream shops, and an open-air theater known as Proxy.
One evening I met with an old Berkeley friend who happened to be in the city for business at a local Hayes Valley wine bar, Arlequin Wine Merchant. Accompanied by his business partners, we caught up over an excellent assortment of reds in Arlequin’s beautiful outdoor garden complete with heat lamps, though on this particular evening they weren’t really needed.
Following this, we headed a few doors down to Dobbs Ferry Bar for one more drink before grabbing dinner at Papito, an organic Mexican bistro (the mole enchilada plate I ordered here was easily one of my favorite meals of the whole week). If you look at the three of these places on a map, you’ll see how far we did NOT walk to get from one to the next. Sometimes you just can’t beat the convenience of city life!
I loved my time in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, and getting to know yet another new neighborhood on a more intimate level. For even more ideas for things to do and see in Hayes Valley, check out this neighborhood guide.
What’s your favorite San Francisco neighborhood?