Neighborhood Guide

Hayes Valley – Our Home

With the Patricia’s Green neighborhood square at its heart, back alleys, and one-of-a-kind mom and pop stores, Hayes Valley exudes charm and vibrancy. Walk the neighborhood to discover hidden murals, curious breeds of dog at the park, esoteric cuisine, and much more. For bicyclists, this is a fine starting point: The neighborhood is flat and heading west is facilitated by the famous Wiggle bicycle route.

Suggested spots

  • Smitten ice cream – Ice cream made right in front of you. Next door to our shop.
  • Ritual Coffee – Carefully crafted coffee, served out of a shipping container.
  • Biergarten – The perfect way to refresh yourself after a day on the bike.

The Mission

The undisputed melting pot of San Francisco, cultures from all over the world live side by side in the Mission neighborhood, although the Latin American presence burns most visibly here with countless taqueries (the famous Mission burrito was born here), street murals, and the sounds of Spanish in the air. In recent years, the Mission has seen an influx from affluent twenty/thirtysomethings, attracted to the culture. Main thoroughfare Valencia Street features a popular bicycle lane and the neighborhood is mostly flat.

Suggested spots

  • Pancho Villa – One of the better Mission burritos. Some say the best. You decide.
  • 24th Street (Mission-Bryant) – This stretch of 24th holds on to its Latino Mission roots.
  • Dolores Park – Grab your picnic supplies from Bi-Rite, find a comfy spot, and see and be seen.

Civic Center

A prime example of the turn of the century City Beautiful movement, Civic Center commands attention with its massive plaza and monumental civic buildings, including the Ancient Greece-inspired City Hall and its golden (real gold) adornments and stately dome, the fifth largest in the world. History has graced Civic Center over the years, including the California Supreme Court’s (north side of the plaza) lifting of the ban on interracial marriage in 1948 and the White Night riots in 1979, following the murder of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in California. Bicyclists will enjoy the flat terrain but avoid the wider and busier streets.

Suggested spots

  • City Hall – Open to the public. Go live your dreams on the grand staircase.
  • Asian Art Museum – Largest collection of Asian Art in the US.
  • Ananda Fuara – Find your inner self at this long-standing veggie and vegan restaurant.

Lower Haight

Off the main commercial drag of (lower) Haight Street, sharp-eyed visitors will notice attention to detail in plant pots softening the edges of the sidewalks, 1880s Victorian houses standing proudly to attention, and serene tree-laden streets terminating at Duboce Park, home of the po(o)pular annual DogFest event. The Wiggle bicycle route passes through the neighborhood and enables nifty avoidance of all steep hills.

Suggested spots

  • Toronado – More beers on draft than you can dream of.
  • Molotov’s – Dim lighting, punk rock, and beer.
  • Thep Phanom – Delicious Thai restaurant just off the main drag.

Alamo Square

We won’t spoil the surprise but there’s a reason why Alamo Square is so often a “Full House”. Rising sharply from the surrounding neighborhoods Alamo Square boasts classic San Francisco views from every angle, including one of downtown that’s so famous not a postcard rack in town is without it. Come see it for yourself. Bicyclists will encounter a climb to get up there, but the reward is easily worth the effort.

Suggested spots

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Haight-Ashbury

The Haight was ground zero for the Hippies and the 1967 Summer of Love. Today, that legacy lives on in the neighborhood in dreadlocked teenagers on the sidewalk, tie-die memorabilia shops, and the occasional smell of a certain “controlled substance”. But the Haight refuses to be pigeon-holed and still retains a dynamic energy with equal appeal for freeloaders, kids, tourists, and locals. Bicycling down Haight Street is common; just be mindful of the steady traffic.

Suggested spots

  • Amoeba Records – Once a bowling alley, now the most famous record/CD store in the city.
  • Cha Cha Cha – Delicious tapas (small plates). Fun atmosphere, too–maybe it’s the sangria.
  • Kid Robot –

Golden Gate Park

Larger than Central Park in New York, Golden Gate Park is San Francisco’s favorite playground. Designed to be a pastoral break from the urban bustle, the park’s more famous attractions include Stow Lake, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Botanic Garden. But more intrepid explorers may choose to hunt further for the bison paddock, horse shoe courts, or even… the fairy doors (shh… it’s a secret!). The Park is very popular for bicycling, especially on Sundays when some of the roads are closed to car traffic.

Suggested spots

  • California Academy of Sciences – Penguins, a living rainforest, amazing aquariums. Go on a Thursday night for “Nightlife.”
  • De Young Museum tower – Free! Stand above the trees and peer out of floor-to-ceiling windows. Views are stunning, even when it’s foggy.
  • Botanic Garden – Golden Gate Park has a stunning variety of plant life. See the best of it here.

The Castro

A world-famous neighborhood known for its dominant LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community, the Castro is a village within a city. Head down Castro Street to check out the historic Castro Theater and all kinds of independent stores, including “Hot Cookie” and “Does Your Mother Know?” 18th Street and Castro Street are both doable for bicycles but stay alert to busy traffic and inclines on Castro Street.

Suggested spots

  • Hot Cookie – Freshly baked cookies, some in interesting shapes and sizes.
  • Twin Peaks bar – Sit back, grab a cocktail, and enjoy the vibrant views outside the large windows.
  • GLBT Museum – Celebrating 100 years of GLBT life in San Francisco.

SoMa

San Francisco’s old industrial hub is now better known for its tech companies and artist studios. But look a little closer and SoMa boasts an impressive number of esoteric bars, nightclubs, and even a laundromat/performance space combo. SoMa, once dominated by the automobile, now has nice bike lanes traveling both north/south and east/west.

Suggested spots

  • Streat Food – Food truck park with beer and sangria on tap.
  • Sightglass Coffee – High-end coffee in a beautiful space. Go ahead, treat yourself.
  • Slim’s – A variety of bands come through this music club founded by Boz Skaggs.

The Richmond

Known as one of San Francisco’s “Three Kingdoms” for its large Asian population, this long-ignored way-out-west neighborhood is slowly gaining wider recognition for its lively commercial Clement Street, a new Sunday farmers’ market. Arguello Boulevard, the connector between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, carries a nice bicycle lane.

The Presidio

Given the Presidio’s location at San Francisco’s northern tip, the army that controls the Presidio guards the whole bay. So it was a big deal when the Presidio ceased to be a military base in 1989 after 200 years of use. These days, the Presidio is a unique mix of repurposed military buildings (one hosting the “House of Air” trampoline company), forested paths, and stunning views of bays, bridges, and more. Bicyclists should know their route and destination in the Presidio so as to get on the right side of some very steep hills.

Suggested spots

  • Inspiration Point – Catch this view after just entering the Presidio on Arguello Blvd. Make sure to turn around to see Andy Goldsworthy’s “Spire.”
  • Crissy Field – Walk your dog, fly a kite, or throw a frisbee in this large open field next to the bay.
  • Yoda Statue – To the wise one pay your respects. In front of Lucasfilms headquarters.

The Marina

The magnificence of the classically-inspired Palace of Fine Arts almost defies belief on initial sighting. While visitors may hold the Palace to be the undisputed jewel of the Marina, the more adventurous may find further appeal in the neighborhood’s mediterranean-flavored architecture and the well-to-do appeal of the Chestnut Street shopping area. Most streets are quiet and satisfactory for bicycling, but cross the wider roads with care.

Suggested spots

  • Palace of Fine Arts
  • Liverpool Lil’s