San Francisco is one of the top tourist destinations for arts and culture, foodies, families, and diverse travelers from around the globe. However, the area you stay in while visiting San Francisco has a big impact on what you see and how you spend your days. For example, you may choose to stay in one neighborhood over another depending on whether you have a car or not. Meanwhile, certain parts of the city are more ideal if you’re traveling with kids, on a budget, or looking to be close to a special festival or event. With all of that in mind, here are some recommendations for where to stay in San Francisco.

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Union Square Union Square
Union Square

Union Square

Why Stay Here: Convenient location and major transportation hub so you don’t need a car.
Top Hotels: Hotel Nikko San Francisco | Grand Hyatt San Francisco

One of the most convenient places to be in San Francisco if you want to be in the middle of it all is Union Square. Here you’ll have easy access to all of the museums, theaters, restaurants, and shops that you could ever hope to squeeze into a trip to San Francisco. In the Union Square neighborhood, you’ll find major retail stores and smaller shops to explore too. This is an ideal place to stay if you are staying in San Francisco without a car because Union Square is a major public transportation hub.

Nob Hill Beautiful architecture in Nob Hill area
Beautiful architecture in Nob Hill area

Nob Hill

Why Stay Here: Classic San Francisco architecture and a family-friendly vibe.
Top Hotels: Fairmont San Francisco | Castle Inn

For a quintessential San Francisco experience, Nob Hill is a great choice with even greater views. This is an upscale neighborhood in the city that has lots of luxury hotel options. However, it’s not necessarily the best place to stay if you’re on a tight budget. It is great for families and has many things to do for both kids and adults. Nob Hill also enjoys a central location in the city that is easy to access from Chinatown, Union Square, and Pacific Heights.

SoMa Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens

SoMa

Why Stay Here: Amazing restaurants for foodies and nightlife options for partiers.
Top Hotels: Harbor Court Hotel | San Francisco Marriott Marquis

SoMa stands for South of Market, and this is a culturally rich area that’s trendy and vibrant. Stay here if you’re looking for luxury accommodations, plenty of nightlife options, and easy access to great museums. When you stay in SoMa, you’ll have no shortage of trendy restaurants to check out too. SoMa is a top place to stay for foodies because there are so many top-notch eateries in this part of the city. You can catch a game at AT&T Park and visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art while staying here. However, this isn’t the most budget-friendly neighborhood if you’re watching your spending closely.

Castro Castro District Rainbow Crosswalk Intersection
Castro District Rainbow Crosswalk Intersection

Castro

Why Stay Here: Vibrant LGBTQ culture with fun festivals and events.
Top Hotels: Hotel Whitcomb | The Good Hotel

Castro is the heart of LGBTQ culture in San Francisco and a fun and welcoming place to stay for anyone who identifies with this culture or simply embraces diversity. There’s always something fun and exciting going on here, so try to plan your visit around the famous Pride festival or another local event. The area is very walkable, has high energy, and is home to some excellent restaurants too.

North Beach San Francisco, North Beach & Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, North Beach & Golden Gate Bridge

North Beach

Why Stay Here: Laid-back vibe with affordable options for families.
Top Hotels: Fairmont San Francisco | Club Quarters Hotel in San Francisco

North Beach offers a chill and laid-back vibe that travelers also enjoy while visiting San Francisco. You can walk to popular attractions while staying here too, such as Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown. However, you won’t be right in the middle of the busiest parts of town, which can come as a relief after long days of sightseeing. Families enjoy staying here because there are some affordable options that cater to children here and offer a retreat from the busy daytime scene. North Beach also has a strong Italian culture, which means you can find some excellent Italian cuisine when you call this neighborhood your home base in San Francisco.

Fisherman’s Wharf Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf

Why Stay Here: Top tourist destination in the city with delicious seafood dining options.
Top Hotels: Argonaut Hotel | A Noble House Hotel | Hotel Zoe Fisherman’s Wharf

If you want to stay in the heart of the tourist district of San Francisco and never be bored for a moment, you can plan to stay in Fisherman’s Wharf. This is an iconic city neighborhood on the waterfront and home to Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, and lots of fun shops to walk around. This is a perfect place to stay if you want to dine on fresh seafood during your time in San Francisco and also learn about maritime history while you’re here. You can find very upscale options and also more budget-friendly hotels in the Fisherman’s Wharf area depending on what you’re looking for. However, if you’re the type of traveler that needs a break from tourists at the end of a day, you might want to choose another neighborhood on this list.

Presidio View towards Golden Gate bridge from the coastal trail, Presidio Park, San Francisco,
View towards Golden Gate bridge from the coastal trail, Presidio Park, San Francisco,

Presidio

Why Stay Here: Stunning natural area with access to the outdoors, hiking, and scenic views.
Top Hotels: Cow Hollow Inn and Suites | Lodge at the Presidio

The Presidio is a stunning natural area in San Francisco and also a region you can stay in. Come here to experience the natural beauty of the region and to get outdoors on a scenic hike. This is a great place to stay for nature lovers, families, and active travelers, thanks to easy access to the Golden Gate Recreation Area.

The Mission Mural in the Mission District
Mural in the Mission District

The Mission

Why Stay Here: A melting pot of cultures with murals, hipster cafes, and diverse restaurants.
Top Hotels: The Inn San Francisco | Nineteen 06 Mission

The Mission District of San Francisco is known for its colorful and unique murals that celebrate Latino and Hispanic culture. Take a self-guided tour of the murals when you stay in this fascinating neighborhood, spend some time in Dolores Park, and sample the cuisine at the area’s diverse restaurants. The Mission area is a melting pot of cultures with a great mix of ethnic grocery stores and hipster cafes.

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