Where to Stay in San Francisco? 2020 Update (Guide)

where to stay in san francisco

Did you know that the land area of San Francisco is just seven miles long and seven miles wide? For such a small city, there are numerous sights, history, and a ton of culture to soak in. The city’s art, music, and architecture offer something to every kind of tourist. Experiencing the ethnic and cultural diversity first-hand is one of the many reasons why it is often ranked as one of the most visited places in the world.

Here’s a quick guide to the best places to stay in the city of San Francisco for first-time visitors. We have categorized the places according to your interests.

SoMa (South of Market): Best Area to Stay if You Are a Food Lover

best place to stay san francisco

Consider staying in SoMA (South of Market) for a great gastronomic experience. Several hotels and restaurants in this area serve exceptional international cuisine. Every food connoisseur is bound to enjoy the modern twist on the Middle Eastern flavors offered at Barcha.

On the other hand, the Michelin-starred Luce in the Intercontinental Hotel offers a beautiful fine dining experience. It is just a short distance (under 2 miles) from the San Francisco City Hall. Are you looking for something more casual? Well, then, head on to the TableTop Tap House. You can find the best modern, American, tavern-style food and drinks here.

Other highlights: Alexander’s Steakhouse, Street Food Trucks in SOMA, Samovar Tea Lounge that overlooks the Yerba Buena Gardens, ThirstyBear Brewing Company, 1601 Bar & Kitchen (Sri Lankan Themed)

Where to stay: The Intercontinental Hotel is the best bet as it stands tall over SOMA. The beautiful glass structure is close to all the best restaurants (over 219) in this area.

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Fisherman’s Wharf: Best Area to Stay in San Francisco With Family

Best Area to Stay in San Francisco With Family

Located in the Northeastern part of the city, Fisherman’s Wharf is well-known to the locals and tourists alike. Enjoy a long walk along the PIER 39, enjoy the food at the full-service restaurants, and watch the sea lions docked out on the Marina.

There is plenty for everyone in the family here. You can also stay in the heart of the city- Union Square. A trip to this city will not be complete without a ride on the historic cable car. Nob Hill and Russian Hill are also great options as you can explore the ‘most crooked street.’

Other highlights: The North Beach area is great for families. Enjoy the family-style Italian restaurants, gelato parlors, and Washington Square Park.

Where to Stay: Riu Plaza Fisherman’s Wharf is within walking distance to the Pier and all the major attractions in this area.

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Chinatown: Best Area to Stay to Experience Chinese Culture

chinatown san francisco

For an authentic Chinese experience, consider staying in Chinatown. It is one of the oldest in North America and the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. The Dragon Gate at the entrance to the town is a great way to start your trip.

The fortune cookie factory doles out 20,000 cookies every day, by hand! If you are a movie buff, then make a strip to Waverly Place. It is the alleyway that is seen in the movie ‘Pursuit of Happiness.’

Other Highlights: Taoist Temple- Tien Hau Temple, St. Mary’s Church built by Chinese laborers, Buddha’s Universal Temple-largest Buddhist temple in the country

Where to Stay: The Grant Plaza Hotel is a limited-service boutique hotel. Located right at the gateway to Chinatown, the hotel has free wifi and is within walking distance to the best restaurants and theatres as well.

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Haight-Ashbury: Best Area to Stay for a Classic San Francisco Experience

Best Neighborhoods in San Francisco

If you are looking for a classic San Francisco experience, stay in Haight-Ashbury. This neighborhood is iconic and has a lot of history. A walk down any of the streets will give you a wonderful peek at the Victorian-Style homes.

The boutique shops here are lovely, curated, and adorable. The stores are not upscale, allowing you to browse through interesting knick-knacks as you walk around. This place is close to the Golden Gate Park- not to be confused with the Golden Gate bridge.

Other Activities: Hiking, Japanese Tea Garden, Art Museum, Science Museum

Where to Stay: Stay at the Casa Loma Hotel that is a few minutes away from the ‘Painted Ladies Row Houses’ of Alamo Square

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Union Square: Best Area to Stay if You Love Shopping

Union Square SF

Union Square is well-known as the cultural and retail hub in the city of San Francisco. This area features a park surrounded by several busy streets such as Geary, Powell, and Post Streets. The park is said to have been built in 1850 and is now known for boutiques, department stores, tourist businesses, salons, and lovely art galleries.

This area offers several options for avid shoppers as the business district is vibrant and alive with energy. For the best experience, visit during the weekdays when the numbers are relatively lower.

Other activities: Check out the Hearts of the Union Square, Cable Car Turnaround event at the Powell and Market Street intersection, Flood Building, Maiden Lane, and Union Square Park.

Where to Stay: Hotel Emblem San Francisco is a boutique hotel situated in the theatre district. The guest rooms feature vintage furnishings and exotic items on display.

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Marina District: Best Area to Stay if You Have a Car

Best Area to Stay in San Francisco Without a Car

It is easy to get around San Francisco without a car, but if you do have the convenience of one, you must consider staying around the Marina. Several interesting eateries and fine restaurants dot the area.

Free or low-cost parking makes the experience even better. Staying on Van Ness Avenue or Lombard street will allow you excellent access to sights such as Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Mason, and Alcatraz Island.

Other activities: The Exploratorium, Golden Gate Theatre, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Zoo, Japanese Tea Garden

Where to Stay: Chelsea Inn is a great location as it sits comfortably between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Fisherman’s wharf. The hotel offers free parking to its guests.

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The Presidio: Best Area to Stay for Nature Lovers

Where to Stay in San Francisco

The area around the Golden Gate Bridge is called the Presidio. If you are looking to soak in the natural wonder of the place, this is a perfect place to stay. If the setting of the sun at Land’s end does not impress you enough, then check out the Batteries to Bluff trail. The views and the hike make the trip worthwhile.

Other activities: The Presidio Officer’s Club, Golden Gate Vista Point, the national historic site of Fort Point, Crissy Field

Where to Stay: Travelodge by Wyndham at the Presidio offers a wonderful view of the Golden Gate Bridge and is set conveniently within the Presidio of San Francisco National Park. This is an upscale hotel close to the Palace of Fine Arts theater.

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The Castro: Best Area to Stay in the LGBTQ Neighborhood

The Castro San Francisco United States

If you would like to experience staying in an LGBTQ community, stay in Castro. It is hard to pick between the views of the vibrant and beautiful rainbow flags that line the streets, the happy vibes that pull you towards Dolores Park, or the iconic Seward Slides.

Dolores Park has exciting energy that allows you to party (or relax) the way you like. Apart from people gathering, partying, drinking, and relaxing, you will find many entertaining and hilarious vendors doing their bit to ramp up the fun.

Other activities: Great nightlife, Corona Heights Park, Castro Street, Kite Hill, GLBT Historical Society Museum

Where to Stay: Parker Guest House is a cool boutique hotel. It features cozy and well-decorated rooms and a beautiful garden. The décor and the feel are catered to the gay community but are warm and welcoming to everyone.

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Sea Cliff: Safest Area to Stay in San Francisco

Sea Cliff

Present in the northwestern part of the San Francisco, the Sea Cliff neighborhood is famous for the stunning ocean views that one gets there. The landscapes are lush and vibrant, and the homes are comparatively larger.

It is one of the most tranquil neighborhoods and thus the safest one in San Francisco. The population mostly comprises of families, and the region is mostly quiet and peaceful. The area comes under the list of eight master-planned residence parks in the city.

Other activities: Sea Cliff Historic Staircase, Sea Cliff Village Museum, Sea Cliff Beach, Long Island Children’s Museum

Where to Stay: Stanyan Park Hotel would be a great hotel choice. The amenities are good, it is a reasonable option and barely four kilometers from Sea Cliff. My Rosegarden Guest Rooms would be an excellent choice too for golfers and hikers.

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Hayes Valley: Hippest Neighborhood to Stay in San Francisco

best places to stay in san francisco hayes valley

One of the most beautiful places in San Francisco is the Hayes Valley. The streets are lined with trees; there are tons of sidewalk cafés and adorable boutiques for designer fashions where you can spend hours.

Being called the shopping district, Union Square may offer quite a few shopping options. However, the roadside stores in Hayes Valley have a ton of character and offer something for every kind of traveler.

Other activities: San Francisco Zen Center, the public art installations at Patricia’s Green, San Francisco Symphony

Where to Stay: Hayes Valley Inn is a fantastic option for those looking to stay here. It is a high-value hotel available at affordable rates. You can walk to most of the attractions in this area. The Grove Inn at Alamo Square is another notable option for those wanting to stay in this area.

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