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We always get the question, “What’s the best area to stay in when visiting San Francisco?” Our answer: everywhere. However, depending on what kind of trip you are making and who is coming along, there may be neighborhoods that align better with your plans. This is our attempt to answer in a unique way that burning question we get all too often. We’ve distilled the answers down to experiences; you’ll find a different one in each part of the city.

The Best Area to Stay If You’re a Foodie: SOMA

San Francisco’s dining scene is at the top of its game. Just ask Bon Appetit. To maximize the delicious meals per block metric (it’s science), look for a hotel room in SOMA. An acronym for South of Market, this neighborhood has had an influx of new and innovative eateries open up in the past year. It also has great access to the Mission District, the undisputed king when it comes to delicious meals with moderately priced entrees.

The Best Area to Stay If You Are a Health Nut: Embarcadero

It’s not about having access to a gym, but access to great outdoor spaces that will elevate your heart rate. Hotels along the Embarcadero give you that and a gorgeous morning view of the Bay Bridge. Get up to see the sunrise and work out like a local by running along the Embarcadero by the Ferry Building to PIER 39 and back again.

The Best Area to Stay If You Want to Shop: Union Square

The perfect neighborhood to shop the major retail brands and take in a play at SHN or A.C.T. is Union Square. Here you’ll have your pick of the litter as most of the city’s hotels reside here. Another great reason to stay in Union Square: it’s a transportation hub, so it’s easy to get everywhere else.

The Best Area to Stay If You Want the Classics: Civic Center

If you’re into the classics, this is the neighborhood. You can hear the San Francisco Symphony, go see the Operaor Ballet (December-May) and drop into a Jazz session at SFJAZZ Center. And if you’re looking for more beauty, including magnificent Beaux Art architecture, go to the Asian Art Museum and view one of the most complete and renowned-collections of Asian art in the world. These are all within Civic Center.

The Best Area to Stay If You Have a Car: Marina

Honestly, we don’t think you need a car while you visit San Francisco. It’s easy to get around the city without one.However, if you do have a car, the best area in San Francisco to stay would be in the Marina. Within this neighborhood, hotels with free or low-cost parking dot the northern part of Van Ness Avenue and Lombard Street. With the Golden Gate Bridge within eyesight, this is a great neighborhood to start and end your day.

Best Area to Stay if You’re Bringing Dog: Nob Hill & Fisherman’s Wharf

San Francisco is a city for everyone, even the furry ones in our lives. We know how important they are to you, so if you’re bringing your pets with you on your trip, you’ll want to stay in Nob Hill or Fisherman’s Wharf. These two neighborhoods in the heart of San Francisco give you and your pet a spectacular view and access to the bay breeze.

By Dan Rosenbaum

Courtesy of San Francisco Travel, the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit 

Photo: holbox/

Best Places to Stay in San Francisco

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