Pacific Heights

Summary: Pacific Heights is an upper-class family neighborhood with great schools, family homes, and great panoramic views of the bay.

Pacific Heights is the prime destination for San Franciscans looking for the ideal city neighborhood in which to raise kids. It is primarily a residential enclave just far enough away from crime-ridden areas like the Tenderloin to give families a feeling of relative security. Although Pacific Heights is on a slope, the grades here are gentle enough where kids could, in theory, ride their bikes and walk to school, although given the current climate in childrearing these activities are a thing of the past. Pacific Heights also boasts two of the finest community use parks—drawing few tourists and even less of the unsavory types that would make a parent worry in other parks in the city.

Although Victorians largely rule the day here as in much of the city, the architecture is far more varied, including mission and chateau style homes. In addition, even the Victorians in Pacific Heights have largely not been parceled out one story at time to renters, but remain for the most part single-family units with living rooms and kitchens on the bottom floors and bedrooms upstairs. In other words, they are perfect for raising families of four or more. Unlike neighborhoods to the east, where single adult renters make up the preponderance of the populations, in Pacific Heights residents are largely owners with families. This uniformity of residential housing is broken a bit on the eastern edges of Pacific Heights where some of the apartment buildings have crept over from Russian Hill and created more of a mixed picture.

The high number of families and the affluent nature of this community also manifest in the high number of well-regarded private schools stationed here. These schools include San Francisco University High School [H1], Drew [H2], Hamlin [H3], Hillwood [H4], Town School for Boys [H5] and Sacred Heart [H6]. Many of these are exclusive prep schools attended by the sons and daughters of San Francisco’s elite. The neighborhood is also home to an extension of University of the Pacific [H7].

Shops and restaurants inevitably follow money and in Pacific Heights, they follow it to Fillmore Street, the Mecca for those looking for the central entertainment of the rich—shopping. On Fillmore, you will find a plethora of exclusive boutiques named for the designers who inspire and sometimes run them, like Marc Jacobs [H8], Erica Tanov [H9], Betsey Johnson [H10], and Eileen Flicka [H11]. You will also find some with more cutesy names like Shabby Chic [H12], Blu [H13], HeidiSays [H14] and The Firm [H15]. Proving that this is a family neighborhood, however, Fillmore also has a Yountville [H16]for kids. A smattering of second hand stores for those whose disposable income marks them as just visitors to the area also pop up here and there--the most notable of these being the San Francisco Symphony Repeat Performance [H17], the clothes from which are donated by wealthy locals and the revenue from which, goes to help support the symphony. You can also find stores stocking accessories and furniture, all just as upscale as the boutiques. No wealthy neighborhood, of course, would be complete without upscale pet stores where the local pouches can be treated with the same deference as their wealthy human caretakers.

Fillmore Street also offers a series of attractions for the gourmand, from French bakeries like Boulangerie [H18], to the usual set of classy Italian and Chinese faire. Some more eccentric treats are on the menu here as well, like the Elite Café [H19]where you can find authentic New Orleans’ cuisine, or Le Meditteranee [H20]with possibly the best baba ghanoush in SF.

Nightspots, on the other hand, are few and far between in Pacific Heights, but you can catch foreign films at the Clay Theater [H21]or a solid DJ at Solstice [H22], one of the few spots that attracts the hipster set from the Mission. Overall, however, this is a strictly G-rated neighborhood, one of the few in SF.