Neighborhoods / Presidio Heights

Presidio Heights

The road to the top ends here

Okay, so Pacific Heights isn’t for everyone; it’s too well-known, for one, and it’s too close to all that city hustle and bustle. Enter Presidio Heights, Pac Heights’ the lesser-known next-door. Presidio Heights solves all the issues anyone might have with Pacific Heights: it’s far less well-known (no one’s ever made a movie about it), and much quieter than it’s high-visibility neighbor. Presidio Heights’ quiet streets are lined with grand, stately mansions that trade bay views for proximity to the serenity of The Presidio, where hiking trails and the Presidio Golf Club await. Instead of high-traffic Fillmore Street, Presidio Heights’ locals do their shopping on quiet, upscale Sacramento Street, where the handful of restaurants are all notable and each boutique is seemingly one-of-a-kind. For some members of San Francisco’s boldface society, nothing compares to Pacific Heights. For others, though, nothing compares to their home, the elegantly low-key Presidio Heights.

Area Map

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Commute

Commuter Buses
Tech buses do not come into Presidio Heights, which is not surprising, given the district’s narrow residential streets. The nearest tech bus stops are Divisadero Street and Geary Boulevard (Apple) and Park Presidio Boulevard and Geary (Apple, Google, Yahoo).

SFMTA Light Rail
Light rail isn’t a part of life on San Francisco’s north side. Presidio Heights commuters must make their way to Cole Valley or Civic Center to catch a MUNI light rail train.

Only one north-south and one east-west MUNI bus line comes near Presidio Heights. The 1 line travels east-west on California Street and the 43 travels north-south on Presidio Avenue.

Nearest CalTrain Station
3rd and King Streets

Nearest BART
Civic Center Station

Estimated Commute Times
Financial District via auto: 15 minutes
Financial District via transit: 35 minutes
South San Francisco via auto: 30 minutes
Silicon Valley via auto: 55 minutes

Around the Block

Who Lives Here
It’s not Pacific Heights, but it’s pretty close. Presidio Heights has all the stately mansions and rarified air, trading bay views for direct Presidio access. Who lives here? Successful people too low-key for Pacific Heights.

A stable, accomplished population
Presidio Heights has the distinction of being not only an affluent neighborhood but also a family-friendly one. It’s not the type of place that attracts high-profile residents looking for an active nightlife, but instead a preferred landing spot for those whose aim is to put down roots. They come to Presidio Heights for a variety of reasons — perhaps they’re on staff at UCSF’s Laurel Hill campus of CPMC’s California Campus, for one, or they’ve got several kids and want a large home with access to Julius Kahn Park and The Presidio — but they all come with an eye toward permanency. They come to stroll Sacramento Street’s quiet commercial core, dine in low-key high-end restaurants and enjoy proximity to the diverse shops and restaurants of the Inner Richmond. Presidio Heights isn’t an entry-level neighborhood, nor is it a way station. It is a place people come when they’ve achieved plenty and aren’t aiming for anything else.

How They Live
Presidio Heights is a mostly residential neighborhood located adjacent to The Presidio and Laurel Heights. It’s a quiet, elegant place, close to shopping and dining but removed from the buzz of the city.

Wealth and grace
There are so many San Francisco neighborhoods to choose that will give you non-stop activity: tour buses rumbling through, streets jam-packed with revelers each weekend night, sidewalks teeming with tourists looking for the famous house from “Mrs. Doubtfire,” or “Vertigo.” Presidio Heights is not one of these places. Here, the locals live quietly, spending time strolling The Presidio or window shopping on Sacramento Street. Often they’re content to while away the hours behind the walls of their comfortable homes, cars stashed in their garages, children playing contentedly in the backyard. Presidio Heights residents live traditional lives and, while they appreciate that the bustle of busy Clement Street is within walking distance, they equally appreciate that the walk takes a full 10 minutes. These are people who’ve worked hard to get to this neighborhood. Now that they’re here, they’d like to enjoy themselves, thank you, and while maybe once that enjoyment meant being first in line for the newest cocktail bar opening, now it means something quieter and longer-lasting.

Housing Market
Presidio Heights is not Pacific Heights but its housing market is pretty similar. This neighborhood has more than its share of eight-figure homes, and inventory can be hard to come by.

High end
Presidio Heights isn’t Pacific Heights’ little brother, it’s Pacific Heights’ equal. It includes Presidio Terrace, a single circular drive that is arguably the city’s most exclusive address, and — inside Presidio Terrace and out — a good number of San Francisco’s most prominent historic homes. Presidio Heights is a place where eight-figure asking prices are not unusual and where the few sub-million dollar properties available are always one-bedroom condos. The “average” Presidio Heights home is larger than the city average and built sometime between 1900 and 1945. It sells for somewhere upwards of $2 million (the median list price for Presidio Heights single-family homes in October was well above $4 million) and has been remodeled many times during its lifetime, usually with an eye toward preserving its original details. This does not mean that Presidio Heights is completely without condos, flats and apartments. The Sacramento Street corridor has several multi-unit buildings. Apartments and flats in these command very high rents, guaranteeing that even those renting in Presidio Heights have done plenty of work to get there.

What To Expect
Expect a neighborhood similar to Pacific Heights but lacking its boldface reputation. Presidio Heights is rarified, but it’s low-key rarified.

A distinct place
Most of the people who’ve made it to Presidio Heights got there knowing what to expect. They came expecting beautiful, glorious (and often historic) mansions and large family homes brimming with original features and charm, and they were not disappointed. They expected a small but high quality number of local restaurants, and if they got tired of that limited selection they got adventurous and walked over to Clement Street, where restaurant options seem endless. They expect an excellent local independent K-8 school, Presidio Hill, which consistently sends students on to the city’s best high schools, plus an highly-rated public elementary school, Claire Lilienthal, and they expect to feel like they’ve stepped back in time whenever they set foot in the Standard 5 and 10. Jewish members of the neighborhood expect proximity to the city’s oldest reform synagogue, Temple Emanu-el. Everyone expects it to be easy to go to the doctor, given that two medical centers are adjacent to the neighborhood. Maybe in part for that reason, you can expect to find plenty of families in Presidio Heights. You can expect to see commuters in their cars, because buses and trains don’t go into Presidio Heights, and you can expect some fog, but not as much as you’ll find just a mile to the west. Expect a distinctive, affluent neighborhood. Don’t expect Pacific Heights lite.

What Not To Expect
Don’t expect entry-level homes, a glut of multi-unit buildings, bay views, an excess of dining options within the neighborhood, tour buses or a large population of young tech workers.

No cable cars here
Presidio Heights is a classic San Francisco neighborhood, but not the kind that appears on post cards. Don’t expect to find a wealth of colorful Victorian homes here. There are some, but they are vastly outnumbered by homes built after 1900. Don’t expect a thriving nightlife. If you want to sit down and hoist a few beverages, Geary Boulevard’s impressive roster of Irish bars beckons. Don’t expect entry-level condos. In Presidio Heights, even the studios and one-bedroom units have been tastefully redone and command impressive prices. Don’t expect to count on MUNI or BART. The nearest stations are miles away. The nearest tech bus stops are barely within walking distance, too. Don’t expect bay views unless you live on Pacific Avenue and then only maybe. Expect city views or views of The Presidio. Don’t expect newcomers to San Francisco to understand that Presidio Terrace is actually more exclusive than Pacific Heights, and finally, don’t expect your neighbors to be throwing a wild part at 2 AM on a Saturday, unless it’s catered and the governor was invited.

PERFECT FOR
Large, successful families, doctors, city dwellers who prefer to be removed from the action, fans of very large pre-war homes, remodelers, old money, Temple Emanu-el congregants, hikers, golfers, gardeners, casual pedestrians, business titans who prefer to stay under the radar.

NOT PERFECT FOR
Entry-level buyers, nightlife lovers, high-profile industrialists, nouveau riche who crave a Pacific Heights address, MUNI and BART commuters, swinging singles, anyone who simply must have a classic Victorian mansion, cable car riders, chain store enthusiasts, people who don’t need a large house with a backyard.

You’ll Fall In Love With
The concept of having reached the pinnacle of achievement without having the baggage of living in a world-famous neighborhood.

Early mornings in the Presidio, watching the fog pass beneath the Golden Gate Bridge; quiet nights dining at Spruce and low-key after-work drinks at Garibaldi’s; shopping at Laurel Village or getting adventurous and making the walk to Clement Street to window shop; losing a few hours at Green Apple Books; settling in for the evening with the family; starting the weekend with brunch in the back yard; finding the exact match for the oak bannister in the entry hall; taking in a movie at the Vogue Theater; knowing you’ll always find the perfect gift at one of the shops on Sacramento Street; feeling wistful watching parents drop their kindergarteners off at Presidio Hill; dropping your kindergartener off at Presidio Hill; feeling like you’ve found a secret, hidden enclave in which to spend your life.

Places to go

Spruce
Spruce
3640 Sacramento Street

80 percent of the ingredients fueling Spruce’s California-inspired menu come from the SMIP Ranch in Woodside, one reason for its impeccable reputation.

Sociale
Sociale
3665 Sacramento

Enter speakeasy-style, through a winding garden path, then settle in for seasonal Northern Italian fare.

Garibaldi’s
Garibaldi’s
347 Presidio Avenue

“The quintessential neighborhood restaurant” has been drawing locals to its American-Mediterranean menu for over 20 years.

Osteria
Osteria
3277 Sacramento

Comfortable and homey, this long-established Northern Italian restaurant is a casual alternative for Presidio Heights diners.

Nico
Nico
3228 Sacramento

A modern bistro whose rustic French theme offers a change of pace from Sacramento Street’s numerous Italian restaurants.

Swank Cocktail Club
Swank Cocktail Club
488 Presidio Avenue

Joie de Vivre’s Laurel Inn’s ground-floor cocktail lounge is, indeed, swanky, “serving style at any hour.”

Lion Pub
Lion Pub
2088 Divisadero Street

Almost hidden from the street, the Lion Pub is intimate and cozy, boasting fresh squeezed juice in their cocktails and a rarity: a fireplace.

Fishbowl
Fishbowl
1854 Divisadero Street

This Divisadero Street bar offers a change-of-pace from the rarified air of Presidio Heights: TVs, a jukebox and bowls of goldfish crackers on the bar.

The Plough and Stars
The Plough and Stars
116 Clement Street

One of the Inner Richmond’s many Irish bars, the Plough and Stars is a longtime favorite and center for live Irish music.

Sweet Things
Sweet Things
3585 California Street

Located inside Cal-Mart, this veteran (36 years) bakery continues to tempt shoppers with American-style pastries and desserts.

A.G. Ferrari Foods
3490 California

An update of the classic Italian deli, A.G. Ferrari has sandwiches, pasta, wine, tomatoes and sauces, sweets and gift ideas.

b. Patisserie
b. Patisserie
2821 California Street

Belinda Leong and Michel Suas bring their vision of a refined, modern “salon de the with an open pastry kitchen,” featuring French and American creations.

Glassy Baby
Glassy Baby
3665 Sacramento Street

This gift shop has a conscience;10 percent of each sale of its hand-blown votives results is given to a healing organization.

Mom’s the Word
Mom’s the Word
3385 Sacramento

“You are as diverse as you were before you became pregnant!” is the watchword at this high-fashion maternity shop.

Hudson Grace
Hudson Grace
3350 Sacramento

Everything about this high-end home store screams “class,” from its unique and beautiful inventory to its friendly and understated sales staff.

A Runner’s Mind
3575 Sacramento

Locally owned and serious about its task, A Runner’s Mind offers a sporty alternative to the chic boutiques of Sacramento Street.

Thos. Moser San Francisco Showroom
Thos. Moser San Francisco Showroom
3395 Sacramento

A Sacramento Street mainstay, Thos. Mosier creates sturdy, beautiful and timeless furniture designed to last for generations.

Julius Kahn Park
Julius Kahn Park
W. Pacific Avenue

One of San Francisco’s most extensive and complete playgrounds is just a short walk from the heart of Presidio Heights.

Presidio Golf Course
Presidio Golf Course
300 Finley Road

A national historic landmark since 1962, this 1910-designed course is as challenging and rewarding as it is beautiful.

Presidio Heights Playground
Presidio Heights Playground
Clay and Walnut Streets

A classic neighborhood playground, frequented by locals, offering children’s play area plus a sport court and a clubhouse.

Mighty Pilates
Mighty Pilates
3654 Sacramento Street

Mighty Pilates features a “unique workout that combines stretching, cardio and core strengthening.” Come in fatigued, leave mighty.

Jewish Community Center of San Francisco Fitness Center
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco Fitness Center
3200 California Street

A full-service gym with personal trainers, classes, all manner of equipment and nutrition consulting.

Synergy Fitness
Synergy Fitness
3556 Sacramento

Personal trainers, no membership fees, one of San Francisco’s most popular fitness studios since its 1995 founding.

Marilyn Jaeger Skin Studio
Marilyn Jaeger Skin Studio
3384 Sacramento Street

Step into Marilyn’s friendly, familiar, eco-friendly studio, where consistency, attention to detail and attentiveness are always in style.

Strand Salon
Strand Salon
409 Locust Street

Strand Salon aims to provide a comfortable, fun and relaxed environment for your experience with its expert stylists.

Patrick Richards Salon
Patrick Richards Salon
3631 Sacramento

Longtime Presidio Heights high-style boutique with a long roster of enthusiastically dedicated, loyal clients.

Vogue Theater
Vogue Theater
3290 Sacramento Street

Historic, single-screen theaters are a dying breed; fortunately, Presidio Heights has one of its own, screening classic and first-run films daily.

Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
3200 California Street

The center is a meeting place for groups and classes and offers a full and dynamic slate of cultural events year-round.

The Presidio
The Presidio

A few blocks north of Laurel Heights/Jordan Park is this former Army base, which is now a national park where miles of wooded trails are merely the tip of the iceberg.

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