With steep streets sloping up a rocky hillside to Bernal Summit, Bernal Heights boasts some of the most impressive views of the San Francisco skyline. The neighborhood is located south of the Mission District, bordered by San Jose Avenue to the west, Cesar Chavez Street to the north, and the major highways of US 101 and I-280 to the east and south respectively.
Bernal Heights’ real estate is in incredibly high demand, with Business Insider calling it the hottest neighborhood in the United States. Homes here are an attractive mix of bright Victorians, quaint rustic cottages, and remodelled early-20th Century properties.
Much recent demand for Bernal Heights homes has come from workers in San Francisco’s booming tech and financial service industries. But there are also many residents who’ve lived here much longer, and newer arrivals tend to be attracted by the strong sense of pride in the local community. Despite its convenient central location, Bernal Heights is tucked away in an area with no need for traffic to pass through the neighborhood on route to other areas. This creates a closed-in sense of small town homeliness, with all the convenience of being within minutes of Downtown SF.
Bernal Heights is bisected by Cortland Avenue, a bustling commercial strip lined with chic cafes, good restaurants, small markets and butchers, and beauty salons. Local highlights include the Portuguese-style Cafe St. Jorge, known for serving some of the city’s best toast and other brunch items. The charming Harvest Hills Market is a beloved corner store specializing in natural and organic produce. The local nightlife is similarly full of character, with long-established bars serving quality drinks to a diverse clientele.
Alemany Farmers’ Market takes place in a southeastern corner of the neighborhood, with the same space used for a flea market each Sunday. Established in 1947, Alemany is one of the longest-running farmers’ markets in the United States.
Bernal Heights streets are among the steepest in the world, with a gradient of up to 41%. It’s well worth making the effort to traverse these steep streets to Bernal Summit, which offers incredible panoramic views over the city and Bay and out to the Golden Gate Bridge. There is also a remarkable mini-ecosystem at the summit, with an abundance of native north coast wildflowers and wildlife that includes raptors, racoons, skunks, and coyotes. Amenities include an off-leash dog park and a one-mile running and walking track circling the park.
Other green space includes Precita Park and Holly Park, located on either side of the hill. Precita Park is known for its Precita Eyes art mural.
Bernal Heights’ strong sense of community is celebrated in the Fiesta on the Hill celebration each October.
Bernal Heights is zoned to San Francisco Unified School District.
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