The Richmond District

San Francisco Neighborhood

The Richmond District, though maybe not as hip as the more well-known districts of the City, is mostly residential but has other charming and interesting elements as well. The homes in this area range from turn-of-the-century Edwarians to the most modern of apartment complexes, oftentimes right next door to each other. If one looks closely, there are some of the last remaining earthquake cabins from 1906 nestled in the backs of and in between rows of houses. You may be surprised to learn that in the middle of this neighborhood stands the infamous Black House, a black and purple Victorian owned by the late Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, in which he performed rituals. This creepy dwelling, though quite dilapidated, may eventually become a recognized landmark.

The entire Richmond District is made up of the influences of many different cultures. A walk through it is a walk past the golden onion domes of the Russian Orthodox cathedral, Japanese animation shops, Mexican produce markets, and restaurants of every culture imaginable. Be forewarned that parking can be terrible, anywhere you go. Clement St. is an interesting, less-crowded alternative to Chinatown, with tons of stores offering inexpensive housewares and restaurants serving dim sum and other authentic, delicious Asian fare. Towards Arguello Blvd, Clement has trendy restaurants and boutiques, as well as a great independent record store, Flat Plastic Sound.

On Geary Blvd., Mel's Diner is a fun, 50's-themed restaurant that is open till early in the morning. Interesting bars line Geary Blvd, including Irish pubs like Ireland's 32, Pat O'Shea's Mad Hatter, and the Blarney Stone. A favorite of the college-aged crowds is Trader Sam's, a tiki bar. Though it's Polynesian decorations are a bit cheesy, they are fun and the drinks are killer, and come with little paper umbrellas. Geary Blvd ends with Ocean Beach -- much nicer to look at than to swim in.

The historic Cliff House restaurant overlooks the ocean, and the Penny Arcade and Sutro Park are nice places to visit while in the area. The Beach Chalet is an historical building located on the Great Highway and houses gorgeous 30's San Francisco-themed murals and an upscale restaurant upstairs with an unobstructed view of the beach. Adjacent to the Inner Richmond, Sea Cliff area houses many well-known San Francisco names, including Robin Williams. The homes are huge and beautiful and some overlook China Beach, a lovely historically-recognized beach. Many people visiting SF don't take the time to explore the less-famous districts. You may be surprised at what you could discover in the good old Richmond District. (Props out to Guest Writer Jamie)

To get there, take Geary Street about 5 miles west. Eventually you'll get to the ocean and a great beach -- Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach is way too cold to swim though, even on the hottest August day. Lake Street leads to the wealthy SeaCliff neighborhood where many cool houses are. Not a lot for tourists to do here, except for the alternative Chinatown scene. There are some neat places where you can cook your own food at the table -- lot's of fun. Another interesting attraction is the part of the Presidio within the Richmond district. It includes Baker Beach, which is a great and warm beach in the summer. The end of Baker Beach is a nude area and worth a curiousity walk down the beach. It is mostly a gay crowd hangout.

"I was born and raised in the Richmond District, as was my mother and grandmother. One taking even a short walk through the Richmond would see beautiful Edwardians and blocks of houses, each one different from the one next door. A walk down Geary Boulevard is a walk through the influences of many different cultures -- Irish, Chinese, Russian -- more than can be named! You mention Clement St as pretty much the only interesting part of the Richmond. How about Sutro Park, the Penny Arcade, and the Cliff House? These sights are right next to Ocean Beach. The Richmond District has a rich heritage, one in which I am proud to be a part." (J.K)

Recommended Japantown Hotels - Hotel Kabuki and Hotel Tomo