Where to stay in San Francisco [Best Places to Stay in 2024]

golden gate bridge view, san francisco

San Francisco, a unique West Coast destination, offers a variety of accommodations from hostels to luxury hotels. With excellent public transportation and a walkable environment, it’s a must-visit destination for West Coast travelers.

When choosing where to stay in San Francisco in 2024, consider factors like access to public transportation, parking, and safety. The best places to stay in San Francisco include Hostels, luxury hotels, and places to visit.

This San Francisco neighborhood guide provides a comprehensive guide to the best areas to stay in San Francisco, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

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Fisherman’s Wharf – Best place to stay in San Francisco for First Timers

If you like to stay in the heart of the tourist district, be close to the main attractions and don’t mind crowds or higher prices (during peak season), then I’d recommend staying in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco.

Especially if you only have a short time to visit and want to hit the highlights. You can walk right on to any number of boat tours, including Alcatraz, enjoy street food and fresh chowder, followed by chocolate sundaes at Ghirardelli Square. And, because of this, this area is the best place to stay for first time visitors and tourists.

Below Are Some Hotels in Fisherman’s Wharf:

My Top Pick
Hotel Zephyr San Francisco

Hotel Zephyr San Francisco

  • Onsite mini-market
  • Great for families, including a games room

Below are some hostels and hotels in Fisherman’s Wharf to consider based on my research:

SAN FRANCISCO - : Visitors flock to Pier 39 at San Francisco Fishermans Wharf renowned for its varied attractions, shops and seafood.

Union Square – Where to stay in San Francisco with Family

Union Square is the transit hub of San Francisco, and makes an excellent home base for your visit. With so many transit options, including the famous cable cars, Union Square is a great place to stay in San Francisco with family because you can get to other parts of the city quite easily.

Union Square is also San Francisco’s main shopping district, with plenty of restaurants, nightlife spots and galleries to choose from as well. You’ll find a lot of brand name hotels and department stores within the surrounding areas on Union Square.

To see the manual cable car turnaround, one of the city’s most coolest sights, head to the intersection of Powell and Market streets (the kids will love it!).

Below Are Some Hotels in Union Square:

My Top Pick
citizenM San Francisco Union Square

citizenM San Francisco Union Square

  • Small rooms but very comfortable
  • Smart (tech) hotel
  • Centralised hotel

Below are some hostels and hotels in Union Square to consider based on my research:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA : Aerial view to Macy's flagship store on Union Square at night in San Francisco, CA, USA.

Nob Hill – Where to stay in San Francisco on a budget

Adjacent to Chinatown is San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood, best known as an area of wealth, with someof the best luxury hotels in San Fransicsco, located here. In the Gold Rush days, Nob Hill was lined with mansion, mainly for the “Big Four railroad barons” which have now been converted into luxury hotels.

Nob Hill is a great place to stay if you want a quiet neighborhood with tree-lined streets, Victorian homes and lots of green space. This the place most people stay in San Francisco with a car and it offers plenty of restaurants and nightspots.

While the area is known for its wealth and luxury, there are still plenty of budget options, with my favorite hostel “Amsterdam Hostel” is located. There are roughly 24 other budget hotels and hostels within the area.

The is the best part of about staying in Nob Hill is the fact that you can take any of the 3 lines to get to North Beach, Fishermans Wharf, Russian Hill, Polk, Union Square, and many other places within San Fran.

Below Are Some Hotels in Nob Hill:

My Top Pick
Amsterdam Hostel in San Francisco

Amsterdam Hostel

  • Dorm & private rooms
  • Bathroom in dorms room

Below are some hostels and hotels in Nob Hill to consider based on my research:

, San Francisco, CA, USA: A view of San Francisco and Bay Bridge from Nob Hill.

North Beach – Where to stay in San Francisco for Foodies

North Beach is San Francisco’s Italian heritage neighborhood, and even if you don’t stay here, you’ll definitely want to eat here at least once! North Beach is less touristy than some of the other areas of San Francisco, but still offers a lot of things to do.

The are dozens of authentic Italian restaurants in the area as well as plenty of eclectic cafes, boutiques with great views of the city. Nearby attractions include Lombard Street, Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower.

At night, the bars and clubs of North Beach attract parties from all over, so if you are looking for late nights, North Beach is a great place to stay in San Francisco.

Want to grab a drink and relax at a quirky (and cool!) place? Grab a cocktail at Moongate or a drink at Specs Twelve or even at Comstock Saloon.

Below Are Some Hotels in North Beach:

My Top Pick
Fairmont San Francisco

Fairmont San Francisco

  • Panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge
  • 3 cable car lines meet at the hotel

Below are some hostels and hotels in North Beach to consider based on my research:

High-angle view of San Francisco skyline at Lombard Street toward San Francisco Bay in downtown North Beach community showing Fisherman's Wharf and Coit Tower.

The Castro District – Best place to stay in San Francisco for nightlife

San Francisco has long been a leader in the LGBTQ+ scene, so you will find most neighborhoods accepting, however if you want to stay in the heart of the gay scene with it’s rainbow-flag lined streets, consider staying in the Castro district when you visit San Francisco.

There are plenty of restaurants and bars in the Castro District, as well as a GLBT Historic Museum. With the F-Line streetcars, you’ll have easy access to other areas, like Fisherman’s Wharf and other areas of San Fran.

My favorite nightlife spots are (you don’t have to be gay to visit these bars – they are accepting of everyone):

Below Are Some Hotels in Castro district:

My Top Pick
Beck's Motor Lodge

Beck’s Motor Lodge

  • Great for singles, couples or families
  • Good water pressure in the shower

Below are some hotels in Castro district to consider based on my research:

Aerial view Castro District in Eureka Valley neighborhood flying LGBT pride flag near street intersection. Famous town in San Francisco, California, synonymous gay culture, historic Victorian houses

SoMa – Best place to stay in San Francisco for Tourists

SoMa, or South of Market, encompasses Mission Bay and South Beach, is a foodie heaven in San Francisco. This waterfront area has a number of attractions, making it a great place to stay in San Francisco for tourists.

There a few museums located here, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Yerba Buena Gardens. SoMa is also well known with Baseball fans as this is where the San Francisco Giants play at Oracle Park (previously AT&T Park).

SoMa is located within walking distance of Union Square, making it perfect for tourists wanting a centralized area.

There are a few upscale dining options all over SoMa, as well as high-energy nightclubs to close out the night. Mission District, right next door, offers more dining options for all budgets.

Below Are Some Hotels in SoMa:

My Top Pick
The St. Regis San Francisco

The St. Regis San Francisco

  • Real luxury
  • Amazing staff
  • 1mile to Oracle Park & 8 min walk to Union Square

Below are some hotels in SoMa to consider based on my research:

Yerba Buena park in San Francisco CA

Embarcadero – Where to stay in San Francisco with kids

Another fun waterfront neighborhood in San Francisco is the Embarcadero. This area runs from the Fisherman’s Wharf to North Beach and is home to the Ferry Building which is now a destination food market.

Embarcadero is a popular place for morning joggers, thanks in part due to the stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

From several piers in the Embarcadero, you can hop a boat tour or a ferry to Alcatraz, or visit the Exploratorium, the Museum of Science and Art.

For a fun, central location with slightly fewer tourists than Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero is a great place to stay in San Francisco.

Below Are Some Hotels in Embarcadero:

My Top Pick
Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero

Four Seasons Hotel at Embarcadero

  • Amazing bay views
  • Onsite yoga classes
  • Spacious rooms

Below are some hostels and hotels in Embarcadero to consider based on my research:

SAN FRANCISCO - The historic Ferry Building and Marketplace at the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco was opened in 1898. At the time it was the second busiest transit terminal in the world.

Areas to avoid in San Francisco

San Francisco’s western Tenderloin, known as “Little Saigon,” is a area known for violence and homelessness, particularly in the area between Turk and O’Farrell. The fentanyl crisis is a significant issue in this area, and tourists should avoid engaging with the homeless and staying far away to avoid random attacks.

To avoid these issues, tourists should avoid Tenderloin between Nob Hill and Union Square. Additionally, they should be more cautious at night when walking through Union Square, SoMo, and the Financial District.

If something doesn’t feel right, leave the area or walk into a store or restaurant, don’t walk down dark alleys at night alone and overall common sense should be used.

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  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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