Welcome to San Francisco’s Bernal Heights Neighborhood: An Enchanted Hidden Gem
This neighborhood was originally part of Rancho de las Salinas y Potrero Nuevo district and in the 1860s, it was subdivided into small lots. Bernal Heights is named after Jose Cornelio de Bernal who was given the land by the Mexican Government in 1839. The first settlers of this area were Irish immigrant farmers and dairy ranchers.
Because of its bedrock foundation, the subdivisions survived the great earthquake and fires of 1906! Many homes were constructed with the remaining wreckage and provided to those who had lost their homes during the disaster. People flocked to Bernal Heights to obtain residence directly after the earthquake – especially those that still had jobs remaining. Forty years later, an influx of individuals working in the naval shipyards of nearby China Basin during World War II also moved into Bernal Heights.
Then, in the 1980’s, Bernal Heights was feared as a dangerous neighborhood and was avoided by most. Cortland Avenue was cleaned up in the early 90s when the Good Life Grocery, the Liberty Cafe, and other small businesses moved there.
Today, Bernal Heights is an artsy, homey community focused on embracing its eclectic past and protecting its future by maintaining the local culture. There is lots to do in this quaint urban mecca: amazing parks, local boutiques, restaurants, bars, and shopping.
- Bernal Heights Park-perched on top of Bernal Hill. Hike to the top of the “summit” to enjoy amazing views of the surrounding neighborhoods: Noe Valley, The Mission, China Basin, Marin, downtown, and the Golden Gate Bridge. You can also bring your pooches and let them off of their leashes to roam free with the others.
- Holly Park-one of the city’s oldest green spaces. Recently renovated by the community to include a wonderful playground, picnic area, tennis and basketball courts.
- Precita Park-new and improved reputation-with a nice playground and picnic area.
- Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema-showcases local filmmakers at free screenings in September and October.
- Bernal Heights Public Library-check out the awesome mural on the outside wall and then check out some books.
- Bernal Heights Hill-Wide Garage Sale and Bernal Heights Fiesta on the Hill: two great annual fun-filled events where the proceeds benefit the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.
- Alemany Farmer’s Market – or more affectionately known as “the people’s market” – open rain or shine every Saturday from dawn til dusk.
- Blue Plate – comfort food with a twist! Their menu is constantly praised f0r its eclectic combinations of fresh and seasonal fare.
- Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack – If you are looking for a hip, happening restaurant with some amazing food, ambiance, and customer service, look no further – Emmy’s has you covered.
- Zante Pizza & Indian Cuisine – for when you can’t decide if you want pizza or Indian – Zante’s has the best of both worlds!
Click here for all of the other wonderful eateries in SF’s Bernal Heights neighborhood.
- Alemany Flea Market – Every Sunday from 8:00am-3:00pm – go early to grab up the goods! 100 Alemany Blvd., at the intersection of Highway 101 and Interstate 280, (415) 647-2043
- Bernal Beast – for all of the pet enthusiasts in Bernal Heights, this pet mecca has everything you could want for your furry, feathered, fishy or reptilian friends! Order online or visit the store.
- Heartfelt – This quirky gift shop is sure to please.
- El Rio – a comfortable dive bar with a patio, live music and salsa dancing many nights.
- Wild Side West – a prominent LBGTQ hang out, founded by a lesbian couple in the 1960s – truly a SF staple of the Bernal Heights neighborhood. Enjoy the local ambiance and eclectic mix of patrons.
San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood is truly still an “undiscovered” gem. If you want to truly live like a local, the charm and coziness of this area will allow you to do just that.