SoMa, short for South of Market, is San Francisco's urban renewal district and an extension of downtown San Francisco, with brand new condominiums, office buildings, and a thriving club scene, the result of real estate speculation and the Bay Area's technology sector. Some of the city's newest attractions can be found here, including several museums, the convention center, and the ballpark for the San Francisco Giants, which has only furthered the gentrification of the area. The neighborhood is bordered roughly by Market Street on the northwest, the 101 Freeway (from Market Street to I-80) and 16th Street (from 101 to the San Francisco Bay) on the south, and the San Francisco Bay on the east.
Once home to warehouses and dilapidated Victorian houses, SoMa saw an artistic and club culture revival in the 1980s. By the time of the Internet boom of the 1990s, the "live-work" buildings of this area had become prime real estate, and the artists and musicians who had made it cool could no longer afford the sky-high rentals.
With the burst of the dot.com bubble, SoMa has become somewhat more affordable, but has also lost many of the businesses that made the area attractive during the boom. Some of the best clubs are still in SoMa, but a taxi is recommended for getting around, especially after dark as some areas are still a bit dangerous.
Being at the San Francisco end of the Bay Bridge and the heart of San Francisco's public transit network, there are extensive transit options to this district.
Bordered by Market Street on its northwest side, SoMa is within easy walking distance of all MUNI Metro lines and the several BART lines which run under Market Street. Running on Market Street is the F-Line Streetcar which stops frequently on its route from the Castro to the Ferry Building, then north on the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf.
Additionally, the MUNI Metro T-Third and N-Judah lines emerge from the Market Street subway and travel through the SoMa district, stopping at a few places along the Embarcadero south of Market, including Oracle Park. The N line stops at the Caltrain station, while the T line continues south down 3rd Street into Southeast San Francisco.
MUNI offers extensive bus service through SoMa, with nearly every street having a bus line of some sort. Routes 10-Townsend, 12-Folsom/Pacific, 30-Stockton, 45-Union/Stockton and 47-Van Ness are the best bets for getting down from the neighborhoods to the north, like Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf. Routes 1-California, 5-Fulton, 6-Haight/Parnassus, 38-Geary and 7-Haight/Noriega are some of the best for getting in from eastern neighborhoods like The Avenues, while routes 9-San Bruno, 12-Folsom/Pacific, 14-Mission, and 27-Bryant come up from Southern San Francisco through the Mission district.
Nearly all intercity bus service into San Francisco runs into the Transbay Terminal in SoMa, including Megabus, Flixbus, Cabin, Greyhound, MUNI, and various other Bay Area transit services (AC Transit, samTrans, Golden Gate Transit[dead link], and WestCAT). It's on Beale, between Mission and Howard, a short walk to Market Street and Embarcadero Station. It's big, spanning all the way to 2nd Street.
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which is part of Interstate Highway 80, offers a direct connection from the cities of the East Bay area (such as Oakland) to SoMa. After getting into San Francisco, any of the first three exits (Fremont/Folsom, 5th Street, 8th Street) will lead you into SoMa before I-80 terminates at US-101.
From the south, there are two freeways running into SoMa: I-280 dead ends near the Caltrain Station - stay in the right lanes to get onto 6th Street, or stay in the left lanes to get onto King Street and past the Caltrain Station and Oracle Park. US-101 comes up from the south to merge into I-80, where you can get off onto I-80 and take one of the two eastbound exits into SoMa, or stay on US-101 (stay in the left lanes) and exit at 9th Street or Mission Street before the freeway terminates at Market Street (US-101 continues north as Van Ness Avenue).
SoMa is also well-connected to other San Francisco neighborhoods by surface streets. From the north, The Embarcadero is the best one for getting down from Fisherman's Wharf, while Van Ness Avenue is the best for getting from the Golden Gate area. Between those two are a number of other major thoroughfares, such as Montgomery, Stockton and Hyde Streets, which will also do nicely. From the south and southwest, 3rd Street, Mission Street and Market Street all work well.
Parking here, as anywhere else in San Francisco, can be a challenge, but there a number of parking garages in the district, including a large one at Mission between Fifth and Fourth streets for the Moscone Center. People driving to a Giants game are advised to park at the large parking lot along 3rd Street just south of Oracle Park, just across the canal.
In addition to the regular ferry service provided to the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street in the adjacent Financial District, two ferry companies offer special ferry service to Giants home games at Oracle Park: Golden Gate Ferry from Larkspur, and San Francisco Bay Ferry from Alameda, Oakland, and Vallejo.
- 1 Moscone Center, 747 Howard St, ☏ . Stretching across adjacent two full blocks between Mission, Folsom, 3rd and 4th Streets (with another building across the street at 4th and Howard), Moscone Center is a major convention center and entertainment complex with a variety of attractions. As a convention center, the Moscone Center houses major exhibits and conventions, including a number of major (especially IDG) expos that occur each year, including Apple Computer-related expos such as Macworld and Apple's WWDC, and LinuxWorld. The main entrance to the Moscone Convention Center is on Howard St. (on both side of the street) in between 3rd and 4th Sts., and the Center is divided into Moscone North, between Howard and Mission Sts., and Moscone South, between Howard and Folsom Sts. Moscone North and Moscone South is connected at the lower level underneath Howard St.; Moscone West is not connected to Moscone North or Moscone South.
- 2 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St (at 3rd), ☏ . W Su noon–6PM, Th-Sa and first Tu of each month noon–8PM. An interesting venue for local contemporary artists. Rotating exhibits, performances, and film screenings. $10 adults, $8 seniors/students, free on the first Tuesday of each month.
- 3 Yerba Buena Gardens, ☏ . 6AM-10PM daily. The Yerba Buena Gardens, above the Moscone Convention Center, provide a nice urban oasis. A large grassy meadow, a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr., play places for kids, fountains and gardens make this a great place to come, play and relax. Free.
- 4 Children's Creativity Museum, 221 4th St (at Howard), ☏ . Tu-Su 10AM-4PM. An arts and technology museum geared towards kids and families, centered on giving visitors a chance to produce animation, video, sound, performance visual arts, and more. $12.95; free under age 2.
- 6 SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St (at 8th), ☏ . Tu-F noon-7PM, Sa noon–5PM. A locally focused contemporary art venue and public garden. Rotating monthly exhibits, performances, and film screenings. Free.
- 7 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), 151 3rd St (across the street from the Yerba Buena Gardens), ☏ . F-M 10AM-5PM, Th 1PM-8PM. A gigantic and innovative art museum with multiple floors of galleries featuring changing exhibitions as well as permanent displays featuring the works of some very famous 20th century artists, including Georgia O'Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and many others. $25 adults, $22 seniors, $19 for ages 19-24, free for age 18 and under.
- 8 Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission St (between New Montgomery and 3rd), ☏ . Tu-Su 11AM-5PM. A unique museum dedicated to cartoon art in all its forms. $8 adults, $6 students/seniors, $4 children, age 5 and under free.
- 9 California Historical Society Museum, 678 Mission St (between New Montgomery and 3rd), ☏ . Tu 11AM-8PM, W-Sa 11AM-5PM, Su closed. Changing exhibitions showing the history of the state. $5, children free.
- 10 Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St (inside the St. Regis Hotel), ☏ . W-Sa 11AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. A museum dedicated to the diaspora of Africans. $10 adults, $5 seniors/students, children 12 and under free.
- 11 Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St (between Third and Fourth streets), ☏ . F-Tu 11AM-5PM, Th 11AM-8PM, W closed. Dedicated to Jewish history, art, and culture. $12 adults, $10 seniors/students, free for youth 18 and under (Thursdays after 5PM: $5 for all visitors, still free for children 18 and under).
- 12 Museum of Performance & Design, 893B Folsom St (at 5th Street), ☏ , [email protected]. Exhibition hours vary. The museum is dedicated to celebrating all aspects of the performing arts in San Francisco, from the mid 19th century to the present day. It hosts exhibitions and lectures by leading artists to encourage an appreciation of the diversity of the performing arts. Free.
- 13 South Park, along Park Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets. This is a charming quiet park in the middle of the hustle and bustle of industrial SoMa. Eat at any of the small restaurants around the edges, they are all pretty good. Not very nice at night since homeless use the park to sleep.
- 14 Treasure Island. An artificial island half-way between San Francisco and Oakland connected to Yerba Buena Island which the Bay Bridge passes through. The island has excellent views of the San Francisco and Oakland skylines and quirky structures from the international fairground turned-navy base-turned neighborhood. Accessible by Muni bus line 25 from the Transbay Terminal in SoMa. If you travel by car, there is no toll between Treasure Island and the rest of San Francisco.
- 15 Luggage Store Gallery, 1007 Market St (at 6th St), ☏ , [email protected]. W-Sa noon-5PM. They organize exhibitions, performing arts events, arts education, and public art programs in order to encourage and facilitate the flow of artistic ideas between the different cultural and socio-economic stratums in society. They also host exhibits at the Luggage Store Annex (a.k.a. 509 Cultural Center) at 509 Ellis Street (near Leavenworth St). Free.
- 1 San Francisco Giants - Oracle Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza (at Third and King Streets), ☏ . One of the building projects that revitalized this area, the stadium is an imposing brick edifice that has all the necessary modern amenities, such as beer and Wi-Fi. It looks out upon San Francisco Bay, which makes a fine backdrop for those home runs that splash into McCovey Cove. Except for days when there is an afternoon home game, public tours of the ballpark are available at 10:30AM and 12:30PM. Giants tickets range from $10 to over $100, depending on section and date of game. Ballpark tours $22 adults, $17 seniors, $12 children.
- 2 Golden State Warriors - Chase Center, 1 Warriors Way (at Third and 16th Streets). The opening of the 2019 NBA season saw the Golden State Warriors return to San Francisco after playing for nearly 50 years across the Bay in Oakland. The new arena includes all of the amenities expected of a 21st-century arena, plus Bay views.
- 3 City Kayak, Pier 40, South Beach Harbor (at Beach St and the Embarcadero), ☏ , [email protected]. Th-M noon-3PM (return by 5PM), Tu-W closed. Enjoy the many great views of San Francisco from the water. They offer kayak rentals from South Beach Harbor in San Francisco but only kayak trips from Fisherman's Wharf location. A 'trip' comes with a guide. Rental rates depend on kayak and length of session.
- 4 Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission St (between 5th and Mary Sts), ☏ . An alternative art organization that has premiered works by noted authors such as Dave Eggers and world-class playwrights such as Denis Johnson. The resident theater group, Campo Santo, is very good. The space also has an art gallery.
- 5 Yerba Buena Bowling Center, 750 Folsom St (between 3rd and 4th), ☏ . Su-M 10AM-9PM, Tu-Th 10AM-10PM, F-Sa 10AM-midnight. Bowling alley. Walk-in game $5.50-7, depending on time.
- 6 Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center, 750 Folsom St (between 3rd and 4th), ☏ . Hours vary; check schedule. The only permanent indoor ice skating rink in San Francisco, and perhaps the most beautiful, with floor-to-ceiling windows giving a superb panoramic view of the surrounding area. Open year-round. Check the Ice Center schedule online for public skating hours. $10 adults, $8 children/seniors, children 5 and under/military $6. Skate rental extra $4.
- Dore Alley. This street hosts the Up Your Alley Fair, the warm up event for the famous Folsom Street Fair. Held the last Sunday in July, this preview is smaller, wilder, and more local, but no less crowded and just as fun.
- 7 The Folsom Street Fair. This annual event, held on the last Sunday in September, features Leather, Bondage, Rubber and other Fetish and BDSM activities. Stretching over a mile you will find wall-to-wall dance clubs, bands, and booths where you can shop for a whip or learn about safe sex. It started out as an underground event to protest the gentrification of SoMa. It is organized by a non-profit to raise funds for many SF area charities. It's the third largest outdoor event in California. With a suggested donation is $5, it's quite a bargain today.
- 1 Alexander Book Co., 50 2nd St (between Stevenson and Jessie), ☏ . M-F 9AM-6PM. A large independent bookstore with three floors of thousands of new books.
- 2 General Bead, 637 Minna St (between 7th and 8th), ☏ . Tu-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Thousands of beads and bead-based products for any bead and jewelry lover.
- 3 Metreon, 135 4th St (at Mission), ☏ . 11AM–7PM daily. This mall/entertainment complex has some interesting shops and a 15-screen movie theater with an IMAX screen. A food court on the lower level serves the convention area and is overwhelmed during lunch hours of the major conventions. The space is next to Target.
- 4 Podesta Baldocchi, 1 Saint Francis Pl (of 3rd St between Harrison St and Folsom St), ☏ . M-F 7:30AM-5PM, Sa 8AM-2PM. A charming and long-standing floral shop.
- 5 Rincon Center, 101 Spear St (between Mission and Howard near the Embarcadero), ☏ . This is mostly for dining but there are also many shops here as well.
- 6 Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market St (between 4th and 5th), ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-8:30PM, Su 11AM-7PM. This massive nine-floor Westfield-owned complex contains around 400 shops and restaurants, including some upscale places. Anchors for the mall include a Bloomingdale's, a Nordstorm, a Bristol Farms grocery, and a movie theater.
In addition to the numerous restaurants listed below, there are also food courts in the Metreon and the Westfield San Francisco Centre, both of which are large and offer a variety of restaurants; although in the case of the Metreon, be sure to avoid the food court during lunch hours of any major convention, when the lines for each restaurant will get very long.
- 1 Reds Java House, Pier 30 (on the Embarcadero near the Bay Bridge), ☏ . Have the hamburger, fries and Lagunitas IPA combo.
- 2 21st Amendment, 563 2nd St (between Bryant and Brannan), ☏ . M-Tu 11:30AM-9:30PM, W-Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 10AM-9:30PM. Good "California-style microbrew" beers. Classic brew pub-grub - burgers, fish, some salads. The Jerk Chicken is excellent. Full menu and images are online. Great place to have drinks before or after a Giants game.
- 3 Delancey Street Restaurant, 600 Embarcadero St, ☏ . Tu-F 11AM-11PM, Sa-Su 10AM-11PM. It's not just a restaurant, it's a training school for the Delancey Street Foundation - an organization that helps people rebuild their lives from scratch. Nice backdrop of the San Francisco Bay and cheap eats to boot.
- 4 Hidive, Pier 28 (on the Embarcadero near the Bay Bridge), ☏ . This is where SoMa residents go for quick meetings and meals. You can also find decent food here to go along with the great waterfront views.
- 5 Manora's Thai Cuisine, 1600 Folsom St (at 12th), ☏ , fax: . Lunch M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner M-Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM, Su 5PM-10PM. A favorite Thai place among locals, they serve up a great Pad Thai and Thai soups.
- 6 South Park Cafe, 108 South Park St (at Jack London Alley between 2nd and 3rd), ☏ , [email protected]. Lunch M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner Tu-Sa 5:30PM-10PM.
- 7 Thirsty Bear Brewing Company, 661 Howard St (1/2 block from Moscone Center), ☏ , fax: . M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F 11:30AM-11PM, Sa noon-11PM, Su 5PM-10PM. Brewpub meets tapas bar. Good beer brewed in-house, from very light lagers through a nice Kozlov Stout. One or two brews on nitrogen. Very good small-plate food with a Mediterranean/Spanish flair. Tuesday is cask-ale night - beer served from traditional wood cask instead of modern steel - while it lasts, which usually isn't very long.
- 8 Yank Sing, 101 Spear St (in the Rincon Center near the Embarcadero), ☏ . M-F 11AM-3PM, Sa Su 10AM-4PM. This is the place for dim sum, and thus you might need to wait 30 minutes (at most) to have a table. You do not need a menu to order your food; the staff lets you choose what you want to eat from carts pushed around from the dining room. The shrimp, dumplings, and duck here are delicious. The setting of the restaurant is also wonderful.
- 1 83 Proof, 83 1st St (between Elim St & Mission St), ☏ . This narrow lounge sits precariously between a Walgreens and a Wachovia. Friendly bartenders will concoct any type of drink you desire, which makes it great for a quick, after-work drink or late-night cocktails. 83 Proof is also well-suited to group outings with its cozy atmosphere and chill vibe. Along with the DJ, weekend nights can get pretty loud sometimes.
- 2 City Beer Store & Tasting Bar, 1168 Folsom St (between Hallam St and Langton St), ☏ . Tu-Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-6PM. Your best bet for beer to go.
- 3 District, 216 Townsend St (between 3rd and 4th), ☏ . Old furniture store converted to the latest wine-bar in SoMa.
- 4 Hotel Utah Saloon, 500 4th St (at Bryant), ☏ . M-F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa Su 1PM-2AM. Popular brewery.
- 5 Press Club, 20 Yerba Buena Ln (between Market St & Mission St), ☏ . This bar focuses on wine, with some of the finest from the nearby Wine Country. Sneak a peek at the wine cellar, and don't be surprised if you're super critical of the next glass of wine you drain outside the Press Club. Be prepared, however, to put a dent in your credit card or wallet by the end of the night.
Many of San Francisco's best dance clubs are in SoMa.
- 6 1015, 1015 Folsom St (at Harriet between 6th and 7th), ☏ . Lines all night outside during the weekend. A twenty-something meat market.
- 7 The Cat Club, 1190 Folsom St (at 8th), ☏ . Thursday is 80s night where you're guaranteed to hear at least one Madonna song throughout the night. $6 cover.
- 8 DNA Lounge, 375 11th St (near Folsom), ☏ . The DNA Lounge is a 2-story club which often caters to the geekier "digerati" crowd. One of the founders is Jamie Zawinski, a former Netscape superstar and Internet nabob. Events feature themed electronica dance nights (Industrial, Techno, Trance, etc.) and live bands. There is usually a cover between $3 and $25 (for the bands).
- 9 The End Up, 401 6th St (at Harrison), ☏ . An SF institution. Essentially doesn't close on the weekend, and thus where people 'end up'. Great old school SF house music. Unexpected outdoor patio/waterfall space to chill.
- 10 Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St (at Mint, between 5th and 6th), ☏ . Where all the shirtless buff gay boys go. Great sound system. If you like cheesy techno and disco diva wailing music, this is the place.
- 11 The Stud, 399 9th St (at Harrison), ☏ . Fun semi-dingy club. Don't miss Trannyshack, Tuesdays at midnight. Very worth the sleep deprivation at work the next day.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Mid-range||$100 - 199|
|Splurge||$200 and over|
- 1 Carriage Inn, 140 7th St (at Minna), ☏ , fax: . $169–189.
- 2 Mosser Hotel, 54 4th St (between Stevenson and Jessie), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , [email protected]. Nice, clean hotel with small rooms but a great location.
- 3 Pickwick Hotel, 85 5th St (at Mission, a block from the Convention Center), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. A historic hotel with very nice guestrooms and flexible meeting space.
- 4 Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market St (between 8th St and 9th St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. This is a 460 room historic boutique hotel. An elegant, opulent building, it was first used as a temporary city hall after the 1906 earthquake. Italian marble, Austrian chandeliers, and a short walk to the Symphony/Opera and the Asian Art Museum. It also has a piano bar/wine bar. $89-109.
- 5 The Clancy (Marriot Autograph Collection), 299 2nd St (at Folsom), ☏ , fax: . A Marriot with all the amenities that generally come with it. $200–250.
- 6 Four Seasons Hotel, 757 Market St (between 3rd and 4th), ☏ . Very high-end hotel. Beautiful art collection, and extensive sports club with fitness facilities and spa.
- 7 Harbor Court Hotel, 165 Steuart St (between Mission and Howard), ☏ , fax: . A waterfront boutique hotel on the Embarcadero, across from the San Francisco Ferry Building, with views onto San Francisco Bay. $230–280.
- 8 Hotel Griffon, 155 Steuart St (between Mission and Howard), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. A comparatively smaller hotel with small but very comfy rooms and good service.
- 9 InterContinental Hotel, 888 Howard St (at 5th), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A translucent cool-blue tower that doubles as a city landmark.
- 10 Marriott Marquis, 55 4th St (between Stevenson and Mission), ☏ , fax: . Convention center hotel across the street from the Moscone Center.
- 11 The Palace Hotel, 2 New Montgomery St (at Market), ☏ , fax: . Established in 1875, the Palace has 552 guest rooms. In 1945, the official banquet honoring the opening session of the United Nations was held in The Garden Court at The Palace.
- 12 St. Regis Hotel, 125 3rd St (between Mission and Minna), ☏ . A historic and very upscale hotel with a spa, butler service, and on-site restaurant.
- 13 W Hotel, 181 3rd St (at Howard), toll-free: . Another major convention center hotel, with lots of amenities and very nice rooms.
- 1 San Francisco Public Library - Mission Bay Branch, 960 4th St (at Berry), ☏ . Su 1-5PM, M Tu 10AM-6PM, W 1-8PM, Th 10AM-6PM, F Sa 1-6PM.
|Routes through SoMa|
|Sunset ← Financial District ←||N S||→ END|
|West Portal ← Financial District ←||N S||→ Visitacion Valley|