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The Richmond/Seacliff area consists of seven neighborhoods. Each area is relatively distinct, with the three Richmond row houses above the beautiful Golden Gate park contrasting the larger, grander homes in Sea Cliff, Lake Street and Jordan Park / Laurel Heights. Off to the west and otherwise isolated from the rest of the district is Lone Mountain, the area’s university neighborhood.
The Richmond area is made up of three neighborhoods. Outer Richmond sits right on the beach and varies in extreme weather from sun to dense fog - even in a single day. But that is not to say that there not equally great upsides to living in Outer Richmond.
Originally built on top of old sand dunes, many houses along the tops of the hilly area here have spectacular views. When the weather is clear, you can look out to the Pacific Ocean or Golden Gate Park from almost anywhere. With its close proximity to a 4 mile long beach, Outer Richmond is great for both joggers and kids, too.
Architecturally, the neighborhood is full of tightly packed but beautiful Victorian style terrace houses and some late 1960’s modern homes. Streets are wide and well maintained. Schools in this area are highly rated. The local public elementary school on Anza Street, Lafayette School, scored an 8 out of 10 from GreatSchools. Balboa street is the neighborhood’s local commercial area. It is lined with mom and pop stores and both American and ethnic restaurants such as the well-loved Al-Masri Egyptian (rated 4.5 on TripAdvisor). Do not forget to pop into the Balboa Theater, a local gem from the 1920’s which still shows 1st and 2nd run movies with a handful of independent movies.
In from the beach, Central Richmond is home to about 25,000 residents. A tightly packed area, the neighborhood is filled with brightly painted homes lined up closely together. While not quite as scenic as its neighbor, on sunny days Central Richmond residents still get access to great views in both directions. Looking south once can see over the nearby Golden Gate park and north to the Presidio (a national park which was once a fortified village created by the Spanish in 1776).
Residents in this neighborhood, as well as the other Richmond areas, have great access to prestigious schools. The local George Washington High School scored 9 out of 10 by GreatSchools together with Presidio Middle School. For families with younger children, Argonne Elementary also received a high rating, with an 8 out of 10. Geary Boulevard, one of the longest streets in San Francisco, forms the main commercial street of the Richmond areas but particularly for Central Richmond. With access to one of the best strips of Geary, there are dozens of ethnic restaurants and lively bars. Better yet, Geary Boulevard is experiencing new wave of development as the area is investing in beautifying the street.
The Inner Richmond is furthest from the beach. Previously considered San Francisco’s second Chinatown, this area is now undergoing rapid change. New residents are moving in and remodeling old houses with new paint and porches. The change has resulted in a dynamic mix of older home owners, singles and professionals and families. Architecturally, many houses in Inner Richmond were built in the Edwardian style. Notable aesthetic touches include detailed frameworks around windows, porches, and custom facades. Residents have also taken the weather into their own own hands, using newly planted trees and colorful paints to brighten the area against the fog.
For entertainment, many residents in Inner Richmond head to either Geary Boulevard or Clement Street. While smaller than Geary, Clement Street also has a fantastic range of ethnic restaurants and cafes (visit the One Hundred Percent Sweet Cafe!).
Small, quiet and safe, Laurel Heights is a clean middle and middle-upper class neighborhood with approximately 9,000 residents. While it is not near the beach, the neighborhood sits just south of the beautiful Presidio park so many residents enjoy the great views.
Architecturally, homes in the neighborhood are often split by history. In the older areas, houses are mostly stately Victorian and Edwardian with some large, grand family homes. On the eastern side, there are newer developments featuring more modernist two story homes.
Residents here have great access to amenities, entertainment and dining. One of San Francisco’s best hospitals, California Pacific Medical Center’s (California Campus) is just on your doorstep. California Street to the north has a typical range of stores and restaurants, Starbucks, Walgreen’s and clothing stores and a theater.
For families with kids, the local Roosevelt Middle School is well liked by locals. Laurel Hill Playground is also rated 4.5 on Yelp and features tennis courts, swings and a baseball diamond.
Lake Street is a quiet family neighborhood with a close-knit feel - just south of the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge. With the Presidio a stone’s throw away, many residents take advantage of the 1,500 acre natural park with a golf course and quiet beach.
For other entertainment, Lake Street is unlike other nearby neighborhoods in that it is less commercial. Residents usually head to California street to the south or Geary street for shopping, dining and entertainment options with its many great bars and restaurants.
A dominant style in the area is stucco single attached family homes on average sized lots, with more houses here than condos. These houses are primarily 2-unit buildings with garages along wide, well-kept streets with larger and grander homes closer to the Presidio.
Sea Cliff is a beautiful, quiet enclave area of San Francisco, full of impressive Spanish mission-style homes complete with palm trees and manicured gardens. Homes here are some of the grandest in San Francisco with beautiful views from the cliffside. Originally home to working Chinese, the area was developed in the 20th century by renowned local architect Mark Daniels, also the creator of the similarly exclusive St. Francis Wood further to the south in the 1910’s.
The area is perfectly maintained and quiet, with city limitations on traffic to avoid unwanted disturbance. To ensure that the area is as peaceful as possible, there is no commercial street in the area. This is usually no problem for residents, who usually journey out to nearby California Street, Clement Street or Geary Boulevard for entertainment, dining and shopping. For outdoor entertainment, residents in the neighborhood enjoy 18 holes at the Lincoln Park Golf Course to the east and easy access next door to 1,500 acres of the Presidio.
For families here there are two exclusive local K-8 schools service the area. Kittredge Elementary rated 7 out of 10 on Great Schools and the private Katherine Delmar Burke School for girls.
Lone Mountain sits between the Presidio and Golden Gate Park, just off the north-eastern corner. The neighborhood is home to around 10,000 residents, many of which are students and couples attending the University of San Francisco giving the area a university town dynamic. Other residents are attracted to the area for St. Ignatius, a highly regarded preparatory school ranked in the top 3% of the country’s best Catholic schools. The church itself is a masterpiece of architecture and looks as though it was transported directly from the Mediterranean.
Homes in this area are well-kept terrace houses and apartments in modern and Spanish-inspired styles. Despite the name, Lone Mountain is not particularly large and the local hills are gentle. The area does not have the usual commercial strip, so residents head north to Geary Boulevard for restaurants, cafes and essential services such as the local post office.