San Francisco is one of the more dog-friendly cities in the country, and many of its neighborhoods offer ideal environments for dogs and their owners.
I’m a dog owner myself, and frequently meet clients looking for a home in a neighborhood that will provide what we all need for us and our pets—ideally, proximity to open space, dog-friendly cafes and shops, and a community of dog owners who support each other and their ‘hood.
So here are my picks for the best dog-owner neighborhoods in San Francisco:
1. Bernal Heights. It’s got a great retail area on Cortland Avenue, with plenty of shops and cafes, including Bernal Beast pet shop. But most notably, Fit Bernal Fit is a gym that invites “Bernal locals and their dogs to join us to exercise, socialize and engage in a more healthful, energetic and stress-free lifestyle.” If that’s not enough, there’s Bernal Hill itself, which has trails and off-leash areas, as well as Holly Park. The weather is superior in Bernal, so when you head out for a walk in the late afternoon, don’t expect to encounter much fog.
2. Inner Sunset. The weather may not be as desirable, but the Inner Sunset has Golden Gate Park at its doorstep. Yes, you have to keep your dog on a leash, but at least there’s a lot for your dog to smell and see. (My terriers love the gopher holes.) There’s also the Irving Street corridor, which is a great place to stop for coffee or lunch. Le Video—one of the few bonafide video stores left in the city—also lets you bring in your dog. For pet care, there’s Irving Pet Hospital and Animal Emergency Services.
3. Noe Valley. Ok, so I’m a bit biased on this one because I live here. But if there are two requirements for living in Noe, it’s that you need a dog or a kid. I’ve picked a leash over a stroller, and have plenty of company. There are two dog runs—one on 30th Street, and one up the hill at 27th and Diamond. Noe Valley Pet Company at Church and Cesar Chavez is an excellent store, and K9 Scrub Club lets you wash your dog in one of their many giant tubs. Le Zinc on 24th and Castro has an outdoor patio where you can sit with your pooch. And don’t overlook the Friends of Upper Noe Dog Owners Group, which makes sure the 30th Street dog run stays in shape.
4. Parkside. This is a great neighborhood for dogs because it’s near vital open spaces. There’s Stern Grove, an excellent dog-walking area. But the canine epicenter lies over at Fort Funston, a short drive away. The area even has its own Fort Funston Dog Walker (FFDW) organization that works to preserve off-leash areas and good dog ownership practices. The Parkside is also blocks away from Ocean Beach and the Great Highway, which are great places to bring your dog. The streets in the Parkside are nice and wide, so there’s plenty of sidewalk room, too.
5. NoPa. The North Panhandle neighborhood suits dog owners well, as the architecture allows for spacious flats. It’s a little more low-key than the busier Haight area, which can be stimulation overload for dogs if you decide to troll along Haight Street itself. The Panhandle is a good dog destination, as it’s a sizeable open space for walks. Nearby Alamo Square has a play area. There are a lot of great shops and restaurants scattered throughout NoPa to which you can walk your dog, particularly along the revitalized Divisadero corridor. Don’t forget about Osso & Co, where you can pick up specialty items as well as everyday pet products. (There’s also one in the Inner Sunset.)
6. Mission Bay. Far less established a neighborhood than the others, Mission Bay is your best bet if you want to live downtown and own a dog. The Mission Creek Dog Park lets you meet other Mission Bay dwellers and their pets. If you get bored with Mission Creek, you can simply walk your dog up and down the Embarcadero, which has wide streets and provides nice Bay views.