Bernal Heights has an average violent crime rate and a below average property crime rate for San Francisco.
Bernal Heights has a rich cultural history of progressive political activism and artist residents. While it is no longer quite the hotbed of activity it once was, it retains a sense of liberalism and is known to be popular among lesbians (and dog owners), even if the playful nickname “Maternal Heights” points to a more traditional character. This history contributes to its offbeat charm and bohemian flair.
Residents report that the streets of Bernal are full of secrets: secret staircases, secret views, secret slides (two in the side of the hill), and secret messages inscribed in hidden places. And the Bernal Heights hill is considered a somewhat secret park, even as it stands out against the landscape. Many consider it superior to the more popular Twin Peaks hills, although one reason for this is that Twin Peaks is easily accessible by car whereas most of Bernal hill is not. If you do make it to the top, though, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views, and it's great for exercising, letting your dog run free, or a picnic.
Like Potrero HIll, Bernal Heights borders the busy Mission neighborhood and is known for its giant hill, yet retains an air of seclusion due to the less accommodating public transportation in this area. However, parking can be a little easier here, and its proximity to the 101 freeway makes it a great spot for commuters to Silicon Valley.
Those on the Mission side of the hill also have convenient access to BART. While it’s considerably sleepier than the Mission, Bernal has everything you need -- small and large grocers, boutiques, cool bars (some, like El Rio and Wild Wild West have amazing back patios), and food spots sprinkled around.
The weather is cool with some sunshine, but prone to fog as it rolls in from the ocean. Housing is mainly small bungalows and boxy single family homes and small apartment buildings. Community gardens aren’t hard to come by, and exemplify the cooperative, neighborly atmosphere of this neighborhood.
Get a workout climbing this giant hill and be rewarded with 360 degree views of the city. It’s also an off-leash dog park and a great place to have a windy picnic.
Go early to find an unexpected treasure at this weekly Sunday flea market (8am-3pm), and don’t be afraid to haggle for a better price!
A quirky warehouse just on the dividing line from the Mission. You can rent it out for an event or attend one of the SF Institute of Possibilities smaller events (check them out here: http://www.sfiop.org/).
Photo Credits: Thanks to @spelledlikellamas, @ajcpaint, @jorgelugophoto, @ayebruhhhh_, @x_guada, @mystarpower, @middleton_rj, @judehell7, @7x7homes, @neilstevenson888, @sarah.k.walker, @palomamarizz, @beflyliving, @alaspoorwho, @fatimagxmez, @sarajeanr, @jaykooler, @bradleyhazelrigg for your great photos of this neighborhood!
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