Marina has a low violent crime rate and a below average property crime rate for San Francisco.
Lying along the Bay on the north side of San Francisco, this area was unoccupied marshland until the 1906 earthquake, when brick and rubble from the destroyed parts of downtown were dumped here to create unstable dwellings.
Then, in 1915, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition was built and ran along the Marina for a year, hosting 60,000 visitors a day in its many magnificent buildings and exhibits. The only relic that still stands is the Palace of Fine Arts, along the edge of the Presidio.
After the Exposition, the waterfront became prime real estate and was built up quickly, though not carefully, and the earthquake of 1989 caused a fire that destroyed buildings on unsteady foundations. Afterwards there was a huge push to revamp the area, turning it into a neighborhood known for its luxury and beauty.
The Marina and Cow Hollow are separate neighborhoods, with the Marina stretching from the Bay to Lombard Street, and Cow Hollow running several blocks south until it blends into Pacific Heights.
The stereotypical residents of the Marina are young, attractive professionals in athletic wear partying like they’re still in college and spending their parents’ money. Cow Hollow is less infamous and stands in as the slightly more mature older sister, where the stereotypical residents of the Marina might move when they start a family.
The Marina has a bad reputation, which is blamed on its young and privileged residents, and particularly the corresponding overactive nightlife in the neighborhood. Bars and small clubs pack in on Lombard and Fillmore Streets, and they are known for their heavy drinking and large singles scene, reminiscent of typical American college bars, though its residents are generally post-collegiate.
You'll find incredible restaurants along Chestnut Street, high-end shopping and spas on Union Street, and architecture ranging from modern loft-style apartments, preserved Edwardian and Victorians, and charming single family homes.
And while the Marina is less diverse than many of the neighborhoods in San Francisco, and its vibe does run younger, it is also beautiful, sunny, and mainly flat. It’s sandwiched between the Presidio (a huge park and land reserve), with a long strip of open land known as Crissy Field along the Bay, and Fort Mason to the east, a former United States Army post, which hosts museums, nonprofits, and green space.
Several bus lines run through the neighborhoods, and while basic amenities tend to be more expensive here, a Safeway is tucked into its northeast corner. Nightlife is also mainly confined to a few main streets, so those living slightly away from them will have no problem avoiding it if they wish.
The Marina and Cow Hollow are beautiful neighborhoods to watch the sailboats and cargo ships pass by during the day and if you’re close enough, listen to the foghorns gently bleat as you fall asleep at night.
Once an important military airstrip, this 130-acre stretch of land along the Bay is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and very popular among walkers, joggers, and frisbee players.
Originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, it is the only structure from the Exposition that was saved after residents petitioned to preserve the beautiful Greco-Roman palace-esque building and surrounding lagoon. Today it holds a coworking space, performance art, and other events.