The neighborhood of Potrero Hill drapes over San Francisco like a cat on a window sill - relaxed and soaking in the sun - barely interested in what is going on elsewhere. Although geographically close to the downtown, its steep hillsides and winding streets have kept the area predominately residential and quietly secluded.
Once pasture land for the surrounding ranchos Potrero Hill is perched above Mission Bay to the north, Dog Patch to the east, the Bay View to the south, and the Mission to the west. Easily accessed from highways 101 and 280 by car and Muni lines 48, 22, 19 and 10 it is surprisingly light on traffic when you turn off of 18th Street. There is even a CalTrain station at 22nd Street.
Running east/west 18th Street between Connecticut and Texas streets is a charming cluster of commercial businesses that make for an inviting time of dining, tasting and exploring. Radiating out from this café-hub are a cross-section of late nineteenth and early twentieth century residences, and a smattering of mid-century renos.
The hillside is dotted with private gardens and multiple public staircases - including several off of 22nd (22nd and Connecticut, 22nd and De Haro, and 22nd and Vermont). If you really have your walking legs on, noodle over to the Potrero Hill Community Gardens off McKinley Square and walk UP the stairs alongside the very steep and very crooked Vermont Street between 20th and 22nd streets.
At the foot of the north slope (around 17th and Mariposa) is anchored by Whole Foods, the Center for the Book, and various local artisan workshops - perhaps a spillover from the nearby California College of the Arts.
Noodling around the steep slopes and winding paths is not for the faint of heart, but it is the best way to engage with the neighborhood and to take in wide, expansive views of San Francisco. That said, parking is not that difficult if you want to do the drive-and-park-hop-scotch around the hill. Either way there is so much to enjoy for a long afternoon/early evening exploration. When I go I’m always surprised how long it’s been between my visits to Potrero Hill, then again, maybe that’s just how this cat likes to be scratched.
Noodling Necessities: Official public restrooms at two parks;
Whole Foods at the foot of the hill for restroom and snacks.
Markets and cafes along 18th as noted. Picnicking on stairs is discouraged.