Where to Stay in San Francisco Right Now

Where to Stay in San Francisco Right Now

San Francisco, with its iconic landmarks and diverse culture, beckons travelers from around the world. Choosing what area to stay in San Francisco is crucial for a memorable visit. We will cover our top two recommendations for the best areas to stay in San Francisco, including hotels and attractions.

A visit to San Francisco is a must for any traveler seeking a diverse and captivating experience. Known for its iconic landmarks, cultural richness, and breathtaking views, the city offers a unique blend of history and modernity. Explore the vibrant neighborhoods, stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Fisherman’s Wharf. Read on to learn where to stay in San Francisco.

When it comes the best locations to stay in San Francisco, consider the charm of Hayes Valley. This neighborhood seamlessly combines historical elegance with contemporary creativity, offering boutique shopping, cultural attractions, and a burgeoning culinary scene. Alternatively, the waterfront allure of Fisherman’s Wharf provides a quintessential stay in San Francisco. Whether you opt for the artistic Hayes Valley or the maritime charm of Fisherman’s Wharf, both areas offer a central location with convenient access to the city’s key attractions. Ultimately, the choice between these neighborhoods depends on your preferences.

Fisherman's Wharf sign and historic cable car in san francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf: Our Top Recommendation

Amidst the city’s myriad attractions, Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-visit for travelers to San Francisco seeking where to stay in San Francisco. Nestled along the northern waterfront, Fisherman’s Wharf is renowned for its maritime charm and rich history. With its proximity to popular attractions like Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, Alcatraz Island, and cable car lines, choosing to stay in Fisherman’s Wharf ensures convenient access to San Francisco’s most celebrated sights, making it an ideal hub for an unforgettable city adventure and the best place to stay near San Francisco.

Pier 39 offers a vibrant atmosphere filled with sea lions, street performers, and diverse dining options. Historic streetcars shuttle travelers around Fisherman’s Wharf as well as deeper into the city, such as the Downtown and Union Square districts. It is also a centrally located hub, making it one of the most memorable places to stay in San Francisco. 

Read on as we dive into the best Fisherman’s Wharf hotels! Enjoy a delightful stay and savor the unique flavors of San Francisco at Pier 39 restaurants.


1. Riu Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf

Riu Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf is walking distance from Pier 39 and offers free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool with sun loungers, a gym, and conference rooms. Each of Riu Hotel’s 500 rooms is equipped with satellite TV, a mini-fridge, a coffee machine, and air conditioning. The hotel team offers unmatched concierge and guest services perfect for guests from out of town. 

2. Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf

Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf’s sophisticated accommodations will suit travelers from near and far. Caza is centrally located between Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, and the Embarcadero. It is the perfect destination to enjoy both Pier 39 restaurants and attractions and the nightlife of the city. It’s outdoor heated pool, indoor foosball and pool tables, and classic video games make it an ideal stay for all ages. 

3. Hotel Zephyr

Hotel Zephyr is a contemporary gem located along the scenic shoreline. The hotel’s modern design and “ship-yard chic” decor create a vibrant atmosphere. It is conveniently situated within walking distance of Pier 39 restaurants and Ghirardelli Square. Hotel Zephyr provides not only comfortable accommodations but also easy access to the vibrant energy of the pier. The hotel includes access to its 8000 sq. ft. outdoor play area called The Yard, which boasts 4 cozy firepits, San Francisco’s largest periscope, and games like shuffleboard, Giant Connect 4, and foosball. 

4. Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Fisherman’s Wharf

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites is in downtown San Francisco. It is only a 4-minute walk from Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 restaurants and attractions. This makes it the best place to stay in San Francisco.


While you’re staying in Fisherman’s Wharf, check out some of our favorite attractions:


1. Pier 39: The Heartbeat of Fisherman’s Wharf

Pier 39 sign with drawings of sea lions against a background of the San Francisco hillsPier 39 is undeniably the epicenter of Fisherman’s Wharf and a must-visit destination for any traveler exploring San Francisco. Take a leisurely stroll along the pier to witness the resident sea lions sunbathe and frolic in the bay. Sample the freshest catches at renowned establishments like Fog Harbor Fish House or Crab House, where the culinary delights are complemented by stunning waterfront views. With a backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, Pier 39 provides an Instagram-worthy setting for capturing the essence of San Francisco. 

2. Ghirardelli Square: A Chocolate Lover’s Paradise

For those with a sweet tooth, Ghirardelli Square is a short walk away from Fisherman’s Wharf. This historic chocolate factory turned shopping and dining complex is a haven for chocolate enthusiasts. Indulge in decadent treats, shop for gourmet chocolates, and revel in the charming ambiance of this iconic San Francisco landmark.

3. Hyde Street Pier: A Maritime Journey Through Time

Step back in time at Hyde Street Pier, part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Home to a remarkable collection of historic ships, this pier offers a unique glimpse into the city’s maritime heritage. Visitors can explore the vessels, interact with park rangers, and learn about SF’s seafaring history.

4. Alcatraz Island: Explore the Infamous Prison

Just a short boat ride from Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island beckons with its intriguing history. The notorious Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary once housed some of America’s most notorious criminals. Today, visitors can tour the prison and immerse themselves in the captivating tales of its past. They can also explore the island’s natural beauty.

5. Street Performers and Entertainment

As you meander through Fisherman’s Wharf, be sure to catch the vibrant street performers! They add an extra layer of entertainment to the atmosphere. From musicians to magicians, these talented individuals contribute to the lively spirit of the district. They create an immersive and engaging experience for visitors of all ages. 

Still wondering where to stay in San Francisco? Check out our complete guide of Things to Do in Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco!


San Francisco Painted Ladies victorian houses against a backdrop of the downtown skyline
Credit: Zumper

Hayes Valley: A Close Second

Hayes Valley is nestled between the cultural vibrancy of the Mission District and the upscale elegance of Civic Center. It is a jewel in the heart of San Francisco. This dynamic neighborhood, once scarred by the 1989 earthquake, has transformed into a thriving community.  It is celebrated for its tree-lined streets, diverse boutiques, and a burgeoning culinary scene. And, Hayes Valley is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in San Francisco!

Check out these sought-after hotels in Hayes Valley for your perfect accommodations. 


Immerse yourself in the contemporary charm of PROXY, a boutique hotel that reflects the artistic and innovative spirit of Hayes Valley. With thoughtfully designed rooms, personalized service, and a central location, PROXY provides a retreat for travelers seeking a unique stay.

2. Sleep Over Sauce

For a more intimate experience, consider Sleep Over Sauce, a charming bed and breakfast nestled in the heart of Hayes Valley. With its cozy rooms, personalized service, and a delightful breakfast menu, this accommodation option captures the neighborhood’s welcoming and community-oriented vibe.

3. Casa Loma Hotel

Those drawn to historic charm will appreciate the Casa Loma Hotel, a Victorian-style hotel that combines vintage elegance with modern comforts. Conveniently located, Casa Loma offers a unique blend of history and hospitality in the heart of Hayes Valley.

Hayes Valley stands out as a vibrant neighborhood, distinguished by its dynamic blend of historic character and contemporary flair. The area seamlessly integrates remnants of its past with cutting-edge creativity, offering a distinct atmosphere that captivates visitors. 

Now that you know where to stay when visiting San Francisco, we’ll share our insights into Hayes Valley attractions, activities, entertainment, and recommendations for an unforgettable stay. 


1. Boutique Shopping on Hayes Street:

Hayes Valley is synonymous with chic boutiques and trendy shops. Hayes Street, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, offers a curated selection of fashion, home decor, and unique finds. Check out the stylish clothing stores like Azalea and artisanal home goods at Maker & Moss. Exploring the boutiques along Hayes Street is a delightful experience for fashion enthusiasts and those seeking distinctive treasures.

2. SFJAZZ Center

Music lovers should run to the SFJAZZ Center, a state-of-the-art venue dedicated to celebrating the art of jazz. The center provides an intimate setting for an evening of soul-stirring melodies. It always features a diverse lineup of performances, from classic jazz to contemporary improvisations,

3. Patricia’s Green

Escape the urban hustle at Patricia’s Green, a charming park at the heart of Hayes Valley. Adorned with public art installations and surrounded by cafes, it’s an ideal spot for a leisurely picnic or a moment of respite. 

4. Street Art and Murals

Hayes Valley boasts an impressive array of street art and murals that add a creative flair to the neighborhood. Take a leisurely stroll to discover colorful works adorning building facades and alleyways, each telling a unique story and contributing to the neighborhood’s vibrant atmosphere.

So, lace up your walking shoes, embrace the creative energy, and let Hayes Valley unfold its enchanting narrative as you discover the heart and soul of San Francisco.

Eagle Cafe on Pier 39

Now that you know where to stay in San Francisco, check out the Eagle Cafe, one of Pier 39 restaurants for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. More than just a restaurant, The Eagle Café carries with it a colorful and daring history that adds a unique flavor to its already inviting ambiance. As a proud member of the Simmons Family Waterfront Hospitality Group, The Eagle Café has deep roots in the visionary legacy of Warren Simmons, the founder of Pier 39.

Eagle Cafe History

The Eagle Cafe wasn’t always perched on Pier 39; it used to reside up the street on Embarcadero and Powell. In a daring move that reflects the bold spirit of San Francisco, Warren Simmons, along with the Andreotti family (the former owners of The Eagle), hatched a plan to relocate the restaurant to Pier 39. Facing a hurdle from the city’s bureaucracy, they devised a plan involving jacks and wheels to physically move the entire restaurant down the Embarcadero. The Landmarks Board initially deemed the restaurant without architectural or historical merit, giving the green light for relocation. However, a sudden reversal threatened to keep The Eagle in its original location. Fortunately, thanks to the intervention of the SF City Attorney, the decision was reversed, allowing The Eagle to find its rightful place on Pier 39.

The Eagle Cafe has been a cherished spot since 1928, frequented by veterans, active military personnel, and longshoremen who worked the waterfront during its shipping heyday. The restaurant’s décor and historical artifacts pay homage to these esteemed guests, serving as a tribute to their contributions and sacrifices for the country. Warren Simmons’ legacy lives on as the Eagle Cafe continues to be opened and operated by two more generations of the Simmons family.

Visit us at Eagle Cafe

As you step into The Eagle Cafe on Pier 39, you’re not just entering a restaurant; you’re immersing yourself in a living narrative of San Francisco’s past and present. The warm and welcoming atmosphere, coupled with the rich history that adorns its walls, makes The Eagle Café an ideal spot for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. Indulge in delicious offerings while taking in the panoramic views of the bay and the iconic landmarks that define the city.

Whether you’re drawn to its historic significance, the delectable menu, or the picturesque setting, The Eagle Cafe invites travelers to savor not just a meal but a piece of San Francisco’s vibrant and daring spirit. Join us on Pier 39, where every bite is infused with history, and every moment is a celebration of the enduring legacy of The Eagle Cafe.

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