campus neighborhood information

San Francisco has a worldwide reputation for its diverse and vibrant cultural activities, and the roots of this diversity are found in the city's rich tapestry of neighborhoods.

Here's a cross-section of neighborhoods easily accessed by foot or public transportation from SFAI.

Russian Hill

SFAI’s main campus is located on Russian Hill. This neighborhood offers some of the best views in the city, a park at its summit, and Lombard, "the crookedest street in the world."

North Beach

San Francisco's "Little Italy" neighborhood is within steps of SFAI. Once home to such Beat Generation writers as William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg, this neighborhood overflows with independent literature, cafes, old world delicatessens, jazz clubs, and gelato parlors.

Telegraph Hill

Coit Tower, one of San Francisco's most prominent landmarks, is located in Pioneer Park at the top of Telegraph Hill. SFAI faculty and students were hired by the WPA in the 1930s to paint murals inside of the tower depicting the history of the city.

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf is the city's most visited neighborhood. Still a working wharf, thousands of tons of sole, salmon, and shrimp are sold here at "Fish Alley." Also known for its novelty museums, Ghirardelli Square, and clam chowder in a bread bowl, Fisherman's Wharf is close enough to SFAI that you can hear the sea lions barking at Pier 39.


Only a short walk south from SFAI, the streets and alleys of Chinatown are always ready for exploration. From herbal shops, fresh produce stands, the Fortune Cookie Factory, and the Imperial Tea Court to markets alive with chickens, lobsters, and exotic delicacies, San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia.


SoMA is the core of San Francisco's art and design activity. In this neighborhood, also known as South of Market, you'll find the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Cartoon Art Museum. SoMA includes most of the city's graphic design, multimedia, and film businesses, as well as a large number of artists' live/work lofts, galleries, cafes, and nightclubs.

Mission District

Most of San Francisco's public murals can be found in the Mission District. This eclectic neighborhood, located south of SFAI, is the historic home of San Francisco's Latino community, and its streets are abundant with taquerias, cafes, Mexican bakeries, bookstores, alternative art spaces, and specialty shops.

The Castro

The Castro carries a long and dynamic history of acceptance and tolerance. Home to the AIDS Memorial Quilt and one of the last grand old movie palaces—complete with pipe organ—this neighborhood boasts stylish shops, restaurants, imaginative boutiques, and vibrant nightlife.

Civic Center

Civic Center is home to City Hall (designed by Arthur Brown, architect of the SFAI’s historic Chestnut Street Campus), the War Memorial Opera House, Davies Symphony Hall, the Asian Art Museum, the Main Public Library, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and a number of excellent restaurants and cafes.

Hayes Valley

Hayes Valley maintains a sense of community while also calling visitors from all over the city to its chic boutiques, restaurants, and arts venues. Highlights of Hayes Valley include the SF Jazz center, the Museum of Performance and Design, and roster of contemporary art galleries.

Haight Ashbury

The Haight Ashbury District was the center of the 1960s counterculture. Janis Joplin, the Hell's Angels, and the Grateful Dead all lived here. Today, hip vegetarian restaurants, vintage boutiques, independent bookshops, and record stores populate this iconic neighborhood.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is San Francisco's botanical haven. Larger than New York City's Central Park, it stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the geographical center of the city. Within the park's perimeter are the de Young Museum, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers, a nearly 100-year-old carousel, and a pasture that is home to a herd of buffalo.

Detailed information about San Francisco’s many diverse neighborhoods can be found at