Perhaps the biggest draw of Bernal Heights is its location. Situated south of Mission Hills, Bernal Heights sits on a steep hill, giving residents a stunning view of the city below.
Bernal Heights’ location also keeps it somewhat isolated from the rest of San Francisco. As a result, it has maintained its relaxed and quiet neighborhood vibe, making it an attractive place for families and people who seek a more laidback lifestyle. This family-friendly feel has earned Bernal Heights the nickname, "Maternal Heights."
Living in Bernal Heights
Bernal Heights’ small-town vibe is rare in a cosmopolitan area like San Francisco, setting this neighborhood apart from the others. Unlike its neighbors, Bernal Heights does not boast a bustling downtown area, but does offer attractions and activities that keep residents busy and entertained.
Cortland Avenue, Bernal Heights’ main strip, features farmersmarkets, fruit stands and coffee shops, mixed with several trendy shops and restaurants. Community gardens are also found throughout the neighborhood, and along with Bernal Heights Park and Holly Park, provide residents with ample space for walking, biking and other outdoor activities.
Bernal Heights is also well-known for being a dog-friendly community. Homes in this area mostly include a yard, and the community’s parks and open spaces give pets the freedom to roam around without a leash. Many establishments also allow dogs in their vicinity.
Bernal Heights is a highly walkable community, with most amenities and attractions within easy walking distance. The leafy streets and well-tended lawns and gardens add to the neighborhood’s distinctly homey vibe.
Bernal Heights also enjoys a microclimate that makes it sunnier than most of San Francisco.
The community is a close-knit one, with residents gathering a few times a year for annual events like the Bernal Heights Hillwide Garage Sale and Fiesta on the Hill.
Buses going through Bernal Heights offer public transport, although not as frequently as in other communities. The 24th Street BART station is also just minutes away from most residences.
The neighborhood also has a number of schools, including Paul Revere and Leonard R. Flynn elementary schools, and has one hospital – the California Pacific Medical Center – within easy reach.
Historical Victorian single-family homes are the predominant real estate type in Bernal Heights, mixed in with some newly constructed homes and two-story apartments. A large majority of these homes were built in 1939 or earlier.
The houses in the neighborhood are relatively small but pack a lot of charm and character, with their period architectural details and pastel-colored exteriors. Most homes have two to three bedrooms and come with a front yard spacious enough for barbeques and casual gatherings. They also offer a great view of the city below.
Some of these homes’ common features are an open floor plan, bay windows, and sunrooms or patios.
Some of the area’s Victorian homes have also been converted into condos and townhomes.
Attractions and Amenities
Bernal Heights residents seeking more urban amenities can easily visit neighboring communities like Mission District and Noe Valley. Within Bernal Heights you’ll already find a myriad of distinctive attractions, including:
- Alemany Farmers Market
- Heartfelt – a 30-year-old shop that sells gifts, decors, DIY supplies, and other similar items
- Restaurants along Cortland Street, Mission Street and Precita Avenue, serving a wide variety of cuisines
- Good Life Grocery – specializes in fresh and organic food