Marina and Cow Hollow: A Guide to San Francisco Neighborhoods

marina cow hollow neighborhood guideThe Marina District and Cow Hollow are bordering neighborhoods in the north-central part of the city. Residents of both neighborhoods along with families living in Pacific Heights spend a great deal of time all over this area because of the shopping, nightlife, and access to green space. It’s one of the most expensive and desirable sections of the city and is filled with families and young professionals alike. As you’ve probably guessed, the Marina section borders the San Francisco Bay and is flat and easily walkable. Cow Hollow sits between the Marina and Pacific Heights at the start of the steep hills that give it such breathtaking views.

We polled real moms who live there to find out what makes this neighborhood a good fit for their families. Want to get the scoop directly from the experts? Join our Marina & Cow Hollow Moms Facebook group.

Why Moms Love It 

You’ll see plenty of parents going for stroller jogs along the Marina Green, biking with their older kids, or picnicking near the water’s edge because this is such a picturesque part of the city. The commercial shopping and dining zones on Chestnut Street, Union Street, Lombard Street, and Fillmore Street offer the conveniences of everyday life all within walking distance.

Local Family Favorites

This tiny playground located a block from popular Union Street shops is designed for tots and young school-age children in an idyllic, tree-covered spot.
Find activities and programs for all ages at this full-service Rec Center in the Marina District. The popular facility includes an indoor gym, community rooms, two play areas, a basketball court, two tennis courts, four ball diamonds, a putting green and fully renovated playground.
This is one of the most photographed areas of the city and will be the perfect backdrop for an impromptu photoshoot with the little ones. Admire the iconic architecture and grounds as you stroll or let the kids explore on their own. 
You’ll find plenty of parents and caregivers bring their babies and toddlers to the free story rhyme times each week. 
This natural and organic children’s boutique carries everything you’ll need to clothe, feed, entertain and create a healthy home for your baby. They strive to be a resource and center of support for new moms, hosting classes and offering a dedicated kids’ playroom to help you meet other parents.
Sign your kids up for soccer and basketball themed child-development classes and a soccer scrimmaging league for young children.  Soccer is for kids ages 18 months to 6 years old, and the Hoops program is for children 2 1/2 to 6 years old.
You’ll love the original rhymes and music the teachers perform. Your little ones will enjoy the captivating rhythms, hands-on play, and engaging teachers. 
Classes are offered for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children to foster their curiosity and experimentation. They offer drop-in classes, camps, and birthday parties.
Located in the Presidio, which borders these neighborhoods, it’s the only yoga studio in San Francisco created to serve the needs of children and families. The programs support mind and body development for children ages 1+.
From March to October each year, food trucks are set up in Fort Mason on Friday evenings and in the Presidio on Sunday afternoons. It’s the perfect spot to grab some yummy bites and listen to music with the kids.
Located in Chrissy Fields, this is one of the most popular places in the city to teach your kids to swim. Classes begin for babies 2 months old+.
Located in Chrissy Fields, this is where to go to run the energy out of your kids quickly. Children 3+ years old can jump to their hearts’ content. Also great for birthday parties.
This rock climbing venue offers drop-in climbing for kids, parents’ nights off, camps, and birthday parties for children ages  5+.

Childcare and Schools

Here’s the thing about childcare and schooling: Your personal situation will determine the right fit for you, and, while there are options in this neighborhood, your best bet is to check out for an interactive map and comprehensive list of daycares and preschools across the city.  

Likewise, for K-12 schools, we can’t tell you whether the schools here are “good” or not because a good school is based on so many other factors besides test scores. Check out our Tips for Moving to San Francisco with Kids for more help navigating childcare and schooling and a local mom’s take on raising a family in San Francisco.

Learn More 

To get an even better feel for what it’s like to live here, scan our list of 100+ kid-friendly restaurants in the city, find the nearest branch of the public library, and check out the area’s trick-or-treating hotspots.

Check out the other areas featured in our San Francisco Neighborhood Guide for Families.