Russian Hill: A Guide to San Francisco Neighborhoods

russian hill neighborhood guide san franciscoRussian Hill is one of the most iconic neighborhoods in San Francisco because it’s home to the crooked section of Lombard Street and the Powell/Hyde cable car line. Located in the northeast section of the city between North Beach, Nob Hill, and the Marina, its hilltop (and rooftop) views, convenient access to the heart of San Francisco and bustling corridors along Polk Street and Hyde Street make it a perennially popular area for locals and visitors.

We polled local moms to find out what makes this neighborhood a good fit for their families. Want to get the scoop directly from the experts? Join our Russian Hill/ Nob Hill Neighborhood Group.

Why Moms Love It 

Polk Street has all the conveniences for daily living like dry cleaners, drug stores, markets, and manicure shops, plus plenty of casual restaurants and charming shops. It’s easy to walk to kid-friendly activities in the Marina, Cow HollowFisherman’s Wharf, and North Beach, and date nights are fun to plan with so many great bars and trendy restaurants in the area. 

Local Family Favorites 

Helen Wills Playground

On the border of Russian Hill and Nob Hill, this small playground underwent a renovation in 2005, including a multi-functional clubhouse, unique play features, and sports courts. The park also includes its own boardwalk, giving visitors a bird’s eye view of the attractive grounds.

George Sterling Park

Enjoy a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the top of this park while you and the kids play basketball or tennis. 

Ride the Cable Car

Hop on the Powell/Hyde cable car line that runs right through Russian Hill or visit the Cable Car Museum to learn all about one of San Francisco’s most iconic features.

Ghiradelli Square

Come for the chocolate and stay for the green space and beachfront where you can watch swimmers from the Dolphin Club brave the choppy and chilly waters without wetsuits! 
This indoor playspace for children ages 5 and under is popular for its whimsical depictions of San Francisco landmarks. Drop in, sign up for a class, or throw a birthday party here.

Come here for unique toys, gifts, and custom-made clothing. The store is bright and cheerful, and you’re sure to find something inside that your kids will love.

 Russian Hill Bookstore

The Children’s Room here is full of books, games, and toys – both new and used. 

Swensen’s Ice Cream

Located at Hyde and Union Streets, you’ll see plenty of tourists visiting the original Swensen’s location, but it’s a local favorite, too. 

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.