SoMa (South of Market): A Guide to San Francisco Neighborhoods

a guide to the soma neighborhood of san francisco. Soma is short for South of Market St
SoMa, short for South of Market is a large area encompassing the business and residential districts south of Market Street and bordering the Mission and Potrero Hill. It’s full of warehouses converted to trendy lofts and other large-scale new construction to accommodate the young professionals who’ve moved to the area. Still, several side streets boast Edwardian homes from the early 1900s, if you know where to look. 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 SoMa/ Rincon Hill Neighborhood Group.

Why Moms Love It 

If you want to feel like you’re living in the heart of the city, SoMa’s downtown vibe will fill you with energy. The entire area is considered a “walkers paradise” by and the transit and biking scores are just as high. With easy access to the Financial District, the Embarcadero, and shopping in Union Square, pushing a stroller along bustling city streets will keep you connected to the world outside of parenthood and expose your kids to a diverse world, too. 

Local Family Favorites

A walk down the Embarcedro will take you to the Ferry Building in the nearby Financial District. Every Tuesday and Saturday stop by to browse the fresh off the farm produce and foods at the farmer’s market. And every day, come here to dine at delicious restaurants and shop local markets.
Recently opened after a $10 million renovation, these playgrounds in the hear of the nearby Civic Center are intended to be a gem in the playground porfolio of the city.
Surrounded by world-renowned museums and shopping, Yerba Buena Gardens has dozens of attractions that the whole family can explore, including the carousel, playground ice skating rink, bowling alley, and Children’s Creativity Museum. It’s just as much fun, though, to order food from one of the many nearby restaurants, picnic in the park, and listen to the serene sounds of the waterfalls in the memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a true respite from the busy city streets surrounding it.
Drop in classes, performances, and hands-on learning make this a go-to spot for parents with small children. 
It might seem counterintuitive to bring children to a building full of fancy artwork, but the museum is very family friendly, not to mention beautiful. If you’re still not sure, check out our tips on how to do it.
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. 
This recently renovated playground is in the charming enclave of South Park, which is meant to look like a quiet London street encircling green space. It’s a great escape from the busier feel of SoMa. 
Zen outdoor spaces abound in this urban neighborhood if you know where to look for them. Privately-owned public open spaces (POPOS) like plazas, terraces, atriums, and small parks are in private buildings but are open to the public. You’ll often find them on building rooftops or in courtyards. 
Throughout SoMa you can find food trucks stationed for an easy, yummy lunch or dinner. Visit their website for the schedules. 
Catch a SF Giants baseball game or one of the many other events held at this beautiful stadium throughout the year. Hint: They have stroller parking in the stadium! Read more about how one of our contributors enjoys baseball games with her little one.

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.