Bernal Heights in San Francisco: 10 Fun Things to Do & See in this SF Neighborhood

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: January 16, 2023

Bernal Heights in San Francisco is a family-friendly neighborhood on the southeast side of town.

The district offers fun things to do, including several parks with hilltop views, an award-winning brewery, and some heart-pumping stairways.

Its most famous attraction is Bernal Heights Park. My other top picks include the Alemany Farmer's Market, Esmeralda Slide Park, and Barebottle Brewing Company.

Bernal Heights borders the Mission District and offers easy access to Glen Park, Noe Valley, and Potrero Hill.

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Things to See & Do in Bernal Heights in San Francisco

1. Bernal Heights Park

Golden Gate Bridge from Bernal Heights Park

This is a favorite park for me since it gives 360-degree views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the East Bay, and more.

You can see lots of wildlife, including red tail hawks, alligator lizards, pocket gophers, and so much more. There are several trails that allow you access to the summit. Many are steep, but well traveled. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach the summit.

2. Alemany Farmers Market

Known as the "People's Market," this farmers market is affordable, full of friendly merchants, and where residents of SF go to shop for produce. This was the first farmers market when it opened in 1947 and started the locally grown and sourced movement that is so popular now.

It is open every Saturday from 7 am to 5 pm. Most food sells out around 1 pm, so get there as early as possible.

Location: 100 Alemany Blvd.

NOTE: Parking is free, but can be quite difficult because it is so popular, so I highly recommend taking public transit.

3. Street Art

Art lovers will want to visit Bernal Heights in San Francisco since there are numerous murals and other pieces of art all around here. Many of them represent the colorful history of the city and the struggle for equality and freedom, while others are just humorous and joyful.

There are over 10 different murals throughout the neighborhood, and most are easy to find. You will find a large one on the library and several around Precita Park.

4. Holly Park

Holly Park in San Francisco

Holly Park has great views. In addition, you will find a baseball field, tennis courts, a gated playground, picnic tables and grills, and more. There is even a basketball court if you want to play a game or two.

This park has been newly renovated and has a gorgeous grove of Eucalyptus trees at the top of it. Many locals like it as it is less busy than many other parks in the city.

Location: Bocana Street and Highland Avenue

5. Esmeralda Slide Park

If you like slides, then you've come to the right place. This park is tucked away in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, so it is a bit of a hidden gem. The side-by-side "twin slides" have been here since 1979. They are metal and very long.

There are two recycling bins at the top, and people leave cardboard in them so that when you slide down, you can ride them and not ruin your pants, since you can get going pretty fast on them.

Location: Winfield Street and Esmeralda Avenue

6. Saint Mary's Playground

Most locals don't even know about this wonderful little park in Bernal Heights in San Francisco. Being that it has a large playground for kids, this is where you'll want to take your little ones.

Since the playground is padded, it is very safe. It also has hopscotch, four square courts, and basketball courts. It is one of the easiest parks to access for handicapped patrons.

Location: 145 Justin Drive at Benton Avenue

7. Precita Park

Precita Park in the Bernal Heights Neighborhood

This three-block-long and one-block-wide park is a perfect place to relax with a picnic, have fun with the kids at the gated playground, or give your dog a place to roam.

I really like this park because it is very close to the light rail and mass transit. It sits at the northern end of beautiful Bernal Heights in San Francisco with some fun bars and restaurants close by.

There are also several interesting murals on the buildings nearby.

Location: Precita Avenue between Folsom and Alabama Streets

8. Fiesta on the Hill

This annual neighborhood street fair is dedicated to celebrating everything about Bernal Heights in San Francisco. There is live music, a petting zoo, and loads of food. You will also find more than 100 booths featuring local arts and crafts.

The crazy costume parade with a marching band is a can't-miss. The Fiesta is usually held on a Sunday in September or October from 10 am to 4 pm.

Location: Cortland Avenue between Bocana and Folsom

9. Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema

This outdoor event takes place on three days each September and includes a film "crawl" down Cortland Avenue and movies projected onto outdoor screens at Precita and other parks.

The festival highlights the best of local filmmakers from all around the Bay Area. Each film has to be under 20 minutes, so you'll be able to experience a lot in a very short amount of time.

The event is free and there are different locations depending on the day.

10. Tompkins Stairway Garden

One of the newer additions to Bernal Heights in San Francisco is the Tomkins Stairway Garden. While the stairs have been here for years, this block of Tompkins was full of garbage and was not something you would have wanted to visit.

Today, it features a lovely garden with several colorful drought-resistant plants. They have also added quite a bit of color to the staircase itself.

Location: Tomkins between Nevada and Putnam

More Top Tours and Activities Around San Francisco

Restaurants & Bars

You will find plenty of places to eat and drink in Bernal Heights in San Francisco. Here are a few of my favorites.

Fruit Beer at Barebottle

Barebottle Brewing Company

What makes Barebottle so special? A very large beer list, ping pong, video games, and food trucks. This brewery tries to make sure that everyone finds a beer they enjoy with more than 20 of their brews available any time you visit.

The large space features long tables so you can mingle with the locals and get to know some of your neighbors. It is definitely one of my favorite breweries and taprooms in San Francisco.

They are open every day of the week starting at noon. From Monday to Thursday, they close at 10 pm, Friday and Saturday at 11 pm, and Sunday at 9 pm.

1525 Cortland Avenue

More great breweries around SF.

Cellarmaker House of Pizza

You will find more tasty beers as well as some of the best pizza in the area at Cellarmaker on Mission Street. This new addition to the area offers locally crafted Cellarmaker brews.

My favorites here include the Big Dipster (Pilsner), Dark Senses (Spiced Porter) and Chaos is a Friend of Mine (Lambic). They make Detroit style, square pizza and I'm sure you will not go home hungry.

They are open 3 pm to 9 pm from Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, they are open from 12 pm to 10 pm.

3193 Mission Street

Mitchell's Ice Cream

This oldschool ice cream shop is a must-visit. They offer up more than a dozen flavors including standard and seasonal ones. My go-to flavors here include Chocolate Caramel Crackle, Espresso Toffee Crunch (summer), and Peanut Butter Indulgence.

I also love their Peppermint Candy (winter) and Chocolate Raspberry (spring) flavors.

They are open daily from 11 am to 11 pm.

688 San Jose Avenue

Bernal Star

If you are craving some American comfort food, then head over to Bernal Star. They have some tasty burgers, sandwiches, and pizza.

I love their fish tacos, the fried chicken sandwich, and the ahi tartare dish. They also make a wonderful weekend brunch.

They open every day, but Mondays just for lunch (11 am to 3 pm). From Tuesday to Friday, it's 11 am to 9 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday it's 9 am to 9 pm.

410 Cortland Avenue


Another great spot on Cortland Avenue is Vega. This trendy Italian restaurant features dishes made with fresh ingredients.

Top picks here include the pizza broccoli e salsiccia (broccoli and sausage), their gnocchi, and the spaghetti carbonara.

Open daily from 4:30 pm to 10 pm.

419 Cortland Avenue

Bernal Heights Weather

Like most of San Francisco, the temperature in Bernal Heights in San Francisco is moderate most of the year. During the summer months, you will have temps that range from high 60s to low 70s (Fahrenheit) during the day and low to mid-50s at night.

Views from Bernal Heights Park

During the winter months, it cools with daytime averages around the low 60s, while at night it drops down to the mid-40s. It is generally fairly sunny as the fog usually doesn't come down to this neighborhood very often. Here are more details by month.













Things to Do Nearby

Billy Goat Swing: This is the perfect place for people who love to ride a swing and see amazing views of San Francisco. When you ride this rope swing, with a small seat at the bottom of it, you will feel like you are swinging out over the city and into space. Note: Sometimes the swing is removed so you may not be able to ride it. But even if the swing is not available, the views from Billy Goat Hill are definitely worth the trip. 30th & Castro Street

Glen Canyon Park: Just beyond this park's recreation center is 60 acres of wilderness unlike any other near Bernal Heights in San Francisco. Depending on the time of the year, you can see springtime wildflowers, Islais Creek which is one of the last free-flowing creeks in the city, many varieties of wildlife, and more. There are many hiking trails for you to explore when you come to Glen Canyon Park in the Glen Park District. Elk Street & Cherney Street.

Mission District: The Mission District is famous for the historic Mission San Francisco de Asis, more murals than you can count, incredible food, and much more. This district is one of my go-tos when I want delicious Mexican food, as it is loaded with it. Here, you will be surrounded by Latin culture and can enjoy the best of it. Make sure to visit Mission Dolores Park for a great view of SF and people watching. Depending on the time you are there, you could see the colorful Carnaval Parade or possibly experience Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Bernal Heights: Fun Things to See & Do in this San Francisco Neighborhood

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

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It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

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