Bernal Heights

San Francisco's beautiful backyard

Bernal Heights is San Francisco’s backyard, lovingly cultivated in a loose patchwork of neighborhood gardens and stairways by residents. Bernal Hill offers one of the city’s landmark wraparound views. The city’s oldest farmer’s market, Alemany Farmer’s Market and Flea Market deliver with small-town heart. Homes are modest in style compared to central areas of the city.

In 1839, Jose Cornelio Bernal received a land grant from the Mexican government, the Rancho Rincon de las Salinas y Potrero Viejo, that made up 20 percent of modern-day San Francisco. It is from him that Bernal Heights gets its name. He built his family home at what is now the site of St. Luke’s Hospital.

The main shopping sections are along Mission Street from Cesar Chavez Street south, and also on Cortland, with its hilltop collection of cafes, bars, restaurants, and markets. The stretch of Mission from Cesar Chavez to 30th Street offers a number of Latin American restaurants, funky boutiques, a hardware and auto parts store, as well as a grocery store at its southern end. Of all streets in Bernal Heights, this is where the melting pot is most in evidence.

The neighborhood is mostly residential and is not as gentrified as the Mission, however, more and more city-dwellers are discovering this little oasis on a hill.

Events:

  • The Bernal Heights’ HillWide Garage Sale is held in August each year. This event gives residents an opportunity to sell furniture, trinkets, and clothes that they no longer use. It’s the biggest one in San Francisco and about 100 people register to sell.
  • On the third Sunday in October, “Bernal-ites” host Fiesta on a Hill which features over 100 arts and crafts, local goods and services and food vendors stretching across about seven streets. Proceeds from this event benefit the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.
  • Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema takes place in September and October and shows free screenings from local filmmakers.

Take it from the experts: