Balboa Park

San Francisco’s Balboa Park is both a neighborhood and a city park built in the early 20th Century. Situated on the city’s outskirts, the neighborhood is best known for its colorful homes and lush gardens that line the remarkably residential streets. The neighborhood is also a great destination for those who prefer the local over the chains as Balboa Park is full of local markets and ‘mom and pop’ pizza parlors. It is also the home of the City College of San Francisco, giving the area a young and energetic vibe – not to mention a great night life scene.

Where it’s At

Balboa Park, also known as Mission Terrace or Cayuga, is located between Mission Street and Interstate 280 and north of Geneva Avenue. The park itself is situated on San Jose Avenue, just north of Ocean Avenue. To get there by public transport, one can take the J, K and M Muni lines.

What to See

The neighborhood’s main attraction is its namesake park. Balboa Park, built in 1909, is a lovely green space with a swimming pool, playground, soccer-stadium (home to the city’s professional soccer team), tennis courts and plenty of baseball diamonds. In 2012 it re-opened following a much needed 3.2 million dollar renovation that restored it to its original luster. It makes for a great picnic spot and a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city center. The park is particularly popular for travelers and residents with young children.

Where to Eat

Keeping in line with the neighborhood’s simple persona, be sure to check out Beep’s Burgers. Sure, it may not look like much, but this is a diamond in the rough. Of particular note are their breakfast burritos and tuna melt sandwiches. And their milkshakes are not to be missed. Located at 1051 Ocean Avenue.

For those looking to sample some of San Francisco’s stellar Chinese food, be sure to check out Beijing Restaurant (1801 Alemany Boulevard), which specializes in authentic ‘warm pots’, including the Slice Fish with Preserved Vegetable’ and the ‘Suan Tsai Yu Pien Sa Guo’.