San Francisco’s Marina neighborhood is one of land and sea. Once the home to Native Americans, today the ancient dunes are covered with apartment buildings, luxurious homes and some of the Bay Area’s trendiest shopping and dining. The area was largely ignored until after the great earthquake of 1906, at which time major development began to take off. In 1915 it hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and, with all eyes on the Marina, today’s architectural beauty began to take root. Today the Palace of Fine Arts – a leftover from the exposition, is an excellent example of the areas architectural diversity.

The Marina is best known for its waterfront real estate. Following the devastation caused by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, new construction brought in an era of luxury and residential style. The neighborhood is particularly popular with young professionals and is widely known for its happening singles scene on Friday and Saturday nights. For shopping, Union Street is the top choice, with nearby Chestnut offering a wide array of restaurant choices. For the best nightlife, try ‘the Triangle’ at Fillmore and Greenwich.

The best time to visit the Marina are sunny weekend days where you can shop the day away, grab lunch along the waterfront, and enjoy dinner and a cocktail by night.

Where it’s At

The Marina is bordered to the west by the Presidio. As a general tip, try to avoid driving to the neighborhood as parking is very limited.

What to See

What was once one of the nation’s most important military airstrips is today one of the nation’s most popular recreational public spaces. The Golden Gate Promenade, a shoreline path, is a hit with walkers and runners, while the 28 acres of grassy fields are ideal for picnics and pick-up games of Frisbee. There is also a protected marshland, home to over 100 species of birds. Another military institution turned recreation destination is Fort Mason, now a cultural and historic center. Today it is home to the San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, Long Now Foundation Museum and the Museu Italo Americano. Every Sunday from 9:30 – 1:30 the Fort hosts the Fort Mason Center Farmers’ Market.

Where to Eat

For pizza, try A16, known for its Neapolitan pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven and a regular on the Chronicle’s Top 100 Restaurants in San Francisco. The Betelnut (2030 Union St.) offers a unique pan-Asian tapas menu. Roam Artisan Burgers serves up organic burgers that include grass-fed beef, free-range turkey and the all-natural bison burger – along with an array of vegetarian options.