Safe and Dangerous Places in San Francisco

Areas to Avoid San Francisco


When planning a vacation to The City by the Bay, probably the last thing on your list of things to think about is areas to avoid. In San Francisco, although it's a terrific vacation destination, there are a few less than desirable spots intrepid travelers need to keep in mind. It's always wise to do your homework before venturing into communities unknown. Below is some advice on the most safe areas and dangerous places in San Francisco.

According to, violent crime, when compared to property crimes such as theft or burglary, accounts for just a fraction of the incidents reported in San Francisco. Muggings and robberies are the two most common problems tourists experience when they venture into unfamiliar terrain. You can avoid becoming a target in a highly popular tourist location by remembering to keep wallets and cameras tucked out of sight.

The sketchy, sometimes dangerous, places in San Francisco are not usually mentioned in the tourist brochures. After all, tourism is good money for local municipalities. Fortunately, those looking for safe vs. dangerous places in San Francisco can get an up-to-the-minute visual picture of exactly where crimes have been committed by checking SpotCrime. SpotCrime posts icons depicting a particular crime at exactly the location it took place, as shown on a map of the city. The site also uses the crime statistics taken from police reports to show specific trouble spots, thus allowing tourists to easily pinpoint the areas they want to avoid.

In general, tourists will be safe if they follow a few simple guidelines. Use the following list of top safe areas and dangerous places in San Francisco as a starting point for your vacation planning.

Top Five Safe Places In San Francisco

1. The Castro, Noe Valley & Dolores Park

The Castro, known worldwide as San Francisco's unique "Gay Community," spans Castro Street, Noe Street, 18th Street, 20th Street and Church Street in downtown San Francisco. It's one of the safest communities day or night, any time of year. However, tourist experts do advise visitors to avoid The Castro during major community events, such as the Folsom Street Fair or the Gay Pride Parade.

2. The Marina & Golden Gate Bridge

Located along Fillmore Street between Lombard Street and Marina Boulevard, The Marina district is next on the list of safe places. San Francisco visitors can easily venture from this district to the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, the Exploratorium and Zeum, San Francisco's children's museum. The neighborhood is well known for quality dining and a lively nightlife scene, as well.

The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre is located at 3301 Lyon Street. Call (415) 563-6504 for event times and prices. The Exploratorium is nearby at 3601 Lyon Street and is open Tue-Sun 10AM-5PM. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for concessions and $10 for children aged 4-12. Call (415) 561-0360 for further details. Zeum is located at 221 Fourth Street and can be contacted at (415) 820-3320. Opening hours are Wed-Fri 1PM-5PM, Sat-Sun 11AM-5PM. Adults pay $10 and students, seniors and children aged 3-18 pay $8.

3. Nob Hill

On California Street between Larkin and Powell Streets, tourists find Nob Hill, a neighborhood known for its ritzy flair. Home to notable city landmarks like Huntington Park, the Fountain of the Tortoises and Grace Cathedral, as well as many famous hotels, this area of town is certainly a safe bet.

4. Union Square

Flanked by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets, Union Square is a mecca for shopping enthusiasts the world over. Another one of San Francisco's safe places, Union Square generally refers not only to the plaza itself, but also the dining and theater districts on adjacent blocks.

5. Outer Richmond, Sutro Heights Park & Point Lobos Avenue.

This safe seaside district is a real treat for tourists. The California coast is breathtaking; however, it is often very foggy and the weather can be unpredictable, so visitors should plan to dress in layers. If the weather won't allow for a scenic stroll, enjoy a view of the coast from one of the district's famous ethnic eateries.

Top Five Areas to Avoid in San Francisco

Statistically speaking, the areas visitors want to avoid in San Francisco have 30 percent more robberies, muggings and reports of harassment than the aforementioned safe places. San Francisco visitors should avoid these scary places day or night. If, by some unfortunate twist of events, a tourist should find herself in one of the following locations, she should flag down a taxi and leave as soon as possible. If no taxis are available, a BART station will do. A tourist should never attempt to traverse one of these areas alone, as visitors are easy targets for thieves and muggers.

1. The Tenderloin

Number one on the list of dangerous places in San Francisco is The Tenderloin. Located on Hyde Street between Turk and O'Farrell Streets, this district is loaded with drug dealers, addicts, and often dangerous street-dwellers.

2. Bayview-Hunters Point

Another of the top areas to avoid in San Francisco, Bayview-Hunters Point or The Bayview was once a thriving shipyard. It was established as a commercial facility in 1870 and later designated an official Naval Shipyard. The industrial age took its toll on the area, however, and long before the shipyard closed in 1994, the surrounding community had begun to deteriorate from unemployment and poverty. Today it struggles to keep the residents safe, and is not an area recommended for tourists.

3. Sunnydale

Sunnydale is a small neighborhood located between McLaren Park and the Cow Palace. It is infamous for its high crime rate and the run-down housing projects on Sunnydale Avenue, also known as "Swampy Desert." According to Neighborhood Scout, a neighborhood-by-neighborhood crime statistics website, Sunnydale is one of the most depressed, decrepit and dangerous places in San Francisco.

4. Potrero Hill at night

Bound between two freeways, 101 and 280, Potrero Hill is a bustle of excellent restaurants and quaint shops packed with art lofts and colorful boutiques. It is notoriously sketchy at night, however, after businesses have closed for the day. The folks who live in this area rarely venture out at night.

5. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

San Francisco's subway system, BART, is an excellent way to get around the city. But as with many public transit systems and subways across the nation, there are some locations and areas it's best to avoid. San Francisco visitors should try to avoid 16th & Mission Station, 24th & Mission Station, Civic Center Station and Lake Merritt Station in particular.

Geri Spieler is an award-winning investigative journalist and the author of Taking Aim at the President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford. Read her blog on Red Room.

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