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The Ultimate Guide to SoMa: San Francisco’s Trendy and Historic Neighborhood

Introduction: What’s SoMa All About?

Hey there, travel enthusiasts! 🌟 If you’re planning to hit up San Francisco and you’ve got an itch for something a bit eclectic, techie, and steeped in history, then let me introduce you to SoMa, or South of Market. Picture it—museums, tech giants, and the coolest loft apartments you’ve ever seen, all sitting comfortably in one unique part of the city. So grab your walking shoes and your love for all things cool, ’cause we’re diving into SoMa!

The Evolution of SoMa

The Origin Story

Long before the tech boom, the area was known as “South of the Slot”—named after the cable cars that used to traverse Market Street. Washington A. Bartlett, the magistrate of San Francisco in 1847, commissioned surveyor Jasper O’Farrell to extend the city in a southerly direction. That’s when O’Farrell decided to create a grand promenade linking the old pueblo with the new subdivision—enter Market Street.

Pioneers to Earthquake

In the mid-19th century, this place was a thriving pioneer community. Fast forward to the 1906 earthquake, and the area faced massive devastation. The streets were then reconstructed wider, focusing on industrial development.

The Streetcars, The Community, The Music

For the vintage transit fans among you, the area had several streetcar lines running through it until the mid-20th century. Also, South of Market was home to a robust working-class community. It even got a nod in a 1989 Grateful Dead song, “Picasso Moon,” painting the area as a land of “action” and “satisfaction.”

SoMa Today: A Vibrant Mix

From Gay Leather to Tech Haven

In the 60s, the neighborhood saw the rise of the gay community, especially the leather subculture. Fast-forward to the 2000s, and tech companies started rolling in. And voilà, the neighborhood became this eclectic mix of subcultures, tech nerds, and everything in between.

The Ever-changing Skyline

Major transformation kicked off in the 2000s with the Transbay Terminal Replacement Project and construction of high-rise residential buildings like One Rincon Hill. Nowadays, Salesforce Tower dominates the skyline, and new projects are always on the horizon.

Must-See Spots

Moscone Conference Center: Not just for business people, this place also hosts major pop culture events!

Museum Mania

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

  • What’s the Deal: SFMOMA is a paradise for art nerds. They’ve got an eye-popping collection of contemporary and modern art, which includes works by legends like Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol.
  • Don’t Miss: The Living Wall, a gigantic wall filled with local plants, it’s literally a breath of fresh air in the museum setting.
  • Location: 151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Contemporary Jewish Museum

  • What’s the Deal: Ever seen a museum shaped like a cube? This one’s got stunning architecture and a wealth of Jewish culture, history, and art.
  • Don’t Miss: The museum’s dynamic exhibitions—no two visits are the same here!
  • Location: 736 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)

  • What’s the Deal: Dive deep into the history, culture, and contributions of African diaspora.
  • Don’t Miss: The rotating exhibits; they’re so well-curated and cover a broad range of topics.
  • Location: 685 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

Towering Heights and Historical Sites

Salesforce Tower

  • What’s the Deal: This skyscraper is San Francisco’s tallest and gives you a view that’s—no joke—out of this world.
  • Don’t Miss: The Salesforce Park; it’s like an oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle.
  • Location: 415 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

Yerba Buena Gardens

  • What’s the Deal: This lush garden is a perfect pit-stop, especially if you’ve been museum hopping all day.
  • Don’t Miss: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and waterfall. It’s just plain powerful.
  • Location: 750 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Something for the children too!

The Children’s Creativity Museum. Imagine a place where creativity flows like the mighty Mississippi and where kids rule the kingdom of imagination. Sounds like a dream, right? Here’s the scoop.

Let’s Get Interactive What’s the Deal?

  • The Basics: This isn’t your run-of-the-mill museum where “look but don’t touch” is the rule. Nope. The Children’s Creativity Museum is a hands-on, fully interactive wonderland.
  • Who’s It For: Kids from 2-12 will find something magical here, but let’s be real—even adults can’t resist getting into the creative spirit.
  • Location: Right in the heart of Yerba Buena Gardens at 221 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103.

So, What Can You Do There? The Creative Stations

  • Animation Studio: Ever wanted to make your own stop-motion animation? Here’s your chance, kiddo!
  • Innovation Lab: With 3D printers and laser cutters, your child can see their imagination come to life.
  • Music Studio: Let your kids lay down some beats or even record their own song. Future pop stars, anyone?

Don’t Miss:

  • The Rooftop: A carousel? On the roof? Yep, you read that right. Besides being super fun, it offers a pretty sweet view of the surrounding area.
  • Field Trips & Workshops: The museum hosts various educational programs, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.

Origins: The museum started as Zeum, a tech-focused youth arts center, in 1998. It rebranded to the Children’s Creativity Museum in 2011 to broaden its focus

Tech Galore

  • LinkedIn, Pinterest, Salesforce: Just to name a few! Feel the pulse of the tech industry just by strolling around.

Retail Therapy

  • Big-box stores: From REI to Nordstrom Rack, if you need it, SoMa’s got it.

The Flavors of SoMa

Oh, the food, you guys! Whether you’re hunting down the city’s best food trucks or you’re in the mood for some fine dining, SoMa has got you covered.

  • Food Trucks: A variety of global flavors on wheels!
  • High-end Restaurants: Fancy a bit of gourmet food? The choices are endless.

Fun Facts: Did You Know?

  • The name SoMa is a nod to SoHo in New York City.
  • The neighborhood is divided into 100-vara blocks, double the size of those in the rest of the city!
  • The Children’s Park on top of Moscone South has a restored carousel from Playland-At-the-Beach. Retro fun, anyone?


From Fancy to Casual – A few Restaurants in SOMA.

Foodie Paradises for All Tastes

1. Saison

  • What’s the Vibe: Uber-fancy, we’re talking Michelin-star-level fancy.
  • What to Try: The tasting menu here is seasonal and it’s a splurge, but oh man, is it worth it.
  • Location: 178 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107.

2. Marlowe

  • What’s the Vibe: Think modern bistro with a dash of charm.
  • What to Try: The Marlowe burger is a must. No, seriously, it’s that good.
  • Location: 500 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107.

3. HRD

  • What’s the Vibe: Casual, quirky, and perfect for a quick bite.
  • What to Try: Their Korean burritos are like a flavor explosion in your mouth.
  • Location: 521A 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107.

4. 21st Amendment Brewery

  • What’s the Vibe: Laid-back brewery atmosphere with a hint of rebellious spirit.
  • What to Try: Grab a craft beer and pair it with their delicious pub grub.
  • Location: 563 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107.

5. Zero Zero

  • What’s the Vibe: Sleek and modern, it’s a pizzeria but make it fashion.
  • What to Try: Their wood-fired pizzas are to die for.
  • Location: 826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107.

6. The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

  • What’s the Vibe: Casual and cozy, like your mom’s kitchen but cooler.
  • What to Try: The Mushroom Gruyère. Trust me on this.
  • Location: 1 South Park St, San Francisco, CA 94107.

7. Alexander’s Steakhouse

  • What’s the Vibe: Luxurious and classic, for when you wanna go all out.
  • What to Try: The Wagyu beef. It’s the star of the show here.
  • Location: 448 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107.

8. Omakase

  • What’s the Vibe: Intimate and elegant, this place screams date night.
  • What to Try: Go for the Omakase menu and let the chef surprise you.
  • Location: 665 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94103.

SoMa is an ever-changing and eclectic neighborhood with a rich history and an exciting future. With its tech headquarters, artsy spots, and a plethora of food options, there’s something for everyone!

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore all that SoMa has to offer. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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