San Francisco Neighborhood Guide: Hayes Valley
Twenty or 30 years ago, few San Franciscans or visitors could have imagined that the Hayes Valley neighborhood would become one of the city’s best districts for shopping, dining and nightlife. Back then, the neighborhood’s nightlife was far less fun (and safe) than today’s, and it involved commercial pursuits that are traditionally non-taxable. Drugs, prostitution, tenement housing and all the predictable misery that comes with these problems defined Hayes Valley, and the neighborhood struggled for years.
Ironically, an entirely different kind of decay led to the neighborhood’s turnaround. The 1989 earthquake destroyed a large section of the Central Freeway that had loomed over the neighborhood for decades. The constant drone of vehicular traffic coupled with the imposing structure made the area undesirable to shoppers and retailers alike. When the quake leveled the freeway and city officials decided not to replace it, Hayes Valley began its transformation into the thriving business and residential district it is today.
Barely mentioned except as a place to avoid, the neighborhood is now part of tourist publications that recommend visits to Hayes Valley for its eclectic mix of restaurants, trendy bars, art galleries and unique shops. These shops sell everything from designer eveningwear to alabaster home furnishings to imported antiques and much more. Hayes Valley is another San Francisco neighborhood that visitors should stroll through and immerse themselves in to experience. Within one block, a visitor can smell the spice blends of many different cuisines, see a world of different goods for sale, try on clothing from local designers, grab an agreeable cup of coffee and view the work of local artists.
Hayes Valley may be short on local landmarks that sell t-shirts and tchotchkes, but, unlike some other San Francisco neighborhoods that have them, the Valley is a place where you can speak with artists and watch them make t-shirts, other kinds of clothing and art. What is more, Hayes Valley is continuing to evolve and find its identity as a neighborhood. Given its ignominious former reputation, it’s fair to say there was nowhere to go but up. That may be true, but the sky is truly the limit for this very cool and very hip San Francisco neighborhood.
Even if you’re a distance runner, after a full day of walking, sniffing, eating and shopping your way though Hayes Valley, you’re going to be eager for a mode of transportation that doesn’t involve walking. When your feet demand a respite, but your inner traveler thirsts to see more of our incredible city, we humbly suggest calling us at 1-800-339-8936 and renting a San Francisco limousine. Our rates are surprisingly affordable, our chauffeurs are very knowledgeable and you can choose from one of our sightseeing packages or create one of your own. If you’re one of the millions of visitors who come to our city, rent a limo for an evening! You’re on vacation!