Once upon a time (around 20 years ago) Hayes Valley was an area filled with reminders of San Francisco’s homelessness and drug problems. Since then the crack houses and tenements have been replaced by fashion boutiques, cute restaurants, SoHo-style art galleries, hip bars and up-market interior design shops. The newly revitalised neighbourhood is now considered a cool, affluent area with upscale shopping and on-trend eateries. We spent the afternoon wandering around the area and it was such a fantastic day; if I was to move to San Francisco then this would be the area I’d want to live in (I’d just need to win the lottery first!). Below are some of the reasons why I fell in love with this neighbourhood…
The architecture in Hayes Valley is stunning! Victorian buildings are in abundance and the big bay windowed buildings are all painted in different colours; something that San Francisco as a whole is famous for. Like the rest of San Francisco, Hayes Valley has a unique modern character in amongst the heritage with graffiti walls and ’90s buildings slotted in between those built in the 1800s.
Cute Tree Lined Streets
Strolling around Hayes Valley on a sunny day is such a relaxing experience; the tree lined streets offer the most picturesque environment and are like something out of a postcard.
Food and Drink
There’s an abundance of offerings when it comes to filling your belly in Hayes Valley, whilst we only got to spend one afternoon there, and therefore only ate one meal (boo!), we scoured the options and perused all the menus before we finally chose where to eat.
I’d actually read about Souvla Greek sandwich shop and wine bar before travelling out to the States so when I stumbled across this little shop on our stroll I knew this was the place we had to eat. Trust me when I say, this place is one of the best things about San Francisco – I’m crossing my fingers that the company expands and eventually makes it’s way across the pond to the UK as the salad I had was THE best thing I’ve ever tasted. Plus this decor is just so cute and would fit perfectly in a little shop in Manchester’s Northern Quarter (a girl can dream right?!).
Absinthe was my first choice (until I found Souvla) and Chantal Guillon Macarons was obviously a must because who doesn’t love a little French every now and then? Absinthe is a Parisian-style brasserie which serves French-Mediterranean food and the cutest cocktails. Chantal Guillon is a San Francisco based Parisian who set up her own macaron business which has now expanded to three stores, catering for corporate events and weddings and even nationwide shipping. The store in Hayes Valley, which opened in 2008, was her first and has the most traditionally french decor with the yummiest macarons.
Petit Crenn and The Riddler Champagne Bar would be a fantastic choice because sometimes you just need a little decadence in your life. Petit Chenn is an up market French restaurant which offers menu tasting, an extensive wine list and the scrummiest looking a la carte menu. Follow your meal up with stop at The Riddler for a glass of bubbly, on a warm afternoon you can sit outside and watch the world go by.
Hayes Valley is renowned for it’s trendy fashion boutiques, funky art galleries and and up market interior shops. You’ll be spoilt for choice with all the options packed in to the few streets around this area! My favourite shops were Alternative, Marine Layer, Azalea, Undefeated, Lavish and Azil Boutique. Most of them also have online stores too, some of which ship to the UK, so I have an extensive shopping list to tick off.
Have you been to Hayes Valley? What was your favourite part?