One of the best things about Bernal Heights is the community feel you get as you walk through. People look you in the eye and say hello as you pass them by, there’s a deep pride around keeping the neighborhood safe, and who can complain about being able to choose from five different types of ethnic foods within a three-block radius?
Bernal Heights and Holly Park, are beloved places for dog walkers. At the foot of Bernal Heights, Precita Park offers a playground and large expanse of mown grass for families with young children to romp around. Bounded by Mission Street to the west, Cesar Chavez Street to the north, Bayshore and Highway 280 to the east, Crescent Avenue to the south, this special neighborhood is located just south of the Mission District. The neighborhood is accessed by numerous Muni bus lines, and a BART station at 24th and Mission is within walking distance from some portions of the neighborhood.
The retail center of Bernal Heights can be found along Cortland Street. Small, funky, one-of-a-kind boutiques, bookstores, and gift shops are interspersed with ethnic restaurants that range from French to Nepalese to Salvadoran. Local bars include neighborhood favorite El Rio, which hosts live music, Wild Side West and its fireplace, and the down-home The Lucky Horseshoe.
If you’ve never been to Bernal Hill, you’re just plain crazy as it offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the entire city, including the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown, San Bruno Mountain, and the East Bay. Here you’ll meet the sun even when Twin Peaks is covered in fog. Streets and paths from all sides of Bernal Heights lead to this urban oasis, and although the hike up can feel treacherous at times, the gift you get at the top is worth it. It’s a great spot to get romantic, athletic, or meditative, especially on those afternoons when you want to escape the city without having to drive an hour north.