The heart of Cow Hollow is Union Street, a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare lined with cafés, wellness centers, and shops. You can easily explore the area in an hour, before grabbing a coffee or bite to eat at trendy spots like Tacko and Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters. If history is what you’re after, veer off the main drag and admire the many beautifully restored Victorian homes, including the Octagon House, built to maximize natural light and ventilation. Most guided walking tours will lead you by numerous 19th-century beauties, including the vibrantly colored Painted Ladies.
Things to Know Before You Go
Dining options range from quick-service cafés to Michelin-starred restaurants, but many require advance reservations for dinner. Consider eating before 6 or after 9pm, or dining at the bar or communal table.
Bring comfortable walking shoes. While Union Street is flat (and wheelchair- and stroller-accessible), the cross streets above it are steep.
Always bring a light jacket or sweater. It may be sunny when you first head out, but the fog (which has its own name and Twitter account: #KarlTheFog) can roll in and drop temperatures rapidly, particularly in the early evening.
How to Get There
Cow Hollow is situated between Russian Hill and the Presidio, with the Marina to the north and Pacific Heights to the south. Metered street parking and public garages are available, but finding spots can be difficult and expensive. Make it easy on yourself and take a rideshare, cab, or bus—the #22 MUNI bus stops at Union Street, as do many hop-on hop-off bus tours.
When to Get There
Although a few cafés and gyms cater to the morning crowd, the best time to visit Cow Hollow is in the afternoon or evening, when most of the shops, restaurants, and bars are open. Expect crowds during weekend brunch and after dark—it’s one of the few neighborhoods that boasts a late-night bar scene.
Cow Hollow’s Famous San Francisco Film Locations
From “Mrs. Doubtfire” to “Full House,” Cow Hollow has been featured in dozens of popular movies and TV shows. Explore these famous filming locations on your own or take a guided architecture tour that points them out along with former homes of celebrities such as Francis Ford Coppola. You can also book an early-access tour of Alcatraz to ensure a drama-free escape from “The Rock.”