Top 5 Things to Do in Bernal Heights

Vivre Real Estate October 6, 2022

Top 5 Things to Do in Bernal Heights

What to Do in Bernal Heights, San Francisco

You’ve arrived at this tucked-away community south of downtown San Francisco, and now you’re looking for things to do in Bernal Heights. Welcome! Maybe you just signed a lease, maybe you are considering buying Bernal Heights real estate, or maybe you are just passing through. Either way, you are in luck! There’s plenty of fun to have in Bernal Heights. It’s not the most bustling, tourist-oriented neighborhood of San Francisco, but that’s the secret sauce that gives Bernal Heights its charm. So let’s get started! Here is a non-exhaustive list of five things to do in Bernal Heights.

1. Parks, Parks, Parks!

Our top suggestion for what to do in Bernal Heights has to be the park. And not just one! Bernal Heights has multiple fabulous parks. Chief among them is Bernal Heights Park, atop the eponymous Bernal Hill which (as astute readers might have guessed) gives the community its name.

Bernal Heights Park is one of the best places in San Francisco to take in views of the city. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. The park is also a great place to bring your dog. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore, and at the top of the hill, you’ll find a large open space where dogs can run around and play. If you’re looking for a more relaxing experience, the park also has several swings that offer views of downtown San Francisco. Whether you’re looking for a place to hike, play with your dog, or just take in views of the city, Bernal Heights Park is worth a visit.

Precita Park is another lovely little park, tucked on the North Slope of Bernal Heights. The park has a large grassy lawn, a butterfly garden, and an off-leash dog play area. It’s a great place to come for a picnic or to play frisbee with your friends. There is also a cafe across the street, a great place to relax with a cup of coffee or tea. The butterfly garden is perfect for taking a stroll on a beautiful day, enjoying the somewhat warmer microclimate of Bernal Heights. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at flying a kite in the park. Precita Park is the perfect place to come for some fun and relaxation.

There’s also Holly Park on the south side of Bernal Heights, and Saint Mary’s playground, dog park and rec center too. We could go on! Suffice to say that Bernal Heights is a great place to live if you like getting outdoors for a hike, views, and catching some sunshine with friends.

2. Meet Me On the Cortland Corridor

Cortland Avenue is the main business thoroughfare running through Bernal Heights, a few blocks south of Bernal Hill. Dubbed the “Cortland Corridor,” the street is lined with salons, boutiques, restaurants and other small businesses like The Good Life Grocery and Epicurean Trader. It’s the perfect place to head out for a night of food and drinks, run errands, meet friends, or hunker down with a book at one of a handful of great coffee shops.

Bernal Heights doesn’t have any big-box retailers. Most residents will tell you it adds to the charm of the neighborhood, and we agree! Rather than a soulless corporate presence, Cortland Ave offers friendly, neighborly vibes. The focus on small business is a big part of that. It’s a great place to bring your dog as well, with a number of dog-friendly restaurants where you can enjoy a meal with your pup in tow.

3. Where to Drink in Bernal Heights

There are a handful of great coffee shops in Bernal Heights, but coffee and tea aren’t the only things to imbibe in the neighborhood. If you’re looking for a bit more excitement, then the bars and breweries in Bernal Heights are what you need!

Wild Side West has been a neighborhood mainstay in Bernal Heights for over 40 years. The bar is known for its strong drinks and fun atmosphere, and it has been a popular hangout for the lesbian community since it opened its doors. In recent years, Wild Side West has become something of a historic landmark, attracting visitors from all over the city who come to experience a piece of San Francisco’s rich cultural history. The bar is small but cozy, and the bartenders are always happy to chat with customers and share stories about the neighborhood. 

If you’re looking for a casual place to grab a drink with friends, Holy Water is a great option. The bar has a relaxed vibe and offers a wide selection of beer and wine. If you’re feeling lucky, stop by the Lucky Horseshoe. The bar is decorated with horseshoes and other lucky charms, and serves some of the best cocktails in town. If you’re in the mood for something a little more sophisticated, VinoRosso is the place for you. The wine bar has an extensive list of wines from all over the world, and the knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect bottle to suit your taste. For those who prefer beer, Barebottle Brewing is a must-visit. The brewery offers a rotating selection of seasonal and limited-release beers, and the taproom is always lively and welcoming. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back spot to relax or a vibrant place to dance the night away, Bernal Heights has everything you need.

4. Bernal Heights Swing and Stairs

The swing atop Bernal Heights Park—and its accompanying views—is one of San Francisco’s most enjoyable local secrets. But there’s another secret buried along the way (secret-ception?).

Being such a large park, there are multiple paths to walk up Bernal Hill. On your way, you might even grab a bite from Little Bee Bakery, or a bottle of wine from The Epicurean Trader. Then, when you’re ready, make your way up one of four hidden staircases to Bernal Heights Park.

We’ve covered this all in detail on our blog over at Check out the 4 Hidden Staircases on the Way to the Bernal Heights Swing.

5. Community Events

Bernal Heights is known to be a tight-knit community with “village in a city” vibes. Living here, you end up knowing your neighbors (and their dogs). You probably came here for the sense of neighborly conviviality, among other reasons like the great local businesses, recreation, and convenient access to transit and freeways. So it’s no wonder that Bernal Heights has popular community events too!

Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema is an annual event showcasing free screenings of diverse, local filmmakers’ works in neighborhood parks, playgrounds, and other community-friendly spaces. The goal is to increase the exposure and recognition of local artists and to heighten appreciation by neighborhood and citywide residents while bringing the community together. In late summer/early fall, local cinema-lovers gather to watch films under the stars. While the selection of films is always top-notch, the real star of the show might be the stunning setting. Surrounded by trees and twinkling lights, Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema is the perfect way to spend a summer night.

Your Source for Bernal Heights Real Estate and More

As we mentioned, this is far from an exhaustive list of things to do in Bernal Heights. It’s such a lovely neighborhood with great people and businesses. Moving in or passing through, we think you’ll love it here.

As the top Bernal Heights real estate team, we’ve sold more homes here than just about anyone—literally hundreds! We know the local market and how to maximize your results, whether you are buying a home, selling a home in Bernal Heights, or both. If you have a question about the Bernal Heights real estate market, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to help! Contact Vivre Real Estate.

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