Neighborhood Spotlight: The Mission District

Neighborhood Spotlight: The Mission District
September 10, 2021 Sierra Freeman

Since 2017, Open Homes Photography has completed 1,100+ real estate photography, video, and aerial shoots throughout San Francisco’s vibrant Mission District. The Mission stands out as a conglomeration of all the qualities we love most about SF.

Living, Working, and Playing in the Mission District

You don’t need to be an expert to discover the most popular spots in the Mission. A quick Google search for the best tacos or where to find a great cocktail will return plenty of results. But the Mission is more than its shops and eateries (although, they do make living here a foodie’s paradise). It’s even more than a haven for creatives and entrepreneurs. It’s the clanking of metal grates in the morning as life resumes after a long night. It’s the constant chatter of people and honking horns – the city’s own alarm clock. It’s leaving your house to hop on BART and being hit with the smell of freshly-baked conchas from the panderia down the street. They say the city moves fast, but in those moments, SF seems to grind to a halt – and you’re right in the middle of it.

It’s easy to see why the Mission District is the main cultural center of the city – even if it’s not the geographic center of San Francisco. For the young and young-at-heart, the Mission is the prevailing hub from which all else stems. Everything is either right here in the Mission or just a quick BART ride away. With 50 stations (8 of which are located in SF), BART is the easiest way for people to move throughout the city and beyond. Riders can hop on at 16th Street and head north into SOMA, or ride south all the way down to Millbrae or San Francisco International Airport. For shorter trips in and around the Mission, MUNI has you covered.

Residents of the Mission will be the first to tell you that one of the allures of San Francisco is that each neighborhood feels completely different from any other. Each neighborhood is distinctly shaped by the culture of the five blocks surrounding it. Even the weather seems to respect the segmentation of the city. Although we can’t say for sure who penned the quote, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco” (yes, we know it wasn’t Mark Twain!) must never have visited the Mission. If they had, they would know the neighborhood is shielded from the ever-encroaching Karl the Fog by Twin Peaks. The result is a stark contrast: while it may be 55° in the Sunset District just a few miles away, you’ll find it’s a pleasant 70° in the Mission.

The beautiful weather is one reason the neighborhood is so active. While people layer up at the beach, you can find residents of the Mission lounging at Dolores Park on their lunch break. Residents from other neighborhoods might need to carry an extra hoodie to their tech office, but in the Mission, you’ll only need your t-shirt and Birkenstocks. It’s not uncommon to see people enjoying the weather while eating a burrito from Cancun down on 18th, or a sandwich from Rhea’s. If they’re lucky, they beat the morning line at Tartine for the best Pan Au Chocolate in the city and washed it down with a cappuccino from Ritual. They could head to another area of SF, but why would anyone want to when some of the best tacos are on 24th at Taqueria Vallarta?

If you feel a pull to be a part of San Francisco, rather than just living in it, then the Mission is the neighborhood for you.


Flavors of the Mission District

The Mission’s cuisine is one of the area’s many perks. On one hand, the Mission features flavors used for centuries in dishes that have been passed down through generations. On the other, it showcases modern, Michelin-Starred fusion. The two types of cuisines are often separated by just one or two storefronts.

Residential and urban spaces coexist in the Mission District. Commercial-heavy thoroughfares offer countless shops and restaurants. However, residential areas are never too far away. For example, 24th Street is ripe with shops and stores, but just a slight turn onto Folsom leads you onto a tree-lined street filled with houses and apartments tucked behind the greenery.

Homes in the area tend to fall into one of two categories. Most Victorians are a throwback to the first major expansion of San Francisco after the 1906 quake. Inspired by European architecture, these homes define the residential aesthetic of the city. If you look closely, you will find some of the oldest Victorians in all of San Francisco in the Mission, as large swaths of the area developed before 1906 were spared by the earthquake and subsequent fires.

In sharp contrast to the Victorians, modern condos are perfect for work-life balance. These homes exemplify the duality of the 21st century lifestyle. Residents can work during the day but are never more than a quick walk from the hustle and bustle of stores and a vibrant nightlife.

Music and nightlife abound in the Mission District. While downtown SF has Davies Symphony Hall, The Warfield, and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the Mission is more egalitarian in its nightlife. Many aspiring musicians and fans looking for great music find their home at the bars and clubs that dot Mission and Valencia Streets. There is music for all types: cumbia, rock, soul, funk, and open-mic venues for singer-songwriters. While places like the Elbo Room and Balazo Gallery have since shuttered, or moved out to the East Bay, venues like the Knockout still offer small-time musicians a lively atmosphere to play for their friends.

Art in the Mission is as diverse as its occupants. The MOMA, with its Raushenbergs and Rothkos, is a 15-minute bus ride away, but anyone can tell you the real artistic appeal of the Mission is its murals, such as those flanking Balmy Alley. These huge art pieces celebrate the Latin American cultural heritage of the neighborhood’s predominant inhabitants.

San Francisco’s Mission District, filled with with trend-setting stores, critically acclaimed restaurants, endless nightlife, and some of the best weather in the city, is an incredible place to live, work, and play. Whether you’re passing through for a burrito, visiting for Carnaval, or are lucky enough to live or work in the area full-time, the Mission truly has something for everyone.


Curious about some of the homes we’ve done in the Mission District? Check out the property websites below!


Top Floor Flat in the Mission: 1139 Florida Street, San Francisco

Stunning Inner Mission Loft: 2600 18th Street #2, San Francisco

Reimagined Condo: 3652 17th Street, San Francisco



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