San Francisco’s Cole Valley is one of the more subdued neighbourhoods in the city’s heartland, with life-sized dollhouses lining leafy, undulating streets, it is an idyllic haunt for dog-strolling young families. Alissa Jenkins booked a room through Airbnb in this picturesque and peaceful neighbourhood before grabbing some useful tips from her host, David Westen.
Cole Valley: Insider’s tips
David Westen has been a San Francisco local for more than 10 years, David is a digital designer while Aynur is a photographer.
When they’re not living here, they’re off satiating their appetite for travel.
Zazie – Fluffy buttermilk pancakes and eggs
The intersection of Cole and Carl streets in Cole Valley is marked by dozens of quaint family-owned eateries including local favourite, Zazie cafe.
People come from all over the city for the legendary buttermilk pancakes and eggs benedict at this tiny gem.
There’s always a long line on weekends but, instead of waiting out front, go next door to Finnegan’s Wake for a Bloody Mary and ask Mario to come get you when your table is ready.
Padrecito – Fabalous tacos and margaritas
Fancy-but-not-too-fancy Mexican food, all the taco options here are fantastic (especially the goat), as are the cocktails in the adjacent tequila bar – try their eponymous mezcal-based margarita. They also offer a solid brunch on weekends.
Ice Cream Bar – Don’t miss out on the root beer float
A pre-Prohibition-style ice-cream bar, the ice-cream is expectedly delicious but for a more unique experience, visit the soda counter out the back.
Their root beer float features house-made marshmallow and syrup from real sassafras.
Tantrum – Shop for one of a kind treasures
Whether you’re travelling with little ones or not, this adorable gift shop is worth a visit, specialising in vintage toys, books, handmade cards and other treasures.
Kezar Stadium – Ready to test your stamina?
If you’re looking to stretch your legs after a long-haul flight, forgo the gym and head to Kezar Stadium, the former home of the San Francisco 49ers.
The newly refurbished track is open to the public and you can try running all 20 flights of stairs in the stadium.
The Alembic – Cocktails and chicken hearts
A few blocks away on Haight Street, The Alembic serves some of the best craft cocktails in the city, as well as creative gastro-pub cuisine (like chicken hearts or pickled devilled eggs).
Try their original cocktails like Southern Exposure or Vow of Silence, or stick to the classics: the Old Fashioned is unbeatable.
Tank Hill Park – Bring champers and head here for the view
There’s good reason why tour buses regularly visit Twin Peaks. Situated in the geographical centre of San Francisco, the peaks offer 360-degree panoramic views of the city, bay and beyond.
If you want the view without the crowds, visit nearby Tank Hill Park, a little-known gem with a breathtaking view of the city, just a 15-minute walk from Cole Valley’s centre.
Take a couple of beers (or a bottle of Champagne) and watch that famous fog roll in.
We stayed at: Cole Valley Designer Victorian
David’s home is a purple Victorian with a pronounced front stoop, my accommodation matches similar versions through the neighbourhood in different hues.
But inside is anything but cookie-cutter. Completely remodelled in 2011 by hosts David Westen and his wife Aynur, this two-bedroom designer abode is wall to wall with eclectic vintage pieces and high-end finishes.
A rainbow of patterned wallpapers define different rooms, while contemporary features including the kitchen and bells-and-whistles entertainment system are softened by treasured chattels on display, like vintage lace-up boots and an Art Deco drinks trolley.
Much like Cole Valley itself, this two-storey Victorian is exceptionally Instagrammable, appealing to those who enjoy the finer things.