Nob Hill
About
One of the most upscale areas of San Francisco, this is the site of two landmarks: The Fairmont Hotel and The Mark Hopkins.
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The area
Neighborhood: Nob Hill
Swanky and stylish, Nob Hill sits in the heart of the city and is home to amazing architecture and views. The hike to the top can be a challenging workout for those who forego a cable car ride, but they will be rewarded with some of the city’s most beautiful architecture adorning its peak. Originally populated with mansions after the Gold Rush, most if not all were devastated in the 1906 earthquake and fire that followed. Luckily all is not lost; storied hotels and Grace Cathedral surround Huntington Park. Having a drink or dinner while taking in the sunset and views at the "top of the Mark" is tough to beat.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles245 reviews
Excellent
93
Very good
119
Average
31
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Jydeoo
Lagos, Nigeria2,311 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021 • Solo
Well, it was like entering the TV. You know, that feeling of being in a movie. Like most movies with car chases in San Francisco have a scene of passing through here. Yeah, that's it. That's the feeling. And it will come back again any time I see a similar movie scene.
Written July 31, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

William D
Durango, CO96 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2013 • Couples
Yes, the hills are steep! They come to an apex here from every direction. Your climb will be rewarded with breath-taking views in every direction, and you can learn more about the history of the city here than in just about any other neighborhood. The easiest way to get to the top is to take a cab or hop on a cable car. For the cable car experience, forget the impossibly long lines on Powell Street and take the California Street line for fantastic views and ease of getting on a car. At quiet times during the day you may be able to hop on a car with no waiting in a ticket line -- just pay the conductor.

The major hotels at the top of the hill are built on sites of old mansions that once belonged to the railroad barons who built the transcontinental railway. The Fairmont and Mark Hopkins are examples. The Nob Hill hotels are top shelf; rooms may be small due to their age, but these hotels offer some of the best views in the city, a lot of ambiance, fine dining, and roof-top cocktails and dancing. high above the city.

One of the original mansions remains; it is now a men's club for business executives. The Episcopals built an authentic cathedral and school there, and the Masons built a headquarters and museum in an attractive, modern building.

Neighborhoods bordering Nob Hill are diverse and historic. From there you can easily walk to China Town, and if you are a distance walker, you can walk all the way to the Bay! After all, it's all down hill, unlike the climb to the top of the hill. If you choose to take this walk, you will pass through some of the more charming areas of the city -- Russian Hill, North Beach, and the bay front area.

So get a good guide book, a map of the cable car system and BART, and explore San Francisco!
Written August 11, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

The_Loup_Garou
Phoenix, AZ166,145 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2019
Nob Hill - an Iconic Must-do

In August, we were back in San Francisco, and once more staying at the Fairmont San Francisco, atop Nob Hill. While we had stayed there, and at the near-by Ritz Carlton, before, I got the opportunity to explore more of Nob Hill, and my legs were barely up to the task

Nob Hill is just that - a hill, and an imposing one, right in the heart of central San Francisco, a city known for its hills. It is iconic, historic and is the prime reason for the famous San Francisco Cable Cars. They were designed to traverse Nob Hill, and still do so, in two directions: over the Powell St Line, basically north and south, and the California St Line, basically east and west.

Aside from the beloved Cable Cars, Nob Hill is also home to several famous hotels, such the afore-mentioned Fairmont and Ritz Carlton, plus the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, and the Huntington, plus several lesser-known inns, such as Stanford Court and White Swan. The general area of Nob Hill is also ringed with some excellent restaurants, and even some shopping areas, though not so many as down below, in say the Union Square area. It is also home to several lovely, and architecturally significant buildings, and many once grand mansions for the movers-and-shakers in San Francisco Finance. Right at the top, the lovely, and imposing Grace Cathedral sits, with a commanding view in all directions.

The neighborhood of Nob Hill is bordered on the north (toward San Francisco Bay) by Broadway St, on the west (toward the Pacific Ocean) by Van Ness, to the east by Kearny St (though some maps put that edge at Powell St, several blocks to the west) and to the south by Bush St.. San Francisco’s Chinatown is located basically at the eastern edge of Nob Hill, but a steep walk away.

The San Francisco Cable Car Museum is on Nob Hill, at Washington and Mason Streets, at the junction of the two Cable Car Lines. It is well-worth the trip, even if one is not so interested in seeing the other sights.

During this stay, I rode sections of both Cable Car Lines (mainly to get up Nob Hill), and then once atop, toured by foot, taking in so many of the lovely, and architecturally significant buildings. I also spent time in Huntington Park, which is basically at the peak of Nob Hill, and between Grace Cathedral and the Fairmont, and next to the grand Pacific Union Club. Even though my explorations were ON Nob Hill, there were still many steep elevation changes.

I spent several hours in my exploration, and could easily have spent more. I saw much, but missed much too, as I did not walk down some of the side streets, which end abruptly on a precipice, overlooking parts of the city, down below. I will explore more of those side-streets, on our next visit.

At/near the top, I highly recommend the Laurel Court at the Fairmont, the Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins, or either the Lobby Bar, or the FCB Tasting Room in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton, for wine, to relax one’s legs a bit, before heading back out to explore the Hill.

Unless I was staying at one of the Nob Hill hotels, I would incorporate a ride on the Cable Cars, to get to the top, with the California St Line being the less crowded. If I were walking, ascent (and it IS an ascent) is best via stairs on Kearny St, a few blocks from Union Square. Those are easier on the legs, than say walking up Powell St. Bring a bit of stamina, as even the few blocks between the Fairmont and the Ritz Carlton, can be a challenge. Also, bring your camera, as some of the views from Nob Hill are “Kodak Moments,” depending on the lighting and the weather. If visiting Nob Hill, just for itself, I would allocate 2 hours minimum and feel that half a day would easily be justified - maybe just to catch your breath a few more times.
Written May 28, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rich W
San Francisco, CA914 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2014 • Friends
Take the cable car up to the top of Nob Hill. (San Francisco Insider hint: Buy a Clipper transit card at a ticket machine in a Muni Metro station at the underground stops at Powell, Montgomery or Embarcadero, where the lines are much shorter than the above-ground ticket station for the cable car at Powell Street. You'll need a Clipper card for each person in your party, but the transit card is good on the street cars, Muni trains, Muni buses, and BART, which means you can take the cable car to Nob Hill, on to Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiradelli Square, then take one of the restored, antique street cars back along the waterfront to the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero, and then take a bus, underground Muni train or a streetcar back to your hotel.)

Certainly, take in the stunning views from the top of Nob Hill, but walk around the area to look at the great architecture. See http://www.aviewoncities.com/sf/nobhill.htm for more information.

Pause from the hustle-bustle of being a tourist (or a resident, for that matter), and take in the beauty of Grace Cathedral. I suggest that you walk one of the two labyrinths for contemplation and introspection, particularly if you don't have small children along. I always find it amazing how calming walking the labyrinth can be, no matter how hectic my day. See more on the labyrinths at http://www.gracecathedral.org/visit/labyrinth/.
Written August 2, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KKD SFO
San Francisco, CA332 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2017 • Business
It's worth your time to walk up, take a cab, or a cable car to Nob Hill. Hard to imagine a more elegant hotel in the Fairmont, the top of the Mark Hopkins hotel is spectacular have a drink. The elegant Huntington Hotel has a great bar-the big 4- take the time to walk into Grace Cathedral- you will thank me.
Written June 21, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mimie W
Spokane, WA1,162 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2016 • Couples
Beware those who have shortness of breath and weak heart. This walk entails steep climb even with the help of steps. It's a beautiful part of town where you see the more upscale hotels. Once you reach the top of the hill though, don't forget to visit Huntington Park and the Grace Cathedral. Most people I met who reached uphill looked back from where they started. You'd be surprised at the wonderful views at the top which includes the Francisco Bay. For some, it's definitely worth the climb.
Written July 24, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JohnPaul78
Swindon, UK2,348 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019 • Couples
This is a well known area of the city, you will get a good leg work out here as its very hilly but its all part of the fun of exploring this fabulous city.
Written November 2, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rschagrin
Delray Beach, FL14,881 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2019
It is the area where the city's power brokers live and the businesses they frequent.
Gothic-style Grace Cathedral and charming Huntington Park.

Also home to some of the city's best hotels.

The Cable Car Museum exhibits antique cars alongside live machinery.
Written September 8, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

permia
Ireland62,299 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2018 • Couples
One of the highest hills, it is suffused with history. Because of its exclusivity it became a favoured locale for the wealthy to construct their mansions. It got its name from the Big Four railway magnates, know as the Nobs.

We enjoyed many healthy walks and climbs throughout. Our destination often was to the landmark hotels at the brow where we enjoyed fine fair at the Fairmont and InterContinental Mark Hopkins, including Top of the Mark at the latter.

We spent a grand evening at the Tonga Room. Also at the grand Fairmont we explored the Rooftop Garden that gave splendid vistas over the city.

Another thrill was riding the total route of the California Van Ness Cable Car. Grace Cathedral is magnificent, with its great facade and most impressive interior.
Written December 7, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tommo
Melbourne, Australia55,601 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2017 • Couples
We walked up to the Nob Hill area from our hotel which was The Donatello (near Union Square) to have some drinks at the lovely Top of the Mark Skybar with fantastic 360 degree views of San Francisco. It was quite a steep and tiresome walk.

Some of the city’s best hotels are located in this area. Amongst these steep streets there many options in 5 star hotels, restaurants and nightspots.
Written November 26, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Nob Hill - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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