What to Do in the Outer Sunset Neighborhood | San Francisco Travel
A woman poses sitting on the 16th Avenue tiled stairs in the Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco.
Discover hidden tiled staircases in the Sunset, like this one on 16th Avenue. Credit: @bucketlistbums

What to Do
in the Outer Sunset Neighborhood

The Outer Sunset sparkles with many hidden gems. These are some of the places you should explore in the Outer Sunset.

Head due west towards the Pacific to discover the quiet side of San Francisco. Wide, windswept beaches beckon and tranquil residential neighborhoods are home to friendly local shops, cafes and restaurants. Welcome to the Outer Sunset.

Easily reachable on the Muni Metro system by taking the N Judah, L Taraval or M Oceanview trains from downtown, the Outer Sunset is a vast area that borders the Pacific Ocean. Although it's not quite as walkable as the rest of the city (Lyft is an excellent option), it sparkles with many hidden gems. For visitors looking for a true local experience, the Outer Sunset is a San Francisco neighborhood well worth exploring.

Things to Do

Ocean Beach

A glorious stretch of wild coastline that offers sunsets to die for and some of California’s best surf watching, Ocean Beach is one of San Francisco’s greatest natural escapes. Driving alongside it on the Great Highway is one of the most scenic auto trips in the city. At night, the golden sands are lit up by the bonfires of locals gathered around fire pits constructed by the National Park Service (no fires are allowed between November-February). 

Sloat Boulevard at the Great Highway

San Francisco Zoo & Gardens

From the African savannah, complete with a lowland gorilla preserve, to Grizzly Island, where California’s state animal can be viewed lumbering through the forest, the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens are a full day of fun for all ages. Taking the L Taraval to the end of the line will not only get you there in a jiffy from downtown SF but will also get you discounted admission.

Check out the SF Zoo
Sloat Boulevard and Vale Avenue

Pine Lake Park and Stern Grove

A steep forested valley in the middle of the Outer Sunset, Pine Lake Park is a peaceful oasis of verdant nature made for solitary walks, except on summer weekends. From mid-June until mid-August, the park hosts the Stern Grove Festival, the longest-running and most important of San Francisco’s free summer concert series. It takes place in a gorgeous grove of cypress and redwood trees. The L Taraval, M Ocean View or K  streetcars drop you right near the park entrance.

A woman DJing at the Stern Grove Festival looks over her shoulder and smiles into the camera.

Where to Shop

4037 Judah St.

Case For Making

Not your typical arts supply store, this local favorite stocks hand-selected watercolor supplies and raw materials for various artistic pursuits. It also offers regular workshops to the community.

Check out Case for Making
4541 Irving St.

Blackbird Books

A neighborhood bookstore where the selection is handpicked and customers are welcome to browse for hours, Blackbird Books is a social gathering place as well as a book lover’s hideaway. It frequently hosts readings and other events.

Check out Blackbird Books
4120 Irving St.

Avenues Dry Goods

Shop for locally made home furnishings and art as well as a great selection of California native plants at this unique and decidedly relaxed but hip shop. It is often referred to as San Francisco's best-kept secret.

Check out Avenue Dry Goods
4500 Irving St.

Mollusk Surf Shop

The best surf in California is not in Southern California but can be found along the foggy banks of Ocean Beach. The waves are heavy as refrigerators, and the freezing temperatures breed an outlaw sense of living on the edge (of San Francisco). Mollusk has become a cornerstone of the neighborhood, selling clothing and great boards to the surf rats who head out into the ocean. They occasionally host art shows and live music too

Check out Mollusk Surf Shop

What to Eat

4542 Irving St.

Hook Fish Co.

The fresh catch of the day is what’s on the menu at Hook Fish Co., an Outer Sunset seafood restaurant that gets rave reviews. From crab cakes to fish tacos, everything here goes down great with the house-made pico de gallo.

Eat at Hook Fish Co.
1396 La Playa St.

Java Beach Cafe

An Outer Sunset institution since 1993, this friendly, cozy café occupies a key corner location with a nice outdoor patio right across from the rolling dunes of Ocean Beach. Meet new friends or peruse the paper over a veggie pesto bagel and a house latte. You'll have a hard time leaving.Pick up a pound of the locally roasted coffee beans to take home, too. You can't go wrong with Bernie's Blend or Judah Tunnel Espresso. 

Eat at Java Beach Cafe
4001 Judah St.


Executive chef Yoni Levy has brought the fine art of California fusion to the Outer Sunset with this critically acclaimed eatery that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Try the daily vegetarian doughnut special on the fly, or grab a wooden table and order the jalepeño shrimp or chickpea panelle to see what all the fuss is about.

Eat at Outerlands
4045 Judah St.

Woods Outbound

Calling itself a “commuter-sized club bar,” this often-packed Outer Sunset watering hole is located at the end of the N Judah streetcar line. Widely known for its great craft beer selection and spicy empanadas, this is one of the best places in the neighborhood to rub shoulders with locals.

Drink at Woods Outbound

Dan Rosenbaum Headshot
Dan Rosenbaum

Dan is the Vice President, Global Marketing, at San Francisco Travel. San Francisco has been his home for over a decade (that makes him a local, right?). On the weekends, you can find him with a cup of craft coffee in hand, a playlist of good vibes, a growing list of books to read, or out at the city's hottest new restaurant or bar.

The Golden Gate Bridge at sunset with a multicolored sky and the San Francisco Bay in the foreground.
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