Top 10 Things To Do & See In Bernal Heights

Bernal Heights © kennejima/flickr
Bernal Heights © kennejima/flickr
Photo of Nicole Arca
9 February 2017

Take a day trip to Bernal Heights, a charming neighborhood sandwiched between the Mission and Excelsior. Untouched by big city developments, its quirk, character and friendly atmosphere make Bernal Heights a welcoming, stress-free weekend destination. Here are 10 of our favorite things to do and see in Bernal Heights.

Enjoy some spirits at Holy Water

Whether you’re feeling beer, cocktails, or wine, Holy Water will have you feeling blessed. This bar is a neighborhood favorite, with its antique decor to its creative drinks, which are aptly named after their ingredients – try the Moscow Mule, which contains Reyka vodka and ginger beer.

Holy Water, 309 Cortland Ave San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

Listen to some live music at El Rio

Bar, LGBTQ Bar, Pub Grub
Map View
There are nothing but good vibes at El Rio, a community bar right on the border of the Mission and Bernal Heights. On Fridays, they serve free oysters in their back patio starting at 5pm on the dot (but there are only 120 of them, so get there early). If you’ve missed the oyster rush, beers are $3 (yes, only $3) during Happy Hour. Or come for the live music, which ranges from jazz to salsa.

Shop for some succulents at Succulence

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Succulence | © Christopher Michel/Flickr
If you’re into botany or just pretty plants to look at, pay a visit to Succulence, your one-stop shop for decorative greens. Make sure to come back to take one of their cool classes, like Vertical Gardening DIY or an Aerium Design Class.

Get your groceries at Alemany Farmers Market

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Alemany Farmers Market
Alemany Farmers Market | © James Cohen/Flickr
With its low prices and bountiful organic fruits and veggies, the Alemany Farmers Market is your go-to for groceries of both quality and quantity. The Market opens at 6.30am and ends at 2pm, but most goods are gone well before 1.30pm, so get here quick! The vendors are extremely friendly and helpful, so you won’t regret waking up early.

Watch a films at Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema

The cinema season doesn’t start until September, but there’s no harm in planning your future fall dates at the Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema, which showcases independent films from local directors in Bernal Heights Park. The cinema also hosts an awards ceremony, Best of Bernal Night, after the cinema season ends, to give audiences the opportunity to vote for their favorite films. If you’re a filmmaker, take note: film submissions open on February 1, 2016.

Bernal Heights Park San Francisco, CA 94110, USA +(1) 415-641-0324

Take a bite at the marketplace on 331 Cortland

Are you craving something pickled? How about Thai food? Or maybe a piroshki (a hot bun stuffed with meat, cheese and/or veggies)? Whatever your appetite craves, you’ll find all these and more at the marketplace on 331 Cortland — these small vendors pack some pretty big flavor.

331 Cortland Ave San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Mitchell’s Ice Cream

Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream
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If you’ve never had Filipino ice cream flavors, now is the time. Mitchell’s Ice Cream has some of the best ice cream in town, and although they have tasty staples like cinnamon or vanilla, don’t go for the norm – you must try their buko, ube, or macapuno ice cream.

Have a coffee break

If you’ve followed this list diligently and done all of the above, you’re probably exhausted by now. It’s time for a break at one of Bernal Heights’ great coffee spots, such as the cozy Progressive Grounds, the third-wave coffee pioneer Pinhole Coffee, and our personal favorite, CoffeeShop.

CoffeeShop, 3139 Mission St, San Francisco, CA, USA (1) 415-368-3802
By Nicole Arca
Born and raised in Southern California, Nicole is a senior at UC Berkeley pursuing a B.A. in Media Studies. She’s a budding yogi and theatre enthusiast with a passion for exploring new food places (documented on her Instagram @nicolearca). Nicole also writes for and performs spoken word poetry at open mics from the Bay to LA.