Cole Valley is a Family Favorite
If Cole Valley could be described in colors, canary yellow with green trim would suit it well. Prettily painted Victorian houses decorate sun dappled tree-lined streets smack in the geographical center of San Francisco. Cole Valley is a small neighborhood that’s a favorite for families and their pets. The shops and restaurants, even an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, tend to be of the independent mom-and-pop variety.
Tucked in-between the busier Haight Ashbury and Castro District, Cole Valley resembles neither. The essence of Cole Valley could be summed up as relaxed, friendly, family-oriented and community-minded.
At the Corner of Cole & Carl
Other dining-out pastimes include relaxing over an outdoor Sunday brunch in the back garden or treating the kids to a burger, fries and a shake at family-owned and operated place. Occupying land that was once a dairy farm, Cole Valley has strong ties to its past. Now gone, The Other Café was a comedy club where locals Robin Williams, Dana Garvey, Whoppi Goldberg and Ellen deGeneres used to perform standup. Browse the old photo collection at the Kezar Bar & Restaurant that recalls extraordinary changes over a century. Perhaps run into Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, whose home-away-from-home is the Reverie coffee shop.
People and Pooches on Parade
Gleaming red fire engines, a classic car show, red-nosed clowns, face painting and balloon artists are part of the fun at the Cole Valley Fair held on a weekend in late September when San Francisco weather is at its best. A Halloween parade and an Easter parade offer more opportunities to raid the costume box and great photo opportunities for fun-loving visitors who seek out an insider’s look at real San Francisco life.
Take a Hike
Don’t leave Cole Valley without a little hike up to Tank Hill Park, elevation 650 feet. While the old water tank is gone, the views from here are as fine as ever, stretching from Point Reyes to Bayview Hill. Approach the small park with superb bay views via Shrader Street to Belgrave Avenue, a 15-minute walk from the center of Cole Valley. Sixty species of native plants flourish on less than three acres, where visitors can see evidence of chert rocky outcrops that were formed on the ocean floor 130 million years ago. San Francisco Park Alliance calls it a “secret treasure.”
Intriguing for intrepid walkers, an enchanted century-old eucalyptus forest describes a hike in Sutro Woods, where the eastern border of San Francisco’s largest urban forest borders Cole Valley. Wear waterproofs, take a map and venture in via the stairs at 17th Street and Stanyan Street. Go on a foggy day, hiking Fairy Gates Trail for full effect. The 900-hoot hill is not an easy climb, nor a sunny one.
Those looking for additional urban hikes, note that Golden Gate Park is only a 12-minute walk from Cole Valley.
Did You Know?
- Cole Valley is home to UCSF, one of the world’s most highly acclaimed medical research and teaching hospitals.
- The Ice Cream Bar at 815 Cole Street has an authentic 1930s counter transported from Mackinaw City, Michigan to make this soda fountain authentic.
- Walkers can frequently encounter great horned owls on hikes in Sutro Woods.
- Peer above the awning of Crepes on Cole restaurant where the old sign from The Other Café comedy club is still visible.