South San Francisco is a hidden oasis of the Bay Area in California, located just south of Daly City and north of San Bruno on the Peninsula. When you say "South San Francisco" to out-of-towners, they think that you live in the southern part of San Francisco proper. But South San Francisco is very much its own distinct city, which is not even contiguous with San Francisco.
Population has tripled since World War II with the opening of subdivisions on the slopes west of El Camino Real. It has grown from 4,411 in 1920 to 61,824 in 2006.
Truth be told, the 'rough' reputation that South San Francisco has is nowadays mostly undeserved. The first thing you'll notice is a gigantic sign on the hill between South SF (or as the locals say, "South City") and Brisbane which reads in block capitals: "SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO THE INDUSTRIAL CITY". Yes, it is industrial, but not so much anymore. Mostly what that means is there are a bunch of warehouses and train tracks in the southeast corner of South City, and whoops now you're at the airport.
The people of South City seem to be broken down ethnically into thirds, with a third being Pan-Asian (Chinese, Japanese, and a sizable Filipino population - see Daly City for more), a third being Mexican/South American, and a third being white folk with a concentration of Italians.
Weatherwise, South City is about as good as you could ever hope for. Most of the fog is carved off by the mountain between South City and Pacifica, and mid-70's temperatures are common throughout much of the year. It can get windy, though.
- By plane. South San Francisco is just north of and adjacent to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
- By train. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), a light rail, connects SFO and South San Francisco, with just one stop at San Bruno in between. BART also connects South San Francisco with San Francisco and the East Bay. CalTrain connects South San Francisco with San Francisco and the South Bay.
- By bus. The bus system SamTrans (San Mateo County Transit Authority) connects South San Francisco with the rest of the Peninsula.
- By car. Two major freeways, US 101 or Interstate 280, connects South San Francisco to San Francisco and to San Jose.
Culturally, South City is pretty barren. It is after all a suburb, but you are 20 minutes away by BART or car from the heart of San Francisco, 20 minutes away from the glorious beaches of Pacifica, and 20 minutes away from Burlingame. SSF is a mouse among giants. After you've seen Sign Hill, you've seen the highlight. Strip malls and lots of single family homes and apartments dominate the city. You can park your car when you go shopping (no mean feat if you lived in San Francisco itself) and can get around pretty much anywhere. Few suburbs enjoy as much diverse cultural attractions within a 20-minute radius as South City.
- The Grand, Grand Ave. from Airport Blvd. to Chestnut Ave., is South City's downtown strip. This is where you can find some authentic Mexican bakeries, pastries and burritos.
- The Serramonte Shopping Center is a mall located in Daly City just south of where the coastal Hwy CA 1 and mid-peninsula Interstate 280 meet.
- A commercial strip runs south from Serramonte along Gellert Blvd. for a few blocks.
- At Gellert and Westborough is the Westborough Square Shopping Center
- El Camino Real and Westborough Road centers on a commercial cluster for everything you might wish to find.
- The Tanforan Shopping Center is built on the site of the old Tanforan horse racing track in San Bruno, but is considered home to many South City people. Through the good times and the bad, this mall has held its own.
Food-wise, South City offers up some of the best Mexican and Italian food you could ever hope for. Indian and Thai food is not much spoken for.
There are plenty of bars to get soused with the locals.
- Best Western Grosvenor Airport Hotel, 380 S Airport Boulevard, (650) 873-3200, Toll-free: (800) 722-7141, Fax: (650) 589-3495, .
- Comfort Suites San Francisco Airport, 121 E. Grand Ave., (650) 589-7100 , .
- Days Inn South San Francisco-North, 1113 Airport Blvd., +1 650-873-9300, .
- Embassy Suites - Airport South, 250 Gateway Blvd, +1 650 589-3400, .
- Holiday Inn Express San Francisco Airport North, 373 South Airport Boulevard, 650.589.0600, Fax: 650.589.0682, .
- Holiday Inn San Francisco Airport North (address: 275 South Airport Boulevard)
- Inn at Oyster Point
30 oversized suite-style lodging accommodations near SFO International Airport and attractions. Park and Fly, and extended stay packages available.
- Motel 6 San Francisco Airport, 111 Mitchell Avenue, (650) 877-0770, Fax: (650) 871-8377, .
- The Orchard Garden Hotel (address: 466 Bush St) 415-399-9807
San Francisco’s ‘greenest’ boutique hotel – Orchard Garden Hotel – is an eco-friendly getaway in San Francisco, California, with stylish ‘green’ rooms and suites, lifestyle amenities, meeting space, and a rooftop garden.
- Residence Inn San Francisco Airport/Oyster Point Waterfront, 1350 Veterans Blvd, (650) 837-9000, Fax: (650) 837-9088, .
- Larkspur Landing South San Francisco (address: 690 Gateway Boulevard) 650.827.1515
Complimentary airport shuttle, healthy breakfast, fitness room, spa, grocery shopping and more amenities.
North to the heart San Francisco, east to catch a flight out of SFO, south to the Peninsula, and west to the beaches -- all within 20 minutes.