Twin Peaks-Lake Merced in San Francisco
Twin Peaks-Lake Merced is an area consisting of most of Southwestern San Francisco. It runs from the Twin Peaks to Merced Park at the very southwestern corner of the city, and includes the Twin Peaks neighborhoods, West Portal, and Miraloma Park before stretching west to SFSU and Lake Merced. It is bordered by the Sunset neighborhood on the northwest, the Castro-Noe Valley district to the northeast, and the neighborhood of Ingleside to the southeast.
The name Twin Peaks stems from the fact that it consists of two almost identical peaks. It is practically at the geographical center of the city, and at an elevation of over 900 feet it offers spectacular 360 degree panoramic views of the city and the bay. Although the peaks remain undeveloped, the foot of the hillside is peppered with residential houses, taking advantage of the spectacular vistas.
Miraloma Park is a quiet, pleasant residential district of single-family homes. Homes were first built in the neighborhood in the late 1920s. Construction continued in waves through the 1950s. The neighborhood therefore offers a variety of architectural styles: from 1920s classic to mid-century modern.
West Portal is a small business district on the western side of San Francisco's largest hills. The name refers to the western end of the Twin Peaks Tunnel, a subway tunnel which runs under the Twin Peaks and connects to the Market Street subway tunnel in downtown.
Lake Merced is a freshwater lake which now serves mainly as a recreational spot, surrounded by much parkland. It was the last area of San Francisco to develop, making it the best place to put the large San Francisco Zoo and the campus for San Francisco State University, which is the heart of another small business district.
MUNI Metro K, L and M lines serve the area. From downtown, all three lines travel underground, stopping at the Forest Hill and West Portal stations. After West Portal, the lines run on the surface. The L-line runs west through the Sunset neighborhood to the San Francisco Zoo. The K and M lines split up as they head toward Ingelside, with the M-line stopping at the San Francisco State University.
Muni bus lines which serve the area include the 36-Teresita, 37-Corbett, 43-Masonic, 44-O'Shaughnessy and the 48-Quintara/24th Street lines in the Twin Peaks area, and the 17-Parkmerced, 18-46th Avenue, 23-Monterey, 28-19th Avenue and 29-Sunset lines in the Lake Merced and SFSU area.
- Fort Funston
This scenic section of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a favorite for hikers, bikers and beach-goers, with rugged coastal highlands and deep sand dunes. Hang gliding is quite popular here, with several shops for hang gliders in the area. Nearby is the remnants of Battery Davis, a WWII-era military defense mechanism.
- Glen Canyon Park (directions: along O’Shaughnessy Blvd south of the Twin Peaks)
A quiet city park great for hiking, dogwalking and nature viewing, containing a steep canyon situated amidst some residential neighborhoods. The park offers a rare glimpse into what the hilly landscape of San Francisco looked like before development. A small creek, Islais Creek, runs through the canyon and is one of the last free-flowing streams in the city.
- Mt. Davidson Park
In the middle of a residential neighborhood, Mt. Davidson Park (which boasts the highest point in San Francisco) offers great hiking trails. Mt. Davidson's most distinguishing feature is a 6-story cross nestled among the many eucalyptus trees, which can be seen from various spots in the city depending on which angle your looking from. It was constructed as part of the WPA program of the 1930s, and is the site of a sunrise mass every Easter. At the peak, you're rewarded with great views of downtown and the bay.
- San Francisco State University +1 415 338-1111
- SF State Art Gallery (address: SF State, Fine Arts Building, Room 238) +1 415 338-6535
open: Tu 12PM-4PM, W 12PM-5PM, Th-Sa 12PM-4PM
- SF State Art Gallery (address: SF State, Fine Arts Building, Room 238) +1 415 338-6535
- San Francisco Zoo (address: on Sloat Boulevard at 47th Avenue) +1 415 753-7080
price: Adults $15 ($12 for SF residents), seniors $12 ($7.50 for SF residents), Children $9 ($5.50 for SF residents), Children 3 and under are free
open: Daily 10AM-5PM
A large zoo with all the animals you'd expect, and then some. Some of the highlight exhibits are the African area (where you'll see many African animals living together in the same exhibit), a primate center, a children's zoo, and a family farm (a large petting zoo), but there's plenty more, along with events like wildlife shows.
- Twin Peaks (address: accessible by car or on foot via Twin Peaks Boulevard) (directions: north of Portola Drive, just east of Laguna Honda)
The small parking area at the northern tip of Twin Peaks Boulevard (875' above sea level) is near the physical center of the city, and one of its highest points, providing spectacular views in all directions. Tour buses can get backed up here during the day, but it's a great place to really appreciate the city from above, especially at and after sunset. Temperatures up there can be quite a bit lower than in the rest of the city, so bring a jacket. Muni bus #37, a scenic ride from the Haight-Ashbury or Castro and Market streets, gets you close, so you only have to climb the last 120' up.
- Lake Merced
A freshwater lake in the very southwestern corner of San Francisco. It's a scenic place to hike and a popular fishing spot.
- San Francisco State University Gators (address: SF State campus)
Various college sports including baseball, basketball and soccer.
- Miraloma Market (address: 755 Portola Drive) (directions: between Fowler and Evelyn) +1 415 681-2474
Neighborhood convenience store that also sells lottery tickets; its also home to the Miraloma Tacqueria.
- Mollie Stones Tower Market (address: 635 Portola Drive) (directions: at Teresita) +1 415 664-1600
open: Daily 8AM-9PM
Boutique market with butcher and deli departments
- Stonestown Galleria Shopping Center (address: 3251 20th Ave) +1 415 759-2626
open: M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 12PM-6PM
Shopping mall next to SFSU. Anchor stores are Nordstrom, Macy’s, Williams-Sonoma, Borders, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and an Apple Computer store.
- Bullshead Restaurant (address: 840 Ulloa St) (directions: next door to the West Portal Muni Station) +1 415 665-4350
A steakhouse well known for their excellent buffalo burgers.
- Bursa (address: 60 W Portal Ave) +1 415 564-4006
open: M-F 5PM-10PM, Sa-Su 3PM-10PM
A glossy Mediterranean and Turkish restaurant with a large menu.
- Creightons American Bakery (address: 673 Portola Drive) (directions: between Teresita and Fowler) +1 415 753-0750
Local coffee shop and bakery.
- Fresca (address: 24 W Portal Ave) (directions: near the West Portal Muni Station) +1 415 759-8087
open: M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-11PM, Sa 4PM-11PM, Su 4PM-9PM
A small but popular and great Peruvian restaurant.
- New Tsing Tao Restaurant (address: 811 Ulloa St) +1 415 566-9559
open: Su–M, W-Th 11AM–9:30PM, F-Sa 11AM–10PM
A superb Chinese restaurant with large portions and good take-out service.
- Squat & Gobble Cafe (address: 1 W Portal Ave) +1 415 665 9900
Part of a San Francisco chain, this is a pleasant breakfast place with some excellent crepes. Good place to take the kids.
- Taipei Restaurant (address: 2666 Ocean Ave) (directions: at 19th) +1 415 753-3338
open: Daily 11:30AM-9:30PM
Very delicious Chinese restaurant, with healthy ingredients and no MSG; although it is more expensive than the standard Chinese fare.
- Taqueria Miraloma (address: 755 Portola Drive) (directions: between Fowler and Evelyn) +1 415 681-2471
open: Daily 9AM-9:30PM
A hidden gem of a taco stand (and truly a "stand", it's take-out only) in the Miraloma neighborhood, with excellent burritos.
- Tower Burger (address: 729 Portola Drive) (directions: at Fowler) +1 415 504-6340
Burgers made from Niman Ranch beef are a specialty here.
- Dubliner (address: 328 W Portal Ave) +1 415 566-9444
open: M-W 3:30PM-2AM, Th-Su 10AM-2AM
Nice Irish pub. Lots of events, like trivia nights, bingo nights, and $3 drinks from 8-10PM on Su, Th and Sa.
- Joxer Daly's (address: 46 W Portal Ave) +1 415 564-1412
A nice, clean dive bar in West Portal with plenty of TVs and seats.
- Miraloma Club (address: 749 Portola Drive) (directions: between Fowler and Evelyn) +1 415 564-1131
Neighborhood watering hole with a pool table.
- Philosopher's Club (address: 824 Ulloa St) +1 415 753-0599
A friendly neighborhood bar with a pool table, jukebox and a couple of TVs.
- Portal's Tavern (address: 179 W Portal Ave) +1 415 731-1208
open: Daily 10AM-2AM
An informal local bar with friendly bartenders.
- Days Inn at the Beach (address: 2600 Sloat Blvd) (directions: at 44th) +1 415 665-9000
Your typical Days Inn; across the street from the zoo.
- Ocean Park Motel (address: 2690 46th Ave) (directions: at Wawona) +1 415 566-7020 firstname.lastname@example.org
price: Under $100
1930's 'Art Deco' motel. Just a short stroll to the beach and San Francisco Zoo.
- Robert's-at-the-Beach-Motel (address: 2828 Sloat Blvd) (directions: at 46th Ave) +1 415 564-2610
price: $65 & up
A dive motel, but if you're desperate for a cheap place to stay, it's across the street from the zoo and right next to the MUNI Metro line.
- San Francisco Public Library - Merced Branch (address: 155 Winston Dr) +1 415 355-2825
open: Su 1PM-5PM, M 10AM-6PM, Tu 10AM-9PM, W 1PM-9PM, Th 10AM-6PM, F 1PM-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM
- San Francisco Public Library - West Portal Branch (address: 190 Lenox Way) +1 415 355-2886
open: Su 1PM-5PM, M 1PM-9PM, Tu-W 10AM-9PM, Th 10AM-6PM, F 1PM-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM