The Excelsior’s boundaries are somewhat complicated. According to some city maps, as well as Google, the Excelsior covers the Excelsior, plus University Mound, plus Portola. In other words, the area is bound by Mission Street, Highway 280, Silver Avenue, Dwight Street, McLaren Park, and Geneva Avenue. However, locals consider the Excelsior the area west of Mission Street up to McLaren Park. In some cases, people consider the Excelsior as that “neighborhood with the streets named after cities,” such as Prague, Paris, etc. For this article’s sake, the Excelsior is defined as the area known by the locals described above.
There are many single-family homes in this neighborhood and some apartment buildings, especially along the busier corridors. Therefore, the area is generally very quiet and feels more like a neighborhood in the traditional sense. Also, typically it is not too challenging to find a home to rent or buy in this area since there is usually enough housing inventory. If you choose to live here, there are many rental agencies, property managers, and realtors to help you find the right place. However, you can also start doing some of your own research by visiting property websites, such as www.zillow.com or www.trulia.com, among others, to see home listings with prices and home descriptions.
The Excelsior has a relatively poor reputation safety-wise, with criminal activity centered around Mission Street, Silver Avenue, Geneva Avenue, and University Mound. That said, there are many “safe” pockets within this neighborhood where there is relatively low crime. Your best option is to research crime in the area, as noted in the websites below, as well as ask around before you decide to live here. For information regarding crime in the area, visit www.spotcrime.com or go to @SFPD (San Francisco Police Department.)
In general, the Excelsior is not the best-connected neighborhood in San Francisco, unless you live on Mission Street, but then there are only busses on this street, which are at the mercy of traffic jams. Additionally, city statistics show that local residents have a high dependency on cars for commuting, which exacerbates traffic and is not eco-friendly. However, biking from here into other parts of the City is challenging, and walking is not really an option. Still, it is best to commute through mass transit or biking. Also, and though I am trying to avoid recommending driving, this neighborhood has a lot of on-street parking.
In order to plan and/or schedule a trip by bus, car, on the bike, or on foot, go to www.sfmta.com for traffic, transit, and commuter information.
Shopping and Dining
The main commercial corridor is Mission Street, which is home to many cafes, restaurants, a supermarket, a pharmacy, and shops of all kinds, making it a fun place to walk around and see what is going on. The available foods are American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, including sushi, and Mexican, among others. Be sure to take a culinary walking tour along this section of Mission Street.
Parks and Recreation
There are a few smaller green spaces around, but the best park to go to, and among the top three parks in the City by acreage, is McLaren Park at the Excelsior’s southeast corner. The park is described in more detail on this website, but I will write here that it is my favorite park in San Francisco. You really feel like you are far from a densely populated city, especially since there are not usually many people in the park. Therefore, you can be in nature and even hike around with your dog comfortably.
Schools and Libraries
The local public schools are Cleveland Elementary School, Monroe Elementary School, and June Jordan High School. The local private school is the School of the Epiphany (www.sfepiphany.org), a K-8 Catholic school with a good reputation. Additionally, more schools in the adjoining neighborhoods, such as in Portola and University Mound (please read those articles on this website for more information). We recommend you visit www.niche.com for information regarding private institutions. And for information regarding public schools, visit www.sfusd.edu.
The Excelsior Branch Library is located at 4400 Mission Street on the corner of Cotter Street. It has a good collection of books, DVDs and periodicals. The building is not particularly interesting.