- HEARTFELT: 436 Cortland Avenue
If I could take everything in this store home with me, I would. They stock beautiful and hilarious cards, patterned wrapping paper, and a large selection of oilcloth, tea towels, and kitchen ware, as well as jewelry and kids’ toys. Check out the fresh bouquets outside everyday, too.
2. Best Vintage Shop, Thrift Store, or Flea Market
- ALEMANY FLEA MARKET: 100 Alemany Boulevard
Known as “Hipsters and Hoarders” in my household, this weekly flea market attracts a diverse crowd of buyers and sellers. Treasures can be found if one is willing to sort through the piles, and street food trucks are always on site if one requires sustenance to continue the treasure hunt.
3. Favorite Bookstore
- RED HILL BOOKS: 401 Cortland Avenue
Great selection of new and used books, along with bargain bins outside every day. Best of all is the vintage school ephemera on the walls inside.
4. Favorite Coffee Shop, Café, or Restaurant
- PROGRESSIVE GROUNDS: 400 Cortland Avenue
This coffee shop has great drinks, the “best Greek salad in the city” (according to one of the owners, but I agree with him), and serves Mitchell’s ice cream. It also has lots of seating, including a beautiful back garden for sunny days.
5. Best Hardware/Paint Store
- COLE HARDWARE: 3312 Mission Street
This locally-owned hardware store packs a huge amount of goods into a small storefront and always smells like fresh popcorn due to the vintage popcorn maker by the door. In addition to all of the regular hardware items, Cole Hardware has an awesome kitchen and bath aisle, as well as canning goods, rain boots, and plants.
6. Best Place to Pick Up Groceries & Flowers
- ALEMANY FARMER'S MARKET: 100 Alemany Boulevard
The first farmers’ market in California, this market has been operating at the bottom of Bernal Hill since 1947. Every Saturday tons of local farmers sell their fresh produce, flowers, plants, and food at extremely fair prices. Proximity to this market is one reason we moved to the neighborhood—that’s how good it is. We love the tamales, fresh bread, and Afghani food there too.
7. Best Neighborhood Park
- BERNAL HEIGHTS PARK: Bernal Heights Boulevard
The steep hike up to the top of this hill is worth it—you get 360 degree views of the entire city. The base of the park is a dog park, and there’s an incredible amount of trees and plants growing in the area. Take one of the stairways down the hill from the park and you’ll stumble upon two slides built into the hillside. So much more fun than walking down!
8. Best Spot to Take Visitors
- Explore all of the great shops and restaurants on Cortland Avenue and then walk up to Bernal Heights Park for a view of the city. On the way back down, reward yourself with a scoop from Maggie Mudd.
Photos: Kelly Thanks, Kelly!
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