West Portal: A Guide to San Francisco Neighborhoods

West Portal is in the southern section of the city. It’s a small area, but its commercial corridor along West Portal Avenue services the nearby West of Twin Peaks residential neighborhoods:  Balboa Terrace, Forest Hill, Monterey Heights, Saint Francis Wood, Sherwood Forest, Mount Davidson Manor, and Miraloma. The area feels like a suburban small town but maintains all the conveniences of a city making it a desirable place for families. It’s comprised of more long-time families than transients compared to other areas, strengthening the community feel, and the West Portal MUNI stop makes commuting downtown convenient. Beware Karl the Fog in the summer months. It gets chilly and foggy here.

We polled real moms who live there to find out what makes this neighborhood a good fit for their family. Want to get the scoop directly from the experts? Join our Neighborhood Facebook groups or reach out to a realtor at Neighborhoods.com.

Why Moms Love It 

Moms love that they have the best of both worlds here – the feel of a suburban neighborhood, with detached houses and yards, lots of trees, and walkability to parks and playgrounds – yet they also have easy access to the city and all it has to offer. The locally owned shops and dining options on West Portal Avenue make strolling the neighborhood convenient, but you’ll probably find yourself in the car more frequently living here than you would in more densely populated sections in the northern part of the city. Parking is easy to find in the surrounding residential neighborhoods but can be quite tricky around West Portal Avenue. 

Local Family Favorites

South of the immediate West Portal neighborhood, you’ll find plenty of space to roam at this urban playground near Aptos Middle School. Reopened in 2006, the newly renovated park is the pride of Ocean Avenue. There’s a play structure for little ones, a well-groomed baseball diamond, tennis court, an enormous blacktop area, and beautifully landscaped paths.
The park includes a picnic area, playground, and large playfield, and clubhouse last renovated in 2005.
Mt. Davidson is the highest point in San Francisco and the perfect place for walks and playtime in the forest.
This small playground in Forest Hill has a play structure, tennis courts, and a basketball court.
This popular indoor playground and party space is designed for parents to allow their children to socialize, learn, and play by creating an environment that emphasizes physical exercise, mental stimulation, and collaborative activities.
Children ages 7 and up can take private or group sewing lessons at this local clothing store.
This theater will offer kids movie options and is very family friendly with a nice, local crowd. 
This popular dance school offers classes for children 18 months to 8 years old.
Sign your kids up for a coding class does more than just teaches them to code. It’s a stepping stone to thinking outside the box, as a way to channel ideas in a creative way and most importantly, to have fun.
Your kids will beg to pop into this fun toy shop for a special treat. Also the perfect place to pick up a birthday gift before the party.
A hobby shop and craft supply store that’s fun to browse with the kids. 
A wonderful, local bookstore with great children’s books and an inviting, homey atmosphere.
Play Haven offers activities that promote early childhood learning, social and emotional development, and fine motor skills. You’ll find everything from art and sensory activities, to imaginative games and dramatic play areas, and even a rock climbing wall.

Childcare and Schools

Here’s the thing about childcare and schooling: Your personal situation will determine the right fit for you, and, while there are plenty of options in this neighborhood, your best bet is to check out Winnie.com for an interactive map and comprehensive list of daycares and preschools across the city.  

Likewise, for K-12 schools, we can’t tell you whether the schools here are “good” or not because a good school is based on so many other factors besides test scores. Check out our Tips for Moving to San Francisco with Kids for more help navigating childcare and schooling and a local mom’s take on raising a family in San Francisco.

Learn More 

To get an even better feel for what it’s like to live here, scan our list of 100+ kid-friendly restaurants in the city, find the nearest branch of the public library, and check out the area’s trick-or-treating hotspots.
Visit Neighborhoods.com for photos and more helpful details on West Portal and nearby neighborhoods, including an up-to-date listing of properties for sale.

Neighborhoods.com is a full service brokerage and an easy to use online real estate resource that helps people find the perfect home as well as the ideal neighborhood. We believe that the neighborhood you live in is just as important as the home you live in. The people, places, schools and amenities that surround your home have an enormous impact on your quality of life. When you’re looking for a place to live, you aren’t just picking out a house. You are also deciding who your children will play with and who you might become friends with. So while many people search for their dream house, we believe you should look for your dream home. And your neighborhood is a huge part of that dream.

Check out the other areas featured in our San Francisco Neighborhood Guide for Families and learn more about our guide sponsor, Neighborhoods.com.