The lively North Waterfront neighborhood is as famous for its tourists as it is for its famous resident sea lions. But don’t let the constant influx of out-of-towners fool you—this is also an unbelievably nice place to live. Upscale apartments and condos with great waterfront views comprise most of the housing here, and what they overlook is quite spectacular—Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Aquatic Park, Fort Mason, the Embarcadero, and clanging cable cars are among the views that make this neighborhood feel like classic San Francisco.

With an abundance of recreational facilities, waterfront parks, and museums, this is also a great neighborhood for families with kids. For everyday conveniences, the shops and farmer’s market at the Ferry Building marketplace can’t be beat, while the Embarcadero Center offers dozens of chain stores and eateries. ©2016 Maryann LoRusso

The Embarcadero Center is filled with restaurants and specialty stores, and is home to a holiday ice skating rink.

The Embarcadero Center is filled with restaurants and specialty stores, and is home to a holiday ice skating rink.

The Ferry Building Marketplace is home to dozens of artisanal food vendors and is the site of a popular farmer’s market. 

The Ferry Building Marketplace is home to dozens of artisanal food vendors and is the site of a popular farmer’s market. 

Ghirardelli Square is a landmark public square that’s home to upscale shops, wine bars and the famed Ghirardelli chocolate company.

Ghirardelli Square is a landmark public square that’s home to upscale shops, wine bars and the famed Ghirardelli chocolate company.

Occupying the northern waterfront area from Ghirardelli Square to Pier 35, Fisherman’s Wharf is a lively spot filled with seafood restaurants, museums and tourist-friendly shops.

Occupying the northern waterfront area from Ghirardelli Square to Pier 35, Fisherman’s Wharf is a lively spot filled with seafood restaurants, museums and tourist-friendly shops.

Pier 39 offers many attractions, from a children’s carousel and carnival games to food vendors, street entertainers and museums.

Pier 39 offers many attractions, from a children’s carousel and carnival games to food vendors, street entertainers and museums.

At the edge of Pier 39, the Aquarium of the Bay is focused on local aquatic animals from the San Francisco Bay and neighboring waters.

At the edge of Pier 39, the Aquarium of the Bay is focused on local aquatic animals from the San Francisco Bay and neighboring waters.

The sea lions, which started arriving shortly after the 1989 earthquake, have been endearingly called San Francisco’s “Sea-Lebrities.”

The sea lions, which started arriving shortly after the 1989 earthquake, have been endearingly called San Francisco’s “Sea-Lebrities.”

The Powell-Hyde cable car lines, which run from Aquatic Park at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf, are a San Francisco classic.

The Powell-Hyde cable car lines, which run from Aquatic Park at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf, are a San Francisco classic.

A former federal prison, Alcatraz Island (a.k.a. “the Rock”) is a major tourist attraction and can be seen from many points along the waterfront.

A former federal prison, Alcatraz Island (a.k.a. “the Rock”) is a major tourist attraction and can be seen from many points along the waterfront.

The USS Pampanito at Pier 45 is a restored WWII Navy vessel that now serves as a museum and memorial.

The USS Pampanito at Pier 45 is a restored WWII Navy vessel that now serves as a museum and memorial.

Founded in 1877, the Dolphin Club is a public-access organization whose members swim in the waters of Aquatic Park, row in the Bay and on Lake Merced, play in handball tournaments and participate in the annual Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.

Founded in 1877, the Dolphin Club is a public-access organization whose members swim in the waters of Aquatic Park, row in the Bay and on Lake Merced, play in handball tournaments and participate in the annual Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.

A National Historic Landmark sitting alongside the waterfront, Aquatic Park consists of a beach, a bathhouse, and a municipal pier.

A National Historic Landmark sitting alongside the waterfront, Aquatic Park consists of a beach, a bathhouse, and a municipal pier.

The New York Times called the Exploratorium, “the most important science museum to have opened since the mid-20th century.”

The New York Times called the Exploratorium, “the most important science museum to have opened since the mid-20th century.”