Yes, dogs outnumber kids, but San Francisco remains a wonderful place to raise children. Toddlers can slide down a giant dragon’s tongue or frolic on timbers beside a redwood grove, tikes can watch bison grazing in Golden Gate Park and sea lions sunning themselves at Fisherman’s Wharf, and the young—and young-at-heart—can take a leisurely spin on antique carousels.
And then there is Halloween. Roaming our historic, Victorian-lined streets in search of sweets is a truly enchanting experience, both for children and their parents. Even Zillow, which named San Francisco the best trick-or-treating city in the country in 2017, agrees. Read on for our guide to the best locales within the 7x7 for high-fructose fun.
Could there be a more appropriately named spot for saying “trick-or-treat” than Treat Avenue? The Bernal Heights portion of the street, which reemerges as a dead-end tail on the south side of Precita Park, is the perfect place for kiddos to collect a Halloween bounty. Bookended between the park and Bernal Hill, it offers a safe, car-free zone for teens and toddlers to tromp. The local residents get into the spirit, decorating their homes with life-size skeletons and plenty of fake blood.
A group of dedicated neighbors turned Shotwell Street in the Mission into a trick-or-treating destination in its own right. Lined by tall Victorians that emit plenty of spooky vibes, here’s where you’re most likely to be invited into someone’s living room, spy a not-so-secret graveyard or run into old friends.
Fair Oaks Street
Another option on the southeast side of the city is Fair Oaks Street between 21st and 26th, which draws throngs of kiddos and adorable costumes every year.
Family-friendly Noe Valley is a quaint neighborhood crowded with strollers by day. By All Hallow’s Eve, it’s another great option for trick-or-treating with shop owners and residents doling out candy, especially on 24th Street between Church and Castro. Sanchez, a closed-off Slow Street, will be particularly safe for kiddos, with a toddler-friendly trick-or-treat planned for Sunday, Oct. 30, from 3 to 5 p.m. as well as a bigger trick-or-treat Halloween night.
Halloween is an all-night celebration in Cole Valley, where house parties spill out onto the street from the many charming single-family homes lining the neighborhood. Belvedere Street gets blocked off so it’s safe for trick-or-treaters, and the area between Parnassus Avenue and 17th Street is full of action. Past years have had costumed dancers performing in windows and movies projected onto the sides of buildings. Go early and expect crowds.
If you want the best chance of full-size candy bars—and sometimes even toys—head to Sea Cliff, one of the toniest neighborhoods in a city known for its wealth. Along with your treats, you’ll get to see some serious mansions. Given all the treasure seekers, the area has become too crowded for some. For a mellower experience, stay closer to California and 32nd streets.
Trick-or-treating in this neighborhood comes with a suburban vibe—not too crowded, with lots of neighborhood kids running around and plenty of decorated homes.
For more of a small-town feel for your trick-or-treating, head to the West Portal neighborhood. Creative, people of all ages. Big houses that go all out with the decorating, and some even giving full-size candy bars.
This typically sleepy neighborhood gets transformed on Halloween, with sprawling homes and manicured lawns displaying plenty of frightful creativity.
Lake Street is one of the best places for Halloween in the Richmond. Check out between Fifth and Ninth avenues and 23rd and 25th avenues for maximal trick-or-treat action.
Another family-friendly neighborhood, Glen Park might be more off the radar—but that doesn’t mean it's any less fun. People go all out for Halloween here, complete with notoriously gory Halloween displays. Chenery Street between Elk and Diamond is closed to traffic, offering lots of room to wander and have fun, with neighbors passing out drinks for the adults and candy for the kids.
For maximum sweets in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, head to Third Street. You’ll find lots of businesses participating in a "trick-or-treat trail,” all the way from Evans to Armstrong.
More Streets With Treats: Looking for a spot near you? Check out The Standard’s map showing 23 of the sweetest trick-or-treat streets in San Francisco.
Julie Zigoris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org