Introducing The Castro & Noe Valley
The Castro's main crossroads is at the intersection of Market, 17th and Castro Sts. Noe Valley extends along 24th St, a scant mile down Castro, over the (gigantic) 21st St hill. You can explore both neighborhoods in a few hours.
Mornings are quiet. The Castro is busiest afternoons and evenings, especially weekends, when crowds come to people-watch, shop and drink; at night expect to see 20-somethings stumbling down Castro. Noe Valley is best midday and in the afternoon – there's not much open after 7pm, just some bars and restaurants.
If the 21st St Hill atop Castro St proves too daunting, bus 24-Divasadero connects the two neighborhoods but it's notorious for gaps in service: expect to wait or check www.nextmuni.com for real-time arrivals. In Noe Valley, shops on 24th St extend between Diamond and Sanchez Sts; and on Church St, the restaurants and shops continue until the last stop on the J-Church line, around 29th St. Castro-area shops line Market St, between Church and Castro Sts, and Castro St, from Market to 19th Sts, with a few scattered along 18th St. Both neighborhoods are surrounded by residential streets, good for strolling, with many pretty Victorians.