Hayes Valley, San Francisco.
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As odd as it might be to say so, the argument can be made that Hayes Valley actually benefited from the Loma Prieta earthquake that rocked San Francisco in 1989.

Previously, major entrance ramps to the 101 freeway on nearby Franklin and Gough Streets caused so much congestion that businesses, apart from a few dingy diners, were largely non-existent. Damage from the quake, however, forced the ramps to be torn down, and the ensuing years saw Hayes Valley bloom into a downright fashionable destination.

Although its boundaries are ill-defined, the main drag of Hayes Street, north of the lower Haight, is now home to row upon row of trendy boutiques, classy watering holes, and restaurants that unquestionably require advance reservations.

Window shoppers and art lovers peruse the myriad galleries by day, stopping in for crêpes and imported teas along the way, while specialty wine shops, design outlets, and even a high-end clothing store for pets do brisk business.

A few pre-quake burger joints and shoestring grills have held fast through the area’s transformation, but Hayes Valley’s proximity to the Performing Arts District now brings middle-aged tuxedo-clad opera-, symphony-, and ballet-goers out at night, when they dine at some of the highest-rated French and German restaurants in the city before or after a show.

Dimly lit romantic lounges and cozy wine bars attract a younger crowd of hip professionals as well, but even on its busiest weekend nights, Hayes Valley exudes a refined vibe that’s no doubt popular, but still worlds away from rowdy.

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