When in SF, I spend the most time in the Mission – shopping, dining and working on my laptop from coffee shops!
If you want to shop, I recommend strolling Valencia St between 16th St and 21st St.
Here are some food spots I enjoy:
- Craftsman + Wolves for amazing desserts
- Tartine Bakery for french sandwiches and desserts
- Bar Tartine is a classic SF dinner spot (make a reservation)
- Lolo is currently my favorite dinner spot because of its kitschy decor and inventive Mexican cuisine
- The SF skyline views from El Techo de Lolinda are worth seeing!
Hang out in Dolores Park with an ice cream. Ice cream is a cult in SF 🙂
(My favorite ice cream is a Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous, but it’s on the other side of the city and is only open for part of the day.)
You’ll see a street of murals at Valencia and Clarion. There are even better murals at 24th St and Balmy; that particular street is renown. Learn more at Precita Eyes.
Coffee is also a cult in SF 🙂 On/near Valencia, you have Four Barrel (which you can also get at Tartine) and Ritual. On 24th, there’s Philz Coffee which serves no espresso, just coffee; their Mint Mojito (made with cream, fresh mint leaves and organic brown sugar) is worth trying!!
Blue Bottle Coffee is considered to be the best in SF, and you can find that at the Ferry Building. I love to explore Embarcadero on Saturdays, starting at the Ferry Building where they have food tents and a farmers market. The quality and selection of fresh produce is incredible!
From there, you can walk along Embarcadero or take a trolley. I usually walk and stop at each of these places:
- TCHO Chocolate Factory (offering free tours; suggest making a reservation in advance)
- Alcatraz (definitely buy tickets in advance; visit will take about 3 hours)
- Gift shop at Exploratorium
- Sea lions behind Pier 39
- Boudin Bakery (I like their sourdough pizza; worth walking through their standalone flagship store – not the small storefront at Pier 39)
- In-and-Out Burger (only location in the city of SF)
- Musee Mecanique (free and worth strolling through just to laugh):
- Ghiradelli Square (free samples every time you walk in the door of a Ghiradelli Shop)
- Aquatic Park (nice views) and you can catch the cable car ($6 cash per person) down to Powell Street which puts you in Union Square (like our Magnificent Mile with all of the shopping). If you do that, walk from 5th toward 4th or up Powell because between 6th to 8th on Market and Mission Streets is the sketchiest part of town.
Near Aquatic Park are plenty of places to rent a bike if you want to go from here, through Aquatic Park to Crissy Field across the Golden Gate Bridge. (Walking or riding across the Golden Gate Bridge is the best way to experience this SF icon!) Before crossing the bridge, make two stops:
- Food trucks are a part of San Francisco culture. Go to the event “Off the Grid” at Fort Mason for a fun Friday night!
- Park your bike and stroll outdoors around the lovely Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.
- Right before you cross the bridge, take a detour to visit Fort Point. Climb to the top for amazing open-air views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Many tourists ride all the way to Sausalito and take the ferry to the Ferry Building. That’ll take a good part of the day. There are a few hills on on that ride, but nothing daunting.
The hills of San Francisco make it a bit tricky to wander and explore various neighborhoods, but if you’re willing to make the climb, the views are worth it. One great way to experience the various neighborhoods in SF is to take a free walking tour through SF City Guides. I also regularly check SF Fun Cheap for things to do!
- If you you like shopping, check out Hayes Valley.
- Haight Ashbury is the classic hippie neighborhood in SF.
- Golden Gate Park is wonderful for strolling, visiting the Japanese garden or its museums (California Academy of Sciences is my favorite).
- If you have a car, you won’t regret watching at sunset at Sutro Baths or from Cliff House You may even want to go early to hike through Land’s End.