My Favorite Places to Shop, Eat and Play in San Francisco
My family moved to San Francisco in 2010, so this is technically my 6th year living in the city. I love it here, and truly believe San Francisco is one of the best cities in the world - we have amazing food, good shopping and something fun to do around every corner.
I've been working to compile a list of my favorite places in San Francisco for you guys - whether you live here or are just visiting. Email me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have them!
- Locanda. Locanda is one of my favorite restaurants, period. Come here for some classic Roman food - their bucatini is to-die-for.
- Smitten. Smitten makes its ice cream with liquid nitrogen, and it's the coolest thing ever (and the best ice cream I've ever had).
- Sightglass. There's a lot of coffee in the city (Blue Bottle, Wrecking Ball, etc.) but Sightglass is my favorite. Their SoMa location on 7th is my personal favorite - and they have a new location in the SF MoMa.
- Za Pizza. You will not get a better slice of pizza in SF - period.
- Pizzeria Delfina. The Delfina franchise is amazing, and Pizzeria Delfina is no exception. Its pizza, salads and chicken are amazing! This is my go-to for a day full of shopping on Fillmore Street.
- Out the Door. Best. Vietnamese. Food. Ever!
- Park Tavern. Park Tavern is amazing for all meals, but brunch is my personal favorite. Get the challah bread and mimosas!
- Foreign Cinema. What's cooler than seeing a movie and having a great meal? Also, great cocktails.
- Brandy Ho's. Incredible Hunan food - this is our go-to Chinese take-out place.
- Humphry Slocombe. The Harvey Milk + Honey Graham flavor here is my favorite thing on this planet.
- Jane on Fillmore Street. Fillmore is my favorite shopping street in the city (learn why below) and Jane is the perfect brunch or lunch spot to fuel up in the middle of a long day. My favorite is their peanut butter + banana toast.
- Fillmore Street. Full of shops like Aesop, Alice and Olivia, Paige, Steven Allen, Ella Moss, Rag & Bone and more, Fillmore Street is my favorite shopping destination in the city. It's a few blocks from the first apartment I lived in in San Francisco and will always hold a special place in my heart! It's perfect for a Sunday stroll - just note most shops don't open until 11 or so.
- Sacramento Street. I go to Laurel Heights and Sacramento Street when I'm looking for design inspiration. My favorite place here is the Serena and Lily Design Studio - it's like heaven on earth and where all of our bedding is from.
- Chestnut Street. Say what you will about the Marina, but I go there for two things: Chubby Noodle & the shopping on Chestnut & Union Streets. Chestnut is home to some of my favorites (Y&I, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Susie Cakes (best. cupcakes. on. planet. earth.) and Toss. If you're down here for Happy Hour, hit up Tipsy Pig and order the Strawberry Fields + pretzel bites, and, if you get the server Steve, tell him I say hi!
- Union Street. Union is just a few blocks away from Chestnut St. in the Marina and is a great place to stop after you make your way down Chestnut. It has a Sephora, Lululemon, Pressed Juice and a lot of other stores I love - I end up just wandering down this street and landing upon great finds.
- Hayes Valley. Hayes is flat, which is my #1 favorite thing about it (in this city, flat ground is hard to come by, people!). Azalea is always my first stop, and I have so many basic t-shirts and dresses from there. I also love Marine Layer, and you have to stop into Smitten and Miette for afternoon snacks!
- AT&T Park (& 21st Amendment). If you come to San Francisco, you HAVE to go to a Giants game. I'm not a huge sports fan, but Giants games are different - they're SO much fun! We have great food, a great team, and, best part, there's a brewery across the street. I always go to 21st Amendment before games (it gets packed, so go early) and get beer and the mozzarella sticks. Then you can wander over to the park!
- Fort Mason. Warning: only go on sunny days, or else it is cold. But Fort Mason is a great place to spend a warm Saturday or Sunday laying out on blankets and drinking beer.
- Marin Headlands. This may not be in SF, but it's a short drive over the bridge and is totally worth the view. The Headlands are right across the Golden Gate and look back at the entire cityscape. If you're visiting, head up on a clear day (it's still fun on foggy ones, just not as good of a view) and bring your camera (and a jacket, always).
- The Ferry Building. I love it here! They have a farmer's market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, plus a ton of great shops and restaurants inside. My favorites are Gotts, Slanted Door and Humphry Slocombe! If you have time, you should take the ferry over to Sausalito, get off and walk around for the afternoon. It's a great way to see the Bay by water without spending $$ on a boat ride!
- The Fairmont. This is the best hotel in San Francisco, bar none. It's honestly the one I would recommend - it's in a great area (Nob Hill, at the top of a giant hill and out of the downtown toursity congestion) and it's breathtakingly beautiful.
- Airbnb. If you aren't going to stay at The Fairmont or want a cheaper option, always go with Airbnb! The best way to SF is like locals do, and there are amazing apartments and homes on Airbnb.
Pro Tips: How to Visit SF Like a Local
Here are my tips for coming prepared to San Francisco and not looking like a tourist:
Stop with the sneakers and shorts!
Seriously. Just don't ever wear that.
Bring a jacket.
My favorites are leather or denim. Bring one with you wherever you go. It will get cold and even if it's 80 degrees and sunny, you will look stupid in a dress and sandals.
The cable cars aren't worth it.
Snap a picture of one as it goes by instead. I used to live on a cable car line and would witness tourists wasting so much time in line waiting to get on an overcrowded trolley that goes 2 miles per hour. Just ditch it.
Take Uber or the bus to get everywhere.
Don't try to take taxis (you'll thank me later).
Some of the best parts of San Francisco can only be seen by foot, and even though the hills are crazy (just wear comfortable shoes) it really is a walking city.
Plan a day trip out of the city if you can.
I always suggest people try to head up to Napa, even if just for an afternoon. Locals know how to escape the city better than anyone else, and there's nothing like spending an 85 degree, sunny afternoon sipping wine in Napa!
Avoid Fisherman's Wharf at all. costs.
There is nothing down in that area of merit, except In n Out, which you can probably get at home or have had before.
Wear comfortable walking shoes.
I typically wear ballet flats or flat boots everywhere and am good to go, but don't try wearing heeled booties to walk around all day (your feet will get blisters and it will suck).
Do like the locals do.
San Francisco is a coffee city, a beer city, and a really good food city. Those are typically the main activities I tell people to focus on when they're here - eat a lot, spend time with good people and walk around!
Any other questions about SF? Planning a trip here? Leave a comment and I'll help you out!