This has been a long time coming! Now that I've lived in SF for over a year (can you believe it?!) I thought I would share my guide to San Francisco. From hidden gems to tourist attractions, these are my top favorite things to do, see, and eat in this city I call home. I'll keep adding to this blog post as I discover new places!
I plan to add more of these guides throughout the year! From my hometown of Austin to Carmel and Napa Valley, I have lots more travel content to share! Stay tuned :)
WHAT TO DO:
Alcatraz: I highly recommend making a visit to Alcatraz at least once in you're life! It's a super cool yet eerie experience. If you're not a scared-y cat, you should do the night tour! Tickets sell out for tours months in advance so be sure to plan accordingly.
Baker Beach: Baker Beach is located close to Lands End (more info on that below) and is home to awesome views of the GG Bridge.
Chinatown: See the Gate to Chinatown located at Sutter and Grant Street and continue to walk up Grant Street for the ultimate experience. So many fun red lanterns are strung across this street and colorful buildings to take in. Definitely a photo opp moment! I do recommend you grab a glass of rosé and a croque madame and dine al fresco at Cafe de la Presse located right outside the Chinatown gate. Although obviously not Chinese, it is a delicious spot to grab brunch/lunch before walking around Chinatown!
Coit Tower: I recommend getting here early as it does get quite crowded. Although a super touristy spot, I highly encourage you to make a stop here and go all the way to the top for some incredible 360 views of SF! It's also my favorite view of Lombard Street. Afterwards, take a walk down through Telegraph Hill (a charming neighborhood beneath Coit Tower) to North Beach. North Beach is home to some amazing Italian restaurants, including my favorite pizza place, Tony's.
Crissy Field/Beach: Right next to Fort Mason, is Crissy Field a favorite spot to hang out . I recommend grabbing Dynamo Donuts then heading here in the morning to take in the sunrise or simply stop by to see the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Fillmore Street: This street is a locals favorite! I'm so lucky to live super close and love walking over to Palmer's for happy hour. This street is home to many amazing shops such as Rag & Bone, Alice & Olivia, Intermix, as well as local boutiques. Not only is there great shopping, but great food as well to refuel on shopping breaks.
Fisherman's Wharf: Although locals tend to avoid this area, I do recommend you make a visit if this is your first time to SF! Stop by Pier 39, see the sea lions, and grab some fresh sourdough bread from Boudin Bakery.
Fort Mason: Hang like a local and grab a bottle of rosé, some cheese, and a blanket and head to Fort Mason. Located in the Marina, you'll see a younger crowd here and is fun people watching spot. Also to note some pretty incredible views of the GG Bridge.
Ghirardelli Square: You must stop by Ghirardelli square to taste some chocolate and get a delicious ice cream sundae! If it's a warm sunny day, grab a spot outside and take in some incredible views of the bay.
Golden Gate Bridge: You can't visit San Francisco and NOT see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge! My favorite views of the bridge include: Marin Headlands (across on the Marin side) and Kirby Cove (also on the Marin side with the iconic "secret" swing) If you're feeling really adventurous I recommend renting a bike and biking across the bridge to Sausalito to grab lunch! It's not too far of a ride and is fun to see the GG bridge up close and personal as you bike across. But be warned! Locals who bike the bridge will yell at you for stopping to take pics...but if you're like me I just quietly ignore and hurry to snap a photo ;) I'm always too tired to bike back afterwards so you can either hop on the ferry or take a taxi back.
Golden Gate Park: is the largest park in all of SF! You could spend hours here wandering the grounds, gardens, and museums!
Haight Ashbury: aka hippie town! This is the area of town noted for starting the hippie movement in the early sixties. Very fun area to walk around and pop into the funky shops!
Lands End: No, not the store. This is a beautiful hiking area and highly recommend walking to Eagles Point Labyrinth for some stunning views of the bay and GG Bridge.
Polk Street: If you're young and wanting to go out to some clubs, this is where they are located! This street is also home to some great restaurants.
San Francisco Cable Cars: You can't come to San Francisco and NOT take a ride on the iconic cable car! I would recommend hopping on the trolley near Union Square and taking it down to Fisherman's Wharf (or vice versa). Not going to lie, I LOVE taking the cable car whenever I can. I just think they're so fun! Warning: typically there are always long lines at the end/beginning of the cable car line. Pro tip: walk a few blocks up and get on at the third or fourth stop. They don't fill the car at the very first stop so people can get on throughout the line.
SFMOMA: I actually still haven't been here yet but is on my list to go! I hear it's absolutely incredible and was recently completely renovated. Highly recommend if you're into modern art.
The Ferry Building: This is one of my absolute favorite spots in the city! Previously an active Ferry Building, it is now home to unique restaurants and shops! It's a great place to grab lunch (my personal favorites include Gotts and Cowgirl Creamery) and take in the view of that other SF bridge (aka the Bay Bridge). They also have an incredible Farmers Market a few days a week here!
The Mission: The Mission neighborhood is filled with some of the best restaurants in the city including Lolinda, El Techo, and Lolo (mentioned in my restaurant list below). The Mission also houses the iconic Dolores Park. Locals love to lay out here on sunny days and there are some incredbile views of downtown San Francisco on top of the hill here. I also recommend you take a stroll down Clarion Alley, (located between Mission and Valencia Streets and 17th and 18th streets) which is notable for incredible murals. See some shots from this blog post. My favorite Indian Restaurant, Curry Up Now, is a short block from Clarion Alley if you get hungry!
The Painted Ladies: If you're a Full House fan, definitely stop by The Painted Ladies! Grab the iconic shot at Alamo Square.
Treasure Island Flea: If you're here during the last weekend of a month, I highly recommend you stop by the Treasure Island Flea (located on Treasure Island). Treasure Island is a small island between SF and Oakland and you get there by taking the Bay Bridge. There are some fun finds at the flea and a full bar and food trucks so you don't go thirsty or hungry while you thrift. Plus, another great view of SF!
Twin Peaks: Twin Peaks is quite possible my favorite view of SF. You see the rolling hills of the city and then the bay on the horizon. You can drive all the way to the top but I also do recommend hiking it for a fun activity!
Union Square: This is the shopping mecca of SF! Although usually filled up with tourists and quite crowded, this is the place to be for doing some damage with your credit card! Be wary of all the beggars in this area.
WHAT TO EAT/DRINK:
Epic Steak: (off the Embarcadero)
Wayfare Tavern (Financial District)
Park Tavern (North Beach)
Chubby Noodle (Multiple Locations)
The Slanted Door (in The Ferry Building)
Osha Thai (in Embarcadero Center)
Cafe Claude (Financial District/Union Square)
Zazie (Hayes Valley)
Tony's Pizza (North Beach)
Pizzeria Delfina (Pacific Heights)
Tacorea (Lower Nob Hill)
Tacolicious (Multiple Locations)
Lolo (The Mission)
El Techo (The Mission)
Foreign Cinema (The Mission)
Plow (Potrero Hill)
Rose's Cafe (Cow Hollow)
Jane (Pacific Heights)
The Tipsy Pig (Marina)
Sweet Maple (Lower Pacific Heights)
Leo's Oyster Bar (Financial District)
Pier 23 Cafe (Embarcadero)
El Techo (The Mission)
Sens (Embarcadero Center)
Starlight Room (Union Square)
Top of the Mark (Nob Hill) - best views of SF!!
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse (Lower Nob)
B. Patisserie (Pacific Heights)
Miette (Hayes Valley)
Humphry Slocombe (Multiple Locations)
Smitten Ice Cream (Pacific Heights)
Cafe Reveille (Multiple Locations)
Blue Bottle (Multiple Locations)
Wrecking Ball (Cow Hollow)
As Quoted (Laurel Heights)
WHERE TO STAY:
(including all price points here)