As the cultural hub for Northern California, San Francisco has some of the state’s top museums and shops. The Bay Area’s diverse community means there’s also a wide array of food and restaurants to sample in the city. The city is a manageable size as well, at just seven miles wide by seven miles long, and yet it’s one of the most culturally dynamic metropolises in the country.
The influx of tech billionaires from Silicon Valley may have led it to lose some of its rebellious edge, and caused it to become one of the most expensive cities in the world, but the city’s iconic architecture and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean remain unparalleled. It’s worth the cost of a hotel stay for a taste of Tartine’s iconic sourdough bread and a stroll through Golden Gate Park alone. Read on for our picks of the best places to shop, eat and see in San Francisco.
Stashed is all about curation. The boutique maintains a small but fresh collection of sneakers, apparel and accessories. Look for everything from new pieces from Heron Preston to elegant Taschen books on design and footwear.
Address: 2360 3rd St, Dogpatch
Rand + Statler
Part of San Francisco’s Azalea family, along with Azalea Boutique and Welcome Stranger, Rand + Statler caters to a younger but still moneyed set. Here you’ll find a mix of mens and womenswear with labels like Aimé Leon Dore, A.P.C. and COMME des GARÇONS PLAY. There’s also a small kids section with brands like Mini Rodini.
Address: 425 Hayes St, Hayes Valley
MAAS & Stacks
Address: 2128 Market St, Duboce Triangle
With its trademark steep and winding hills, a casual stroll in San Francisco can easily feel like a mountain trek. So naturally, you’ll need a backpack and DSPTCH has you covered. The store carries all manner of practical bags and straps, ranging from fanny packs to camera straps.
Address: 786 Valencia St, Mission District
The Darkside Initiative
Sneakerheads flock to The Darkside Initiative for its access to the latest footwear drops — the store has even collaborated with Vans Vault. And though sneakers are king, The Darkside Initiative also carries apparel, particularly Japanese brands such as WTAPS and NEIGHBORHOOD. The store also has a location on Valencia Street in the Mission District.
Address: 1827 Powell St, North Beach
Liholiho Yacht Club
Liholiho Yacht Club combines flavors from Hawaii, Japan, Korea and of course California — in short it’s the quintessential San Francisco restaurant. In addition to an eclectic food menu, there’s also a long list of tropical cocktails. And yes, spam is on the menu. For dessert, be sure to order the signature Baked Hawaii.
Address: 871 Sutter St, Lower Nob Hill
State Bird Provisions
The state bird in question is the California quail, which features in the restaurant’s signature dish but State Bird Provisions serves far a wide range of innovative, California-inspired dishes. The menu is modeled after dim sum, with small plates meant for sharing. If you can’t get a table, try its sister restaurant The Progress next door.
Address: 1529 Fillmore St, Western Addition
Tartine is, without a doubt, worth the hype. The longstanding bakery is best known for its signature sourdough bread, but if that’s sold out (which it usually is) choose instead from a wide array of fresh pastries and sandwiches. In 2016 Tartine opened the Tartine Manufacturory, which holds a restaurant, coffee shop and bar all under one roof.
Address: 600 Guerrero St, Mission District
Brenda’s French Soul Food
Louisiana native Brenda Buenviaje opened her namesake restaurant in 2007 — back when the Tenderloin wasn’t exactly a trendy destination. Now over 10 years later, she and her wife Libby are still serving breakfast, lunch, brunch, supper and everything in between. Expect creole and soul food classics like beignets, grits and catfish.
Address: 652 Polk St, Tenderloin
San Francisco isn’t exactly the prime spot for ice cream weather, but that doesn’t stop lines from forming around the block at Bi-Rite Creamery, which also has a grocery store on site. The ice cream shop specializes in organic creations and seeks to foster a sense of community through food. In addition to the original location on 18th Street, Bi-Rite has a cafe at Civic Center Plaza and an ice cream truck that roams the city.
Address: 3692 18th St, Mission District
Sightglass is all about the process. The shop sources and roasts its own beans, which you can purchase online if you can’t make it to the cafe itself. Sightglass has been at its original SoMa location since 2009, but now boasts locations throughout the city.
Address: 270 Seventh St, SoMa
Make a stop at Flywheel before exploring Golden Gate Park, found right next door. The shop itself is all about reducing its environmental footprint, and was designed using reclaimed wood and repurposed materials.
Address: 672 Stanyan St, Haight-Ashbury
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
SFMOMA is the country’s largest museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. Its permanent collection boasts works by the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo, alongside major exhibitions from outside museums like the Whitney’s popular "Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again." In 2016, the museum reopened after a three-year closure with a new structure by renowned architecture studio Snøhetta.
Address: 151 3rd St, SoMa
California Academy of Science NightLife
Every Thursday evening, the California Academy of Science stays open late to serve food, drink and music to a 21-plus crowd. Themes change from week to week, but entrance is always $15 USD. Come back during the daytime hours to see the full scope of the museum.
Address: 55 Music Concourse Dr, Golden Gate Park