This one is especially close to my heart, I’ve been going to San Francisco for trips or long weekends ever since I was a kid and it’s always been one of my favorite cities. It’s been amazing to watch the city develop and change over the past decade and of course, discover some great new spots.
First of all, before traveling to this famously foggy city, make sure you check the weather. The Bay Area is known for having unpredictable weather, which means you could be shivering one minute and sweating the next. This is the perfect opportunity for layering, so pack accordingly! Check out my style picks for a day of wandering the city below.
We did so much during this trip it’s hard to write about all of it, but there are some highlights and places I love in this article, hope you enjoy!
For me, San Francisco is similar to Paris in that it’s a beautiful, diverse and (fairly) walkable city with delightfully distinct neighborhoods; here are a few of my favorites:
The Neighborhood: Nob Hill
Contraband Coffee – 1415 Larkin Street
Adorable coffee spot where you can soak up the local ambience and enjoy a great brew or a tasty pâtisserie.
The Neighborhood: Russian Hill
Reminiscent of small-town France, this is really OG San Francisco; featuring classical architecture, small, winding roads, stunning views of the city and of course the most crooked street in the world, Lombard Street. Take a moment to really explore this area and go beyond touristy Lombard, I think you’ll like what you find.
Saint Frank Coffee – 2340 Polk Street
A coffee house built on a minimalist vibe, here you’ll find only top-notch roasts, friendly staff and a super cozy yet gorgeous interior.
The Neighborhood: North Beach
Ahh little Italy. The nickname for this area couldn’t be more appropriate as the neighborhood has a quirky and distinctly European vibe (which I love!). See the city from above at Coit Tower and be sure to wander through Washington Square Park, located just in front of a beautiful cathedral.
Mama’s – 1701 Stockton Street
This local legend is worth the wait. With lines often snaking around the block, set your alarms early (Open from 8-3) and beat the rush for the best brunch in the city!
City Lights Booksellers and Publishers – 261 Colombus Ave
Arguably the best bookshop in the city, there’s not much you won’t find in this incredible spot. Known for its poetry section, this historical landmark of a bookshop pays homage to the areas’ Beat Generation roots.
Sotto Mare – 552 Green Street
Don’t let the line outside scare you, it actually moves pretty quickly and even if you have to wait, the food is well worth it. This Italian joint specializing in fresh seafood will definitely make an impression, and it’s hard to go wrong with so many delicious choices. Still the best seafood risotto I’ve ever had (and I’ve been to Italy).
Golden Boy Pizza – 542 Green Street
This laidback pizza joint has been serving up some amazing pizza by the slice for years. Head inside to enjoy yours on a bar stool or take a slice (maybe 2) to go. I know it sounds crazy, but seriously try the clam pizza, it will blow your mind.
The Neighborhood: Chinatown
While somewhat self-explanatory, this neighborhood deserves a mention. Not only one of the largest Chinatowns in the country but also one of the most up-and -coming, you can find everything from traditional Chinese cuisine to fusion spots and great coffee. Bordering North Beach and the Financial District, Chinatown is easy to find and well worth a little exploration.
Ohana Poké Bar – 605 Kearny Street
Let me start by saying, if you like fish and you haven’t tried poké yet, you’re seriously missing out. A Hawaiian tradition, poké is raw fish tossed with spices and sauce and served with rice and usually a type of seaweed salad. At this poké bar you can customize your bowl and your sides, making for nearly endless tasty possibilities. The atmosphere is simple, but it gets busy fast, so get there early to have optimal choices!
Chapel Hill Coffee Co. – 670 Commercial Street
This tucked away spot is great for a quick and yummy coffee.. The pastries are delicious as well!
The Neighborhood: Fisherman’s Wharf
Tourist central, but with good reason. This bustling waterfront neighborhood is picturesque and offers some great dining and entertainment options; take a cable car down here and don’t hesitate to grab some fresh-caught seafood or board the ferry to Alcatraz!
Ghiradelli Square – 900 North Point Street
This iconic chocolatier has a fun storefront as well as a café serving up all kinds of chocolate delights. You can’t really go wrong with any of the choices but my personal favorite is the Treasure Island.
Grandeho’s Kamekyo Sushi – 2721 Hyde Street
If you like sushi, you will love the big menu here. Offering a wide variety of traditional Japanese fare as well as some more complex rolls, you’re sure to find a new favorite.
The Neighborhood: Pacific Heights
The affluent 16e of San Francisco, this area is full of gorgeous Victorian style homes and offers some of the best shopping in the city.
Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters – 2271 Union Street
An upscale coffee shop where you can find great service as well as a distinctly tasty cup of joe.
Alamo Square/ Painted Ladies
Here you will be able to take that classic San Francisco photo featuring the beautiful painted ladies (the name given to the colorful Victorian buildings).
The Neighborhood: Mission
Becoming trendier by the day, this once grimy area of the city is bustling with amazing food and stunning street art.
A picnic in Dolores Park.
Offering some of the best views of the city, this park is the spot to be on a sunny afternoon.
La Taqueria – 2889 Mission Street
This no-frills, Mexican taqueria will become a fast favorite. Everything on the menu is simple yet fresh and delicious every time.
Dog Eared Books – 900 Valencia Street
This quaint bookshop is one of my favorite places to browse because of their unexpected selections. Be sure to check out the poetry section as well as their sale bins out front!
The Neighborhood: The Castro
Spike’s Coffee and Teas – 4117 19th Street
Adorable coffee and tea shop tucked away in the bustling Castro district.
Nightlife! Head out around 8PM to make the most of local happy hours and find a spot that piques your interest.
The Neighborhood: Haight-Ashbury
Drenched in 60’a counterculture, this unique neighborhood is an enjoyable step back in time. Have fun wandering the streets and discovering the lovely boutiques and otherworldly charm this place has to offer.
Ritual Coffee Roasters – 1300 Haight Street
This coffee chain roasts it’s beans on-site so you’re guaranteed a fresh and delicious pick-me-up!
Buena Vista Park – Buena Vista and Haight
Take a load off and enjoy a peaceful respite from city life and this gorgeous little park.
The Neighborhood: SoMa (South of Market)
A large and rather industrial district, the SoMa has lots to offer in terms of shopping and activities.
Check out Giants baseball game at AT&T Park
Bonus: If you’re looking for some time in nature or just want to get out of the city mindset for awhile, head over to Golden Gate Park or the Presidio (both in the city). If you have more time, be sure to go to Muir Woods Redwood Forest (about a 2-hour or so drive).
I hope you guys enjoyed this article, what are some of your favorite places in the city?
What I’m Wearing:
Zara Jacket | Leith Top | Zara Skirt | Converse Shoes | Brandy Melville Necklaces