San Francisco

San Francisco Travel Guide

On this narrow street branching east from Union Square, chic boutiques close ranks. The highlight, though, is the Xanadu Gallery’s Frank Lloyd Wright building (140 Maiden Lane). Its stern brick façade conceals a graceful interior with a Guggenheim-esque spiral staircase.

Cable cars have competition for Most Endearing Public Transit. These early-20th-century streetcars trundle along the Embarcadero. You might glimpse an orange Milanese number or the olive green “streetcar named desire” from New Orleans.

Two stone lions practically purr for a photo op, flanking this pagoda-style arch.

Perched atop Telegraph Hill, this 1930s Art Moderne landmark is a dashingly romantic spot at sunset. It’s all fluted, ivory glamour on the outside; inside you’ll find period murals of city life. You can climb up to the observation deck, but the bay view from the ground is nearly as grand.

More eclectic and accessible than Design Within Reach just a few doors down, the independently owned Zinc Details has been selling contemporary furniture, lighting, and objects—from Normann Copenhagen’s Grass Vase to Blue Dot’s Buttercup Rocker—since 1991.

In a space flanked by unfinished wood panels and a hanging rope ceiling, patrons enjoy mason jars filled with Churchill’s custom cocktails. The Cape Daquiri’s mix of rum, rooibos syrup, lime, angostura and orange peel, especially, suits the setting.

The heavily wooded, 36-acre hill makes for a quick quiet place just off the bustle of Haight Street. The interior paths of San Francisco’s first city park curl around the 589-foot incline toward an idyllic outlook typically just enjoyed by locals.

Stemmed glasses line up along the bar, getting pre-heated for Irish coffee, the whisky-laced, cream-topped pick-me-up invented here in 1952.

In this glossy, tranquil shop, lift the lids from dozens of canisters to sniff the teas within. The staff enthusiastically describes everything from delicate oolong to smoky black teas; they’ll also steep tasting samples.

For over a century, locals have flocked to Molinari for Italian specialties: olive oil, fresh pasta, and the plump, house-made salami dangling over the counter. Take a number for a heaping sandwich on fresh focaccia.

Part of a group of Robert Redford-owned cinemas, the Kabuki location offers excellent independent and international fare. Booze is available from one of the cinema’s two bars at over 21 shows, and reserved seating saves you from having to elbow for space.

Mamma Mia sing alongs, double features, and hard to find films aren’t the only things that make this theatre one of the city’s most special. The two-tiered historic building and Wurlitzer organ player secure the setting as a destination in its own right.

So what if riding a cable car brands you a tourist? The snub-nosed icons are terrific fun to ride, with their bay views from the north side of Nob Hill. Two lines have a terminus just below Union Square, where cable cars sedately spin on a turntable before starting back up the hill again.