San Francisco

San Francisco Travel Guide

Visitors to the city by the bay will be hard pressed to run out of things to do in San Francisco. From the lively nightlife scene, to the multitude of delicious dining options, to the cultural wonders and outdoor attractions, it’s a hard vacation destination to top.

Beer-lovers wondering what to do in San Francisco will be delighted to learn that the metropolis boasts more microbreweries than New York City. Anchor Brewing Company is located in the city, and tours are available by appointment every Friday afternoon. Most bars serve a rotating list of craft beers from nearby breweries.

Because there are so many things to do in San Francisco, it’s wise for visitors to start their trip by taking a walking tour of the city. These tours, which are led by local volunteers well versed in the city’s history, are free and cover a wide swathe of the metropolis, from well-known landmarks to more out-of-the-way hidden gems. If you are still overwhelmed after the tour, these knowledgeable guides can help you craft a list of options for what to do in San Francisco before you leave the foggy city by the bay.

A line of hanging Hot Cookie-emblazoned underwear hangs above the store’s the famous penis and Venus-shaped macaroons. The store, which has been selling x-rated cookies (as well as more traditional baked goods) since 1996, will hit the spot any night.

Though on the south side of Market Street, this megamall aligns with Union Square in its shopping fervor. Curving escalators wrap between department stores (Bloomingdale’s, Nordstom), boutiques, a multiplex, and a surprisingly good food court.

Locals do their shopping here, in a welter of groceries; follow your nose among the exotic fruit, dried mushrooms, mysterious spices, and buckets of shellfish. The Chinese Six Companies building (843 Stockton St.), once a politicians’ hub, is a vivid example of the neighborhood’s architecture.

Want salon-grade hair without the cut? The Dry Bar specializes in blowouts only, and caters to locals and visitors alike. Its menu includes weekend-ready styles like the Mai Tai (loose curls billed as “messy, beachy hair”) and the Straight Up (sleek with a touch of body).

This standout modern design showroom stocks gold-painted piggy banks, angular Bensen furniture, and lighting options that include a paper chandelier by Moooi.

Bankers, first dates, and everyone in between find their way to the softly lit spot in this Beaux Arts hotel. The namesake Maxfield Parrish mural glows over the bar.

This collection celebrates the cultures and histories of people of African descent scattered around the world, from the Caribbean to South America. It’s heavy on multimedia exhibits, such as videos, music, and audio narratives.

Climb up to the fourth floor to the country’s oldest Chinese temple, a shrine to Tien Hau, the Goddess of Heaven and the Sea. Fringed red lanterns throng the ceiling, and Taoists send up puffs of incense with their prayers.

An espresso pioneer, Trieste has been roasting beans and caffeinating the city since 1956. On Saturday afternoons, the owners and other local musicians belt out everything from opera to Patsy Cline.

This wonderful collection of Japanese photo booths captures customers diving out of a washing machine, covered in confetti, or popping out of a bouquet of flowers. Before the machine spits out sticker page of the shenanigans, make sure to add after-effects like props and writing.

There may be a bit of stair climbing involved, but the views from the hilltop park are some of the best in the city. To the South: a bowl of neighborhoods leads up to Sutro Tower on the horizon. To the North: a view of the Marina opens up to the Bay beyond.