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.

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.

A few blocks inland from the Embarcadero, this historic district was once the rowdy Gold Rush–era waterfront. Now the mid-19th-century buildings hold genteel antiques dealers, art galleries, Thomas E.

This busy commercial strip teems with souvenir shops, antiques dealers, herbalists, and gawkers. You’ll find several treasures among the tat, like the bright kites at the Chinatown Kite Shop (717 Grant Ave.). Be sure to sample a moon cake at Golden Gate Bakery (1029 Grant Ave.).

No beige money belts or quick-drying underwear here. Flight 001 approaches travel with a future-forward style. Their selection of brightly colored suitcases, cheeky luggage tags, and indulgent grooming products brightens up the business of getting somewhere.

Nest is a kooky but cultivated mix of precious objects. Little shoes are on display next to dragonfly plates, locally made note cards and lotions disguised as elixirs.

When new owners took over this beloved independent bookstore in 2007, they added over 100 new events annually, launched a Berkeley-based lecture series, and designed a brighter and more pleasant place for books.

In 2011, the onetime Zeum morphed into a more inclusive children’s museum, now geared for kids age three to twelve. The expansion added updated technology activities, like green-screen video-making—but the 1906 carousel out front spins with old-school charm.

California’s first cathedral has a small but moving display of photos of turn-of-the-century Chinatown, and of the devastating aftermath of the 1906 Great Quake.

The twin neo-Gothic spires of Joe DiMaggio’s church loom above the picnic-friendly lawn in Washington Square Park.

The only US outlet of a Japanese confection chain offers boxed goodies like the best selling Harajuku Mochi Chocolate (mini sweet rice cakes with a chocolate ganache-type filling and coated with coco powder) along side smiling candy-colored baubles.

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.