San Francisco

San Francisco Travel Guide

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.

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.