This post has been long-overdue, but I’ve finally gotten together a city guide together for one of my favorite places in the country, San Francisco! I’m excited to share with you my favorite places to eat, see and to shop at in the city.
Of course, this list can be constantly updated and revised. I feel like I find a new place every time I visit! All the below are places that I’ve personally been to, and highly recommend while visiting S.F. Yes, some are touristy, but most are more local spots. If you’re like me at all when you travel, then you might like to enjoy as the locals do.
For this guide, I’m solely sticking to ‘eats’ and ‘what to do’ as I know I need to do a completely separate guide on where to stay – there are so many little boutique hotels I love in SF. But for all intents and purposes, if you’re planning a trip, check out the following hotels: Inn at Union Square, Nob Hill Hotel, The Fairmont and/or The Westin St. Francis.
Do remember, there are literally so many neighborhoods in San Francisco, and touching on each one is literally impossible in one blog post. I personally find myself hanging out mostly in the following neighborhoods: The Fillmore/ Lower Pacific Heights, Nob Hill, Russian Hill and lately Hayes Valley. I’ll list the corresponding neighborhoods to my favorite spots, listed below.
Fillmore Bakeshop (Lower Pacific Heights) // I can’t tell you when we even discovered this little corner bakery. But y’all, I try to stop here almost every time I’m in the city and it does not disappoint! Their meringues are simply phenomenal and their fresh pastries are some of the best.
Golden Boy (North Beach) // As much of a hole-in-the-wall spot as you can get! We’ve been eating their pizza since I was a little girl. My uncle actually found this spot many, many moons ago. Either grab a piece to go, by ordering at the window or sit at the barstools inside for square sliced pizza and beer.
Hog Island Oyster Company (Embarcadero) // A must-visit if you’re a seafood fan. Quite possibly some of the freshest seafood I’ve ever had in my life. Wait in line for a table, and once the fresh shellfish is gone, Hog Island closes for the day. I tried my first Oyster here and it was delicious. They do not take reservations.
Il Casaro (North Beach) // Rick and I actually stumbled upon this spot a few years ago after walking tons of the city. Boy, is this restaurant delicious! Their pizza is out of this world and authentically thin crust. All the waitstaff spoken Italian as their first language. Sit by the window and take in the hustle and bustle on the street outside.
Jane (Pacific Heights) // There are two locations within the city, I’ve personally been to the one on Larkin, but boy is this cafe yummy! I tried my first slice of avocado toast and became hooked. Their coffee is some of my favorite and there are a lot of really awesome gluten free and vegan options for those of you whom follow that diet.
Joe and the Juice (Pacific Heights, Downtown, Financial District) // A Danish-based juice and coffee spot, I felt so ultra hip when I visited the Fillmore location on my last trip to the city. Totally Instagram worthy just for their pink to-go cups.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse (Lower Nob Hill) // Undoubtedly you’ve probably seen the Instagram photos with the cronut (croissant-doughnut) and the ‘I Got Baked in San Francisco’ neon sign, well this is the home of these delicious baked goods. As a blogger, quite frankly I wanted to go here just to get a photo. Well I was so surprised at a) how small the bakeshop is and b) how long the line snaked around the corner. To me, a great sign that something is good!
The Riddler (Hayes Valley) // Looking for a spot that makes you feel like you’ve been transported back decades in time or across the pond to Europe? Well look no further than the Riddler, the most darling little champagne bar. Situated on the corner, the cafe front bistro chairs just beckon for a photo opportunity and some seriously good people watching. The inside is just as darling with a vintage wooden backbar. Be sure to try a bottle of champs, there are over 100 to choose from! And definitely order one of the tater waffles topped with prosciutto or smoked salmon and/or caviar. Plus the corner wall is the perfect spot for an Instagram photo opportunity with the unique wall art!
The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus (Union Square) // One of my favorite lunch spots in the city! Plus their afternoon tea is classic and oh so tasty. Located inside Neiman Marcus, the Rotunda is all around a beautiful spot, and if you request it, you can sit at a table facing out over Union Square. We recently did this over Christmas, and looked out over the Christmas tree and ice skating rink in Union Square and it was so magical. All their teas are equally delicious and the service is top notch.
The Slanted Door (Embarcadero) // Also a part of the iconic Ferry Building, The Slanted Door is one of my favorite restaurants in the entire city. Billed as modern Vietnamese fare, we usually eat here family style and let my stepmom do the ordering. However, the noodles are absolutely unreal and every flavor is out of this world.
Wrecking Ball Coffee (Marina) // Walk by too quickly and you might miss it! This little coffee shop is highly Instagrammable, with the Rifle Paper Co. wallpaper, and the coffee is quite delicious. Grab a cup then walk along Union Street to check out the shops.
The Bud Stop // A quaint, yet amazing outdoor flower bodega on the corner of Union Street and Fillmore. Quite frankly, if I lived in the city, I would make a habit of coming by for a fresh bouquet (or multiple) of flowers for my home and office at least once a week. Last time I was in the city with Rick, we picked up a gorgeous, fresh arrangement for my stepmom and it was a steal! Fresh, fresh, fresh!
Cuyana // One of my favorites for high-quality leather and other goods, Cuyana’s sole showroom is in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square. It’s a walk-up and no appointment is necessary. I’ve shared quite a few of my favorite products each holiday season here and here.
Maiden Lane // One of my favorite streets in SF, this charmingly small street features a number of upscale retailers and a few delicious restaurants and cafes. From 11am-6pm it’s closed off to pedestrians only! Within walking distance from Union Square, I’ve always loved this street because it feels so quaint in the midst of a large city.
Margaret Elizabeth // A few years ago I discovered this San Francisco based jeweler and have loved them ever since. They have a darling store on Chestnut Street where you can see all the latest from Margaret Elizabeth and grab some of your own pieces to try. Plus, I always love shopping local!
Shops on Fillmore Street // One of my favorite streets to walk while in San Francisco. You could totally spend a morning or afternoon wandering amongst all the darling shops, stop and grab coffee at Joe & the Juice or have breakfast/lunch at the Elite Cafe, a beautiful and original art deco building that served as a restaurant beginning in the late 1920s.
Alcatraz // Visit the historic Prison of Alcatraz just off the San Francisco Bay. Definitely a must-do, although a tourist attraction, when you’re in SF. Don’t wait to get tickets, buy them in advanced of your trip, as they definitely sell out. Anticipate spending about half a day
The Ferry Building Marketplace + Farmer’s Market (Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday only) // The Ferry Building is one of my favorite places to visit in SF. Come hungry, as there are a number of artisan stalls that sell everything you could ever imagine and more – think fresh cheese, Olive Oil and homemade gelato, to name a few. Plus on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday one of the best farmers markets I’ve ever been to takes place on the Ferry Plaza. It’s a must do!
Nob Hill Spa // Ready to pamper yourself? Head to the Nob Hill Spa for a massage or facial, you won’t be disappointed!
Painted Ladies // One of the most photographed spots in SF, and made additionally famous thanks to Full House, these Victorian Row Houses are right along Alamo Square.
Golden Gate Bridge // Walk, bike or drive along the must-see Golden Gate bridge. It really is a sight and one of the most picturesque spots in SF.
Day-trip to Wine Country // Need I say more? Take a day trip over to wine country for tasting rooms, eats and more. Be sure to check out my guide to Healdsburg when planning.
Like I said previously, I know there’s plenty I’m missing but I didn’t want this guide to be super long. I will definitely add as I see fit and perhaps even break it down into neighborhoods. Stay tuned!