San Francisco is an excellent destination for exploring attractions, sipping wine, dining on world-class cuisine, and shopping, but it’s the latter we’re focusing on here. If you’re headed to San Fran and hoping to get your shop on, check out this brief guide to the best neighborhoods for shopping in the city including...
- Union Square
- Haight Street
- Fillmore Street
- Fisherman's Wharf
Union SquareOne of the most popular shopping destinations in the country, Union Square is the bustling heart of San Francisco. Here you'll find a jumble of luxury boutiques, local shops, and international chains, all vying for your attention (and dollars). There's everything from an Apple store to Saks Fifth Avenue, plus the Westfield San Francisco Centre - a gigantic mall that boasts a variety of stores from sporting goods to luxury apparel. Of potential interest in the neighborhood after you shop is the Contemporary Jewish Museum, which centralizes the modern history and culture of Judaism. You can also a Go Car Tour, a 30-minute self-directed car tour of the city that’s very popular with visitors. The California Historical Society is a bit farther east, as is the ever-popular San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
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EmbarcaderoFor those looking for a bit more of the local experience, Embarcadero is where it’s at. Their big attraction shopping-wise is the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, a weekly event on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. As you might imagine, Saturday has a wider selection of vendors and products. The Ferry Building itself is a beautiful, restored space that evokes its original late nineteenth-century charm. If you’ve got kids in tow during your shopping adventures, you’ll want to take them to the Exploratorium afterwards. It’s an immensely popular and highly interactive museum located right on the water. There’s also Pier 33, where you can pick up a cruise to Alcatraz and do some souvenir shopping.
Haight StreetOf Haight-Ashbury fame, Haight Street isn’t quite the counter-culture center that it was in the 1960s, but it does boast an enviable selection of vintage shops and novelty stores. The expansive Wasteland is the best of this genre, offering second-hand and vintage clothing, accessories, footwear, and housewares. You’ll also find an array of chic urban clothing boutiques (not too hipster, but perhaps veering in that direction). Haight Street is conveniently located a mere couple of blocks from Golden Gate Park, which it itself an appealing attraction. Of course, the park is also filled with several other attractions like the California Academy of Sciences, the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Botanical Garden, and the Conservatory of Flowers. You could spend an entire day at either of the museums, so build some extra time in your shopping schedule to explore one.
Fillmore StreetThose in the market for some designer goods flock to Fillmore Street. Here you’ll find a variety of luxury wear that won’t break the bank, with mid-tier options like Intermix, the Frye Company, Joie, Rag & Bone, and more. There are also high-end stores for children’s clothing and toys, a few boutiques selling housewares, and even a charming little bookstore called Browser Books. The restaurants in this area are pretty great, too, so save some time for a glass of wine and a snack. After you’re done wandering up and down Fillmore Street, head a little bit north and west to the Presidio. This large cultural park contains a wide variety of landmarks and attractions, including the famous Lyon Street Steps (a great vantage to snap photos from) and the luxe Palace of Fine Arts (a performing-arts venue that mimics Greco-Roman architecture). The Walt Disney Family Museum is also in the Presidio, for Disney fans or those with kids.
Fisherman’s WharfOne of the best neighborhoods in the city for souvenir shopping, Fisherman’s Wharf incorporates a number of indie boutiques and some smaller-scale malls. Pier 39 has several shops to pop into that boast impressive collections of knick-knacks, postcards, accessories, and other convenient souvenirs. There are also plenty of opportunities to shop for sweets here, too, including the beloved San Francisco Chocolate Store. This neighborhood is also chock full of attractions and things to explore. In addition to big-name institutions like Madame Tussauds San Francisco and famous places like Ghirardelli Square, you can also hop on board a number of cruises, join up with several tours, or just watch the sea lions on Pier 39. The Aquarium of the Bay is also located here: check our complete guide for more details.
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