San Francisco is known for many things: it’s the hub of the tech industry and home of the infamous Golden Gate bridge; but here you’ll also discover incredible architecture and a bustling restaurant scene. And of course historical landmarks like Alcatraz. Today we’re taking a closer look at San Francisco and have put together a See and Do list of the best spots that are worth a visit when you’re in the Fog City.
The Mission District
A visit to the vibrant Mission District is a must. Famous for its street art, an array of cuisines and considered to be an up and coming area, you’ll find loads of trendy bars and coffee houses; and yes, the hipster vibe is definitely alive and kicking in this part of town. The Latino influence lies at the heart of the Mission and wandering down Valencia Street you’ll discover amazing Mexican food, corner bodegas, late-night taquerias and the hard-to-miss Spanish signage.
Our pick: Foreign Cinema. The Mediterranean style menu is supurb and is only enhanced given they show foreign and independent films in their outdoor courtyard. So you can watch a movie while you eat!
So much to love about this charming neighbourhood, which is probably most well-known for Lombard Street and the one-way block between Hyde and Leavenworth, home to the most crookedest street in the world. Exploring the charming streets and stopping to window shop or have coffee along the way makes for a great way to spend an afternoon. The streets are notoriously steep, but the views from the top are spectacular and with an abundance of restaurants in this neighbourhood you’ll be spoilt for choice by the time dinner rolls around.
Our top picks:
1916 Hyde Street, Russian Hill
2323 Polk Street, Russian Hill
Catch the Powell-Hyde cable car from Downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf, a lively spot buzzing with restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Stroll the streets and enjoy the lively atmosphere of buskers, magicians and clowns; then once you’ve worked up an appetite, take take your pick from the many crab stands and seafood restaurants.
While you’re there, we recommend:
+ Stopping in at Musée Mécanique and checking out the incredible museum full of antique arcade games dating back to the 1800’s – and yes you can play them, so make sure you’re stocked up on Quarters!
+ Visiting the famous Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory. The original factory isn’t there anymore but the former site is home to an ice-cream and chocolate shop, as well as a delightful selection of boutiques.
+ Walking around to the Buena Vista Hotel for one of their world-famous Irish Coffees. So the story goes, a challenge was set back in 1952 to recreate the original Irish Coffee and after several attempts the art was perfected – and yes they are delicious!
Golden Gate Park
One could easily spend more than a day exploring Golden Gate Park, because let’s face it, there are loads of things worth checking out. So if you’re short on time we’ve rounded up the best spots to hit. We’d recommend biking it around the park as you’ll see a lot more in a day, but walking is also a great option.
The Rose Garden It’s here you’ll find a unique variety of over 60 different types of blooms ranging from miniatures to David Austin’s in a fantastic assortment of colours. The different varieties of roses means there are blooms throughout the year, so there’s always something to see.
Academy of Sciences Home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, 3D theatre, the Academy of Sciences is one of the largest and most eco-friendly natural history museums in the world.
The Conservatory of Flowers Featuring a mix of over 2,000 exotic blooms and colorful rarities in a spectacular building, the Conservatory is a San Francisco landmark. It’s the oldest remaining municipal conservatory in the United States and is held in such high regard it’s been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A trip to the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building is a must-do on Saturday morning. The markets are host to regional farmers who offer everything from fruits, vegetables and flowers to meat and eggs – many of which are organic. You’ll also find a selection of boutique artisan producers of cheese, sweet treats and coffee, as well as a great selection of food stalls with everything from raw food to good old egg and bacon rolls.
Where: San Francisco Ferry Building
Day trip to Sausalito
Taking the ferry to escape the city makes for a perfect day trip, and the 30 minute ferry ride to Sausalito provides plenty of photo opportunities to capture icons like Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge. Sausalito is best described as the Hampton’s version of San Francisco, where the well-to-do escape and live in fabulous houses with incredible views over the bay area. The main strip is laden with restaurants and quaint little boutiques, but to get the full Sausalito experience, we recommend venturing further afield and wandering up along the coastline. It’s here you’ll find Fish, a restaurant on the waterfront dedicated to serving sustainable seafood. Grab a table overlooking the water and enjoy a relaxing afternoon feasting on delicious food and soaking up the view.
Where: 350 Harbor Dr, Sausalito, CA
Have you been to San Francisco? What are your best tips for the Fog City?