After getting a bunch of emails from readers and friends with upcoming trips to San Francisco, I realized I’ve been slacking in the blogging department about my favorite places around the city. I’ve been lucky enough to have quite had quite a few visitors since moving out to the west coast and it’s been fun to play tour guide and show people around my new city – I’m a big believer in skipping the typical tourist attractions and instead focus things that are unique to SF and give a little peek into what it’s like living in this magical little city.
In collaboration with Expedia.com here are some of my all-time favorite spots I’d recommend for anyone visiting San Francisco:
1. Baker Beach: You can’t have a trip to SF without soaking in the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge and Baker Beach has my absolute favorite views of the iconic landmark. I love heading to Baker Beach in the evening hours to walk along the beach and sit and relax in the sand for amazing views of the bridge from the ocean side that are even better just before sunset during the golden hour. Skip the swimsuit and dress warm though – it’s always very chilly at the beach in SF! Visit Expedia.com to see more of Baker Beach.
2. Dolores Park: There’s no place better to people watch and spend a sunny day than Dolores Park in SF’s Mission neighborhood. Grab a blanket and stop by Bi-Rite Market for picnic supplies or at Papalote for the best burrito of your life and soak up some sunshine while surrounded by an eclectic mix of people you’ll only find in San Francisco.
3. The Ferry Building: If you’re visiting over a weekend then the Saturday morning farmer’s market at the Ferry Building cannot be missed. Come hungry and spend an hour or so browsing the insane variety of fresh local produce, meats, cheese and flowers all produced within driving distance of SF and grab coffee and a bite to eat at the pop up locations of some of the city’s best restaurants. Favorites include Sightglass Coffee, Wise Sons Delicatessen, Hog Island Oyster and Humphry Slocombe ice cream.
4. Hayes Valley: Consider me slightly biased since I used to live here but Hayes Valley is one of SF’s best neighborhoods and the perfect place for visitors to explore, do some shopping or grab a bite to eat or cocktails. Start at the intersection of Hayes & Octavia and walk around the neighborhood checking out the stores and restaurants along Hayes Street. Don’t miss Souvla for quick Greek food, Brass Tacks for cocktails, Ritual Coffee, Project Juice for smoothies or acai bowls and Little Gem for some healthy, gluten free food options.
5. Corona Heights: With SF’s hilly landscape comes some amazing views of the city and Corona Heights is a perfect spot to soak it all in. The park is a bit of a hidden gem within the Castro neighborhood and with just a short walk up to the top, visitors are able to see 360-degree views of the city (perfect for snapping an amazing photo for Instagram!)
6. Chinatown: San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood is the largest Chinatown area outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. Known for its bright red gate entrance and hanging lanterns overhead, it’s a great place to soak in some culture, pick up cheap souvenirs and try some seriously amazing Chinese eats. Don’t miss Z&Y Restaurant, Golden Gate Bakery and R&G Lounge.
7. Lands End & Sutro Baths: The ultimate spot to watch the sunset or take on an oceanfront hike right within the city! Sutro Baths is the ruins site of the world’s largest indoor swimming pool establishment opened in 1896 that later fell into disrepair and eventually burnt down in 1966. Start at Sutro Baths (there’s typically plenty of parking) and hike the Lands End trail for a pretty easy hike with gorgeous views of the Pacific.
8. North Beach: North Beach is San Francisco’s version of Little Italy and is full of character and delicious eats. Get a great view of the skyline’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid and grab dinner at Tony’s Pizza (or Park Tavern if you’re looking for something a bit fancier), followed by cocktails at Comstock Saloon.
9. Golden Gate Park: At over 1,000 acres of public ground, Golden Gate Park has something for everyone and even after living in SF for almost three years; I’ve still only yet scratched the surface of the park. Check out the Conservatory of Flowers for some beautiful blooms, spend a grey day inside the Academy of Sciences (they have an albino alligator named Claude!) or just enjoy some quiet time in some of the park’s garden areas.
What are some of your favorite spots around San Francisco? Have you been to any of the places on my list?