I’ve fallen hard for San Francisco since moving here in 2011. I live in a shoebox of an apartment in San Francisco’s Mission District with my husband and our many succulents. One of the best ways to see the city is to grab a copy of Stairway Walks in San Francisco by Mary Burk and Adah Bakalinsky and start exploring. Prepare your glutes for a workout (the hills are no joke) and come hungry. It’s March 2017 and here’s what I’m loving.
Arizmendi (I frequent the one in the Mission District, but there are a few other branches in SF and East Bay)
Tartine (The frangipane croissants are to die for. Fair warning, there’s always a line. Check out Tartine’s newest location for a selection of more savory fare)
Foreign Cinema brunch (reservation required)
Plow (brunch crowds abound!)
Zazie (brunch crowds abound!)
Reservation (likely) required:
Cotogna Make a reservation in advance or go right when they open to eat at the few seats they set aside for communal table.
Flour + Water serves great handmade pasta and thin crust pizza. If you can’t get a reservation, arrive ~20 minutes before they open and put your name in. If there’s a wait, grab a drink at Trick Dog, Homestead, or Shotwell’s in the Mission.
Liholiho Yacht Club is so.good. It’s hard to get reservations here, but if you stand in line 30 minutes before they open you should be able to get your name in for a table later in the evening.
Epic Steak is near the ferry building on Embarcadero. If you want a low key dinner with amazing views, walk into the bar on the second floor. You can order off the bar menu and get an delicious burger, beer, and brownie for $20 with unbeatable views of the Bay Bridge.
Coqueta serves Spanish-California fusion cuisine. It’s located on the water on Embarcadero. Don’t miss the paella and the beautiful gin and tonics!
Ritual Coffee in the Mission. There’s *so* much good coffee in SF (hello Blue Bottle, Philz, Four Barrel), but Ritual is my favorite. It’s a personal preference, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. Prepare for hipster apathy at a lot of these places, but don’t let it get to you.
Reveille on Columbus Ave (also great for lunch!)
Macondray Lane (Russian Hill)
The lobby at the Palace hotel (FiDi)
Alamo Cinema (Mission)
826 Valencia (Mission)
Anchor Brewing Brewery Tour (Potrero Hill)
The gingerbread house at the Fairmont Hotel during the holidays (Nob Hill)
Painted Ladies (Nopa)
Rainbow Grocery (Mission)
Bi-Rite Grocery (Mission, Nopa)
Noe Valley Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings (Noe Valley)
Castro Theater (Castro)
SF Center for the Book (Potrero Hill)
SF Botanical Garden, especially during the “Magnificent Magnolia” season (Golden Gate Park)
Batteries to Bluffs trail near the Presidio
Walk around Dolores Heights on a sunny day. Pick up some food at Bi-Rite and picnic in Dolores Park
Hike to Bernal Heights Park from Folsom Street. Snap a picture from the swing at the top! Stop to catch some rays and at the dog-friendly Precita Park.
In Golden Gate park, visit the DeYoung museum’s observation deck (it’s free!). Amazing views of SF.
Lyon Street steps. Hike into the Presidio if you’re feeling adventurous
Hike up the incredibly steep 23rd street from the Mission into Noe Valley. Keep going until you reach Twin Peaks. One of the best views in the city.
Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill has great views of the city. Hike up from the residential side (take the Filbert Street steps) because there are a bunch of great staircases with funky vegetation, views, and wild parrots. The tower is especially cool at night.
Things to do
Alcatraz is well worth it, but get tickets in advance
Take a ferry ride. Some of the best views of the city are from ferries to Oakland/Alameda or Marin (Sausalito, Larkspur…). They have bars on board and you can sit outside on the deck and see the entire city.
Don’t miss the cable cars. People wait in long lines at the cable car “turn-arounds” at Powell/Market intersection and adjacent to Ghirardelli Square. If you really want to ride on them, it’s better to walk slightly up the hill away from the turn-around and get on there. There’s a lesser known cable car line that runs down California St to the top of Nob Hill. It’s not quite as scenic, but still fun and would be easier to get onto without waiting.
The Ferry Building is a must. If you’re here on a Wednesday or a Saturday, there is a farmer’s market in the morning. If you can’t make it for the Farmer’s Market, the wine bar inside is great in the afternoon. Also, Fort Point Brewery has a kiosk there and their beer is superb. Don’t miss the afajores cookies at El Porteño‘s or a scoop of “secret breakfast” at Humphry Slocombe.
Hayes Valley (nice shopping and restaurants)
Mission (hipster, good food, Latin culture, sunny, Valencia Street, Dolores Park)
Noe Valley (cutesy shops, family-oriented, stroller traffic)
The Marina (the Marina Green, Chrissy Field, and Presidio all have great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Shopping on Union or Chestnut street)
Pacific Heights (good food and shopping on Fillmore between Geary & Clay).
Russian Hill (amazing views, check out Macondray Lane and of course Lombard street. Grab some ice cream at Swenson’s)
Japantown (quirkier and cleaner than Chinatown, fun to explore)
North Beach (old Italian neighborhood in SF. Check out City Lights bookstore or order a drink at Vesuvio, where all the beat writers used to hang out. Get a Molinari’s sandwich and walk around what used to be the Barbary Coast. The neighborhood borders Chinatown so be sure to catch the newly opened China Live.)