Wander List: San Francisco
On a recent trip to the Bay Area for a friend’s wedding in Sonoma, I decided to make a long weekend of it and enjoy the city of San Francisco for a couple of days.
With so many cool places to grab a cup of coffee, shop, and of course, eat, SF is easily one of my favorite places to vacation. I just love this city’s lively and eclectic atmosphere.
The City by the Bay has tons of great things to offer and luckily, it’s really walkable and has great public transportation. It’s so easy to explore the city on foot or by bike, grab some amazing food, take in a few of their iconic landmarks and just get lost in the energy of it all.
Check out a few of my favorite spots below!
[ Stay & See ]
Hotel Union Square - Just a block away from Union Square, this boutique hotel is conveniently located in the midst of shopping, great restaurants, and the trolley that will take you through the city, all the way to Ghirardelli Square.
114 Powell Street
The Ferry Building - This is a great place to stroll through, grab some Blue Bottle Coffee and enjoy a great variety of food. Try Hog Island Oyster Co. and wash them down with some beers!
1 Sausalito - San Francisco Ferry Bldg
Viansa Winery - If you have a car, kill two birds with one stone and ride the Golden Gate Bridge over to Sonoma for some wine tasting. It’s only about an hour outside the city and the drive is beautiful.
25200 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA
Golden Gate Bridge - You can't leave San Francisco without getting a postcard-worthy shot of its iconic bridge! There are a couple of great spots in the city to get awesome views-- Battery Spencer on the Marin County side of the bridge being the most popular.
Mount Davidson Park - Want to take in a light hike with amazing views of the city? This spot is famous with local because of its easy access in a residential area. The famous "Karl the Fog" (yes, San Francisco's fog has an actual name!) usually pays a visit to this park, resulting in some amazing photo ops!
China Town - America's most celebrated China Town definitely earns its spot as one of the best places in the city to find authentic Asian cuisine, great shopping and historical architecture.
Alamo Square - Grab a couple of sandwiches from Bi-Rite Market on Divisadero St. and head over to Alamo Square Park for an impromptu picnic. Enjoy the breathtaking view of the city and the famous "Painted Ladies". Just try not to sing the "Full House" theme song too loud! ;)
Haight & Ashbury - This legendary beacon of American counterculture is now home to an eclectic mix of stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and colorful locals.
[ Shop ]
BellJar - This quaint, lovely boutique is filled with gorgeous little things -- everything from home decor to women's apparel to beautifully designed magazines and greeting cards. This is the store to go to if you're looking for "all things lovely and fabulous", offering so many unique finds for everyone on your gift list--including yourself!
They also feature lots of great independent, up-and-coming designers for you to discover.
3187 16th St
Benny Gold - A men's streetwear brand and boutique carrying t shirts, denim, skateboard decks & more. They often do great collaborations with brands like Jansport and The Hundreds.
3169 16th St
[ Eat & Sip ]
Boba Guys - This is one stop I had to make. Actually, two stops. I went to both locations just to get a hold of their signature mason jar mug that seems to sell out very quickly. They pride themselves on using quality ingredients in everything they make. Since I went to both locations, I made it a point to try a few of their home-brewed organic tea drinks. I loved the Jasmine Milk Tea with almond jelly and almond milk. The Thai and Hong-Kong were also very good.
The Boba Guys sundae is another must try! It comes with almond jelly and boba with a scoop of either black milk tea or ube Frozen Kuhsterd (I went with ube - delicious!), to top it all off, they drizzled the whole thing with organic condensed milk. Yum!
They're not lying when they say their balls are "Grade A" ;)
Union Squre - 429 Stockton St.
Mission - 3491 19th St
Dandelion Chocolate - I came across this gem while walking around the Mission District of San Francisco. All I saw was the word "chocolate" on the window and had to check it out. This isn't your ordinary chocolate shop! They are a "bean-to-bar" chocolate factory. They go through the entire chocolate-making process in their Valencia St. location; everything from roasting the cacao beans to molding and packaging each bar of chocolate by hand (their packaging that is absolutely gorgeous, btw).
All of their chocolate is available to sample in store. They also have a chocolate cafe at the front of their factory with hot chocolates, mochas, and other goodies. Enjoy a delicious hot drink at the bar while watching the chocolate magic happen!
740 Valencia St.
Tartine Bakery - You just can't go wrong with any of their pies and tarts! The banana cream tart is my favorite. Be prepared to wait because there is usually a long line.
600 Guerrero St
Bi-Rite Creamery - Try the unique flavors like earl grey and honey lavender. They also have ice cream sandwiches with fresh cookies made in the adjoining bakery and two different flavors of soft serve daily.
3692 18th St
Golden Gate Bakery - The egg tart is a must and the red bean balls are massive! Their schedule is a little all over the place, so check out is-the-golden-gate-bakery-open-today.com to make sure it’s open before heading over.
1029 Grant Ave
Scoma’s - This amazing seafood restaurant is located right on the pier at Fisherman's Wharf. Their Dungeness crab risotto, crabcakes, lobster ravioli, and assorted oysters are to die for! The ambiance is definitely old school and the place is a little dated, but their incredible food can surely hold their own.
Pier 47 on Al Scoma Way
Dottie’s - There's usually a wait in the morning but it's SO worth it! They're best known for their pancakes and their coffee cake is amazing.
28 6th St.
The Grove - Also known as "San Francisco's living room," this restaurant/cafe is one of my favorites for breakfast in SoMa. Try the Grove Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon…with coffee, of course.
690 Mission St.
Gracias Madre - This vegan Mexican restaurant is so good, even non vegans are sure to enjoy their modern take on traditional Mexican dishes.
2211 Mission St.
Philz - Try their Mint Mojito Iced Coffee!
Multiple locations in the Bay Area.
Sightglass Coffee - This impossibly hip, independent coffee shop really strives to perfect their craft from sourcing the right beans under just the right conditions to their in-house roasting process that you can shows their commitment to the perfect cup of joe every time.
270 7th St. in SoMa
3014 20th St. in the Mission
Blue Bottle Coffee - These guys really know their coffee! They roast their beans in house using vintage gear, they know how to make a good strong espresso the right way, and use only responsibly sourced beans. They're true coffee connoisseurs and it shows. The New Orleans Iced Coffee is a must-try!
Multiple locations in the Bay Area.
Images by Nina Thomasian.