san francisco

Image by Jacina Leong

Image by Jacina Leong

Castro / Mission District

  • [DO] Catch a historic streetcar from 17th St & Castro St to The Embarcadero / Ferry Building (or vice versa) /// great and easy way to navigate and see this stretch of the city / alternatively, keep going until the end of the line and hop-off at Ghiradelli Square (not high on my list, but definitely a popular tourist destination)
  • [SEE] Castro Theatre /// iconic and beautiful, anytime of day / still operates as a theatre and cinema
  • [DRINK] Reveille Coffee Co. /// good coffee pit stop with delicious range of pastries and quick bites 
  • [BE] Mission Dolores Park /// one of the city's most popular outdoor destinations, definitely one of the prettiest / grab a bite or drink beforehand 
  • [EAT] Bi-Rite Creamery (18th Street) /// delicious pitstop whatever the weather condition / dairy free (non-sorbet) options also available
  • [EAT] Bi-Rite Market (18th Street) /// grocery store with great selection of local produce (including cheese, wine, chocolate) and meals to go 
  • [EAT/DRINK] Tartine Bakery (18th Street) /// expect long lines and delicious pastries
  • [EAT] Delfina (18th Street) /// delicious Italian / slightly more formal than Pizzeria Delfina
  • [EAT] Pizzeria Delfina (18th Street) /// delicious Italian / casual dining and take-out options
  • [EAT/DRINK] Dandelion Chocolate (Valencia Street, right side of 18th) /// chocolate needs no further description 
  • [EAT] Mission Cheese (Valencia Street, right side of 18th) /// an artisan cheese bar, no further information required
  • [SHOP] Paxton Gate (Valencia Street, right side of 18th) /// curiosity store, fun place to window shop, as is the nearby 'Pirate Store' 
  • [SHOP] 826 Valencia Pirate Store (Valencia Street, right side of 18th) /// co-founded by author Dave Eggers
  • [EAT] Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen (24th Street, off Valencia, right side of 18th) /// bona-fide diner full of Jewish comfort food options / arrive hungry (they also have a pop-up stall at the Ferry Building Markets, see below)
  • [DRINK] Four Barrel Coffee (Valencia Street, left side of 18th) /// uber hipster but trade-off is good coffee 
  • [SHOP] Time Frame (Valencia Street, left side of 18th) /// fabulous range of vintage and independent eyewear and watches, but not at thrift store prices / close to other, more affordable thrift store options

alamo square

  • [SEE] The Painted Ladies /// obligatory tourist destination 
  • [DRINK] The Mill /// good coffee, bread and pastries / visit before or after 'The Painted Ladies' 


  • [SEE] Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory /// hidden gem in Chinatown (which, by the way, is one of the oldest Chinatowns outside of Asia) worth visiting if only for the great visuals (tip: if short for time, choose Chinatown over Japantown)
  • [EAT] Great Eastern Restaurant /// if you're in the area and after some authentic dim sum, Hong Kong style, eat here


  • [SHOP] Soko Hardware /// a little off the beaten path in terms of tourist recommendations, but a quaint pit-stop if passing through Japantown


  • [SEE] Lombard (aka the curvy) St /// another obligatory tourist destination / catch an old cable car back into Union Square via Hyde St 


  • [DO] Catch the Golden Gate Ferry from the Ferry Building to Sausalito /// great way to see Alcatraz if you don't intend to visit
  • [EAT] Ferry Building Farmer Markets /// great selection of take-away food and local produce, open year round on Saturdays (8am - 2pm), Tuesdays and Thursdays (10am - 2pm)
  • [DRINK] Blue Bottle Coffee /// good coffee, pastries and biscuits / visit before hopping on the ferry to Sausalito


  • [EAT] Sushi Ran /// delicious, authentic Japanese in a quiet spot, with great service / worth the short hike, after catching the ferry, and before walking across the bridge
  • [DO] Walk over the Golden Gate Bridge via Fort Baker /// this route is not an easy one but does offer some great views / it takes you to the GGB via the old military fort and gives you the option of crossing the bridge back to the mainland (highly recommended) / regular buses back into the city available from there (tip: if walking solo, do so on a weekend, during the day, when you're guaranteed the company of other visitors)

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