To Do: San Francisco

To Do: San Francisco

Amy wrote in with this question:

My husband and I are heading to SF this weekend for the web 2.0 conference. We’ve only been to San Francisco once (for our honeymoon – LOVED IT). This time we wanted to try some spots that aren’t as “touristy”. We’re spending a few days in Sausalito to see Muir Woods, and wondered if you could help us with a restaurant recommendation? I’ve been looking at old posts of yours and the restaurants you have tried (and liked), but I’m having a hard time finding something in that specific area. The rest of the week we’ll be in Union Square neighborhood. Any recommendations of things we must see? Thought about going to the Cherry Blossom parade on Sunday – worth it or not?

I love a weekend in the city (obviously!). There are so many things you can do.

One of my all time favorite places, and not just because we’re having our wedding there. There’s a lot to see and do in this sunny part of the Bay Area. You can’t fit everything in, but here are a few of my favorites:

Kayaking – If it is sunny, which it doesn’t look like it will be, rent a two person kayak and paddle up to downtown.
Seafood – Sit out by the marina with a margarita and a giant bowl of ceviche.
German Tourist Club – If you’re hiking around in Marin, take the dipsea trail to this hidden gem. Bring a picnic and a love for german culture.

San Francisco
Way too many things to choose from! I would plan days that combine one museum or sight with one cute neighborhood followed by dinner. Here are a couple combos:

Golden Gate to Lower Haight – Go see the de Young and walk around the park before coming down Haight street all the way to Pierce. Have ethiopian food at Axum Cafe.

The Richmond and Legion – Start at Sutro park. Hike the lands end trail to the Legion of Honor. Dinner at Burma Superstar in the Richmond.

Downtown – Go to MOMA, shop Union Square, visit Gump’s and admire the architecture. Dinner either at Boudin Bakery at Macy’s (cheap clam chowder bowls) or at Oola (not so cheap but really good). Also a favorite, lunch at the Palace Hotel.

Civic Center and Hayes – Go to the Asian Art Museum and City Hall before walking up to Hayes Valley for stores and restaurants. Eat at Absinthe or Zuni.

Mission Foodie – Eat your way between Dolores Park (Bi-rite, Tartine Bakery) and Valencia Street (Truly Med, Bombay Ice Creamery). Good restaurants abound in this zip code. I really like Chez Spencer, a few blocks further north.

Marina Exploration – Walk Crissy Field and around Union Street and Chestnut Street. Shop for antiques at Past Perfect. I don’t have a favorite restaurant in this neighborhood.

Japantown & Filmore – Go see the Cherry Blossom festival and eat from the street fair booths. Then walk up Filmore Street to look at the fancy shops and houses. Admire the bay view from the top of the hill. Dinner at Cafe Mediterranee.

And there are so many more you could do! North Beach, Embarcadero, Cole Valley, Noe Valley, Portrero Hill, Russian Hill….Have a great trip!

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There are 7 comments for this article
  1. michelle at 4:47 pm

    I’d skip the Cherry Blossom Festival. It’s okay… but if you’re here for a weekend, there’s much better things to do/see.

    I’d also add Ferry Building on Saturday morning for their farmer’s market. It’s touristy but locals shop here too and it’s fun and pretty.

    I’d also suggest renting a rowboat on Stowe Lake at Golden Gate Park – it’s a 10 minute walk from the De Young Museum.

  2. Amy at 4:50 pm

    Thank you! As always, you do things so well and go “above and beyond”. What a tour guide you are! We’re sure to have a fantastic time. I really appreciate your time and thoughtfulness.

  3. SGM at 3:16 pm

    Do you have a hotel recommendation for downtown? We’re heading there too (this summer) and have never been. I guess we do want the touristy stuff? But we really want to be around good unique shopping and restaurants and fun stuff to do.

  4. mrsem Author at 5:59 pm

    I usually recommend using Priceline to bid on a boutique or 5 star hotel around Union Square/Embarcadero. You can find something for under $100 a night that way and the hotels have always been nice in my experience.

    Touristy stuff in SF is fun too. Just don’t spend too much time at Fisherman’s Wharf. Go for an hour to have some crab or In-n-Out and see the Musee Mechanique and then ditch out of there. It’s not even close to the real San Francisco.

  5. Alicia at 5:09 pm

    My friend & I are trying to organize a date day for my friend for her b-day… I love the idea of kayaking in Sausalito – do you recommend any little gourmet shops or sandwich shops where we could arrange for a fun picnic lunch? Thanks! Being in LA & CO makes this a little bit of a challenge to arrange!

  6. mrsem Author at 5:12 pm

    There’s a Molly Stone’s grocery store on the north end of town that would have some yummy picnic supplies!