A Tourists’ Guide to San Francisco

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San Francisco or the City by the Bay as many call it is definitely a place to visit. When the fella and I decided that we’d be taking our summer vacation there he immediately warned me that I would fall in love with the charming city and boy was he correct. There’s just something so darling, yet urban about San Francisco with its quaint neighborhoods and hella steep hills, you’ll be captured by the cities loveliness at every turn. Today I thought I would be fun to share a tourists perspective of where to eat, where to shop, what to do and what to see in San Francisco! Trust me when I say there is much more to be done, to be eaten and to be seen in this fascinating city but here are just a few of my favorites.

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The Fish Market: The first of its four locations, the Fish Market located in Palo Alto is perfect for the seafood lover! I ordered the traditional lobster roll complete with Old Bay fries and OMG was it amazing! You also must have a cup of their New England chowder!

Boudin BakeryWe happened to stop here for lunch off a whim and it was such a great decision! Great chicken salad sandos but you have to pick up an apple bottom fritter while you’re there!

Peet’s CaféNow this isn’t a local coffee shop BUT I became addicted to their caramel lattes. If you can’t find a Starbucks head to a Peet’s!

Izanami SushiLocated right by our hotel in South San Francisco, this sushi joint was amazing delicious and fresh! The boy and I ordered far too much food but I can attest to the amazingness that is the Lion King roll!

TacoliciousIf you know me at all you know that I’m somewhat of a taco connoisseur. The house made chorizo and potato taco is to die for and you cannot leave without starting out with their fried sweet plantains topped with beans and a mouthwatering cumin crema.

Black Point Bakery & Café: Located right outside Ghirardelli Square, this quaint little spot had the most amazing morning buns (hybrid between a cinnamon roll and a croissant) and a rather tasty lavender latte!

Kippu Sushi & Roll House: This gem is nestled within Japantown and is worth your time. The food was good and the atmosphere was really cozy.

LupaPositioned among the quaint shops in Noe Valley, Lupa is where you go if you want something decadent! Italian food isn’t at the top of my list of my favorite cousins but Lupa might have completely changed the game. OMG! The best Italian food I’ve ever had! I highly suggest starting out with their prosciutto pere e mascarpone antipasti and definitely recommend the prosciutto and asparagus risotto!

Noe Valley BakeryI had my first macaroon experience there and will forever be loyal to this bakery for having the most amazing treats EVER! Salted caramel, vanilla bean, creamsicle? I’m telling you, best macaroons ever!

The Eagle CaféLocated on the second level of Pier 39, this is a must for breakfast! One never says no to a crab omelette! Oh and their blueberry pancakes are killer!

Biscoff Coffee CornerAcross from The Eagle Café you will find this nugget of gold! Salted caramel latte, enough said.

Alioto’sOne of San Fran’s oldest seafood’s restaurants, Alioto’s is great for the lunch specials especially if you’re in a pinch while touring Fisherman’s Wharf.

Thai Satay: Located in South San Francisco, if you want to experience authentic Thai cooking you’ve got to come here! Keep it simple and order their chicken yellow curry. Enchanting!

Java Beach CaféThe perfect stop if you need some caffine before hitting the San Francisco Zoo, Java Beach Café has exceptionally good coffee and even better sweet treats!

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Fisherman’s Wharf: Whether your catching the cable car, heading to Alcatraz, or shop hopping there is plenty of things to do at the Wharf. Not really at the top of anyone’s must see list, Hyde Street Pier has great views of major landmarks and is walking distance from Ghirardelli Square.

Coit Tower: While there isn’t really much to do, visiting Coit Tower does offer you an amazing view of the city from up above.

Lombard Street: The infamous ‘crooked’ street, many tourists pop over to the notoriously steep hill for the epic views of both the city and the lovely Victorian houses.

Chinatown: The culture, the beautiful architecture of the many temples, and all the street shops, Chinatown is a must on any tourist attraction guide! So much to see and so much to eat, I’ve heard that you’ve got to try Dim Sum at one of the countless tea houses.

Union Square: If you love to shop, Union Square is definitely for you! From high-end stores like Jimmy Choo and Barney’s to department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom you’ll be sure to find somewhere to shop till you drop. I personally thought it was a little overwhelming but one can spend hours going from store to store or just sipping a latte in the square and enjoying the pulse of the city.

Alamo Square ParkHome of the infamous Painted Ladies (opening scene of Full House!), Alamo Square Park is a great place to sit and capture the city’s charm. The beautiful Victorian houses surrounding the perimeter of the park are exquisitely splashed with bright and cheery colors. The park is also home to an actual park so it’s a great place to take kids!

Ghirardelli Square: Walking distance from Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square has it all! From small shops, to quaint restaurants you’ll have something to do no matter what! I highly suggest you pop in the Ghirardelli store and get yourself a hot chocolate!

The Ms. Doubtfire House: It has probably seen a ton of tourists since the untimely death of Robin Williams, but the house which appears in the movie is a great stop for those that loved the movie and want to take a walk down memory lane.

Golden Gate Bridge: An obvious must see the Golden Gate Bridge is at the top of many San Francisco tourist attractions for good reason. You get a jaw-dropping view of the city just above the fog and get a chance to in the electricity and the magic that the city has to offer.

Golden Gate Park: I was surprise to find out that the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park are essentially two separate entities of activities offered in the city. Golden Gate Park is home of both the Japanese Tea Gardens and the cities Botanical Gardens. I would highly suggest an afternoon of just taking it slow and enjoying the scenery!

Sausalito: Right outside of San Francisco is a quick ferry or bike ride to beautiful Sausalito. A great place for quaint local shops and picturesque sights, Sausalito offers some of the most breathtaking views of the marina.

Chestnut Street: A shopaholics dream, Chestnut Street has the perfect mix of high-end and more affordable shops to drop by and spend a little cash! Some of the boutiques that I loved included Brandy Melville and Retail Therapy

Cable Car Ride: While my husband didn’t like the wait, the SF Cable Car ride was a fun treat for me! Again, the wait is pretty ridiculous but the fact that I was able to cross this must-do off my list made it worth it.

Noe Valley: The sweet little neighborhood that is Noe Valley, located in central SF, was probably the place that captured my heart. From the adorable houses, to the charming shops (Two Birds  and Loft Boutique to name a few), to my personal favorite, the Noe Valley Bakery, this sweet neighborhood was so pretty.

San Francisco Zoo: I’m a sucker for the Zoo, so this was a must on our trip. Not as big as the Smithsonian’s National Zoo but it is home to some pretty cute giraffes so there’s that!

Pier 39: There just so much to do at Pier 39! There are plenty of shops and restaurants along the pier and the Aquarium of the Bay is right there, too. There is a carousel, plenty of spots to sit and people watch, and a pretty great view of the marina.

Local, non-locals, frequent visitors – what are some of your favorite places to explore in San Francisco? Please share!


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