Planning a visit to the “City by the Bay” can be overwhelming. There are so many attractions to see, neighborhoods to explore and great places to eat! Let our San Fran City Guide steer you in the direction of some of our favorite stops.
Best Foods in this Region:
Here’s what you gotta try while in San Francisco:
- Wine (not that we need to give you an excuse!)
- West Coast Oysters
- Cheese (CA makes over 2 billion pounds of cheese each year) Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam is a must-try!
- Cuisine from Chinatown (San Fran has the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, get Dim Sum and Egg Tarts while you’re at it!)
- All the fresh seafood
Things to Do:
Explore Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is the only place in the world you can go on a simple walk and say that you ran into:
- A hippie party
- A bison paddock
- A Japanese garden
- A roller blade dance circle
- LARPING (If you don’t know what this is, google it, and we’re sorry)
- Multiple museums
Those were some of the interesting sights we encountered during our trip to the park. There are walking trails throughout the entire 1,000+ acre outdoor oasis which makes it perfect for a jog or stroll on a beautiful day. The park is gigantic so plan accordingly! We started at the Conservatory with the goal of walking to the brewery at the edge of the park and it was a lot longer run than we anticipated! Let’s just say we earned that beer tasting!
Get mesmerized at Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences
Our favorite date night activity in the city happens on most Thursday nights at the California Academy of Sciences. The event theme changes weekly, but no matter what you will be able to explore, drink, dance, learn, and have a ton of fun. Imagine if you were at your favorite childhood museum, but with adult activities, and music… and lots of vodka.
Get a tiki drink (Or five)!
In case you didn’t hear, tiki drinks are SO HOT RIGHT NOW. Be on-trend and enjoy a fruity libation with lots of flair (bring on the baby umbrellas, fun cups, and fresh fruit!) Here are two cocktail lounges that we loved:
Smugglers Cove – This pirate themed lounge has delicious drinks and lots to look at! They even have volcano drinks that have fire in them. FIRE!
Tonga Room – A San Francisco legend, this lounge has been open for over 70 YEARS! Listen to the band play live music while they float on a platform in a lagoon in the center of the restaurant, share a punch bowl with your pals, and find joy in the occasional in-restaurant thunderstorm.
Eat all the things at the Ferry Building + Farmers Market
If you’re a foodie like we are, you need to spend a few hours at the Ferry Building. This is a hub of many San Francisco artisanal merchants. Use this as an opportunity to try some amazing Californian cheeses, oils, even a meat cone of tasty charcuterie. We recommend visiting the Ferry Building when the Farmer’s Market is going on. Not only will you get to sample some fantastic local produce, but there are some scrumptious food trucks/vendors, bakeries, florists, and music. We spent a few hours on Saturday morning exploring the market, hand in hand, walking next to bay and dodging seagulls.
Other key sights to see:
- Alcatraz: Take the night tour for an even creepier experience
- AT&T Park: Check out a Giants game
- Penny arcade: Laugh at the old arcade games from a decade ago, and play some childhood favorites
- Pier 39: Make friends with a sea lion
- Lombard Street: The most crooked street in the world has some gorgeous landscaping as well
- Battery Spencer: Our favorite spots for a gorgeous photo with the Golden Gate Bridge
Dining Hot Spots
Sotto Mare – Fresh seafood, authentic Italian, in a cozy spot. We make it a point to eat at Sotoa Mare every time we visit San Fran. This family-owned joint is really popular, so be prepared for a line. They do however, give you a buzzer that allows you to grab a cold beer at a neighboring bar while you wait. We’ll drink to that! The Seafood Risotto is rich, indulgent and PACKED with seafood. If you’re with a date, opt to split the Cioppino for Two (which in reality feeds 3-4!) and don’t be afraid to sport the seafood bib! Bon Appetit!
Waterbar – You gotta munch on seafood while in Bay area and we are always looking for a deal. Karen has been known to throw down a LOT of shellfish (she was once in an oyster eating competition and downed 29 oysters in 60 seconds!) which means if we’re not careful, we can run up an expensive tab, real fast. Waterbar is best deal for oysters that we have found. Every single day from 11:30-5pm you can enjoy their featured oyster for only $1.05 each! If you’re real thrifty, go during happy hour to get your bubbles on the discount too. Located right on the bay, the view isn’t too shabby either!
Other great places to nosh:
- Bob’s Donut & Pastry Shop: Get a donut the size of your head!
- Swan Oyster Depot: Legendary seafood
- State Bird Provisions: Innovative, gourmet dishes served dim sum style
- Foreign Cinema: Hip, young and vibrant dining spot
- Golden Gate Bakery: Asian bakery in Chinatown with some of the best egg tarts in the country
- Tipsy Pig: Mason jar cocktails on a backyard patio in the Marina
Loews Regency - We had the pleasure of staying at the Loews Regency Hotel near the financial district. Not only is this in a very centrally located spot, but the sweeping city views from your room are breathtaking. The Loews is the third tallest building in San Francisco. This meant waking up to the most beautiful views of the bay & the Golden Gate Bridge, right from our hotel bed! Dine at their restaurant Brasserie S&P for a scrumptious brunch or an upscale business lunch.
Sir Francis Drake – If you love shopping, the location of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel can’t be beat. You are steps away from Union Square and endless retail therapy. The Sir Francis Drake is a modern twist on an iconic historic hotel in the heart of the city. The architecture of the lobby bar is gorgeous and their craft cocktails are delish. Travelers tip – sign up for Kimpton’s Karma loyalty program and get a free $10 bar credit during your stay! Scala’s Bistro, their hotel restaurant, had one of the best turkey burgers we’ve tasted. Head up to the 21st floor to experience The Starlight Room, a cocktail lounge/club with a beautiful view of the happenings of Union Square.
Comment below with your favorite hot spots by the bay!