Article and photos by: Savvy in San Francisco
Inn at the Presidio – This brand new hotel only has 22 rooms, but it’s located in such an amazing location in the Presidio (in between the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field and the Palace of Fine Arts). This is the first hotel to open in the Presidio’s history.
Cavallo Point – If you are looking for something right outside of the city that can give you closer access to Marin, Napa and Sonoma, but still close enough to hop over to the city, definitely stay here. Cavallo Point is at Fort Baker (an old military base situated at the base of the Golden Gate). At this green and sustainable hotel you have an option to stay in historic lodging or contemporary lodging.
Hotel Triton – A Kimpton hotel that is situated in Union Square on the border of Chinatown. Hotel Triton definitely isn’t your typical hotel. It is extremely fun and playful from their lobby to their rooms. It is also a pet friendly hotel to all of you out there that can’t leave Buster at home!
Sir Francis Drake – Classic San Francisco hotel in Union Square that was built in 1928. Another Kimpton Hotel and a personal favorite of mine since I had my wedding reception there! The highlight of this hotel is The Starlight Room on the 21st floor. You are instantly transported to another time period to enjoy a delicious cocktail and take in one of the most incredible 360-degree views of San Francisco.
Gary Danko – My absolute favorite restaurant in San Francisco. It’s definitely a special occasion restaurant, but something that can’t be missed if you are able to score a reservation. The service is some of the best service I’ve ever received at a restaurant. The wine pairing is a must have along with your meal. They even send you home at the end of the night with a sweet treat for the next morning.
Frascati – This Mediterranean style bistro is a Russian Hill neighborhood favorite. It’s a small restaurant that is warm and inviting and perfectly situated along the cable car line. Two of my personal favorite dishes are the gnocchi starter and bread pudding for dessert (enough to share).
Slanted Door – This modern Vietnamese restaurant is located in the beautiful Ferry Building with the most amazing view of the Bay Bridge while you eat. Two of my favorite dishes are the shaking beef and crab cellophane noodles. For those of you who don’t have time to sit down can grab a quick lunch at Out the Door, their restaurant behind Slanted Door
Delfina – This Mission neighborhood staple has deliciously fresh Italian food. You can enjoy Cal-Italian at their restaurant or taste their delicious pizza at Pizzeria Delfina next door or in Pacific Heights.
Park Tavern – Upscale American restaurant located on Washington Square in North Beach. This location has plenty of history behind it and the décor and food that rings of classic American dishes but with a modern twist.
Prospect – This contemporary American restaurant is from the well-known team at Boulevard. Their dishes are fresh twists on classic dishes. The loft-size space is warm and inviting. You can also enjoy a pretty tasty cocktail or two at their fabulous bar.
Ferry Building – This is a must see when you are in town for a visit. Located right along the water on the Embarcadero with some amazing views of the Bay Bridge. Just to name a few treats in the Ferry Building – Cow Girl Creamery, Acme Bread Company, Blue Bottle Coffee, Miette, Out the Door, Gott’s Roadside, Mijita, Frog Hollow Farm, Boulette’s Larder and Sur la Table.
Bi-Rite Creamery - They make the most amazing Salted Carmel ice cream! If you don’t want to wait in the usually long cue, cross the street and go pick up a pint from the Bi-Rite Market. Take your pint over to Dolores Park and enjoy your pint while you do some major people watching.
Tartine – This is probably the best bakery in San Francisco. Tartine is also located in the Mission District a couple doors down from Bi-Rite Market. Banana cream pie and their morning buns are two personal favorites, but you really can’t go wrong there.
La Boulange – This traditional French bakery is located in many neighborhoods throughout San Francisco. You might recognize their name because they were just bought buy Starbucks (great deal for Pascal, but we are all hoping that it only makes Starbucks food better and doesn’t change La Boulange at all). Grab one of their latte bowls with a chocolate hazelnut croissant or a savory tart.
Americano – This bar is in the lobby of the Hotel Vitale. It can be a bit of a scene, but if you get a seat outside on a gorgeous day, you have the most amazing view of the Bay Bridge.
Local Edition – This bar is situated on Market Street in the bottom of the historic Hearst building. It is a flashback to the newspaper business in the 50’s and 60’s. They of course have classic cocktails, but also a great list of modern cocktails.
Chambers This restaurant and lounge in the Phoenix Hotel has two bars and the only poolside patio with cabanas in the city. Behind one of the bars is a big sign in white lights that says – BE AMAZING! Who doesn’t love that!
Fifth Floor – Even if you don’t stop by for dinner at this upscale restaurant, you can stop by for a fabulous cocktail. They are well known for their Master Mixologist. Anyone that has a master mixologist must have some tasty libations!
Bourbon & Branch – This bar transports you back to the 1920’s during prohibition when alcoholic beverages were illegal. What makes it even more of a unique experience was that this location was a actual speakeasy from 1921-1933.
Jaspers – For those of you who are beer lovers, this place has 18 beers on tap, unique cocktails and some tasty treats to eat. Jaspers is located a couple of blocks off of Union Square.
Alameda Flea Market (1st Sunday of the Month) – If you happen to be visiting on the 1st Sunday of the month, grab a latte and head over early in the morning to the Bay Area’s best flea market. It’s set on the bay with a fab view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco in the background. It is a huge flea market, so bring some comfy shoes. When you work up an appetite you can enjoy a treat from one of the many gourmet food trucks on the sides.
Neiman Marcus – Obviously not exclusive to San Francisco, but right on Union Square with floor after floor of gorgeous items. The pretty fabulous Rotunda room situated on the top floor for lunch or afternoon tea with a gorgeous view straight out into Union Square. Their popovers with strawberry butter are pretty much reason alone to go!
Gump’s – This San Francisco institution in Union Square has been open for over 150 years. Synonymous with San Francisco, Gump’s is well know for their luxury gifts, jewelry, artful objects and home décor.
Ambiance – This boutique has four locations around San Francisco. They have a range of items from vintage-inspired dresses, denim, shoes and accessories. Besides great customer service they have clothing and accessories for every price range.
Jeremys – If you are looking for a designer item at a heavily discounted price, you need to head to South Park and check out Jeremys. They carry designer clothing, shoes, bags and accessories.
DeYoung Museum for some wonderful art exhibits set in the gorgeous Golden Gate Park.
Academy of Sciences located across the way from the DeYoung Museum is the Academy of Sciences with an aquarium, penguins, rain forest and planetarium. Good for kids of all ages!
Crissy Field – Beaches and fields set at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Land’s End The start of this gorgeous trail was just a few blocks from our old house and makes for a great place to take a hike or a run with amazing views of the Golden Gate from the other side and wraps you all the way around to The Cliff House and Ocean Beach.
Ferry ride to Tiburon or Sausalito – Grab a ferry from the city and take a ride over to Tiburon or Sausalito to walk around these quaint little towns set on the water. Both provide gorgeous views of San Francisco and plenty of places to have a nice lunch.
Bring your walking shoes – there are a lot of hills to climb. Our city might only be 7 miles by 7miles, but it can be a pretty steep climb for some of those miles!
Bring your layers – The city can vary in temperature from in the 50’s to high 70’s (all in the same day). If you are coming for a visit in summertime, don’t forget that it’s foggy 80% of the time. Our best weather months are usually September and October.
If you have an iPhone, Uber Cab is an easy way to catch a cab when you are out and about exploring the city. It can be especially helpful at night when hard at night when it can be harder to find a cab.
Have anything to add to this guide? We'd love to hear in the comments below!