Neighborhood Guide: 12 Places to Go in San Francisco (plus where to eat & stay)

After exploring the Bay Area for 7 days, and two of those days with a local guide, we feel we have a good handle on the best places to go in San Francisco Californa!

So if you don’t know what to see in San Francisco, and what are the best neighborhoods to explore, keep reading!

Down below we share not only the best places to visit in San Francisco, but where to eat in each neighborhood and where to stay!

San Francisco California has worked out how different cultures can live together, celebrating their uniqueness rather than living in fear of it.

I love how you can take a trip around the world in just a couple of days in San Francisco Ca. Crammed into a seven by seven mile space, the San Francisco neighborhoods have unique flavors of countries around the world.

It’s not just differences in culture but living styles as well.

The Castro is the vibrant LGBTQ community, Ocean Beach has an element of beach culture (strange for San Francisco), the techies take Palo Alto (actually a lot of the entire San Francisco region now), the hippies still have Haight Ashbury and the hipsters, Fillmore St.

I know you’ll want to experience the top San Francisco attractions on your trip, but also leave room in your itinerary to explore the vibrant and cool neighborhoods in San Francisco.

You’ll never find a city that has so many unique areas to discover and enjoy.

Cable Car San Francisco
Cable Car San Francisco

We’re highlighting what we felt were the best neighborhoods in San Francisco to visit, incorporating some of those that do include those bucket list items for you.

While we did not see every neighborhood and only skimmed through some, we feel these are the best places to go in San Francisco area!

We may include a place to eat or things to do in areas near by the neighborhood and will indicate this for you.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco is filled with the clanging of cable car bells, steaming street-side crab pots, and clam chowder bowls.

You’ll find restaurants with a view, souvenir shops, street performers and touristy attractions like Aquarium of the Bay and your standard Madam Tussauds.

We participated in some of these as they were part of our San Francisco Sightseeing Pass, but after 90 minutes I was dragging our crew back onto the Big Bus to re-integrate back into local living.

Even though its kitschy and everything touristy, it is still worth a visit.

It’s where you’ll find all those San Francisco bucket list attractions. I found Ghirardelli Square to be the pick of Fisherman’s Wharf.

Things to Do in Fisherman’s Wharf

Sea lions at Pier 39

Sea Lions at Pier 39

They await you with their barks and frolics.

Museum of 3D Illusions

The Museum of 3D Illusions is a fun place to explore your creative style with artistic backdrops for your photos!.

*Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

We visited thanks to the inclusion on the Sightseeing Pass. It was actually a lot of fun and tells the story of San Francisco well.

*San Francisco Dungeon

Again, entry was included in our Sightseeing Pass which enticed Kalyra and I to join this 60-minute interactive journey through the Gold rush greed to the Alcatraz days

Tours of Alcatraz and Angel Island

Alcatraz Island

The Alcatraz tours leave from there. Alcatraz is definitely one of the bucket list San Francisco attractions to do.

Alcatraz Island is one of the most popular places to visit in San Francisco, so book your tickets online in advance here. You can check out various package tours that include Alcatraz by clicking here.

*Bay Cruises

Fisherman’s Wharf is also the starting point for many San Francisco Bay Cruises.

*Entry price included in the San Francisco Sightseeing Pass. Get your pass and savings here.

Where to Eat in Fisherman’s Wharf

Places to Stay in Fisherman’s Wharf

This is probably the best neighborhood to stay in San Francisco for attractions.

Hotel Zoe ****

Hotel Zoe Fisherman's Wharf

Located a block from the main Fisherman’s Wharf strip, it offers a quieter experience. Friendly staff and modern, spacious rooms. Check current prices here.

Hotel Zephyr ****

Excellent location with quirky design, lovely courtyard garden with fire pits and shared games room. Check current prices here.

Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square *****

For those looking for luxury, views and sweeping terraces with fire pits.

Spacious apartments, evening wine receptions and fantastic location. What more do you need? Oh maybe chef serves!! Check current prices here.

Union Square

Union Square

Union Square was named for the pro-Union rallies that were carried out here through the Civil War.

Located in the the heart of downtown San Francisco, it’s now one of the best neighborhoods in San Francisco to stay due to it being the center of the shopping scene with high end brand names, art galleries and small boutiques.

Here is where you’ll also find the gateway to Chinatown.

Things to do in Union Square

  • Shopping – This is at the top of places to go in San Francisco area for brand stores. And we found loads of bargains in Macy’s!
  • Maiden Lane – named to honor the brothels that used to line this treat, now is a trendy restaurant and boutique shopping
  • The Plaza is a large gathering place that offers music festivals during the summer and ice skating during the holiday season.
  • Architecture lovers will enjoy Frank Lloyd Wright’s only designed building in San Francisco. It’s entry way and free standing staircase is its notable features.
  • Check all four corners of Union Square for its unique San Francisco Heart Sculptures.

Union Square

Where to Eat in Union Square

Scala’s Bistro

Scala’s was the best meal we had in San Francisco and is the restaurant located in The Kimpton Sir Francis Drake. Their menu is

Burger Bar in Macy’s

If you do get a San Francisco Sightseeing Pass then use it to eat at the Burger Bar in Macy’s.

The burgers are delicious and the pass will give you a $30 voucher per pass. The view over Union Square from here is very good.

The burgers here are very expensive though, so I don’t recommend it if you don’t have the sightseeing pass and are on a budget. We had the pass!

Dottie’s’ True Blue Cafe

Dottie's - One of the best things to do in San Francisco with kids

A short walk from Union Square will take you to SoMa (South of Market street) and Dottie’s, a popular local favorite. Get there early as lines can be long. Pancakes are their specialty!

Bluebottle Coffee

Another local’s favorite for coffee and small breakfast food is Blue Bottle. Also be prepared for lines. This is located in SoMa.

Bluestone Lane

At Bluestone Lane Aussies get your vegemite on toast and flat white fix at this Australian coffee chain dominating the US landscape.

Places to Stay in Union Square

The Kimpton Sir Francis Drake ****

Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel Union Square
Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Union Square

We stayed at the Kimpton, a modern, unique hotel for five nights and highly recommend it. They have suites or interconnecting rooms to accommodate families and the room was huge.

They also have daily evening free wine social on the 21st floor in the iconic Starlight Room. You’ll have to decide whether you want to stand on the edge of the dance floor near the window’s for a birds eye view of Union Square and out to the bay.

OR, sit in one of the plush, high backed red booths or a seat at the pink neon bar. Check current prices here.

The Westin St. Francis ****

The Westin St. Francis is a historic landmark building with a superb location on Powell St and right in front of a cable car stop making it easy to get around to many places in San Francisco.

If you’re looking for old warm charm, consider this hotel. Check current rates for your dates here.

Orchard Hotel

The Orchard Hotel is a boutique hotel and just 2 blocks from Union Square. There is a cable car stop 20ft away and lots of shopping, restaurants and bars close by.

Check current rates here.

Chinatown

Chinatown, San Francisco

Possibly the most famous Chinatown in the world and definitely the biggest, Chinatown has become one of the top San Francisco tourist attractions and gives you the opportunity to teleport to Asian lands.

I was almost ready to book a flight to China after experiencing the sights, sounds, flavors and Asian chaos.

Start by walking through the iconic Dragon’s Gate: women to the left, men to the right, royalty through the middle.

Then wander thought 24 blocks of pagoda buildings, exotic shops, food markets, temples, the red lantern streamed streets, and narrow ancient alleyway that have years of history to tell.

Explore murals, temples and the many places for delicious dim sum.

Things to Do in Chinatown San Francisco

Ross Alley

Once so dangerous that just walking down their increased your chance of getting killed from possible to probable. It’s also been featured in films such as Karate Kid II.

Portsmouth Square

The original heart of San Francisco before the nearby shoreline was expanded with land fill, and where the US flag was placed when the Americans claimed San Francisco as their own over Mexico.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company

Where you can watch the slips of fortune placed into the round shells and bended into the cookies we know of today. They have been making fortune cookies here since 1962.

Visit Tin How Temple

One of the most unique places to go in San Francisco and the oldest Taoist temple in SF, opened since 1852.

It’s altar and temple bell survived the 1906 earthquake. The Tin How Temple is on the fourth floor of a non-descript building.

The smell of incense will lead the way. This was the most enchanting thing I discovered in Chinatown and made me want to return to Asia so badly.

Where to Eat in Chinatown

Sam Wo

Sam Wo Restaurant is the oldest restaurant in Chinatown and has been a favorite of locals and visitors since 1906, especially because of their late hours. BBQ Pork-stuffed rice noodles is a treat!

The Great Eastern

Their claim to fame is that it’s one of two places President Obama dined at on his trip to visit San Francisco. Don’t miss the Shanghai dumplings and Mango pudding.

Good Mong Kok Bakery

The place to quickly grab some steamed pork bun and shrimp dumplings.

Places to Stay in Chinatown

Orchard Garden Hotel ****

Comfortable and spacious rooms. Located near Chinatown Gate and Downtown. You’ll love the rooftop terrace with views. Check current prices here.

Airbnb

Might be an ideal accommodation option for Chinatown. Check what’s available here.

However, if you stay at the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake in Union Square (like we did) you can easily walk to Dragon’s Gate, the entry to Chinatown!

North Beach (Little Italy)

North Beach, San Francisco

One of the best things to do in San Francisco is eat, and North Beach is rich in Italian heritage, family style restaurants, plus comedy clubs and street art.

Jack Kerouac and the counter culture Beatnik movement made this the most infamous of the San Francisco neighborhoods. Maybe the authentic Italian pastas, gourmet pastries and delis had something to do with it as well.

Don’t be mislead though, there is no beach here, although back in the 1800’s there used to be one!

The shoreline of San Francisco has extended quite a lot since then because of landfill but the name has remained. It just adds to the quirkiness of this neighborhood.

Things to Do in North Beach

St Peter and Paul Church at Washington Square Park

St Peter and Paul Church at Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is one of the three oldest parks on the city and is the place to come on a sunny day with your coffee and pastries.

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had their wedding photos on the stairs here.

City Lights Bookstore

City Lights has the most comprehensive collections of any bookstore in San Francisco.

It showcases the Beat Generation (owned by a former Beat) and their poetry collection is best known for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s How and its

Jack Kerouac Alley

I loved this small alley filled with murals and poetic wisdom from the greats starting from Confucius at the East side of the Alley (which is in Chinatown) moving down to Mayou Angelo down the west side of the alley.

A merging of the east and west philosophies. So clever!

Vesuvius Café sits at the end, a place frequently vested by Jack and his poetry writing drinking buddies.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower is a San Francisco attraction famous for its views atop Telegraph Hill.

Where to Eat in North Beach

North Beach, San Francisco

  • Calzone’s and the Original US restaurant for alfresco authentic Italian.
  • The Station Cafe for Coffee
  • Café Trieste – offers a caffeine hit with a true Bohemian spirit. This is the café Francis Ford Coppola wrote much of the screenplay for The Godfather. Check out the walls for old photographs.
  • Victoria Pastry although a little overpriced, these pastries will melt in your mouth. At least the size reflects the price; it’s an easy share between loved ones.

Places to Stay in North Beach

Green Tortoise Hostel *

We stayed here 10 years ago as backpackers and loved it! Fantastic location, social atmosphere, free daily breakfast, and free dinners a few nights a week. Read more reviews and book here.

Hotel Boheme ***

This one is for the nostalgic with the bohemian design flair this neighborhood is known for. Also great for its location to restaurants cafes and nightlife. Check current prices

Washington Square Inn ***

This boutique hotel overlooks the pretty Washington Square in an ideal location. Free breakfast and afternoon wine and hors d’ oeuvres is served to guests daily. Book your stay here.

Airbnb

With its ideal location to many San Francisco attractions, you’ll love an Airbnb rental in North Beach. Click here to see availability and prices.

Haight Ashbury

Haight Ashbury, San Francisco

Looking for hipster San Francisco? This is one of my favorites and super cool neighborhoods in San Francisco for its hippie free love vibe.

The Haight Ashbury San Francisco is known as the official birthplace of the hippie movement and the Summer of Love. A strong whiff of counter culture still lingers in the air here!

Haight Asbury is one of the cool places to go in San Francisco for vintage shopping, people watching, and getting a tattoo. I love the psychedelic patterns and colors oozing out of the store fronts here.

The corner of Haight and Ashbury is where you’ll find the street sign marking where the flower power movement of the 1960s blossomed.

The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane lived into his neighborhood and performed free impromptu concerts in Golden Gate Park.

Things to Do in Haight Ashbury

Amoeba Music & Piedmont Boutique

Check out local institutions like Amoeba Music, the world’s largest independent record store (1855 Haight st). And Piedmont Boutique for outlandish fashions (1452 Haigh st).

Amoeba often has free shows, so check their calendar in case it lines up with your visit.

Doc Martens Store

Pick up a pair of Doc Martens boots. Kalyra (our eldest daughter) bought her first pair here at the Haight Asbury (1621 Haight st). What a great moment for me and her!

Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies

While not in the Haight, a short walk east of it will take you to Alamo Square and the famous Painted Ladies.

On a sunny day there will be loads of locals (and of course visitors) soaking up the sunshine and stunning views of the city skyline with the Painted Ladies as your foreground.

This neighborhood is a great entry point to Golden Gate Park.

Buena Vista Park

Hike to the top of Buena Vista Park and admire the views and colorful Victorian homes.

710 Ashbury Street

710 Ashbury Street is where the Grateful Dead lived in the 60’s. Look for the pictures painted on the sidewalk in front of the house.

Where to Eat in Haight Ashbury

Magnolia Pub & Brewery. Organic bar food and a long list of home brews anchor the menu at this popular microbrewery.

See more places to eat and drink in Haight Ashbury here.

Places to Stay in Haight Ashbury

Stanyan Park ***

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places with Victorian style rooms and a location near Golden Gate Park and Haight Ashbury. Check current prices here.

Airbnb

While hotel choices are slim in the Haight, there are plenty of Airbnb options. Check what is available here.

Financial District & Embarcadero

Financial District San Francisco

The towering A shaped TransAmerica building can be seen from all over the city steering you down into the center of San Francisco business.

And did you know there is a Redwoods Park next door?!

Most of the neighborhood here and many of the buildings were built upon the masts and hulls of old ships that have been rediscovered with tear downs and refurbs.

You can learn more about that as you walk around or on one of these fantastic walking tours.

The Financial District moves into the Embarcadero area once you head to the water.

This region stretches along the water between Pier 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf and Oracle Park and offers unobstructed views of the bay.

It’s a great place for a walk, jog, or bike ride.

In 1991, a freeway that blocked San Franciscans from enjoying the bay was removed in the wake of an earthquake. Now this is a picturesque neighborhood in the city with views.

Things to Do in Financial District & Embarcadero

The Redwood Park

San Francisco

Yep, next to the TransAmerica building there is a Redwoods park that offers a lovely peaceful place for lunch or to sit.

Apart from the Presidio Park, it’s the only place in the city where you’ll find these gorgeous trees.

The Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is located at Pier 15 at the Embarcadero – the waterfront that’s had new life breathed into it since the Americas Cup in 2013. It’s one of the popular things to do in San Francisco with kids.

The Ferry Building Marketplace is world class and a must for local and organic gourmet treats.

  • Bay Bridge – illuminated with LED lights after dark
  • U2 sculpture
  • Museum of Ice Cream – an immersive experience through creative exhibits that ends with a few samples of flavors like Churro Churro and Nanba Banaba.

Where to Eat in the Financial District

Ferry Building

Ferry Building, San Francisco

Grab fresh Oysters from Hog Island Oyster Bar, a bowl of mussels from San Francisco Fish Company, and fresh bread from Acme and sit out the back in the sun with views of the Bay Bridge!

Tadich Grill

This place is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in San Francisco.

Places to Stay in Financial District & Embarcadero

Hilton San Francisco Financial District ****

Conveniently located at the crossroads of Chinatown and the financial district, this hotel perfectly suits the business travel and those who want the predictable good service and facilities. Check current prices here.

Hotel Vitale, a Joie de Vivre Hotel ****

Overlooking San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront, this hotel features an outdoor rooftop terrace, a spa and a restaurant. Rave reviews by previous guests – Read them here.

Hyatt Regency San Francisco ****

Close to the Ferry Building and Alcatraz ferries, this luxury hotel offers spacious rooms and modern furnishings. Check current prices here.

Mission District

Mission District, San Francisco

The Mission District is San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood and is full of hip restaurants, taqueria and small shops sandwiched between apartments and the city’s largest concentration of murals.

This is the Latino hub with the historic Mission Dolores at the center – one of the oldest structures in the city.

The Mission District is said to have the best fog free weather in the city, often several degrees warmer than the rest of the Bay Area.

Things to Do in The Mission District

Mission Dolores Park

Mission District, San Francisco

The top of the park (between Church and Dolores St) is where you’ll find outstanding views of the city skyline and is a perfect spot for the skateboard lovers, families and picnickers.

Clarion Alley

Between 17th and 18th street is one of the fun places to go in San Francisco for posing for photos in front of vibrant murals.

Since 1992 the 15 ft. wide and 560 ft. long alleyway has been used as a canvas for political and social outrage and celebration.

South East on Valencia St

To explore the colorful murals in Balmy Alley.

Mission Dolores Basilica

Mission Dolores Basilica founded by Spanish priests in 1776, making it the oldest building in San Francisco and the oldest mission chapel still standing in California.

Where to Eat in the Mission District

Tartine Bakery

Tartine Bakery San Francisco

Tartine will satisfy your desire for coffee and pastries. Our local insider says they are the second best croissants in the city.

Bi-Rite Creamery

Don’t know where to go in San Francisco for the best ice cream? This place is the local’s favorite. You’ll find hand made, rich soft creamy flavors like honey lavender, salted caramel and Coffee Toffee (my pick)

Gracias Madre

Vegetarians will love this plant based Mexican restaurant. Although on the pricey side their dishes are flavorful, filling and so healthy. Don’t miss the Bowl Uno

Tacolicious

Famous for their cod tacos or burritos (won best burrito in the USA by FiveThirtyEight). Tacolicious have multiple locations in San Francisco.

Four Barrel Coffee

Where I found the best cup of joe in San Francisco (375 Valencia st).

Places to Stay in the Mission District

Nineteen 06 Mission

This Bed and Breakfast gets rave reviews for its location, eco-friendly design and helpful staff. Read more reviews here.

Airbnb

You’ll find your ideal unique home rental here.

The Castro

The Castro San Francisco

The Castro has one of the largest LGBT communities in the world. It’s a fun, colorful and bustling neighborhood with Victorian homes, restaurants, bars and shopping.

We only had time to drive through it which was enough to create a lifelong memory for my kids – “Look Mummy, there are two naked men walking down the street.”

Sure enough there were their backsides and on passing the front revealed little yellow socks covering their packages, lol.

The famous Castro Theater is a historical movie palace with a lavish Sunny outdoor cafes and jam packed bars add to the energy.

Things to Do in the Castro

Highlights are the gigantic and famous rainbow flag that can be seen from Twin Peaks view behind it and the Rainbow crosswalks – it’s one of the iconic things to see in San Francisco.

Up behind the Castro is the Twin Peaks. It’s worth driving up here for spectacular 360 degree views over San Francisco. Look for the rainbow flag!

And The Castro Theatre for boisterous singalongs.

Twin Peaks
View from Twin Peaks

Where to Eat in the Castro

Duboce Park Cafe

This cafe has outdoor seating next to a park and is great for coconut quinoa porridge and buddha bowls.

Verve Coffee Roasters

For coffee and avo toast (2101 Market st).

Twin Peaks Tavern

The gateway to the Castro and the oldest operating gay bar in San Francisco.

Kitchen Story

Where you’ll find long lines, millionaire’s bacon, and bottomless mimosa brunch on a Sunday.

Places to Stay in the Castro

Bali Hai Castro

A unique Balinese-influenced vacation home with city views and an outdoor hot tub. Read reviews and current prices here.

Airbnb

I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding your ideal place to stay in the Castro though Airbnb. Click to see your options.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

In the 1870s’ more than 150,000 trees were planted on 1,000 acres to create a city park.

Golden Gate Park is now one of the largest urban parks in the United States.

It stretches more than 3 miles from the sea to the Panhandle. It’s easy to get lost in this verdant park with its wooded network of trails, gardens, lakes and museums.

The neighborhoods surrounding Golden Gate Park are worth exploring more for their diverse and award winning restaurants including Richmond, Sunset and Haight Asbury.

Things to Do in Golden Gate Park

* Hire bikes to ride around Golden Gate Park

You could make it a couple of hours to a whole day affair.

On the weekends they close part of the main thoroughfare which makes it a safe and more enjoyable ride. Although there are many trails off road which are just as good. Just watch for pedestrians.

De Young Museum

Golden Gate Park

Copper colored De Young Museum draws art lovers from around the world.

If anything, be sure to stop at the 9th observatory level of this arts museum for views over the park and the California Academy of Science. They’re beautiful and free.

California Academy of Science

This museum will entertain and educate the kids. It is expensive though so we skipped it. It is included on the San Francisco City Pass.

The Botanical Garden

Has more than 8,000 species of plants and the Japanese Tea Garden is a serenity place to sip on a cup of green tea.

Where to Eat in Golden Gate Park

Devil’s Teeth Baking Company

In sunset and supposedly has the best breakfast sandwich in the city.

I say head to the surrounding neighborhoods to grab some good food.

Clement St in Richmond

Will give you multiple flavors of Asia.

Arsicault Bakery

Arsicault Bakery

Located in Richmond, Arsicault has been named best croissants in the country. We’ve never tasted a chocolate croissant like this one before!

* Bike rental included in the San Francisco Sightseeing Pass. Get your pass and savings here.

Places to Stay in Golden Gate Park area

Airbnb

These properties are on the border of Golden Gate Park. Check out price and availability.

Fillmore Street

I loved the main street of Fillmore that was lined with boutique stores, cafes and restaurants.

The atmosphere was buzzing here and if we had more time to dive deeper I could see it becoming one of my favorite places to go in San Francisco

The Fillmore is the historic jazz district of San Francisco and has entertained all kinds of music genres including the rock concerts and was the center of the Summer of Love sound.

Each summer The Fillmore hosts the Fillmore Jazz Festival, the largest of its kind on the West Coast.

Things to Do in Fillmore

Visit the PrAna Store

PrAna Store San Francisco

As a PrAna addict I was over the moon to finally walk into one of their stores. There are only 8 of them in the country and all west coast based.

The majority of my clothes are PrAna and receive endless comments from strangers as to how nice they are. Not only do they look good, but the quality is long lasting and comfortable and they are a sustainable company.

I am proud to be an ambassador for them. Generally that just means I receive a discount on their clothing. I still spend loads of my own money and did so in this store.

The staff were super friendly and helpful. So if you like good travel and workout clothes, pop into this store.

Where to Eat in Fillmore

Roam Burgers
Roam Burgers

Places to Stay in Fillmore

Airbnb

Airbnb will have you covered in this district. See what’s nearby here. Otherwise any of the hotels listed in Fisherman’s Wharf and Japantown will be the closest.

Japantown

Japantown San Francisco

The five-tiered Peace Pagoda and bright red cherry blossom banners mark the space of the oldest of three remaining Japantown’s in the US.

Although we have not been to Japan, our Boutique Traveler guide, Michael said this Japantown was as authentic as it can get outside of Japan.

The Japan Center, a shopping complex that is two blocks long filled with dozens of shops and plenty of places to get your sushi fix.

Things to Do in Japantown

  • Kabuki Springs and Spa – for a traditional Onsen experience.
  • Go shopping in Japan Center – Kinokuniya Bookstore and tea implements at Asakichi
  • Catch a movie at the Kabuki Theater.
  • Enjoy the Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring.
  • Self-guided historical walking tour. The first plaque is on the Eastern side of the Peace Plaza and will guide you to what you will see and do and where the next strip is.
  • Relax in the Peace Pagoda situated in a courtyard between Japan Center’s East and West mall. The Peace Pagoda was gifted to the people of San Francisco by Osaka Japan in 1968.

Where to Eat in Japantown

  • Kushi Tsuru – well known for their Bento boxes.
  • Uji Time – for your matcha soft serve ice cream served in fish-shaped cones. Instagram at the ready.
  • Mums Restaurant and Bar – features all-you-can-eat shabu shabu.

Places to Stay in Japantown

Hotel Kabuki

Hotel Kabuki

I loved the design of the foyer and cute Japanese court gardens in this 3.5 star hotel situated in the heart of Japantown. Check current prices here.

Kimpton Buchanan ****

We love Kimpton Hotels for their quirky designs, spacious rooms, and social hours.

This one won’t disappoint with the location in Japantown and close to the Painted Ladies and the Fillmore. Read more reviews and book your stay here.

The Presidio

The Predisio, San Francisco

The Presidio quickly became one of my top places to go in San Francisco. How could you not love a 1,500 acre garden oasis in the urban jungle?

This region that has a history of belonging to armies and fortification has now been given over to the public to enjoy for living and recreational purposes.

I love how the Presidio incorporates homes and businesses as well as wooded trails, art installations, stunning harbor views, beaches and cultural experiences like museums and public food cart picnics on the Main Parade Ground.

Things to Do in the Presidio San Francisco

  • Learn more about Walt Disney’s life, family, creative inspiration and hurdles at the Walt Disney Museum (skip the line tickets here)
  • Check out Andy Goldsworthy’s art installations, my favorite is the Woodline down Lovers Lange
  • Walk the short ecology trail to experience redwood trees and views over the bay.
  • Check out the Golden Gate Bridge views from Baker Beach, Golden Gate Overlook, North and South Vista.
  • Bike ride through Crissy Field.

Where to Eat at the Presidio

The Presidio Picnic

The Presidio Picnic

A MUST do in San Francisco experience is the Presidio Picnic.

Held every Sunday during the summer, it’s a place to gather with your friends (new and old).

Grab a patch of grass, choose your favorite cuisine from the food trucks lining the perimeter, pick up a pint of local craft brew and enjoy the sunshine and bay vies.

Places to Stay at the Presidio

The Inn at the Presidio

Historic Hotel of America that used to be the home of the bachelor officers when it was an Army post. It’s located in a beautiful natural setting not too far from the Officer’s Club. Read more reviews here.

Lodge at the Presidio

Views of the Golden Gate Bridge or San Francisco Skyline. It’s located within the Montgomery Street Barracks off the main parade grounds. See more reviews here

Airbnb

There are several homes on the outskirts of the Presidio. Check what’s available for your stay here.

Getting around San Francisco

Things to do in San Francsico

So, how do you get around to all these places to visit in Bay Area?

  • MUNI buses are good for cheap city wide travel. There are over 50 routes. Google Maps is best for helping you figure out what lines to take to your destinations. You can buy and use tickets through the Muni app. Fare is $2.75 for adults $1.35 for kids. You can buy day prices. You need exact fare. Cash only.
  • Cable Cars are best for tourist thrills and capturing views. The Cable Cars will help you navigate the San Francisco steep hills. Lines: Powell-Hyde, Powell Mason, and California st $7 one way; $21 day pass
  • The BART is best for East Bay exploration. The Bay Area Rapid Transport connects San Francisco t5o the Easter and southern sides of the aby and beyond.
  • San Francisco Bay Ferries are best for North Bay exploration.
  • Ride and bike share are best for setting your own schedule. Lyft and Uber can help you get to where you want to go quickly and easily. May be cheaper for group travel.
  • Bay Wheels Bikes are docked on the city streets and require an app to use.
  • Clipper Card is the all-in-one transit card for the Bay Area you can load it with cash to ride on Muni, Bart, Caltrain and ferries.

Be warned, this city has a lot of hills, and can get windy!

Save Money on San Francisco Attractions

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz tour

The City Pass saves travelers 42% or more on combined admission to the top San Francisco attractions.

Pricing $94 adults and $74 children age 5-11. It’s valid for nine consecutive days and includes:

  • California Academy of Science
  • Non our bay cruise
  • Aquarium on the Bay
  • Exploratorium or SF Museum of Modern Art
  • and 3 unlimited MUNI bus and cable cars.

But we much preferred the San Francisco Sightseeing Pass as it includes more diversity in their attractions and more local tours.

We only used the MUNI from the city pass. We’re not big museum people so it wasn’t a win for us. And I don’t like how the bay area attractions are chosen for you.

3 Day San Francisco Itinerary

We mapped out your 3 day trip to San Francisco, including what we think are the must see San Francisco attractions and give you a time frame to enjoy them, plus a handy map to help you get around!

San Francisco Travel Videos

We have compiled a playlist of our travels in San Francisco with kids.

Watch the nine videos in real time for extra information, inspirations and insights. Click the top right menu button for a list of the nine videos and go straight to the one you want.

Or just let them roll on one after the other!

Map of San Francisco attractions

Press the top left icon to explore the different layers of the map including things to do in San Francisco and places to eat and drink in San Francisco. You can toggle the layers on and off.

Best Selling San Francisco Tours

What can you do for free in San Francisco?

  • Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • See the Painted Ladies
  • Stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Visit a free museum
  • See the murals in the Mission District
  • Drive down Lombard Street
  • Walk around Golden Gate Park
  • Window shop in Union Square
  • Drive to the top of Twin Peaks
  • See the sea lions at Pier 39
  • Walk down Ross Alley in Chinatown

More San Francisco Tips

And for places to visit near San Francisco:

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What are your favorite places to go in San Francisco? And what do you think are the best neighborhoods in San Francisco and why?

2 thoughts on “Neighborhood Guide: 12 Places to Go in San Francisco (plus where to eat & stay)”

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