Hipmunk City Love: Exploring San Francisco

With such a huge international reputation, the city of San Francisco is surprising small. And as one of the most densely populated cities in the US, you won’t have to travel far to uncover dozens of local gems. This list is a compilation of the best areas of San Francisco to enjoy sight-seeing, relaxation, and some serious hobbies (like shopping and eating). So hit the pavement in this intriguing city and start with the most important districts.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Photo by Shealyn Emery via Trover.com

As one of the most famous landmarks in San Francisco, the Fisherman’s Wharf has been worked since the 19th century and is home to the best seafood restaurants in the city. Stroll along the shops at the famous Pier 39 or pop into the free Maritime Museum. Stop by the West Marina along the pier to watch hundreds of noisy sea lions. For a sweet treat or a bite to eat, check out the charming Ghirardelli Square, home to the chocolate factory of the same name as well as a variety of boutiques and small eateries.

Golden Gate Park

golden gate park

Photos by and David Ohmer via Flickr.com

Golden Gate Park is a lovely place to spend a long afternoon. At over 1,000 acres, the park is larger than Central Park in New York City and offers a long list of gems to be founding while strolling amongst the greenery. Some of the most popular destinations in the park are the tranquil Japanese Tea Garden, the culinary delights of Beach and Park Chalets, Queen Wilhelmina’s Windmill and the charming Dutch Tulip Garden. 

Union Square

Photo by Tony Fischer via Flickr.com

If shopping is a passion of yours, you can’t miss Union Square. As one of the largest shopping centers in the world, you’ll find a number of both upscale and boutique stores for all tastes and budgets. You’ll also notice dozens of large, upscale San Francisco hotels for those wishing to stay in the downtown financial district. Beyond shopping, you’ll find broadway performance theaters near Union Square and charming art galleries. If you’re hungry, some locals say the best restaurants in the city can be found in this district.

China Town

Photo by Chelsea Marie Hicks via Flickr.com

China Town in San Francisco is not only a site to behold, but it is the oldest and largest Chinese community outside of Asia. The small alleys lined with pagoda-style roofs are wonderful to explore, where you may stumble across food markets and exotic shops. Start at the famous Chinatown gate, crested with an ornate dragon marking the Southern entrance of the district and make your way through the 24 square blocks. Look for the old Taoist and Buddhist temples and enjoy authentic Dim Sum in this lovely corner of the city.

Haight-Ashbury

Photo by David Ohmer via Flickr.com

For something a little different, head over to the old hippie haven of Haight-Ashbury. Young counter-culturalists flocked to this neighborhood during the 60’s and 70’s to escape the status quo and share in less popular ideologies and beliefs. Wander through this colorful neighborhood and behold some of the past homes of the famous, like Janis Joplin, the Hell’s Angels, and the Grateful Dead. Have a hearty meal at the many vegetarian eateries in town or for something completely different, hear the macabre stories of the Haunted Haight Walking Tour

Whatever your travel interests and hobbies may be, you’ll love exploring the diverse districts of San Francisco. 

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