Unique things to do in San Francisco
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Travel like a local
San Francisco is as layered as the clothing worn here. Peel back its modern tech-obsessed reputation to discover classic charm in the City. Neon signs shaped like martini glasses flicker on at the old-school bars, tempting passers-by en route to a bucket-list meal. People ride bikes in search of windmills and waterfalls in Golden Gate Park. San Francisco teems with things to do (rain, fog, or shine): cooking classes, sailing trips, or vintage VW bus tours, among other activities. See for yourself with Airbnb Experiences.
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Your guide to San Francisco
What is the best food in San Francisco?
That’s a loaded question. San Francisco is a city that brings the world together through its food (and drinks), a mix of iconic and innovative. For a real taste of the Bay Area, here are some local neighborhoods (in San Francisco and beyond) that you can’t miss, no matter how many places are on your list.
The Richmond District
Some of the best dim sum in the city, among other eats, can be found in this neighborhood that runs adjacent to Golden Gate Park. This is a great alternative to San Francisco’s famous Chinatown for authentic eats, most notably on Clement Street.
The Mission District
For real-deal taquerias, it’s hard to beat the Mission for tacos, burritos, and other Mexican fare — the lines are there to prove it — but that’s only the beginning when it comes to Latin American cuisine. There is so much more to enjoy here in the form of Salvadorian restaurants, vegan empanadas, and Peruvian tapas, among others. Take food tours with locals to get the most out of the wide selection of the Mission’s delicious eats (think noodles, pizza, coffee, Michelin-rated pastries, and more).
Head across the Bay Bridge to arrive in Temescal, one of Oakland’s oldest neighborhoods. This walkable stretch of Telegraph Avenue has long been a local darling for bistros, dive bars, and kid-friendly restaurants.
Where do locals hang out in San Francisco?
It’s not uncommon to start the day with a yoga on the beach, or a jog in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area — passing Fort Point, the Marina Green, Crissy Field, and Fort Mason — before hitting a brunch in the nearby Marina, or heading over to the Castro or Hayes Valley. By afternoon, people flock to restaurant parklets in neighborhoods like North Beach. However most locals would agree that the city’s green spaces, favorites include Dolores Park and the Presidio, are the place to meet up with friends and family for a low-key outing.
What are the best day trips from San Francisco?
The San Francisco Bay Area is a “choose your own adventure” place with natural beauty in the city and beyond: mountains, valleys, beaches, and lush parks are all reachable on day, and half-day, trips.
The Napa and Sonoma wine regions are some of the best ways to explore outside of the city, and most people arrange wine tasting and transportation tours for a safe and enjoyable day out. For those looking for more of an outdoors vibe, the Marin Headlands are laced with beautiful hiking trails, many of which lead to Mount Tamalpais (better known as Mt. Tam). You can also head out in the early morning to Muir Woods to see some of the world’s most ancient redwoods. From there, take the scenic Highway 1 drive to find a sprinkling of beach towns with cafes, breweries, and bookstores in places such as Dillon Beach, Stinson Beach, and Point Reyes.
Bike rides over the Golden Gate Bridge drop you in Sausalito for galleries, restaurants, and more waterfront trails that extend to Mill Valley. For those who don’t feel like making the round trip on two wheels, opt for a quick ferry ride from Sausalito back to the Embarcadero. Another great ferry option: a short ride drops you at Angel Island for beautiful sweeping views of the bay and easy-to-moderate hikes. Just be sure to bring a picnic to Angel Island, food and drink options are limited.
Just over the Bay Bridge, urban wineries, live music, and shopping can be found in Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda. The first Sunday of each month, the Alameda Flea Market (the Alameda Point Antiques Faire) is a popular spot for locals to shop for a mix of vintage clothing, art, and furniture in a labyrinth of stalls, set against 360-degree backdrop of San Francisco’s skyline and the Port of Oakland’s cranes. For nightlife, First Fridays are a celebration of the Oakland arts, and the Fox Theatre in Uptown Oakland is a Bay Area favorite for music venues, with easy BART access back to the city.