May 16, 2018

San Francisco 2-Day: Shopping


Edited: May 23, 2018


Scheduled Plan for the Shopping Tourist Itinerary


This scheduled plan should give an idea of how each day will be structured, time-wise, and allows for substantial independent time for shopping, touring, eating, and sleeping during the trip. Evidently, public transportation timings are dynamic and activities might be extended or shortened at your own pace, but this should give a rough idea of how each day will be timed.


Day One

09:00 – 09:20 Lombard Street

09:20 – 09:30 Walk to Ghirardelli Square

09:30 – 10:15 Hyde Street Pier and Breakfast/Coffee

10:15 – 11:15 Ghirardelli Square Shopping

11:15 – 11:30 Walk to Pier 39 along waterfront

11:30 – 13:00 Pier 39 Shopping and Attractions

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch near Pier 39

14:00 – 14:30 Walk to Powell/Mason Cable Car Turnaround, wait for cable car

14:30 – 14:45 Take Market + Powell car to Powell & Post St station

14:45 – 16:30 Shopping in Union Square

16:30 – 16:45 Walk to Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

16:45 – 17:15 Golden Gate Fortunate Cookie Factory

17:15 – 17:45 Ming Lee Trading

17:45 – 21:00 Dinner in Chinatown, independent shopping time around downtown

21:00 – onwards Nightlife, return to accommodations, etc.




Day Two

08:30 – 08:45 Purchase tickets for Early Bird ferry to Alcatraz

08:45 – 11:00 Alcatraz Island Tour

11:00 – 11:15 Take F Line to Market & Drumm Street

11:15 – 14:00 Lunch and Shopping at the Embarcadero Center

14:00 – 14:20 Take N Line Metro to Carl & Cole Street

14:20 – 17:30 Haight-Ashbury Shopping and Golden Gate Park

17:30 – 17:45 Take taxi/rideshare to Twin Peaks

17:45 – 18:30 Twin Peaks

18:30 – 18:45 Take taxi/rideshare to the Castro (Castro & Market Street)

18:45 – 20:00 Dinner in the Castro

20:00 – onwards Shopping and/or nightlife in the Castro, return to hotel





Itinerary Overview


Centered on neighborhoods with the best shopping opportunities in San Francisco, this itinerary offers travelers ample independent time to visit a wide variety of shops in the City, from the big-box department stores scattered around Union Square to the eclectic and unique street-side shops of the Haight. This itinerary allows travelers both the opportunity to shop as well as the ability to visit some of the top-rated, must-see destinations in San Francisco. Additionally, since San Francisco is known for its historically-significant (and contemporary!) public transportation systems, this itinerary gives users a taste of how locals and tourists navigate this exciting city. This itinerary includes a brief overview of the two day tour, as well as a timed, scheduled trip plan for those who prefer more structure.


Day One

In the morning we’ll start in one of the most elegant and picturesque neighborhoods of San Francisco: Russian Hill. Known for its remarkable views of the City and water from the hilly streets which characterize the neighborhood, the main attraction of Russian Hill is one that is best experienced in the morning, when the afternoon crowds have yet to fill in. Lombard Street, the most “crookedest street in the world”, is a perfect sight to see before the shops on our itinerary open. Choose to walk up the 600 foot long street with a 27 percent grade, or enjoy the views of the Bay from the bottom of the windy avenue.



A short, ten-minute walk down Lombard Street will bring us to Ghirardelli Square, the site of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory headquarters until the 1960s. Today, the complex is home to the five-star Fairmont Heritage Place hotel, as well as several high-end shops and restaurants. After finishing up visiting the square, just across the street is Hyde Street Pier, where you’ll be able to visit a diverse collection of historic and new ships, and see the Golden Gate Bridge from one of the best waterside vista points in the City.



Another ten minute walk down Beach Street will have us end up at Pier 39, the hallmark attraction of the trendy North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Here, visitors will have access to a shopping scene that is heavy on novelty and souvenirs. Choose to ride the two-story carousel, check out the famous arcade, or simply watch the California sea lions as they relax on the docks and under the pier itself. Seen on a clear day, just across the water from Pier 39, is Angel Island, a state park and historic landmark where the Angel Island Immigration Station processed approximately one million immigrants for thirty years between 1910 and 1940.



After lunch at one of the several restaurants on or surrounding Pier 39, another ten-minute walk back down Beach and Taylor will put you at the Powell/Mason Street Cable Car Turnaround. Here, you’ll be able to take the Market + Powell tram 20 stops to the Powell St & Post St station in downtown San Francisco, where yet another shopping district of the City awaits. In Union Square, a three-acre public plaza in between the tallest buildings of the notable ‘Frisco skyline, you’ll have access to some of the most reputable department stores, boutiques, and art galleries in the world.



After spending some independent time checking out your favorite shops around Union Square, a fifteen-minute walk down Grant will have travelers end up in Chinatown, one of San Francisco’s most beloved neighborhoods. If you are able to arrive by 6pm, be sure to visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, a cozy open kitchen where free tours of the cookie-making process are offered. Directly adjacent to the factory is a local favorite grocery store named Ming Lee Trading, where loads of inexpensive Chinese snack foods make up two whole stories inside the store.



This first night in San Francisco culminates here in Chinatown, where you’ll have the freedom to explore the twenty blocks of shops, restaurants, and galleries, which locals say is an atmosphere best experienced at night. If nightlife is something you are looking for, Chinatown offers a wide variety of low-key bars and taverns which ought to make for the perfect end to your first day in the City.



Day Two

Today will start in North Beach at Pier 33, located several blocks down the waterfront promenade from Pier 39. From here, Alcatraz Cruises offers an Early Bird tour of Alcatraz Island, which includes a roundtrip ferry and tour upon arrival. Located just over a mile off the pier, Alcatraz Island served as a lighthouse, military fort, military prison, and between 1934-1963, one of the most infamous federal prisons in the United States. On the island, visitors will be able to see both the oldest operational lighthouse on the West Coast, as well as the prison itself.



After returning to the pier, you can take the historic F Line streetcar which departs from just across the street at The Embarcadero & Bay Street. A short, eight-stop ride down the line has riders arrive at Market St & Drumm Street, only a few blocks away from the next glitzy shopping destination: the Embarcadero Center. A massive complex in the heart of the Financial District, the Embarcadero Center is comprised of five office towers, two hotels, and one of the best malls in California, with more than 125 stores and restaurants spread across three levels submerged underneath street level.



From the Embarcadero Center, the N Line metro runs down to Carl Street & Cole Street, a station which is only a few blocks south from a San Francisco neighborhood that is much different than the busy downtown districts which were visited earlier on this itinerary. Haight-Ashbury is the crux of the 1960s Summer of Love that has shaped today’s hippie culture, and is now known as one of the most hip and exciting neighborhoods in the entire Peninsula. In the Haight, visitors will be offered a variety of eclectic shops and restaurants, which offer a shopping experience that is both unique and strongly connected to the culture and reputation of San Francisco.


At the end of Haight, Golden Gate Park begins, which is a massive public space that stretches over 1,000 acres all the way to the Pacific Ocean. A quick stroll into the Park will offer sights of sprawling lawns, gardens, and wooded areas, where locals love to bring their families, exercise, and relax on sunny evenings. As the sun begins to set over the city, take a short rideshare or taxi to the summit of Twin Peaks, only a five minute drive from the Haight, where you’ll find panoramic observation decks and some of the best vista points in the entire Bay Area. Many locals prefer to take their guests to Twin Peaks due to the magnificent views of the entire Bay Area that can only be seen at the summit, almost 1,000 feet above the sea below.


Afterwards, a short drive back down the hill towards San Francisco will land you at the Castro, the famous gay and lesbian neighborhood of San Francisco which lights up at night. Here, visitors have access to quirky novelty shops, thrift stores, bars, and restaurants. Similar to Chinatown, the Castro is one of the best places to see the authentic nightlife scene of San Francisco, in one of the most historically-significant and energetic neighborhoods of the City. Twin Peaks at sunset, dinner in the Castro, and an evening stroll down Castro Street will be the perfect way to end our two-day shopping adventure around the City, and should fill travelers with excitement and anticipation for their next opportunity to visit San Francisco!


Trip planned by Nate Gordon.

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  • Scheduled Plan for Arts & Culture Tourist Itinerary This scheduled plan should give an idea of how each day will be structured, time-wise, and allows for substantial independent time for shopping, touring, eating, and sleeping during the trip. Evidently, public transportation timings are dynamic and activities might be extended or shortened at your own pace, but this should give a rough idea of how each day will be timed. Day One 08:30 – 09:30 Breakfast near California St & Davis St trolley station 09:30 – 10:00 Take C Line Trolley to California St & Grant St, visit Old St. Mary’s Cathedral 10:00 – 13:00 All About Chinatown Tour with lunch (departs from cathedral) 13:00 – 13:45 Travel on rideshare or KT Metro Line to Minnesota Street Project 13:45 – 16:00 Minnesota Street Project & 1150 25th St. Galleries 16:00 – 16:15 Travel to the Mission District 16:15 – 18:00 Detour Walking Tour of the Mission District 18:00 – 19:00 Dinner in the Mission 19:00 – 20:30 Sunset at the Painted Ladies 20:30 – onwards Nightlife in the Lower Haight Day Two 08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast at Garden House Café (located on Clement St & 23rd St) 09:00 – 09:30 Lands End Trail & Holocaust Memorial 09:30 – 11:00 Legion of Honor 11:00 – 11:30 Rideshare/Bus to Irving Street 11:30 – 12:30 Lunch on Irving Street 12:30 – 12:45 Walk to the de Young Museum 12:45 – 15:00 De Young Museum 15:00 – 15:45 Rideshare/Bus to SF MOMA 15:45 – 17:00 SF MOMA 17:00 – 17:15 Rideshare/F Line Streetcar to Pier 33 17:15 – 18:15 Dinner near Pier 33 18:15 – 18:30 Purchase tickets, board ferry for 18:30 departure to Alcatraz 18:30 – 21:45 Alcatraz Night Tour 21:45 – onwards Walk around North Beach, return to hotel, etc. Itinerary Overview Featuring a variety of walking tours, museum and exhibition visits, and even a night cruise out to Alcatraz, this itinerary focuses on the artistic culture of San Francisco. Travelers using this itinerary will be able to visit the far corners of the City, as well as the glitzy downtown districts which it is known for. This trip plan includes an overview of the attractions visited on this itinerary, as well as a time-sensitive schedule for those who seek more structure for their trips. Day One Today begins in the heart of the busy Financial District in downtown San Francisco. We recommend grabbing breakfast at the Eclipse Kitchen & Bar, an American comfort-style restaurant located in the Hyatt Regency on Market & Drumm Street. From here, you’ll be able to take an iconic trolley car seven stops down California Street to Old St Mary’s Cathedral at California & Grant, where at 10am, the company All About Chinatown Tours offers what TripAdvisor rates as the top walking tour of Chinatown, one of San Francisco’s most historically significant neighborhoods. Here, for three hours, you’ll be able to experience the best of what Chinatown has to offer in terms of shopping, attractions, and of course, food. After exploring Chinatown, take either a rideshare or the KT line Metro from the Metro Montgomery Station to Third Street & 23rd St, located twenty minutes away. Here, we’ll encounter the first art-related attraction, and one of the most highly-rated in the city: the Minnesota Street Project. Located in the trendy yet historic Dogpatch district, the Minnesota Street Project is comprised of several art galleries for both internationally-recognized and up-and-coming artists, and boasts a plethora of opportunities to further explore the art scene of the Bay Area. A quick rideshare (or taking the No. 48 bus from Pennsylvania Avenue & 23rd St) will land you at 24th St & Mission St, the heart of the famous Mission District. Here, we recommend downloading the Detour app, which offers free audio walking tours of different neighborhoods in the City which you can complete by yourself, at your own pace. If you finish the tour before six, check out Galeria de la Raza, a nonprofit “cultural hub” which features work from Latino artists. Grab dinner at one of the many restaurants along 24th Street if you haven’t already eaten at La Palma Mexicatessen, which is featured at the end of the walking tour! A ten-minute rideshare from the Mission will put you at one of the most picturesque places in the entire Peninsula: the famed Painted Ladies. Situated along the eastern block of Alamo Square Park on Steiner Street, the Painted Ladies is a collection of colorful Victorian houses built between 1849 and 1915. A walk up the hilly park will offer some remarkable vantage points as the sun sets over the skyline of San Francisco, which will be great opportunities to take photos which will spark envy among your friends! Four blocks south of the Painted Ladies lies one of the quirkier yet aesthetically-pleasing districts of San Francisco: Lower Haight. Comprised mostly of young locals, Lower Haight is known for the artistic, vintage vibe. After dark, Haight Street comes alive with funky bars, clubs, and restaurants which certainly will make a perfect end to our first day exploring the art scene of San Francisco. Day Two Our second day begins in a much different neighborhood of the City, one which lies at the end of the Peninsula hugging the Pacific coast. Outer Richmond, Sea Cliff, and Vista Del Mar surround a remarkable green space which looks over the dramatic California coast. We recommend beginning the day with breakfast at the Garden House Café on 32nd and Clement in Sea Cliff. A twenty-minute walk up the Legion of Honor Drive will have visitors arrive at several historic memorials from San Francisco in earlier centuries. If you are up for a walk, there are a few trails which hug the northern coast of the Peninsula and offer dramatic views of the sea, otherwise, catching the Memorial for Peace and Holocaust Memorial both ought to be interesting sights. At 10am, the Legion of Honor opens, which is known widely as “San Francisco’s most beautiful museum”. Enjoy marveling at exhibitions featuring over 4,000 years of art from around the world in one of the most beautiful structures in the City. Another ten-minute rideshare or taxi away is one of San Francisco’s more local neighborhoods, Outer Sunset. Arriving at Irving St & 9th Ave puts you in the center of a bustling commercial district, where you’ll have plenty of options to grab lunch amongst local residents. Then, after walking a block north of the intersection, you’ll find Golden Gate Park, a massive stretch of green space that extends over 1,000 acres from Haight-Ashbury all the way to the Pacific. Near the center of the park is de Young Museum, a fine arts museum with diverse collections featuring collections that include American, African, Oceanic, and Textile Arts. From Fulton St & 10th Avenue, the No. 5 bus takes riders all the way across the City back to downtown SF, where you’ll be able to find the popular San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, or SFMOMA as its commonly referred to, just four blocks away from the Fulton St & 10th Ave stop. After SFMOMA, the historic F Line streetcar can take you directly from Market & Kearny to Pier 33 at The Embarcadero & Bay Street, where one of the most exciting activities on this itinerary will take place. After catching a quick dinner at a restaurant near the pier, Alcatraz Cruises offers a night tour departing at 6:30pm to Alcatraz Island. Here, you will not only be able to experience one of the most famous prisons and lighthouses in the United States, but you also will be afforded breathtaking views of the San Francisco skyline at night. After returning on a ferry at a time which works for you, you’ll have the rest of the night to either explore the nightlife of the glitzy downtown districts, or return to your accommodations for a relaxing end to your vacation. Trip planned by Nate Gordon.

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