The 6 Best Places to Shop in San Francisco

The city's top malls and shopping districts vend everything from iconic brands to locally made goods.

By Jenna Scatena, ContributorMay 15, 2017
By Jenna Scatena, ContributorMay 15, 2017, at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

The 6 Best Places to Shop in San Francisco

Westfield San Francisco Centre

A trip to the Westfield San Francisco Centre is worth it even if just to see the opulent sunlit dome.(Courtesy of Westfield San Francisco Centre)

Travelers visiting San Francisco will find the city has no shortage of shops offering a variety of styles. Whether you're hunting for home decor, name-brand clothing or locally crafted gifts to take home, there's a neighborhood that has what you're looking for. U.S. News tapped local experts to suggest six areas that cover every shopper's need.

Fillmore Street

Freda Salvador on Fillmore Street, San Francisco(Courtesy of Anette Ravenhill)

This leafy street is the place to come for a day of leisurely retail therapy or a head-to-toe makeover. Between Sacramento Street and Geary Boulevard, you'll find beautiful boutiques featuring chic California styles set amid high-end cafes and restaurants. At Freda Salvador, modern handmade leather shoes line the shelves. Sunhee Moon highlights colorful, effortless ready-to-wear clothing manufactured in San Francisco. And Credo Beauty sells quality organic skincare products. Bright, bold patterns make home decor stand out at Jonathan Adler's Fillmore outpost.

But Fillmore Street is much more than a commercial district, as the neighborhood is full of residential Victorian architecture, and every summer, the Fillmore Jazz Festival turns this street into a dance party.

Westfield San Francisco Centre

Westfield San Francisco Centre(Courtesy of Westfield San Francisco Centre)

"Make it a whole day – good restaurants, the spa, a movie and shopping," says Andreas Rippel, chief concierge at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. "And the dome is gorgeous." It's true: A trip to the Westfield San Francisco Centre is worth it even if just to see the opulent sunlit dome. But, there is much more to this unconventional mall that will beckon you. More than 180 name-brand, luxury and obscure stores fill the sleek multilevel space, from beauty to bags, fashion to fitness and toys to electronics.

When you need refueling, the mall offers options that far exceed typical food court fare, like M.Y. China, which serves coveted hand-pulled noodles and world-class dim sum.

The Mission District

"The Mission is great for more trendy stuff and local shops," says Jennifer Kirkland, guest services manager at the Inn Above Tide. "At any of these areas, you can stop and talk to the shop owners." Valencia Street is a haven of trendy urban shops featuring products made by local artisans and works by artists, fused with quirky vintage stores. Little Paper Planes is a shop founded by a group of art school grads who wanted to sell their wares. Now, it's a favorite gift shop that offers a special residency program for artists and designers.

Down the street, Aggregate Supply is a popular men's and women's shop that features urban clothes, backpacks and unique home decor. Paxton Gate is a must-see: This curiosities shop is stocked with vintage stuffed and mounted animals, bones, shells and house plants.

Hayes Valley

"San Francisco's neighborhoods are small, so don't expect more than a handful of shops in any one place. Hayes Valley has about three blocks of great shops," says Keith DiBene, chief concierge at Hotel Vitale San Francisco, A Joie de Vivre Hotel. For its small size, it packs a mighty punch when it comes to shopping options. Hayes Valley is the window-shopping hub of San Francisco. This small Instagrammable neighborhood is lined with photogenic window displays and intimate shops.

Timbuk2 is a beloved San Francisco staple, founded by a bike messenger in 1989. Now, it boasts a collection of durable, fashionable, locally made bags you'll spot people carrying throughout the city. Contemporary home design stores like Minimal showcase the neighborhood's stylish taste in modern decor – something also reflected in clothing shops like Acrimony.

Union Square

When visitors think of shopping in San Francisco, usually Union Square is the first thing that comes to mind. The iconic 2.4-acre public plaza dates back to the planning of the city in the mid-1800s, when it was the site of Civil War-era rallies for the Union.

Today, Union Square is the city's largest shopping district, filled with theaters, art galleries and restaurants. Large flagship storefronts line the busy streets and bustling sidewalks: Heavyweights like Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co. are closest to the square itself, but branch out and you'll find local hidden gems.

"Union Square is where the cluster of department stores is, but around the corner, Post Street has more upscale shops like Gump's – our local department store that's been there for many years," says Tom Wolfe, chief concierge and director of heritage at the Fairmont San Francisco. Gump's San Francisco is a bit of a local legend. Established more than 150 years ago, it features an impressive collection of eclectic fine jewelry, accessories and housewares.

Rippel has another suggestion: "Go high-end at Grant Avenue between Market and Sutter. It's like the new Rodeo Drive of San Francisco."

Chestnut Street

Marine Layer on Chestnut Street, San Francisco(Courtesy of Kirby Stenger)

On the northern edge of San Francisco, the Marina District attracts a young crowd with its affordable, but stylish, shops. This is where you'll see neighbors out for a stroll with their dogs, en route to a popular restaurant for weekend brunch. Many of the stores specialize in weekend and recreational attire, complementing the laid-back vibe of the Marina neighborhood.

Marine Layer is known for its super-soft T-shirts made from recycled beechwood, but it also has plenty of other beachwear styles, like swimsuits, shorts and dresses, for men and women. If you're looking to fit in, this is where to pick up some threads before heading to Ocean Beach.

Shopping at the hip Taylor Stitch is a great way to support a small local store. There, you'll find high-quality, sophisticated closet essentials for men and women, including outerwear, shirts and slacks.

To experience more of what San Francisco has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

Jenna Scatena, Contributor

Jenna Scatena writes about San Francisco for U.S. News & World Report. Her work has appeared ...  Read more

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