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12hrs in San Francisco


The City by the Bay is on its best behaviour in our 12hrs in San Francisco guide. Explore it with us!

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12hrs in San Francisco


The City by the Bay is on its best behaviour in our 12hrs in San Francisco guide. Explore it with us!

San Francisco

San Francisco is the cultural center and a leading financial hub of The San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. It is known as the birthplace of Hippie life in the 1970s and is an important center of gay life in the U.S. 

Population (metro area): 4.5 million
Currency: Dollars ($)
Language: American English

 
 

The City by the Bay, she really has it all (and sometimes even a little bit more). San Francisco's steep hills and colorful streets are home to a special and diverse mix of people and cultures, arts and businesses, music and food. Weathered Hippies are enjoying Sundays in the park right next to young professionals, while hipsters and skaters are patiently waiting for their favorite cold drip coffee in the same, never-ending line.

It's a city of visionaries. And it doesn't matter if they are cooking up new, world-changing technologies or celebrating old craftsmanship. It feels natural and like no contradiction here to enjoy freshly baked artisanal bread and to simultaneously Instagram it to the world. San Francisco ties it all together, the old with the new, in front of an amazing scenery. 

With the Golden Gate Bridge, the hills and the ocean in the backyard, it's truly one of the most beautiful cities we have ever seen. And when 'Karl the Fog' rolls in, it gets even more magic. Big and small parks, cool shops, great food spots and vibrant neighborhoods are a great way to skip the tourist crowds at Fisherman's Wharf and downtown, and to experience San Francisco as a local. So if you are going to San Francisco… put your most comfy shoes on, don't forget a scarf and let's go explore the City by the Bay for 12hrs!

 

 

Hotel Tomo

A cool and affordable boutique hotel in the middle of Japan Town
Japan Town
Japan Town
Hotel Tomo
Hotel Tomo
 

While most hotels are located in San Francisco's downtown, we take a different approach and spend the night in Japan Town. Hotel Tomo is a perfect starting point for our tour. This cool hotel offers boutique-style ambiance at an affordable price. Upper Fillmore, the main food and shopping destination for the wealthy inhabitants of Pacific Heights, is just a short walk away. A bonus for music fans: the epicenter of San Francisco's jazz scene is just three blocks away. 

Before you start your day, remember to take a light jacket and scarf with you. We really mean it! Even if warm sunrays wake you up in the morning, afternoons here tend to get really chilly and windy. 

Hotel Tomo // 1800 Sutter St 77 // website

 

 

Breakfast

A French bakery or an All-American breakfast to start the day
Boulange
Boulangerie
RedBox.jpg
The Grove
The Grove
 

Let's walk towards Upper Fillmore and grab some breakfast before we hit the hills. There are plenty of breakfast options here. But today, we are choosing a place with lots of history and the most amazing pastries. La Boulange is a San Francisco institution. By now, many neighborhoods have their own La Boulange store, but this small one on Pine Street was the very first to open. Sit in the middle of the bakery workshop and inhale the amazing smell of freshly baked bread while you have breakfast. 

If you prefer an original American breakfast instead, The Grove is the place to go. Woodsy cabin feel and an All-American menu will satisfy your hash brown and scrambled egg cravings. They also serve the best hot chocolate near and far. 

La Boulange // 2325 Pine St // Mon-Sun 7am-6pm // website

The Grove // 2016 Fillmore St // Mon-Thu 7am-11pm, Fri 7am-11.30pm, Sat 8am-11.30pm, Sun 8am-11pm // website

 

 

Upper Fillmore

Fillmore Street has tons of great shops, time to explore a few of them
Steven Alan
Steven Alan
Zinc
 

This part of Fillmore Street is sprinkled with some great interior design stores, clothing shops, restaurants and galleries. Walk up the street towards Union Street, take a stroll and explore a bit. We like to stop at Steven Alan for nice women's and menswear, at Nest for some unique jewelry and gifts, visit Zinc Details for signature home decor, Crossroads for stylish second hand clothes and love to get lost between the wooden aisles full of books at Browser Books.

Steven Alan // 1919 Fillmore St // Mon-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm // website

Nest // 2300 Fillmore St // Mon-Fri 10.30am-6.30pm, Sat 10.30am-6pm, Sun 11am-6pm // website

Zinc Details// 1905 Fillmore St // Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12pm-6pm // website

Crossroads //1901 Fillmore St // Mon-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-7pm // website

Browser Books // 2195 Fillmore St // Mon-Sun 10am-10pm // website

 

 

Alta Plaza Park

Soaking up the view of the city
Alta Park
Alta Park
Alta Park
 

Once you arrive at Washington Street, take a left turn. That'll lead you directly to Alta Plaza Park, the first amazing view of many more to come on this day. Walk up and soak in the scenery. 

Alta Plaza Park // open sunrise to sunset // website

 

 
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12hrs in San Francisco


The City by the Bay is on its best behaviour in our 12hrs in San Francisco guide. Explore it with us!

SCROLL DOWN

12hrs in San Francisco


The City by the Bay is on its best behaviour in our 12hrs in San Francisco guide. Explore it with us!

Union Street

Old pastures turned fancy neighborhood
Union Life
Union Life
Union Street
Union Street
 

Walk back to Fillmore Street and continue until Union Street. This is the center of the Cow Hollow neighborhood; a place where cows used to graze and an old fishermen's village that is now known for its spas and Pilates studios, fine dining and boutiques hidden in old mansions. Definitely worth a short stroll!

 

 

Freda Salvador

A stop at shoe heaven
Freda Salvador
Freda
 

Don't miss to stop at Freda Salvador, San Francisco's coolest shoe concept store. Run by Megan Papay and Christina Palomo-Nelson, you'll find unique, high-quality designs here.

Freda Salvador // 1782 Union St // Mon-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm // website

 

 

Marina & Chestnut Street

Preppies, polo shirts and an old movie theater
Marina
Marina
Marina
Marina
 

Go back to Fillmore one last time and continue towards Chestnut Street. Once there, take a left turn and you'll be on Marina's main street. Marina is San Francisco's beautiful, young, fit, and preppy neighborhood. While black skinny jeans and flannel shirts are Mission's uniform, people in Marina wear yoga pants with expensive bags and polo shirts with yachting shoes. There is a flourishing party scene here on Fridays and Saturdays, followed by delicious Sunday brunches in the many restaurants. 

Some would say this part of town lacks variety, so love it or leave it. We still enjoy it here, thanks to Marina's proximity to three beautiful San Francisco spots: Crissy Field, the Palace of Fine Arts and the Golden Gate Bridge. The iconic 50s movie theater 'Presidio' is located here as well.

 

 

Marine Layer

 
 Locally produced shirts 
Marine Layer
Marine Layer
Marine Layer
 

Marine Layer produces super soft and great quality cotton shirts that are made in San Francisco. Marine Layer is very California and their clothes make for some great souvenirs. 

Marine Layer // 2209 Chestnut St // Mon-Sun 10am-7pm // website

 

 

Palace of Fine Arts

 
A great place to take a break and enjoy some sights
Palace of Fine Arts
Palace of Fine Arts
Palace of Fine Arts
 

Built for the World Expo in 1915, the Palace of Fine Arts is a good spot to take your first break and take some tourist-y pictures – or to just watch other people taking them. Greek inspired architecture, a calm water pond and green meadows were made for enjoying the midday sun. 

Palace of Fine Arts // 3301 Lyon St // website

 

 

 

Dynamo Doughnut

Donut break
Dynamo Doughnut
 

This small kiosk at the Marina is San Francisco's most beloved donut shop. Stock up on some sugar, we still have a long day ahead of us. Note that the shop is sadly closed on Mondays!

Dynamo Donut // 110 Yacht Road // Tue-Fri 8am-1pm, Sat 8am-4pm, Sun 9am-4pm // website

 

 

 

Crissy Field & Golden Gate Bridge

A long, beautiful walk along the water
Golden Gate Bridge
Crissy Fields
Golden Gate Bridge

DRESSING THE PART

Want to dress like a San Franciscan? Put on comfortable shoes, you'll climb a lot of hills. And leave the glamour at home. Both girls and boys here dress comfy and functional.

THREE SONGS

Dark Star – The Grateful Dead
Lust for Life – Girls
Coma Summer – Weekend

THREE MOVIES

Vertigo
Dirty Harry
The Rock

 

If we would only have one hour to spend in San Francisco, this would be the place to do it. Crissy Field is just amazingly beautiful. The beach, the ocean, and – towering above all – the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. You cannot take your eyes of her. This is going to be quite a long walk, but just take your time and soak in the beauty of the city. 

Walk all the way up to Warminghut Cafe. Just behind the building, Marine Drive leads you back to Marina. Take that street to have an amazing view of Crissy Field with the city in the background. Afterwards, walk back onto Crissy Fields and continue to enjoy the sights. 

 

 

Presidio

 
An old military base with a new purpose
Presidio
Presidio
Presidio
 

From Crissy Field, find your way through Marina's pretty roads to Presidio. This old military base has been turned into offices and apartments. Take a short stroll and then take the bus 43 that will take you to Haight Ashbury.

 

 

Sparrow Bar & Kitchen 

Local ingredients done right
Sparrow
Sparrow
 

Exit the bus at the Haight St & Clayton Street stop: it's lunchtime! And Sparrow is the perfect place for it. This restaurant on Haight Street offers a constantly changing menu full of inventive dishes that utilize local ingredients. It's a great spot to have brunch, lunch and dinner or to just enjoy some wine and a cheese plate in the backyard. 

Sparrow Bar and Kitchen // 1640 Haight St // Tue-Fri 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10pm, Sat/Sun 10am-2.30pm & 6pm-10pm // website

 

 

Haight-Ashbury

Where the Hippies hang out
Haight
Haight
Haight
Haight
Box
Haight
Haight
 

Time to explore the neighborhood. This is were flower power was born, where Janis Joplin penned her songs, where head shops selling smoking paraphernalia are a common sight, and where a new generation of young hippies still hang around and play music. 

It can get a little dirty here on Haight Street, but the area definitely has tons of charm. It's also a Mecca for vintage clothes lovers and skateboarders, and there are some nice restaurants and a few design stores. 

Walk the Haight, try on some 50s, 60s and 70s suits or dresses, and listen to the music.

 

 
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12hrs in San Francisco


The City by the Bay is on its best behaviour in our 12hrs in San Francisco guide. Explore it with us!

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12hrs in San Francisco


The City by the Bay is on its best behaviour in our 12hrs in San Francisco guide. Explore it with us!

Castro

The center of LGBT life in San Francisco
Castro01-Time.jpg
Castro
Castro
Castro
Castro
 

Time to move to yet another historically important neighborhood of San Francisco. To get there, walk down Haight Street towards Divisadero Street, then, take the bus line 24 and it will drop you off smack dab in the middle of Castro when you exit the bus at the Market/17th Street station. 

Castro is the pride of the city and the center of the LGBT community. This vibrant and colorful neighborhood feels very welcoming. While you explore it, make sure to grab a cookie from the Hot Cookie Bakery. Our favorite: the melting chocolate cookie. 

The famous Castro Theatre regularly hosts sing-along nights for old movies. If you happen to be in town while one of these events is scheduled: don't miss it.

Hot Cookie // 407 Castro St // Sun-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri/Sat 11am-1am // Facebook

Castro Theatre // 429 Castro St // website

 

 

The Mission

 
San Francisco's most popular neighborhood in a nutshell
Mission
Mission
Mission
 

The Mission, San Francisco's most popular neighborhood at the moment, is only a few blocks away from the Castro. It's the home of the hipster, and the location of some of the city's best shops and restaurants. Coffee roasters, innovative cuisines, chocolate factories and artisanal bakeries make it the culinary melting pot of the city. 

It's busiest here during the weekends, when it seems like the whole city is picnicking at Dolores Park. That means that it can get pretty crowded, with no room to even throw a Frisbee. If you plan on continuing your 12hrs in San Francisco, don't buy any cookies from anyone offering them in Dolores Park…

 

 

Bi-Rite Creamery

 
A short ice cream break
Bi-Rite Creamery
Bi-Rite Ice Creamery
Bi-Rite Ice Creamery
Bi-Rite Ice Creamery
 

Today it's OK to have a dessert before the dinner. On your way from Castro you'll pass Bi-Rite Ice Creamery. And if the line consists of less then 20 people, don't hesitate to get in the line and order a scoop of San Francisco's most lauded ice cream. It's really as good as everybody says! If you're unsure what to order, go for roasted banana and salted caramel, a sure bet. 

Take you ice cream to the top of Dolores Park. Here, you'll get one of the most amazing views of San Francisco's downtown glittering in the sunset. 

Bi-Rite Creamery // 3692 18th St // Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri/Sat 11am-11pm // website

 

Valencia Street

 
Exploring the Mission
Valencia
Valencia
Voyager
Voyager
Valencia
 

You would probably need another 12hrs to see everything the Mission has to offer. So today, we only focus on the shops along Valencia Street. It's the 'flagship street' of the Mission, and you can find some amazing shops, restaurants, street art, galleries and thrift stores here between 15th and 23th street. 

Among them are Voyager, a collaborative art shop, Little Paper Planes that sells paper goods and home decor, Paxton Gate, an odd little shop for butterfly collectors, Mission Cheese, that sells lots of wonderfully smelly cheeses and Dandelion, San Francisco-made chocolate.

Voyager // 365 Valencia St // Mon-Sun 11am-7pm // website

Little Paper Planes // 855 Valencia St // Tue-Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm // website

Paxton Gate // 824 Valencia St // Sun-Wed 11am-7pm, Thu-Sat 11am-8pm // website

Mission Cheese // 736 Valencia St // Tue-Thu & Sun 11am-9pm, Fri/Sat 11am-10pm // website

Dandelion Chocolate // 740 Valencia St // Sun-Thu 10am-9pm, Fri/Sat 10am-10pm // website

 

 

 

Dinner

Four different restaurants for you to choose from
Gracias Madre
Valencia

 

THREE SOUVENIRS

A shirt from Marine Layer.
Chocolate from Dandelion Chocolate.
Salt Water Taffy.

GOOD TO KNOW

Karl the Fog has his own Instagram account (http://instagram.com/karlthefog).

Fortune Cookies were invented by a Japanese resident of San Francisco.

When Al Capone was held at Alcatraz, he gave regular Sunday concerts with the inmate band, the Rock Islanders. He played the banjo.

 

 

Narrowing down where to eat in the Mission is almost more challenging than walking all the hills in San Francisco. There are so many choices that picking one can almost get intimidating. For this guide, we have selected four restaurants for you to choose from. There's pizza, ramen, vegan Mexican food and South Indian cuisine on offer, just pick your favorite. 

Order a drink, kick back those sandals and relax. Congratulations! You just spent 12hrs in San Francisco.

Pizzeria Delfina // 3611 18th St // Mon 5pm-10pm, Tue-Thu 11.30am-10pm, Fri 11.30am-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10pm // website

Ken Ken Ramen // 3378 18th St // Tue-Sat 6pm-10m, Sun 12pm-3.30pm & 6pm-9pm // website

Gracias Madre // 2211 Mission St // Mon-Sun 11am-11pm // website

Dosa // 995 Valencia St // Mon-Wed 5.30pm-10pm, Thu 5.30pm-11pm, Fri 5.30pm-12am, Sat 11.30am-3.45pm & 5.30pm-12am, Sun 11.30am-3.45pm & 5.30pm-10pm // website

 

Map


Ana Kamin

Contributer
Ana

About

This 12hrs guide was written and photographed by Ana Kamin. Her blog Fluxi On Tour launched in 2012, when she and her husband moved from Hamburg, Germany to San Francisco. On it, she collects all the new places, cities, beaches, shops and cafes she discovers.

 

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These were 12hrs in Paris! To discover more locations and stories from here, head over to the Paris category of our blog! Just click HERE


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