Macy’s Union Square (credit: Trisha Leeper/Getty Images)
San Francisco has long been a destination city for shoppers, both local and international alike. With plenty of unique neighborhoods, excellent restaurants and attractive stores, one can find just about anything in the city. Shopping neighborhoods vary greatly, from chic and high-end to quirky and nostalgic. Here are five San Francisco neighborhoods that provide the perfect spot for a shopping spree.
333 Post St.
With a decades-long tradition of being one of the best shopping areas in San Francisco, Union Square is home to a veritable mecca of stores. Shoppers will find everything from high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Barneys to independent art galleries and antiques. Even those on a budget can score deals on things like used music at Rasputins, or discounted clothes at places like Saks Off 5th or Ross. Take some time to unwind after all the shopping at one of the many neighborhood restaurants or salons.
Grant Ave. and Stockton St.
San Francisco’s Chinatown offers an entirely different kind of shopping experience from the luxury of Union Square. Visitors to Chinatown will delight in wandering the packed streets searching for unique treasures. Shoppers here can find a myriad of items ranging from jewelry and live animals like turtles and chickens to imported trinkets and art. Not to be missed are the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, where one can grab a bag of cookies to go, and the Grant Avenue Chinatown Kite Shop full of not only beautiful kites but clothing, gifts and more.
A long-time favorite neighborhood of hippies and tourists alike, the Haight area was traditionally home to headshops and vegetarian restaurants. In recent years, the area has become more gentrified, while still retaining much of its ’60s vibe. Adventurous shoppers will enjoy browsing the selections at the Haight’s boutiques, specialty and clothing shops. After an afternoon of perusing, head on over for some refreshments at the Magnolia Pub & Brewery.
Another area that has seen a resurgence in recent decades is the Hayes Valley neighborhood. With an influx of high-end boutiques, art galleries and trendy restaurants, the area has become a destination on many a shopping tour of San Francisco. Shoppers will delight in searching for treasures at antique shop Zonal, books at Bibliohead or clothes at one of several upscale boutiques. Other stores options include fine lingerie, travel, shoes and pets. For those looking for a taste of local Hayes Valley flavor, head on over for a libation at area bar Absinthe.
Most famously known as San Francisco’s Italian neighborhood, North Beach is best known for its stellar restaurants and cafes. While not always traditionally famous for shopping, the district does have a few gems worth perusing between bowls of pasta. Vintage lovers will enjoy the selection at Old Vogue, which houses two floors of previously-loved retro clothing and accessories. A must-stop on any North Beach shopper’s itinerary is the famous City Lights bookstore, a history-steeped landmark of the beatnik era, opened by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Also worth a stop is 101 Music, where one can find any number of albums on vinyl and CD.
Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.