10 Best Places to Leave Your Money (and Your Heart) in San Francisco

Whatever you're looking for, San Francisco has it. Need that particularly authentic California knick-knack to bring back home to remember your trip? Then wander up and down Haight Street for a whiff of San Francisco in the 60's and a spectacular collection of tye-dyes and trinkets. Or hustle shoulder to shoulder through bustling Chinatown, where precious jade and one-of-a-kind jewelry can make the perfect gift for friends and family back home. Although the Mission is known for Latin food and North Beach for Italian food, both of these famous neighborhoods have plenty of outdoor vendors and charming, unique boutiques.

Not sure what you're looking for? Well, that's why there are malls. San Francisco proper has two, Westfield and Stonestown, not bad choices for rainy day shopping where you can browse and browse to your heart's delight. If the weather cooperates, then head to Union Square, which might just be the world's most beautiful outdoor mall, with local galleries often featuring their work.

Searched high and low all day, and still didn't find that perfect gift? Don't despair, just try again tomorrow. No walk is ever wasted in San Francisco; even if you don't buy something, the feast for the senses that's laid out around every turn is priceless.

Haight and Ashbury Streets
Photo courtesy of used in book.

In the 1960s, this intersection was famous for its bohemian life. Today, remnants of the hippie era mix with beautifully restored Edwardian and Victorian homes. One, now a private residence, was formerly the Grateful Dead house (710 Ashbury...  Read More

Stonestown is the quintessential American mall. Straight down nineteenth avenue, Stonestown has all your shopping needs, from the big box stores like Macy's and Nordstrom to the smaller specialty stores like The Body Shop, Brookstone, H&M, and...  Read More

Mission District
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

The Mission District takes its name from Mission Dolores, the Catholic church and settlement founded by the Spanish in 1776. The neighborhood, centuries later, still has strong Hispanic flavor which is seen abundantly in its vibrant exterior...  Read More

Located in the Marina District, locals would probably say that Chestnut Street is about as Socal as Norcal gets. Almost a mirror image of Union Street (as far as appeal goes), Chestnut Street has a distinctive personality, created by Art Deco...  Read More

Whether you make the grand entrance into Chinatown beneath the dramatic portal at Grant Avenue and Bush Street, or perhaps just happen upon the district while making your way about San Francisco, you can't help but be impressed by this...  Read More

Squeezed largely between Jackson and Geary Streets, this stretch of Fillmore Street features an assortment of fascinating shops that offer everything from skin care products to fresh-ground coffee and specialty teas. A theater, a club, and an...  Read More

The Landmark Embarcadero Center is an underutilized downtown shopping area, often overshadowed by The Westfield Mall and Union Square. But if you're on Embarcadero and want a smaller, more intimate shopping experience, stroll through the...  Read More

Westfield San Francisco Centre

One of the best shopping malls in San Francisco, Westfield Centre is ideally located just two blocks from Union Square and features more than 170 alluring boutiques. Inside, you'll find Bloomingdale's and the second-largest Nordstrom in the...  Read More

Most malls are usually enclosed, maybe for protection against summer's heat and winter's cold. Although a lot of the Ferry Builiding's artisanal shops are inside, many booths also spring up outside on the weekends to take advantage of the the...  Read More

Union Square
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

The Union Square neighborhood centers around Union Square, a great little urban park, which is itself surrounded by a host of upscale shopping venues. In fact, the district is generally acknowledged as the city's main shopping haven. In the...  Read More


Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

Tom has lived in the San...  More About Tom

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