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Where to stay in San Francisco: Union Square
I recommend staying in the neighborhood of Union Square. Union Square is near some of the coolest things to do in San Francisco. It has been described as “noisy, hectic, convenient, edgy, inconvenient, urban and fun”. From my observation, all those descriptors ring true. If you’re not ready, the ambiance of Union Square can knock you on your ass. But don’t let its funky reputation scare you away.
Looking for hotels near Union Square San Francisco? Click here to check prices.
My favorite hotel to stay near Union Square is The Marker Hotel San Francisco. Click here for the best price. Oh, and it’s right down the street from a Starbucks.
Things to do Union Square – San Francisco
- Shopping at the Flood Building and Maiden Lane- the shopping opportunities in Union Square are fascinatingly divine. The Flood Building is home to Gap, Anthropologie, and Urban Outfitters. Maiden Lane is a short street that is pedestrian-only from 11 AM -6 PM. It’s home to Chanel, Marc Jacobs and Yves St. Laurent.
- People watch in Union Square Park– if you are into people watching (present company included) you will not be disappointed. You will encounter every walk of life in this neighborhood. Find you a seat on one of the steps of Union Square’s public plaza (bordered by Geary, Stockton, Powell and Post Street) and watch the world go by.
- Frank Lloyd Wright in San Francisco – While you’re strolling down Maiden Lane stop by 140 Maiden Lane which is a men’s clothing shop called Isaia. The building is Frank Lloyd Wright’s prototype of New York City’s Guggenheim Museum.
- Cable Car Turn-a-round – Watch the turning of the cable cars at Powell and Market Street (a short walk from Union Square).
I recommend not catching the cable car at this spot unless you don’t mind standing in a long-ass line with other tourists. Instead, catch it right at Union Square public plaza, on Powell and Post or at any brown and white cable car signpost along Powell Street.
- Walk or Uber to the Ferry Building Marketplace – It’s a 20-minute walk or a 10 minute Uber ride to the Ferry Building (249 Embarcadero) from Union Square. Eat lunch at one of the outside food vendors.
Stop here to eat, shop, browse and catch the ferry to the other side of the bay. No joke; I spent hours here taking in the great views of Oakland Bay Bridge. Feast on everything from chocolate, cheese, wine, check out a tea shop, buy a side of beef or live lobster….the list goes on.
10 Things to do alone in San Francisco
1. Best thing to do San Francisco – explore San Francisco with the Go Card – Purchase a Go San Francisco Card. See up to 5 San Francisco attractions via the Explorer Pass. Click here for the best price. A number of the attractions mentioned in this post can be seen with the purchase of the Pass. The Go San Francisco card makes sense when you trying to be cheap but you don’t wanna miss out on anything. Be sure to download the app onto your smartphone for easy access to your Go Card.
2. Touristy thing to do – Ride a Cable Car – Experiencing San Francisco by cable car is an amazing way to see San Francisco. Choose from 3 cable car lines: Powell and Hyde, Powell and Mason or California and Market. Look for the brown and white cable car signposts.
3. Scenic thing to do – The Bridge to Bridge Cruise: Cruise the San Francisco Bay while gazing at the urban skyline of San Francisco, passing under both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge. You’ll get a chance to see spectacular views of Alcatraz Island, Coit Tower, the Ferry Building and much more, all while learning about the history of the city. Use your Go San Francisco and choose this tour as one of your options.
4. Best Self-Guided Tour – One Day Bike Rental: Choose from a variety of self-guided tours and check out San Francisco via bike. Your bike rental comes with a helmet, a bike lock, customized route instructions and includes a ferry ticket from Sausalito should you decide to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. Use your Go San Francisco and choose this tour as one of your options.
5. The Best Way to get around San Francisco – Muni-Day Pass: The Muni Day Pass (one of the options you can choose from with the Go San Francisco Explorer Pass). The Muni Day Pass includes one full day of unlimited rides on Muni, Muni-Metro, historic streetcars, cable cars, underground trains, and buses. Make the most of the pass by hopping on San Francisco’s historic cable cars.
Did you know that passengers board through both doors of their buses and streetcars? Fascinating!
6. Best way to explore San Francisco – Spend the day exploring San Francisco via BigBus Double Decker Bus. Tip: Purchase the Go San Francisco Explorer Pass and you can choose the BigBus Double Decker Bus as one of your attractions. Download the Big Bus app to have access to their map or don’t forget to ask for a map at Fisherman’s Wharf. This is the perfect way to get a feel for the city of San Francisco, as a whole.
7. Best way to be adventurous – Feeling up to a challenge? Explore Coit Tower, San Francisco’s hills, waterfront, the crooked street of Lombard and much more by Segway with San Francisco Advance Rider Segway Tour. Novice Segway drivers, need not apply. You must be a veteran driver of Segways to enjoy this tour. Click here for tour information and prices.
Looking for the perfect thing to do in Houston, Texas? Click here to check out ” CityPass Houston – The Best Way to Tour” by Calculated Traveller
8. The thing to see in San Francisco for free – Victorian-style houses are everywhere in San Francisco but these particular houses are famous from the TV show “Full House”. Their location near the top of Steiner Street and Hayes makes this a great place to hang out for a few and take in the view of San Francisco. Use your Muni Day Pass and take the number 21 bus up Hayes Street or see it as part of a tour.
9. Things to buy in San Francisco? Shop for souvenirs and eat some amazing Asian fare. Crowded as hell so if you’re claustrophobic just look at the Gate from the corner of Grant and Bush Street.
10. Things to do in San Francisco at night – Take an Uber and check out the Golden Gate Bridge at night. Then head over to the Cliff House (1090 Point Lobos) for dinner. Enjoy the view of Ocean Beach and the Seal Rocks while sipping a Bloody Mary.
The city by the bay is chock-full of and brimming with plenty of things to see and do. Be prepared to have your mind, body, and soul blown away by the experience. Frankly, I didn’t know whether to love San Francisco or hate it.