San Francisco has changed a lot over the last few years. We won’t bore you with our opinions on the tech boom or rising rents, but it’s important to acknowledge that the city has seen a poignant shift.
Despite the cultural developments, many are still drawn to SF a few times a year for work and, yes, to take some time to play as well. We love the potent NorCal energy, mind-blowing hikes, and consistently impeccable food that makes SF one of our favorite places in California.
Where to Stay
Named one of America’s coolest hotels some years ago, Phoenix Hotel has managed to maintain its hip factor. The courtyard pool is naturally a plus. Sitting between the Tenderloin and Civic Center, the hotel plays on the city’s arty influences and definitely has a 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll vibe to it.
If you are looking for a more upscale experience, check into the St. Regis. We love the shameless luxury and the fact it is next door to the mesmerising SFMOMA. The indoor lap pool is absolutely worth a dip and we would highly recommend visiting Remede Spa while you’re here too.
Inside the Tenderloin flatiron building you’ll find Proper Hotel. Most guests book to witness the great contemporary design and attention to detail. We love the rooms but (if we’re being honest) we really come here for the rooftop lounge with an in-built fireplace and great view of Market Street.
Where to eat
In the Mission District, this is easily our favorite place for pasta in the city. The queues are long but the creamy carbs are entirely worth the wait. They have inventive dishes (mixing ingredients like chocolate and lobster) and we’re hard pressed to find another spot like this in SF.
San Franciscans will claim the city has the best Mexican food in California. They’re wrong (because LA and San Diego) but Taqueria Cancun’s burritos come close. Get the Burrito Mojado and prepare yourself for a nap afterwards.
If you haven’t been to SF before, this should be your first stop. Go with a group and make room for some seriously good Dim Sum. If you’ve already been to SF, chances are you’ve already heard of this place, so what are you waiting for?
First things first: book a table early. State of Bird Provisions is one of the city’s busiest restaurants. Thanks to the quality service, every dinner is transformed into a luxury affair. Some of the experimental plates may not sound appetizing but we dare you to try them. You won’t regret it.
Where to drink
A place for fantastic cocktails accompanied with old-school banquets and a wood bar. The music is as good as the food. One of our favorite spots to grab a drink with that person you haven’t seen in 5 years but still want to impress.
We love a Pisco Sour, which is why we are putting Kaiyo on our list. The menu boasts creative cocktails featuring Pisco as well as Sake, which encourages you to try something new.
You may think you’re in Palm Springs when you walk into this place and that is exactly why we love it. For those foggy SF days, head to Bon Voyage for their bright interior and tropical cocktails.
Where to dance
The crowd at Bissap Baobab may have changed since its inception but the buzzing atmosphere will always deliver. Come early to order Senegalese food and stay for the sweaty dancing. They’ll be blasting West African music, hip-hop, reggae, and everything in between.
We love this Mission establishment because it has something for everyone. Latin music, 80s, pop… They do it all.
In SoMa, this weekday bar turns into an underground dance fest come the weekend. You’ll find acrobats and sweaty dancing. We bet you’ll have the time of your life.
Where to work
You might have seen Verve on our LA list and their SF location is just as good. You’ll find large tables, WiFi and couches. Plus their coffee is some of the best around. They have outstanding pastries and some healthy California menu items to keep you going.
We love this well lit lobby for some peace and quiet. The space is decked out in modern furnishings and you’ll always find a spot.
This laid-back coffee shop in Russian Hill make their own almond milk (you’re in San Francisco, remember?) and has great WiFi. A good option for some caffeine fuelled motivation when you are in the neighborhood.
Where to get your hit of culture
Nothing new here – everyone has heard of de Young. The fantastic exhibition schedule is second-to-none. Located in Golden Gate Park, team your art fix with a nature stroll.
YBCA serves a mix of exhibits ranging from film to performance to fine art. Largely community based, this is the place to find out about what’s up-and coming in SF.
This route spans from Baker Beach to the Golden Gate as part of the California Coastal trail, which stretches across the state. In case you’re not a Cheryl Strayed fan, this 2-3 mile walk is a good alternative and you get a view of the bridge.
Where to shop
If you love Unionmade and wish they sold women’s clothing, this is the answer. We always fit in a visit to this perfectly curated shop.
Make an appointment to visit this showroom in Outer Sunset. Owned by a few artists, you will find gorgeous, reclaimed furniture and high-design surfboards.
With its minimal design and dream collection of womenswear, you will definitely find something irresistible at Le Point. Started by a stylist, she stocks labels like Staud, Mr. Larkin, and Tibi.
Where to work out
Don’t miss a Vinyasa flow class at International Orange. Inspired by Japenese minimalism (it’s gorgeous), the space absolutely feels like an escape. The real reason we come here is to unwind given that International Orange is a spa first and foremost.
Expect white walls, clean lines and great Reformer Pilates classes. This studio in SoMa may well be the classic California wellness space you crave. Their tough barre classes are also worth a try.
There are tones of hikes in and around SF. Of course, Point Reyes for a day or two is ideal, but if you don’t have time there are plenty of other trails close by. Head to Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson or Angel Island State Park for an outdoor sweat.
Where to break
This coffee shop has somehow remained humble amongst the cavalier SF coffee scene. They make their scones every morning (they are amazing) and have homemade pie at the ready. It’s the perfect place to break if you are around Hayes Valley.
We love this little coffee shop in Outer Sunset. If you want a small cup of fresh brew before heading to hike, stop here. If caffeine isn’t your thing, we’d go for the fresh coconut juice.
Are you a coffee snob? Do you know a coffee snob? Sightglass is the one true place for coffee aficionados. Even the fussiest of friends will leave impressed.