By Alexis Taylor
I love showing people around this 7 x 7 city of mine, but I can only head over to Union Square or take a double decker bus tour so many times! San Francisco is such an evolving city, you can’t just stick with the basics when visiting! Everyone knows the popular stops – Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and grabbing a sundae at Ghirardelli Square. Almost all of which, I actually haven’t done. Star local over here!
After taking a long walk through the city the other day, I realized how many cool waterfront restaurants and wine bars have popped up in Fisherman’s Wharf. These landmarks should most certainly not be left out when visiting San Francisco, but I love giving my guests a taste of how real locals live, and most locals sure aren’t spending a normal Friday night indulging at Ghirardelli. We all know how much San Franciscans love their organic, grassfed, 99% cacao chocolate, after all!
I like to start the day with an outdoor activity, followed by brunch. Local favorites for eggs and mimosas:
Starbelly in the Castro. Come here after a walk around Dolores Park. I love their back patio, the perfect spot for a leisurely brunch (and a few glasses of bubbly!)
Rose’s Café in Cow Hollow. Grab coffee at the popular San Francisco-based, Wrecking Ball while you wait for your table next door. Don’t leave the coffee shop without a quick latte selfie in front of the adorable wallpaper. The smoked salmon breakfast pizza is a must at Rose’s.
Hike up to Potrero Hill for brunch at Plow. The two-hour wait may seem daunting, but the fluffy pancakes and insane brunch menu is worth it. Locals live for this place!
After a walk along the water in the Marina District, have the time of your life at Chubby Noodle with Asian infused all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunch. Make sure your visitors are ready for some fun (and lots of sake.)
Things to do:
Stroll through the Sunday Clement Street farmers market after taking an easy hike through Lands End in the Outer Richmond. Make sure to stop at the famous Arsicault Bakery for a life-changing croissant — I swear they’re better than the ones in Paris.
Walk along the water in the Marina District, stopping at the Philz Truck for coffee, and strolling through Fort Mason’s Sunday Farmers Market.
Walk through the Ferry Building Market. Even better if you make it on a Saturday when they expand into a huge outdoor farmers market – the biggest one in the city!
Hang on the lawn of Off the Grid Presidio Picnic on a Sunday afternoon in the spring or summer. You’ll find tons of delicious food trucks, pop-up mimosa bars, and a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The view of Big Red never gets old, even for locals!
Earn your breakfast by walking the 4-mile route over the Golden Gate Bridge, starting in the Marina, and ending at Cavallo Point Lodge for brunch. Uber and Lyft can bring you right back to the city after.
Picnic at Dolores Park where visitors love the view and quirky sites. Grab afternoon cocktails at El Techo’s rooftop that looks over the city.
Vintage lover visiting? Thrift shop in the Mission District.
Picnic at Fort Mason or Baker Beach on a sunny day.
Go wine tasting in Fisherman’s Wharf. The visitors will get their tourist fix and you’ll get great wine!
Hike in the Presidio and have brunch at Presidio Social Clubs patio on a sunny day.
Take a city stroll to the famous B. Patisserie, then spend the morning shopping on popular Fillmore Street, filled with boutiques and name brand stores.
Grab sushi in Japantown and cocktails at Kabuki Hotel. The newly renovated hotel bar has some photo-worthy cocktail concoctions.
Have drinks at the Cheesecake Factory, which looks over all of Union Square (and forget that I sent you to the Cheesecake Factory! The views are worth it.)
Take the ferry to Tiburon from downtown San Francisco and have lunch while basking in the sun at Sam’s Anchor Café.
Stroll through Alamo Square to see the “Full House” homes, and pop into Bi-Rite for a life-changing scoop of honey lavender organic ice cream.
The Perfect Dinner Spots
Foreign Cinema – A well-know, popular restaurant. Sought after, but not impossible to get a reservation. Have a fun night watching a film on the wall while dining on local, farm fresh food. The cheese plate to start is a must! Mission District
Capannina – This cozy Italian gem located on buzzy Union Street reminds me of what I would imagine old San Francisco to be like. Incredible food and amazing service to match. This location has been here forever! Cow Hollow
Burma Superstar – So popular! BSS can be found on most San Francisco guides and articles, and for good reason! People start lining up at 11am, and the line never dies down until late at night. You can add your name to the waitlist via Yelp and enjoy a beer at the many surrounding dive bars on Clement Street. You’ll be dreaming of your meal here for weeks after…
Nopa – This two-story, California restaurant with wood-fire ovens is almost famous in San Francisco. Make sure to plan in advance with reservations; order the burger and a local craft beer. NoPa
Chez Maman – One of my favorite casual French spots in the city. Sit outdoors under the heat lamps and let your visitor take in all the sites and people watching in the middle of Hayes Valley.
Boulettes Larder – Pop in for dinner after exploring the Embarcadero and Ferry Building Market. Their salads are delicious and the pizzas straight out of their beautiful brick oven. If you score a seat outside, your visitor can dine while looking over the Bay Bridge and San Francisco bay. Embarcadero
Tacolicious – A fun spot for a pre-dinner night out. My girlfriends and I love grabbing a platter of tacos and pitcher of margaritas before a night out on the town. Filled with locals, and always has a fun vibe. Multiple locations, the Marina is my favorite
Zuni – Located in a funky corner building, this place is the epitome of San Francisco vibes in my mind. The roast chicken and HUGE plate of fries is always a crowd pleaser. Mid-Market
Alexis shares her expertise in travel planning, latest events, and San Francisco lifestyle on her blog, UrbanistaGirl.com. She loves skiing in Lake Tahoe, trying new fitness studios, and squeezing in weekend trips to Sonoma whenever she can. Her commitment to living a healthy lifestyle leads her to seek opportunities for making the most of life in California. Stop by the blog to read her weekly posts and follow Alexis on Instagram @misslexitay.