Welcome to San Francisco! You’ve probably got a long list of things you want to do when you get here, starting with touring Fisherman’s Wharf and ending with escaping from Alcatraz. While we’re all about scarfing down your weight in seafood and then trying to swim it off in the chilly bay (maybe wear a wetsuit), we also know how badly you want to find some awesome mementos from your trip.
Union Square, San Francisco shopping isn’t just the four streets immediately surrounding the 2.6-acre plaza. “Union Square” as an entity stretches out for a few blocks in each direction; you can happily spend a day browsing and buying, returning to the square itself when you want to relax with a cup of coffee or take a picture next to the Dewey Monument.
But let’s get serious. Finish up your clam chowder and put your bread bowl aside–it’s time to give your credit card a workout in Union Square.
Change Your Clothes
Bay Area natives will chuckle when they read this, but it’s a sad fact: San Francisco’s weather can shock tourists. Even though it’s sunny outside, you might be diving through souvenir shops in search of a heavier coat. You may end up hitting some of the Union Square, San Francisco shops just to buy heavier clothing after arriving in shorts and a T-shirt. Fortunately, you’re surrounded by clothing stores in the Square.
The granddaddy of them all is here: Macy’s. With entrances at 241 Geary St. and 170 O’Farrell St., this gigantic department store has taken up residence in this spot since 1947, and now sports an unmistakable five-floor glass façade. Go here for all your clothing requirements (and bedding, and heck, kitchen gear if you’re in the mood). Since we’ve mentioned Macy’s, we also have to talk about Nordstrom; at 865 Market St., it’s just 3 blocks south of Macy’s, and can also help you outfit your wardrobe.
Is your wallet starting to hurt just looking at those names? Don’t worry. Old Navy is at 801 Market Street, ready to serve up more affordable accoutrements.
Browse the Bookstores
No shopping in San Francisco’s Union Square is complete without a stop in Alexander Book Co. You think Barnes & Noble is impressive? Ha! Wander through three floors of books, ranging from international bestsellers to indie offerings from small-time presses. Located at 50 2nd St., Alexander is open until 6 p.m. on most weeknights, so you’ve got plenty of time to stock up on your reading material for the flight home.
Need some music to go with your new stash of books? Visit Rasputin Music at 69 Powell St., just 2 blocks south of Union Square. This is the biggest indie record store chain left in the Bay Area. If you haven’t completely converted to digital tunes, it’s the place to hit for CDs, records, video games, and even the occasional VHS tape.
If you’re ready to write a thank-you note to us for recommending Union Square, stop by Avant Card at 338 Grant Ave. Pick out something pretty, please.
Redecorate Your Home
You’ll probably leave your heart in San Francisco, but you can fill that empty space in your chest cavity with luxury home goods. Mad about ceramic? Bella Ceramica, over on Post St., is your ticket to Italian tableware and all those colorful, serving-related goodies the gracious host in your life will appreciate. Coffee lovers will do well at Nespresso, just a block east of Union Square on Geary St. This glorious store is devoted entirely to stocking your kitchen with the kind of coffee and espresso machines that give non-drinkers a heart attack. Tea-drinkers, you might want to step back; this isn’t necessarily for you.
Of course, if you just want somewhere to put all the stuff you’re lugging home from SF, you can’t go wrong with The Container Store. Head for 26 4th St. and bring out the old debit card, because you’re going to need some extra shelving systems once you get back.
A trip to San Francisco isn’t just about enjoying the cool breeze or indulging in its exciting history. Well…actually, it is about those things. But it’s also about bringing a taste of the high life into your own house. You might leave your heart in San Francisco, but you’ll bring plenty back in its place.