Shopping in San Francisco, USA
When it comes to shopping, San Francisco differs – and a lot – from other US tourist destinations like New York, Miami and Orlando. The city does not live in a climate of consumerism. Large malls, mega stores and outlets are not on the list of strengths in the region. In fact, it is even difficult to find a place that concentrates many shopping options. Check abbreviationfinder.org for abbreviations and acronyms related to San Francisco, USA.
But we are talking about the USA! And there, what seems little, compared to other large American cities, is a lot, compared to Brazil. Although there is not such a generous supply of stores, the variety is good and the favorite brands of Brazilians will certainly be found there. Maybe not in the same place, but just a little patience is enough to find the product you are looking for.
Forget the big malls. In San Francisco, shopping is mostly done in street stores. The rule holds true even for top brands like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton. It is kicking the pavement that you will fill the bags. And if you want to save shoe soles, run to Union Square – the area around the square has so many stores that it equates to a big mall. It’s really hard to find what street you’re looking for.
Union Square’s shopping district extends to Market Street. The wide avenue is home to many stores and one of the few malls in the city, Westfield. There are dozens of brands in the large shopping center, which also has good options for snack bars and restaurants.
Among the streets that make up San Francisco’s main shopping area you will find brands such as: Bloomingdales, Nordstrom’s, Apple Store, Macy’s, Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue, Giorgio Armani, Burberry, GAP, Abercrombie, Uniqlo and H&M. If you need to go to a specific store, the ideal is to check the address first so as not to be running without direction.
Some neighborhoods also offer excellent shopping opportunities, in smaller, more local stores. In Chinatown you will find an unimaginable variety of souvenirs, decorative objects and all kinds of trinkets. Castro is the right place for those looking for cooler shopping and more modern clothes. On Mission Street the focus is on thrift stores, which sell incredible and unique clothes and accessories. We cannot forget that the USA is a paradise for electronics shopping. Stores like Apple, Best Buy, Walmart and Target are scattered throughout the neighborhoods.
If nothing in the city pleases you, or you find the prices a little steep (taxes are 8.75% of the total purchase price), hurry to one of the outlets around San Francisco. The largest are Gilroy (145 stores), Vacaville (120 stores) and Livermore (130 stores), all from the Premium Outlets chain – the closest is 65 km from the center. You can be a little lazy and shopping will take a whole day. However, permanent promotions and low prices are exciting to even the most stingy! Be careful not to lose control and buy much more than would fit in the suitcase (who knows if a good option would be to buy a suitcase over there?). See more details about the outlets here.
Those who do not give up taking a souvenir of the city they are visiting will leave San Francisco with a full suitcase. The souvenirs are beautiful and highly decorative. The best places to shop are the shops along the famous sidewalks such as: Museums, Alcatraz Island, Presidio Park (with everything about the Golden Gate) and Pier 39. All have points of sale with objects and souvenirs that will help to kill you from San Francisco when you return to Brazil.
Premium Outlets – Gilroy, Vacaville and Livermore
Get ready for a real shopping spree. You will need willingness and a lot of physical preparation to face the outlets. San Francisco offers three options: Vacaville, Livermore and Gilroy (the most sought after among them). All are part of the Premium network, well known among Brazilians.
To make your shopping day more comfortable, our tip is to take a suitcase or buy one over there. So you can carry as many bags as you want without making a lot of effort, concentrating all your energies just on calculating expenses.
Discounts vary from 25% to 65%, and they can increase a lot with the use of coupons that offer even more advantages. The outlet itself provides a book that can be downloaded from the website or purchased at the visitor center, with various discount coupons.
To have free access to the extra benefits, just register on the website and become a member of the VIP Shopper Club. If you are not a member, you will have to pay USD 5 for the booklet. You can also find other types of coupons on specialized websites; just do a search for “discount coupons” and the brand you are looking for. Attention, all coupons must be printed to be valid.
Gilroy Premium Outlets
This is one of the largest outlets in California and follows the pattern of other complexes of the Premium network. Gilroy works in a wide space, with open-air corridors. The environment is extremely pleasant and you will have no trouble buying. The space offers more than 145 brands, such as: Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Tommy Hilfiger, Saks, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Gap, Ann Taylor, Michael Kors and many others, all with incredible discounts.
See the full list of Gilroy stores here.
The outlet is 1h20min from San Francisco and the best way to get there is by car. Those who prefer to go by bus can opt for a Greyhound Bus Lines transport or an Outlet Hop chartered bus.
Address: 681 Leavesley Road, Gilroy, CA 95020.
Telephone: (408) 842-3729.
Gilroy Premium Outlets official website
Vacaville Premium Outlets
Vacaville is located 90km from downtown San Francisco, on the way to Sacramento. The space offers 120 stores in open-air corridors. Some of the main brands: Adidas, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Coach, DKNY, Gap Outlet, Gucci, Guess, J. Crew, Lacoste, Le Creuset, Levis, Michael Kors, Nike, Puma, Polo Ralph Lauren, True Religion and Tommy Hilfiger. The Gilroy Outlets discount coupons rule also applies to all complexes in the Premium network.
See the complete list of Vacaville stores here.
To get to the outlet you will need to go by car or take a chartered bus, such as the Outlet Hop. There is no public transport there.
Address: 321 Nut Tree Road, Suite 2, Vacaville, CA 95687.
Telephone: (707) 447-5755.
Vacaville Premium Outlets official website
Livermore Premium Outlets
Livermore is located 60km from the city of San Francisco and is the closest option to the city. The complex follows the standard of the Premium network and has 130 brands arranged in open-air corridors. Some of the stores found there are: Abercrombie & Fitch / Hollister, Armani, Barneys New York, Bloomingdale’s, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Carter’s, Cole Haan, Diesel, DKNY, Elie Tahari, GAP, Kate Spade New York, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, Prada and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th.
See the full list of Livermore Premium Outlets stores here.
One of the great advantages of this outlet is being able to arrive using public transport. Just take the BART to Pleasanton / Dublin Station, get off at the last station and take bus 12 to the outlet.
Address: 2774 Livermore Outlets Drive, Livermore, CA 94551.
Phone: (925) 292-2868.
If there is a place visited by all tourists who arrive in the city for the first time, it is Pier 39. The very high rate of visitors has reason to be. On the edge of the San Francisco Bay, this leisure area brings together good restaurants, great shopping opportunities, an amazing aquarium, boat trips, outdoor shows and a beautiful view of the bay.
Any time of day is great to stop by. And the attractions are aimed at all ages. At the Aquarium of the Bay you can stroll through a tunnel with sharks, rays, colorful jellyfish and hundreds of other inhabitants of the seabed. Another tour that makes us feel part of an adventure is the 7D Experience, a mix of cinema, theater and amusement park. Outdoors, other activities attract the eyes of tourists. Alongside the merry-go-round, throughout the day, performances by circus artists and musical shows fill the makeshift arena on the edge of the bay.
For lunchtime, nothing like one of the pier restaurants. The specialties are many, from French crepes to king crabs. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste fresh seafood. You will be able to sit with a view of the sea lions, who give a show of sympathy next to the pier.
In addition to the good restaurants, another feature of the place are the incredible special souvenir shops. The themes are varied, but always linked to the city. You will find there a store with only products inspired by cable cars, on Alcatraz Island, on the Golden Gate bridge and on several other local symbols.
Enjoy the pleasant weather to relax by the pier. If the day is foggy, you will see the Golden Gate, Alcatraz Island and dozens of boats sailing across the bay.
Those looking for Apple products, or can’t resist a walk in the store to see the latest releases, will find three options around the city: the first, on Stockton St., is well located in the city’s main shopping area, midway between Union Square and Market Street; the second, on Chestnut St., is close to Lombard Street, between Fort Manson and Presidio Park; and the third is further from the center, at Stonestown Galleria, 30 minutes from Union Square.
1 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA, United States
Phone: (415) 392-0202
2125 Chestnut St
San Francisco, CA, United States
Phone: (415) 848-4445
3251 20th Ave – Stonestown Galleria
San Francisco, CA, United States
Phone: (415) 571-2780
The store is already famous among Brazilians, both for the variety of products and for the ease of shopping. The space functions as a supermarket for electronics and equipment for the home and sells vacuum cleaners to powerful computers. Anyone looking for products like cameras, notebooks, stereos and all kinds of peripherals will surely find it there.
The tip is to search the store website beforehand if the product is available in stock. If not, you can make the purchase online and ask for the product to be removed from the store. It’s practical, fast and a great way to resist temptations from the live shelves.
Best Buy can be found at two more central addresses:
1717 Harrison St
San Francisco, CA, United States
Phone: (415) 626-9682
2675 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA, United States
Phone: (415) 409-4960
Chinatown exists everywhere. The eastern community of San Francisco, however, is not only the oldest in the United States – it exists from 1848 – but it is also the largest in the world outside Asia. The presence of Chinese immigrants is so strong in the city that nameplates, signs, menus, information pamphlets and others are all in three languages: English, Spanish and Chinese.
The neighborhood, unlike what happens in many other countries, is fully integrated into the city. After the great earthquake that hit San Francisco in 1906, Chinatown was completely rebuilt with Chinese characteristics and became one of the main tourist districts in the region.
Located between North Beach and Telegraph Hill, the area is the gateway to the Dragon Gate. The traditional Chinese portal, at the intersection of Bush st and Grant Ave, is the starting point for visitors. Altogether, there are twenty-four blocks full of shops, restaurants and typically oriental shops, such as herbal medicine stores, tea houses, massages and others.
Those who like to shop can not stop walking the streets of the neighborhood. The shops sell typical products and inexpensive souvenirs, but not just souvenirs live the trade. The place offers good options of typical objects, tapestries, furniture, clothes and utensils for home and decoration.
Gastronomy is also among Chinatown’s strengths. Anyone willing to tackle incomprehensible menus can venture out into one of the 150 local restaurants. The flavors are a trip through Asia, where you can try dishes from countries like Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam. At the end, be sure to stop by the Golden Gate Fortune Cook Factory. The factory produces more than 20,000 fortune cookies a day. Who knows there is your destiny…
At the meeting between Market Street and Embarcadero, on the edge of the bay, is one of the favorite places for San Francisco residents. With an imposing clock tower, the Ferry Building marks the time of travelers who arrive or depart from their trip. The historic building dates back to 1898 and, until the 1930s, with the construction of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge, the site was the main gateway for anyone arriving in the city.
Despite the drop in movement, the Ferry Building was never deactivated. After a major revitalization – which ended in 2003 -, the space also started to serve as a great gourmet market for local producers. There you will find fresh goods from all over California. The traders are small and the products are almost always handmade. Cheeses, wines, oils, breads, meats, vegetables and specialty coffees seem to come straight from the farm. It’s great for those who can’t resist some special delicacies.
In addition to the shops, those who want to enjoy the climate of the San Francisco Bay – without the confusion of Pier 39 – can enjoy one of the restaurants in the area. The specialties vary between Japanese, Argentine, Californian and other cuisines, all washed down with fresh seafood. See the official website for the full list of restaurants.
Those who walk around Fisherman’s Warf today do not imagine that in the middle of the 19th century the place was a fishing port – mostly Italians – and the main fish market in the city. Refurbished in the 70s, the place has become one of the most visited tourist spots in San Francisco. At the beginning of the day, many boats still dock there, bringing fresh fish that will be served in the wonderful restaurants in the area. Everything fresh!
Fisherman’s Warf comprises the area that goes from Pier 39 to Ghirardelli Square, but the section most recognized by its name is in the region of Pier 43, near Taylor St. There you will find the delicious stalls that sell dishes prepared with freshly caught products. Among the specialties, be sure to try Dungeness Crab, a giant crab typical of this Pacific region.
EAT CRAB! The giant sign in one of the buildings on the street invites visitors to eat crabs. In addition to the simplest kiosks, large and refined restaurants have menus specializing in seafood. Certainly one of them will please you. There are many options, all close to each other, just walk down the street and choose the menu that suits you best.
In addition to the good restaurants, Fisherman’s Warf concentrates other attractions. The main ones are: Pier 39, Aquarium of The Bay, USS Pampanito (World War II submarine turned museum), Cannery (small mall with stores and restaurants, which operates in a historic building from 1909) and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
One of the must-see tours for those who are there is the historic cable car. The vehicles leave the region to the center of San Francisco and are very disputed. The muni F line, the old street car, also deserves a ride. The vehicle maintains its retro look and is an attraction among tourists. See more information in the post about transport.
The rainbow-colored flag announces arrival in Castro (officially Eureka Valley), the most gay friendly neighborhood in the city. Although the whole of San Francisco is considered extremely tolerant, modern and not prejudiced, it is in Castro that the gay community really feels at home. Houses, restaurants and shops proudly display diverse symbols of gay culture. In unusual ways, residents play with the Castro’s characteristic and transform the region into one of the most fun in San Francisco.
The neighborhood gained fame in the 1970s for fighting prejudice, especially for Harvey Milk, a politician and activist murdered in defending the gay cause. The struggle guaranteed San Francisco an important place in the fight for the rights of homosexuals. Castro has become one of the largest gay communities in the world.
Those who stroll through the region will come across many restaurants, bars and shops, almost all of which are influenced by the gay movement. Castro has excellent dining options, especially healthy and organic. The nightlife is also fun; be sure to stop by the Twin Peaks Tavern, the city’s first gay bar. Other attractions in the area are the Castro Theater – the last remaining independent cinema in the city – and the GLBT History Museum, a fundamental visit to understand the struggle of the neighborhood.
The Mission District
One of the hippest neighborhoods in the city, the Mission District has a modern vintage look. Like those super trendy pieces that we found inside our grandmothers’ closet, or vintage cars, that have never been so contemporary. Walking through the streets of the Mission is to be sure that roots are made to be remembered and cultivated.
The mix of Latin communities with the new hipsters occupies the streets between cafes, bookstores, charming bookstores, design stores and – of course, lots of thrift stores! If you are the type who likes to mine an exclusive piece or a unique decoration object, you will certainly be very happy there.
The neighborhood, despite having an excellent trade, became famous even for the graffiti, which take over the streets. At every alley, street and building, a new subject is addressed. From criticism to comedy, color takes over the entire region. If you want to make a sure bet, to keep from going, go to Clarion Alley or meet the 24st with South Van Ness, two of the most beautiful streets to photograph. There are more than 200 murals that illustrate the walls of schools, houses and buildings in the region (some have been there since the 1970s).
The Mission night is one of the best in the city. Start with the 16st meeting with Valencia and move from bar to bar, sampling local beers. The public is relaxed and the atmosphere is the best.
Union Square and Market Street
Unlike other American cities, shopping in San Francisco is almost always done on the street and the main meeting of major brands is in the Union Square region. The square is the bustling center for tourists and residents looking to fill bags. Get ready to kick a lot of legs. From street to street you will discover the charms of the region.
The selection of brands that take care of the area is the best and it accumulates luxury names. It’s like a big open-air mall. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to find the location of your favorite store, leave the hotel with a map in your hand and the exact address of your goal.
From the center of the square you will see the multi brands Macys and Sak’s. They are the starting point for the shopping tour. The shops span several streets, especially on the way to Market Street, where there are also the grand Bloomingdales and Nordstorm.
Behind the facades of Market Street buildings is one of the few closed shopping centers in the city, Westfield. There you will find the missing brands to complete your purchases.
In addition to many shops, Union Square is known for its large concentration of restaurants and cafes. On hot days, residents flock to the sidewalks, always busy, to taste some local delicacies. It is one of the best spots in San Francisco to try a Californian wine and choose from specialties from different countries.
See the list of stores in the region below and visit the official Market Street website to see the addresses of each store.
Beauty and health
Bath & Body Works;
Elizabeth Arden Red Door;
Bibbo at Union Square;
Di Pietro Todd;
Original Perfume Discount;
Rite Aid Pharmacy;
The Body Shop;
Walgreen’s Drug Store – Sutter / Powell.
Borders Books & Music;
Wolfgang Puck Express at Macy’s.
Pea in the Pod;
The Children’s Place;
Paul Frank Store.
Clothing and accessories
7 for All Mankind.
Abrcrombie & Fitch;
AG Adriano Goldschmied;
Anne Taylor Loft;
Aricie Lingerie de Marque;
Barcelino – Men;
Barcelino Per Donna;
Betsey Johnson Clothing;
David Stephen Menswear;
Ferrari Shop, The;
Hats on Post;
Japanese Weekend Maternity;
Jos. A. Bank;
Levis Flagship Store;
Lily Sami Collection;
Mulholland Luxury Leather Goods.
NE Q & J Boutique;
North Face, The.
Pea in the Pod;
Peter Panos Fine Tailoring;
Polo Store – Ralph Lauren;
Saks Fifth Avenue;
Saks, The Men’s Store;
Scotch & Soda;
Seymour Custom Tailoring;
St. John Boutique.
Three Bags Full;
Uomo European Menswear;
Yves Saint Laurent.