San Francisco has many lovely neighborhoods to explore. Here are some of our favorites:

Embarcadero/Ferry Building

Location: From the Omni Hotel, walk down California to the Embarcadero

The Ferry Building features restaurants, small shops, and local artisan food. A favorite event is the the Saturday Morning Farmers' Market (8am - 1pm) at the Ferry Building, which features delicious prepared food from select local establishments, as well as fruits and veggies from local farmers. From the Ferry Building, you can also walk up the Embarcadero toward the Golden Gate bridge, and come across such fun deliciousness as chocolate tasting at Tcho, or a healthy afternoon luncheon on the water at Plant. If you walk in the other direction, you can see the famous Cupid's Span, a bow and arrow by pop artist Claes Oldenburg and his wife, Coosje van Bruggen. Keep walking, and you will eventually arrive at the SF Giants stadium!


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Union Square

Location: Between Powell & Stockton and Post & Geary

A short walk from the Omni hotel, this area features shopping, shopping, and more shopping. You can find everything from high-end designers to bottom-of-the-barrel bargains. Check out the Rotunda restaurant in Nieman Marcus, or go into Macy's for a view of the Square. Union Square is also the site of some tasty local restaurants, including Scala's Bistro and Canteen.


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The Marina

Location: Union Street between Gough & Divisadero; Chestnut Street between Fillmore & Divisadero; Marina Boulevard from Laguna to Baker

Featuring grand views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay, the Marina is one of the prettiest parts of San Francisco. It features upscale shops and restaurants, as well as a lot of brotastic 22-year-olds who recently moved to San Francisco. A walk along Marina Boulevard to Chrissy Field (you can stop in at the Warming Hut for a snack) is a classic San Francisco experience. Check out Fort Mason, home to art and food (including the famous Greens vegetarian restaurant, overlooking the bay), and festivals and events.


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Hayes Valley

Location: Hayes Street between Franklin and Laguna

Hayes Valley is known for its vibrant, locally-owned shops (chain stores are banned here), with a special emphasis on interior design as well as clothing. A Hayes & Octavia, there is a dedicated area devoted to pop-up art and food, including rotating food trucks. Check out Smitten ice cream, handmade for each customer using patented dry ice system. There is delicious food to be had at Absinthe (reserve ahead!) or pick up a sandwich and bottle of wine at Arlequin, it's sister cafe next door, and sit out on the back patio. Pop into Chez Maman for casual, quick, and tasty French-influenced food, or try some Thai at Lers Ros.


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The Mission (Ahmad's old 'hood)

Location: Valencia Street from 16th Street to 24th Street, and various side streets

Historically a Latino and Irish neighborhood, the Mission is now also home to hipsters and the heart of San Francisco's innovative food culture. It is difficult to walk a few feet without stumbling into a delicious restaurant, whether it is Range (new California cuisine) or Sunflower (delicious Vietnamese food). If you are feeling patient, check out Tartine Bakery for to-die-for pastries, or Bi-Rite Ice Cream for some of SF's best local ice cream (secret hint: if you don't feel like waiting in line, you can also go into Bi-Rite Market across the street and buy a pint to share with friends and family, or pick up some frozen yogurt from their soft serve window, escaping the long lines.) On a nice day, take your pastries or ice cream to Dolores Park, and enjoy views of downtown while getting a feel for the local park scene.


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Pacific Heights

Location: Fillmore Street from Sutter to Jackson

Featuring a mix of clothing shops, restaurants, and cafes, Fillmore Street is the heart of Pacific Heights, one of San Francisco's fanciest residential neighborhoods. Take a stroll up and down the street, and stop in for coffee or lunch at Jane or the Grove. Check out cool shoes at Rabat, and cool clothing at Heidi Says, Jigsaw London, Curve and Alice + Olivia.


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Noe Valley (Jo's 'hood!)

Location: 24th Street between Church and Diamond

The best place in the city to find strollers and dogs, Noe Valley is family-friendly and homey. From Ambiance (a local clothing boutique) to Wink SF (home decor), it features a wide variety of shops and restaurants. Some of our favorite restaurants include Firefly, Le Zinc (great for an easy no-line brunch), Patxi's Pizza, and Barney Burger.


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Special thanks to Sarah Grossman-Swenson (@sarahtgs) for putting together this lovely list of local SF favorites!