The best places to go shopping in San Francisco include the city’s iconic Union Square as well as scenic shopping boulevards and farmers’ markets near the eastern waterfront. From international and luxurious high-fashion brands to affordable farm-fresh produce and gift items, San Francisco’s shopping scene is vibrant and eclectic. There’s indeed an exciting shopping place for all types of taste and budget in the Golden Gate City. 

    There are also neighbourhoods, such as Hayes Valley, Haight-Ashbury, and Mission District just to name a few, that have come to be known as shopping districts. Many of these places cater especially towards San Francisco’s young, hip, and arty clientele. Read on for great ideas on where to shop in San Francisco and what each square, district, mall, or market has to offer. 

    Where are the best places to go shopping in San Francisco?

    1

    Pier 39

    Waterfront dining, shopping, and entertainment

    Pier 39 is one of San Francisco’s most popular waterfront shopping and dining destinations. When you’re not here for the grilled seafood and the famous clam chowder offered by the wide variety of seafood restaurants, it’s a great place to be in San Francisco for souvenir hunting.

    The pier has all sorts of speciality shops – there are well over 50 spread across 2 levels. Head up to the upper section to shop with fantastic views of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, as well as Alcatraz Island. There’s a great mix with almost everything from sports gear to jewellery, with excellent gift ideas in between. You'll also find a Build-A-Bear Workshop, a Houdini’s Magic Shop, and even a shop just for left-handers known as Lefty’s San Francisco.

    Location: Beach St & The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 415-705-5500

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    2

    Union Square

    For shopping galore

    Union Square is surrounded by stores of all kinds: high-end designers like Hermès and Gucci, upscale department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Barney’s New York, as well as high-street brands like H&M and Brandy Melville. With a shop at every corner, Union Square deserves its label as the shopping hub of San Francisco. Littered with outlets for all tastes, the square is the place to come if you want to window-shop or if you can’t decide what kind of shopping you want.

    The square itself is quite pretty in the spring and summer months, with manicured flowerbeds and patches of grass to rest on between shopping sprees. The area attracts a lot of visitors, so if you want to avoid crowds, this is probably not the place to be. A morning shop will help you avoid the peak times, though.

    Location: 333 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

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    3

    Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

    Find farm-fresh goods at this tri-weekly market

    Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a highly popular local shopping destination at the Ferry Building on The Embarcadero in San Francisco. Managed by CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture), the marketplace is held thrice weekly – on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday – and features a wide variety of produce and artisanal foods from local Californian farmers.

    Each day at the market offers a different scene. The biggest is on Saturday, when it features 100 vendors. The line of tented stalls surrounds the Ferry Building and it’s a great place to hit for breakfast and lunch during your weekend strolls along the Embarcadero.

    Location: One Ferry Building #50, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA

    Open: Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm, Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm (closed on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays)

    Phone: +1 415-291-3276

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    4

    Hayes Valley

    For innovate boutiques

    Hayes Valley is a fashionable neighbourhood found in the centre of San Francisco that boasts quirky boutiques, craft coffee vendors and artisan shops. This neighbourhood finds itself the envy of many others, especially since it’s home to Hayes Street. Colour saturates every corner of this long stretch of road that runs all the way to Golden Gate Park. Expect to find buildings painted in vibrant colours or adorned with street art, with outdoor beer and cocktail bars strewn with fairy lights. Boutique shops are rife. Be sure to visit Welcome Stranger or Modern Appeal Clothing for stylish goodies.

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    photo by Urban~commonswiki (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    5

    Westfield San Francisco Centre

    9 storeys of shopping, dining, and entertainment

    Westfield San Francisco Centre is a large shopping mall in Downtown San Francisco that features over 100 shops and restaurants spread across 9 floors. You’ll find all the luxury brand stores here such as Burberry, Rolex, and Tiffany & Co., as well as department stores Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.

    An elegantly curved escalator system gets you from floor to floor. And if you’re feeling peckish during your shopping spree, there’s a wide range of options, from fine dining at the Executive Order Bar & Lounge to many casual diners that serve dishes from around the globe.

    Location: 865 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm, Sunday from noon to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 415-512-6776

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    photo by Beyond My Ken (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    Stonestown Galleria

    Shop and entertain the family

    Stonestown Galleria is a shopping centre just north of San Francisco State University and bordering east of Lake Merced. It has 2 floors with brand retail shops and is anchored by a Target department store. It’s the local go-to indoor shopping spot for Lakeshore and Park Merced residents.

    Besides jewellery outlets such as Pandora and Swarovski, you can shop for affordable clothes at Zara, H&M, and Uniqlo. A great selection of bars and restaurants includes options for dine-in and takeaway, serving anything from Korean barbeques and American steaks to Mexican grills, Hawaiian poke bowls, and gourmet Chinese noodles.

    Location: 3251 20th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 7 pm, Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 8 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 415-564-8848

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    photo by Pi.1415926535 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Japan Center

    A unique shopping experience in Japantown

    Japan Center offers a quirky shopping experience in the heart of Japantown in San Francisco. The shopping centre was originally a cultural and trade centre that opened in 1968. Your shopping experience here is like a walk back in time. Most of the merchants have kept their arts and culture alive since their great grandparents first settled over 160 years ago.

    Japan Center is an exciting place to explore and find authentic Japanese goods. It’s where to go for one of the most amazing arrays of Japanese speciality shops outside Tokyo. Beautiful sashes and kimonos are the highlights at Sakura Sakura, while Neat Asian Things has affordable wear for men. It’s the obvious grocery shopping place for imported Japanese goods, too. When you’re feeling peckish, there’s a Benihana for grills and steaks, as well as various conveyor belt sushi spots in the area.

    Location: 1737 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA

    Open: Daily from 7 am to midnight

    Phone: +1 415-440-1171

    Map
    8

    Embarcadero Center

    Enjoy a pleasant oceanfront shopping walk

    Embarcadero Center is an oceanfront shopping complex spanning 4 blocks and with a boulevard that stretches for some 3 miles from Pier 39 to South Beach Harbor on San Francisco's eastern bayside. It offers one of the most scenic shopping walks in San Francisco, with palm tree-lined walkways and with views to the piers as you head towards the Ferry Building on the waterfront.

    Whether you’re shopping for the latest look or a gift, there are over 70 stores and fashion boutiques to drop into and browse. And to replenish, there are around 25 cafés and restaurants along the promenade as well as at street level.

    Location: San Francisco, CA 94111, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 10 am to 7 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, Sunday from noon to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 415-772-0700

    Map
    9

    Alemany Farmers’ Market

    The oldest of its kind in California

    Head down to Alemany Farmers’ Market on 100 Alemany Boulevard in Bernal Heights for a laidback weekend with a great range of fresh goods and street food. You’ll find affordable prices and a bustling community atmosphere at the market, which opens every Saturday from dawn to dusk.

    The longstanding and certified farmers’ market dates back to 1943, it was among the first of its kind in California. Various stalls run by small Californian family farmers each feature their freshest produce, including leafy greens and multiple varieties of strawberries and other berries you might never have known of or tried before.

    Location: 100 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

    Open: Saturday from 6 am to 2 pm

    Phone: +1 415-647-9423

    Map
    10

    Anchorage Square

    Shopping by the piers near Fisherman’s Wharf

    Anchorage Square is a shopping plaza that forms part of the eclectic waterfront shopping and dining scene of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Right up front are the Wharf’s buzzing oceanfront piers, and right beside it is The Cannery shopping mall.

    Anchorage Square has sidewalk boutiques and gift shops as well as fast-food venues, giving it a very casual vibe. It's a convenient place to grab souvenirs if you're staying at the attatched Courtyard by Marriot San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf hotel. You can also book your San Francisco sightseeing tour from the vendors here.

    Location: 333 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

    Open: Daily from 6.30 am to 12.30 am

    Phone: +1 415-775-6000

    Map
    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveller

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