There's Nothing Like the Big City: San Francisco
Street Made for Shopping
Fifteen years ago, Hayes Street (bet. Laguna and Gough) was a run-down neighborhood--now it's a sweet little street lined with unique boutiques: Alabaster carries an exquisite array of housewares, antiques, and art books; True Sake is exclusively devoted to its namesake, Japanese rice wine; and Friend aims to be "an antidote to the sterility of modern design stores." Just around the corner, RAG: Residents Apparel Gallery sells clothing and accessories by more than 60 emerging local designers.
You Gotta Do at Least One…
Walk over the Golden Gate Bridge (or rent a bike from Blazing Saddles).
Take the audio tour of Alcatraz--it's engrossing and spooky.
Stroll along Ocean Beach on the western edge of the city: The sand is soft, the surfer dudes in wet suits are sexy, and the waves crash over rugged rocks.
Get a postcard view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the hills by climbing Coit Tower.
Lines at Tartine often snake out the front door, but the pastries at the Mission District bakery--including banana-cream tarts and flaky croissants--are worth the wait.
Shops You Can't Find Everywhere
Limn: Walking into the store is like entering a design magazine: It's stocked with furniture and modern housewares, like hand-knotted Tibetan rugs, original artwork, and the latest in contemporary European design.
American Rag: The store sells a well-curated selection of vintage clothes, plus cutting-edge fashion and accessories from emerging and established designers.
Jeremy's: Returned, out-of-season, or slightly damaged clothes and runway samples by Chanel, Prada, and Costume National can often be found for up to 70 percent off retail.
826 Valencia: San Francisco's only "independent pirate-supply store," cofounded by author Dave Eggers.
City Lights Bookstore: The North Beach landmark stocks an enormous selection of poetry and books about spirituality and progressive politics.