San Francisco: Best Picks

Favorite San Francisco stores, restaurants, neighborhoods, and cultural hot spots please visitors and locals alike.

statue and Coit Tower in San Francisco, image

A statue of Christopher Columbus stands next to Coit Tower in San Francisco.

The beloved city takes up just 46 square miles. You could fit 10 of it into Los Angeles, three into Portland. Good. It's also the second most densely populated major city in the country, after New York, and its 808,976 inhabitants thrive on proximity—to one another's ideas, to the world's wealth of coffees, teas, and victuals (including local bakers' cupcakes), to museums for art, science, history, and cartoons . . . and to hills overlooking saltwater, fog, bridges, islands, and other towns. Here's a sliver of its everyday delights.

The Legion of Honor, with its classic view of the Golden Gate Bridge + Baker Beach + Architecture and views in the Presidio + Fort Point + Biking on Angel Island + Crissy Field + Exploratorium and the Palace of Fine Arts dome + Posh pies at Pizzeria Delfina + The hats of Beach Blanket Babylon + Chinatown + Ferry Plaza Saturday farmers' market + AT&T Park and McCovey Cove + The Flower Mart and its old-style cafe + Cartoon Art Museum + Banh mi sandwiches in the Tenderloin's Little Saigon + Great American Music Hall + The opera and its music director, Nicola Luisotti + Miette sweet shops + Flax Art & Design + Rainbow Grocery—even just the cheese section + Alternative films at the Roxie Theater + People-watching at Tartine Bakery + Mitchell's Ice Cream + Bernal Heights for dining at Moki's and drinking at Wild Side West + Fort Funston, with its playful dogs + The zoo, with its playful grizzlies + Cocktails at the Cliff House and milk shakes at Louis' + Green Apple Books + Golden Gate Park and the California Academy of Sciences + Amoeba Music + Castro Theatre + Seward Street slides + The fog rolling through the Golden Gate

Photography courtesy of James Macfarlane/Wikimedia Commons

This article was first published in November 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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