Shopping in San Francisco offers some of the best retail therapy in the world. If you’re looking for a unique memento to take home, head to Haight Street and take a step back to the ’60s with tie-dyes and trinkets. Or, explore Chinatown for one-of-a-kind jewelry and jade. The Mission and North Beach also have plenty of outdoor vendors and boutiques to explore.
If you’re looking for a more traditional shopping experience, there are two malls in San Francisco: Westfield and Stonestown. The Ferry Building is also a great option, and if the weather is nice, Union Square is the city’s best outdoor mall, with local galleries often featuring their work.
The Best Places for Shopping in San Francisco
1. FERRY BUILDING MARKETPLACE
The Ferry Building in San Francisco is iconic, offering much more than shopping. It is located right on San Francisco Bay with a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge. Inside the building are a variety of artisanal shops, specialty food stores, and restaurants. On the weekends, outdoor booths spring up to take advantage of the location. Additionally, a farmers market is held outside on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
The Ferry Building is popular with anyone who loves to cook or eat, and it is also recommended for those who want to take in the view. The enclosed building offers protection from the summer heat and winter cold, making it an ideal destination for a shopping experience.
2. UNION SQUARE
Union Square is an urban park situated at the heart of San Francisco. It is surrounded by numerous upscale shopping venues, making it the city’s premier shopping destination. Macy’s, Saks, Gumps, and Gucci are all found in the vicinity and other popular retailers. The district also contains a variety of restaurants and theaters, and there is convenient garage parking.
In addition, Union Square is well-connected to public transportation and features occasional public concerts. Visitors to the area can also enjoy great people-watching. All in all, Union Square is a must-see for anyone visiting San Francisco and is particularly recommended for those who wish to do some of the city’s best shopping.
3. WESTFIELD SAN FRANCISCO CENTRE
Westfield Centre is one of the best shopping malls in San Francisco. It is conveniently located only two blocks from Union Square and contains more than 170 appealing boutiques. Inside, shoppers can find well-known stores like Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Betsey Johnson, Herve Leger, Kenneth Cole, and H&M. The mall also offers a variety of restaurants, both sit-down, and quick-serve, as well as a nine-screen movie theater.
This mall has recently undergone a renovation, making it an absolute must-visit. It is also in a prime location, in the heart of downtown. After shopping, visitors can take the Powell Street cable car across the street to Fisherman’s Wharf for a memorable ride.
For these reasons, Westfield Centre is highly recommended for the best shopping in San Francisco, especially on rainy days in San Francisco.
4. LANDMARK EMBARCADERO CENTER
The Landmark Embarcadero Center is a great place to shop in downtown San Francisco. The Westfield Mall and Union Square often overshadow it, but it provides a much more intimate shopping experience. The Center comprises four interconnected buildings, housing shops such as Ambassador Toys, Boudin Bakery, and Edward’s Luggage and Gifts. These stores may be more expensive than those found in local malls, but the quality of their products is worth the price.
The Landmark Embarcadero Center has something to offer beyond shopping. The Embarcadero Cinema in the Center only shows independent and thought-provoking films. It is a favorite movie theater among locals. On Sundays, head to the nearby Ferry Building for their weekly farmer’s market.
Overall, the Landmark Embarcadero Center is recommended for the best shopping in San Francisco because of its smaller, more intimate atmosphere. It is a great place to go for high-quality merchandise, independent films, and unique experiences.
Chinatown in San Francisco is a unique and unforgettable experience. It is a city within a city, with its own culture and traditions. Visitors can make a grand entrance beneath the dramatic portal at Grant Avenue and Bush Street or stumble upon Chinatown while exploring the city. Along its streets, exotic ingredients, silks, jade, and colorful mementos are being hawked to tourists.
The community of Chinatown is more than just a show. The residents celebrate the Chinese New Year with enthusiasm and pride every year. They also hold beauty pageants and other time-tested traditions. Visitors are encouraged to embrace this experience, even if it’s just to have a bite of dim sum. Chinatown is highly recommended for the best shopping experience in San Francisco.
6. FILLMORE STREET
Fillmore Street, located between Jackson and Geary Streets in San Francisco, offers a unique shopping experience. Visitors can find a wide range of items, from skin care products to freshly ground coffee and specialty teas. Along with the interesting stores, there is also a theater, club, and several restaurants and home design places.
Due to the street’s steep hill, visitors should come prepared with comfortable walking shoes. Fortunately, shoppers can use trendy boutiques to find the perfect pair of shoes to take home. In addition to shopping, people can sit with a latte and observe the latest Northern California styles.
For these reasons, Fillmore Street has become known as one of the best places to shop in the entire Bay Area.
7. FISHERMAN’S WHARF
Fisherman’s Wharf is a quintessential San Francisco destination. It is the first stop for many tourists to experience its unique energy; a mix of excitement, retail kitsch, strong maritime heritage, and a vibrant West Coast welcome. Visitors can sample Dungeness crab and clam chowder, take a boat ride around the Bay, pick up souvenir t-shirts, and enjoy the temperate sunshine or watch the fog roll across the water. Although it may not be the most sublime experience, Fisherman’s Wharf is an unmissable chance to observe the local culture, commerce, and atmosphere.
For those looking for souvenirs to bring home, Fisherman’s Wharf is the ultimate destination for San Francisco shopping. A wide range of items makes it the perfect spot to pick up a reminder of the city.
8. HAIGHT AND ASHBURY STREETS
The intersection of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco was a hub of activity in the 1960s and is still home to a unique atmosphere today. Formerly the Grateful Dead house, 710 Ashbury Street, is now a private residence, but other famous neighbors included Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane.
The area retains its hippie influence, with occult shops and venues exploring alternative medicine, natural foods, the environment, and performance art. There are also many parks, thrift stores, and coffeehouses for visitors to explore.
Haight and Ashbury are just up from “the panhandle,” making it easy to top off your day with a stroll through Golden Gate Park. Haight Street is also a popular shopping destination, with classic tie-dye shirts being a popular tourist souvenir.
9. GHIRARDELLI SQUARE
Ghirardelli Square is the perfect place to go for top-tier San Francisco malls. This open-air complex offers incredible views of Angel and Alcatraz Islands and features art galleries, clothing stores, and specialty shops. For a bite to eat, visitors can sample the culinary delights of McCormick and Kuleto’s, Ana Mandara, or Kara’s Cupcakes. To complete the shopping experience, tourists can treat themselves to something sweet from the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. The Wattle Creek Winery tasting room also provides a unique shopping experience.
Ghirardelli Square is an incredibly kid-friendly environment, making it a great shopping option for those with children in tow. With its sweeping views and myriad shopping opportunities, Ghirardelli Square is a must-visit destination for a truly San Francisco shopping experience. It is recommended for the best shopping because it is a great day out for the whole family and offers a “shop until you drop” atmosphere.
10. MISSION DISTRICT
The Mission District in San Francisco comes from the Mission Dolores, the Catholic church and settlement founded by the Spanish in 1776. The neighborhood has maintained its strong Hispanic flavor over the centuries, evident in its vibrant exterior murals and Latin cuisine. The Mission scene’s vibrant ambiance, intriguing goods, and hip appeal make it an ideal place to shop.
Valencia corridor is always bustling with plenty of popular places to shop. These include Mission Workshop, The Voyager Shop, and the beloved 826 Valencia, where your shopping dollars go to a good cause. You can also find some old-school craftsmen, such as cobblers and belt makers, who can create a truly memorable San Francisco memento right before your eyes.
The Mission District is recommended for the best shopping in San Francisco due to its eclectic mix of boutique and second-hand shops.
11. San Francisco Premium Outlet
Outlet shopping is an excellent way to get the items you want without breaking the bank. Premium Outlet in San Francisco should be at the top of your list. Located in the Livermore Valley, 60 km from downtown San Francisco, Premium Outlet offers an incredible selection of over 180 iconic brands. Prices are very reasonable, so you won’t have to worry about going over budget.
12. Hayes Valley
Hayes Valley is an iconic shopping destination in San Francisco. This neighborhood is located near the San Francisco Ballet and Symphony and offers a unique shopping experience. It is home to a wide array of art galleries and antique shops that provide a unique selection of items for the home. The stores in Hayes Valley embrace the ethos of ‘always repair, never restore,’ making it a perfect destination for anyone looking for carefully crafted items.
13. Stonestown Galleria
If you’re looking for the best shopping malls in San Francisco, Stonestown is a great choice. This mall has everything – from popular brands like H&M and Nordstrom to smaller stores like Pandora and Brookstone. Furthermore, Stonestown offers a variety of entertainment and food options, making it perfect for taking a break during your shopping excursion.
14. Chestnut Street
Chestnut Street is located in the Marina District of San Francisco. Although it may seem similar to Union Street, it is actually quite different. This shopping area is home to many shops and restaurants, making it the perfect spot for window shopping.
Some of the stores that can be found here include Two Skirts, Marine Layer, Gap, and Taylor Stitch. These stores offer a variety of products and services for shoppers to enjoy.
Shopping in San Francisco FAQ
Is San Francisco good for shopping?
Yes, San Francisco is a great destination for shopping. It boasts an array of retail outlets, from upscale department stores to unique artisan shops. These stores offer various fashion items, home décor, and artwork. Many of these items are of high quality and one-of-a-kind, making them perfect for those who desire something special.
What is the name of the heart of the San Francisco shopping area?
Union Square is the name of the heart of San Francisco’s shopping area. It is one of the most visited shopping destinations across the globe and is a popular tourist destination. In San Francisco, Union Square offers a unique combination of luxury stores, local boutiques, and major department stores. Visitors can find a wide variety of items to suit their shopping needs.
Where do people shop in San Francisco?
San Francisco is a great place for shopping. There are various places and stores to choose from, each offering its unique experience. Here are some of the top places to shop in the city:
- Union Square is the city’s premier shopping destination. With hundreds of stores, restaurants, and cafes, it’s a great place to find whatever you’re looking for.
- Haight Street is a great spot for vintage and antique shopping. Here, you can find unique items you won’t find anywhere else.
- Westfield San Francisco Centre is a large shopping mall with stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Nordstrom. It’s a great place to find all of your favorite brands.
- San Francisco Premium Outlet is a great place to get designer items at discounted prices. Here, you can find discounted items from designer brands like Prada, Gucci, and Armani.
- Hayes Valley is a great spot for independent boutiques. Here, you can find original and unique items that will make you stand out.
- Fillmore Street is a great place for luxury shopping. Here, you can find upscale stores and designer boutiques.
- Stonestown Galleria is a large shopping mall. You can find stores like Macy’s, Gap, and H&M here.
- Chinatown is a great spot for unique and inexpensive items. Here, you can find various items from around the world, all at low prices.
What is the main shopping strip in San Francisco?
Union Square is the main shopping strip in San Francisco. It is made up of blocks of buildings with various big name brands and luxury shops. The area also includes two enclosed shopping areas. It is the perfect place to find the latest trends and fashion.