San Francisco Shopping

With its grand department stores and funky secondhand boutiques, San Francisco summons a full range of shopping experiences. From the anarchist bookstore to the mouthwatering specialty-food purveyors at the gleaming Ferry Building, the local shopping opportunities reflect the city's various personalities. Visitors with limited time often focus their energies on the high-density Union Square

area, where several major department stores tower over big-name boutiques. But if you're keen to find unique local shops, consider moving beyond the square's radius.

Each neighborhood has its own distinctive finds, whether it's 1960s housewares, cheeky stationery, or vintage Levi's. If shopping in San Francisco has a downside, it's that real bargains can be few and far between. Sure, neighborhoods such as the Lower Haight and the Mission have thrift shops and other inexpensive stores, but you won't find many discount outlets in the city, where rents are sky-high and space is at a premium.

Seasonal sales, usually in late January and late July or August, are good opportunities for finding deep discounts on clothing. The San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner advertise sales. For smaller shops, check the free SF Weekly, which can be found on street corners every Wednesday. Sample sales are usually held by individual manufacturers, so check your favorite company's website before visiting.

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Fodor's Choice

Area

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Union Square and Chinatown 55

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Chinatown 5

Union Square 50

SoMa and Civic Center 43

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Civic Center 2

Hayes Valley 18

SoMa 21

Tenderloin 2

Mission District 30

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Bernal Heights 1

Dogpatch 1

Potrero Hill 7

Pacific Heights and Japantown 23

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Japantown 5

Pacific Heights 14

Western Addition 1

The Haight, the Castro, and Noe Valley 18

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Castro 3

Haight 7

Noe Valley 8

The Marina and the Presidio 14

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Cow Hollow 11

Marina 3

North Beach 12

On the Waterfront 11

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Embarcadero 7

Financial District 2

Fisherman's Wharf 2

Nob Hill and Russian Hill 4

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Nob Hill 1

Western Shoreline 4

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Sunset District 4

Richmond 1

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Category

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Antiques/ Collectibles 7

Art Galleries 23

Books/ Stationery 17

Cameras/ Electronics 2

Ceramics/ Glassware 1

Clothing 44

Convenience/ General Stores 1

Crafts 11

Department Stores 7

Flowers 1

Food/ Candy 14

Gifts/ Souvenirs 17

Household Items/ Furniture 20

Jewelry/ Accessories 11

Music Stores 6

Outdoor/ Flea/ Green Markets 2

Outlet/ Discount Stores 2

Perfume/ Cosmetics 7

Pets 1

Shoes/ Luggage/ Leather Goods 9

Shopping Centers/ Malls 1

Spa/ Beauty 8

Specialty Stores 1

Sporting Goods 5

Textiles/ Sewing 1

Toys 4

Wine/ Spirits 11

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Best For

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Family 5

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San Francisco Shopping

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Book Passage

  • Books/Stationery

Windows at this modest-size bookstore frame close-up views of the docks and San Francisco Bay. Commuters snap up magazines by the front...

Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese

  • Food/Candy

Fantastic organic-milk cheeses—such as the mellow, triple-cream Mt. Tam and bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella)—are produced...

Exploratorium

  • Toys

The educational gadgets and gizmos sold here are so much fun that your kids—whether they're in grade school or junior high—might...

Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market

  • Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

The partylike Saturday edition of the city's most upscale and expensive farmers' market places baked goods, gourmet cheeses, smoked fish,...

Helpers' Bazaar

  • Clothing

Arguably the city's best-dressed philanthropist, Joy Bianchi, along with other volunteers, runs this store to benefit the mentally disabled...

Kathleen Taylor The Lotus Collection

  • Antiques/Collectibles

The handmade pillows, tapestries depicting iconic events in Europe, and Japanese brocades make this one of the finest collections of...

McEvoy Ranch

  • Food/Candy

This is the only retail outpost of this Sonoma County ranch, a producer of outstanding organic, extra-virgin olive oil. If you stop by...

Patagonia

  • Sporting Goods

Technical wear for serious outdoors enthusiasts is the specialty. Along with sportswear and casual clothing, the store carries active...

Recchiuti Confections

  • Food/Candy

Michael and Jacky Recchiuti began making otherworldly chocolates in 1997, using traditional European techniques. Now considered among...

The Gardener

  • Household Items/Furniture

Artful, functional home and garden accessories are the lure here, from woven baskets and teak salad bowls to beautifully illustrated...

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