San Francisco

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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  • 1. Berggruen Gallery

    SoMa | Art Galleries

    Twentieth-century European and American paintings, including Bay Area figurative works, are displayed throughout two airy floors at this well...Read More

  • 2. Fraenkel Gallery

    Union Sq. | Art Galleries

    This renowned gallery represents museum-caliber photographers or their estates, including Nicholas Nixon, Nan Goldin, Richard Misrach, and Garry...Read More

  • 3. Aria Antiques

    North Beach | Art Galleries

    Get a gift for your favorite globe-trotter at this oasis for the unordinary. You'll find maps, boxes, vases, and vintage furniture, as well...Read More

  • 4. ArtHaus

    SoMa | Art Galleries

    This one-story gallery south of Market provides an intimate space for both local and New York artists to display their contemporary work. Gallery...Read More

  • 5. Catharine Clark Gallery

    Potrero Hill | Art Galleries

    Although nationally known artists—like Masami Teraoka and Andy Diaz Hope—display their modern sculptures, paintings, photographs, and installation...Read More

  • 6. Crown Point Press

    SoMa | Art Galleries

    What started as a print workshop in 1962 now includes studios as well as a large, airy gallery where etchings, intaglios, engravings, and aquatints...Read More

  • 7. Hackett Mill

    SoMa | Art Galleries

    This gallery prides itself on its friendly staffers, who will educate you about the art or leave you alone, whichever you prefer. Some of the...Read More

  • 8. Hang Art

    Union Sq. | Art Galleries

    A spirit of fun imbues this inviting space that showcases local, emerging artists. Prices range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand...Read More

  • 9. Hespe Gallery

    Union Sq. | Art Galleries

    Priced between $3,000 and $50,000, the paintings and sculptures here by mid-career artists, many of them Californians, are primarily representational...Read More

  • 10. Jessica Silverman Gallery

    Chinatown | Art Galleries

    One of the city's leading galleries devoted to emerging contemporary artists resides along Chinatown's main thoroughfare after spending the...Read More

  • 11. Jessica Silverman Gallery

    Tenderloin | Art Galleries

    Fashion, music, performance, paintings, and photography collide here—literally. Every six to eight weeks a new exhibit enters the space pushing...Read More

  • 12. John Pence Gallery

    Tenderloin | Art Galleries

    The 8,000-square-foot facility, San Francisco's largest gallery, exhibits drawings, paintings, and sculpture. Many of the works are by important...Read More

  • 13. Meyerovich Gallery

    Union Sq. | Art Galleries

    Sculpture and works on paper by masters such as Pablo Picasso, Robert Motherwell, David Sultan, and Helen Frankenthaler are the attraction....Read More

  • 14. Modernism

    Union Sq. | Art Galleries

    Multimodal exhibits are on a seven-week rotation and span an impressive arc of multimedia, photography, performance, painting, and sculpture...Read More

  • 15. Robert Koch Gallery

    Union Sq. | Art Galleries

    This dealer of photographic works shows prints from the 19th century to the present and emphasizes Russian and other Eastern European artists. ...Read More

  • 16. Robert Tat Gallery

    Union Sq. | Art Galleries

    Old meets new in Robert Tat’s meticulously selected photography collection. Early 20th-century modernist works hang adjacent to contemporary...Read More

  • 17. SF Camerawork

    SoMa | Art Galleries

    This nonprofit organization mounts thematic exhibits and has a well-stocked bookstore and a reference library. The lecture program includes...Read More

  • 18. Southern Exposure

    Mission District | Art Galleries

    An artist-run, nonprofit gallery, this is an established venue for cutting-edge art. In addition to exhibitions, lectures, performances, and...Read More

  • 19. The Bond Latin Gallery

    SoMa | Art Galleries

    Some of the vibrant works on show in this cozy yet light Latin American art gallery come from such artists as Diego Rivera, Laura Hernandez...Read More

  • 20. Varnish Fine Art

    SoMa | Art Galleries

    Jen Rogers and Kerri Stephens's gallery specializes in thought-provoking works such as those by San Francisco–based artist Brian Goggin, known...Read More

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