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San Francisco Japantown Center is a major attraction that reflects Japanese regalia and arts and crafts through a number of showrooms, galleries and bookstores. Its almost like a mini-Japan in the heart of San Francisco. Also known as Nihonmachi, the area serves as a rich treasure of Japanese culture and tradition in the form of clothes, literature and the like, perennially stacked in the several stores tucked inside the center. Japantown also has movie theaters and hotels.
Though many Mission District residents count Paxton Gate among their favorite storefronts, they always have a hard time describing the place to the uninitiated. The store describes its inventory thus: "treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and the natural sciences." In layman terms, this translates to unique gardening supplies, exotic plants (some of which are carnivorous), collectible insects, taxidermy (including lions, giraffes and punk-rock mice), specialty teas and tea accessories, hand-made jewelry, antique toys, quirky books and some very unusual home furnishings. See the website for online shopping, event calendar, taxidermy class schedule and details on Paxton Gate's landscaping service.
“The Pirate Store,” as it is known to neighborhood folk, is actually the official store of the Mission District writing workshop known as (and located at) 826 Valencia. Here, you'll find all manner of pirate-related items, from designer glass eyes and eye patches to a variety of pirate flags. Also for sale are a series of books and periodicals associated with the 826 Valencia writing program and the related McSweeney's publishing imprint, as well as a bevy of pirate-themed souvenir t-shirts. In-store entertainment includes a small fish tank-viewing theater and a giant vat of lard. (Note that lard can be bartered for, but not purchased.) See website for online shopping, event calendar, F.A.Q., store log and a multi-part video portrait of Karl the Fish.
There are many places to buy souvenirs in Chinatown, ranging from anything small to the museum-quality antiques. For those interested in something in between, there's Canton Bazaar. Its two floors in the heart of Chinatown are virtually a one-stop shopping experience for souvenirs and art. You can get a pair of chopsticks or a seven-foot gilt-wood Buddha with mirror inlay. There is also a nice selection of kimonos, ceramics (including antique porcelain), furniture and jewelry, the most intriguing piece of which may be an antique fingernail guard reborn as a brooch. The staff is very helpful and always there when you need them, too.
Chinatown, one of the busiest areas in the city, is a hodgepodge of shops, restaurants and businesses of every kind. The vibrant and close-knit community that lives within this neighborhood has also made it one of San Francisco's top tourist destinations. Thankfully, there are many side streets, quiet shops and traditional restaurants that provide some relief from the bustle outside. Try your luck at one of the hundreds of dining options in the area, especially those serving Dim Sum, as they can be some of the best in the city. Also make sure to stop in some of the small herbal shops for some unusual trinkets and art.
Haight-Ashbury is a district in San Francisco named after the intersections of Haight and Ashbury Streets, known to many as The Haight. It encompasses the area from Golden Gate Park and Oak Street to Baker Street and the Buena Vista Park. This district is famous for its role in the 1960s hippie movement, and remains a popular tourist attraction for its bohemian vibe. Many restored Victorian houses can still be found gracing the streets in the neighborhood.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a must-see for San Francisco visitors. This multi-million dollar development has an abundance of activities for the entire family. This marvelous building was designed by renowned architect Arthur Page Brown in Beaux Arts Style. Similar to that of the iconic Giralda Bell Tower in Seville, the clock tower of this building is a popular landmark and call be seen from afar. Take a tour of the historic Ferry Building, browse through antique shops, enjoy a view by the bay and a bowl of chowder at Ferry Plaza Seafood or buy organic produce at the Farmer's Market. Enjoy the sights and sounds of what makes the Ferry Building one of the Bay's most popular destinations for entertainment, food, and fun.
Don't leave San Francisco without a stroll through this legendary square nearby Fisherman's Wharf, which is named after San Francisco's original chocolate-maker. There is a bakery and several restaurants and, of course, there's the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop where you can savor the deliciousness of the old-fashioned Ghirardelli sundae or buy some sweet goodies to bring back. Take some time and visit the art galleries, gift and specialty stores, and shoe and clothing shops.
Wishbone sells great merchandise ranging from flashing disco bracelets and potato-powered toy guns to Paul Frank handbags and handmade baby hats. Its storeroom-sized floor is filled with modern pop culture goodies like Nick & Nora flannel pajamas, Lego gift sets, Cosmic Girls tees, Willy Wonka chocolate bars, sushi candles, Demeter colognes, Doggie Diner magnets, just to name a few. It is fun to shop here because there is so much to look at. You will find fabulous gifts and unique treats for yourself.
This Fisherman's Wharf store is dedicated to one of the city's most famous symbols- the cable car. You will find all kinds of souvenir gifts featuring this quaint form of transit, including models, mobiles, chimes, music boxes, Christmas ornaments, collectible thimbles, T-shirts, hats, aprons and oven mitts, ash trays, coffee mugs and shot glasses. You will not believe how many ways a cable car can be represented. So the Cable Car Store cannot be missed for all good reasons.