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Often known as the "first neighborhood" of San Francisco, the Mission District is one of the favorite places of the people of the city. The district has its own share of fun places, restaurants, theaters and bookstores and is a hugely popular destination for avid foodies. Spend a day at Dolores Park or admire the colorful murals on the buildings throughout the district.
Hayes Valley is San Francisco's scene for small, trendy boutiques, cafes with endless outdoor seating and green parks. A product of the 1989 earthquake when the destruction required a portion of the freeway be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere, the Hayes Valley has blossomed with the construction of a beautiful park where the freeway once was. There are shops and restaurants selling everything from furniture to messenger bags. Try Absinthe for a bite to eat or a cocktail. This is truly an easy place to get lost on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
The popular Fillmore Street is lined with great boutiques and delightful restaurants. Named after US President Millard Fillmore, this street was a normal neighborhood in San Francisco until after the 1906 earthquake and fire. The city-wide devastation caused a lot of neighborhoods to change and soon this area became packed. During the 1940s the street was known for its jazz and live performance venues, including the legendary Fillmore. Even in the past Fillmore Street was mostly a commercial area, and that remains true to this day since it has so much great shopping. Stop by this interesting street to check out the shops, the food, the entertainment, and the history.
This San Francisco landmark features some of Fisherman's Wharf's best shopping and attractions. Ride the carousel, people-watch, or take in the view of the bay. There are more than 25 one-of-a-kind gift stores that carry automobile, Hollywood, and rock 'n' roll memorabilia, as well as flags of the world, Russian dolls, collectible knives, hammocks, kites, and more. But that's not all. You will find over 30 more stores, including the famous Na Hoku to shop for clothing, jewelry and toys. It is a great place to pick up high-end San Francisco souvenirs. When you're done shopping and eating to your heart's content, visit the famous resident sea lions for a prime photo op session. Pier 39 is a magnet for locals and tourists for many reasons, including their nearly year-round calendar of special attractions for the whole family like the Tulipmania tulip festival held in late February on both levels of Pier 39 or the Holiday Tree Lighting in November.
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, Union Square has been the centerpiece of the city's shopping district. With big names like Burberry, Emporio Armani, Macy's and Kate Spade lining the streets, this is the place to go for retail therapy. If you need to fuel up after a long day of shopping, Union Square has a variety of dining options, from the ultra-posh to the quick stops. At the heart of the square, a large open-air plaza is bustling year round with art sales, musical performances and holiday decorations. In the center of it all stands a huge stone monument, which was built in 1903 and crowned with a bronze statue of Victory.
Once a home for small businesses and working-class residents during the early 20th Century, Noe Valley has since transformed into a pricey hideaway. After the 1906 earthquake much of the neighborhood was rebuilt with classic Victorian style houses lining along most streets. Come admire the architecture, try out some fresh baked cakes at the Noe Valley Bakery or spend a romantic weekend at the Noe's Nest Bed and Breakfast.
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.
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.
The history of North Beach, a San Francisco neighborhood nestled between Telegraph and Russian Hill, is as rich and storied as they come. The area's vibrant past encompasses the formation of San Francisco's Little Italy, the Barbary Coast and the Beatnik traditions that have become so synonymous with this small section of city. The Italian influence is still ever-present today with some of the best Italian restaurants and cafes lining the streets of Columbus Avenue. Caffe Trieste is a must-see for espresso lovers and movie buffs (Francis Ford Coppola wrote parts of The Godfather sitting in this cafe). The infamous Beatnik generation called Grant Street their home in the 1960s and City Lights Bookstore and Cafe Vesuvio are the historic hangouts still popular today among the literary and liberal crowds. North Beach is also home to Lombard street, affectionately named the worlds "crookedest street" and one of the biggest tourist destinations in San Francisco. If you have enough energy to climb Coit Tower, you will find some of the best views offered in the city and may even catch a glimpse at the celebrated wild parrots that flock here.