This independent North Beach icon, founded by Beat writer-mentor Lawrence Ferlinghetti, goes beyond your average bookstore by shelving beat literature, anthologies, and fiction from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and much more. Experience San Francisco through the words written by some of the area's most famous, and sometimes hard-to-find, writers. The store has its own publishing house, City Lights, which has enriched the San Francisco community since 1953 by promoting emerging writers with an edge.
No music lover's trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to this warehouse-sized music store. The Upper Haight store bustles with hundreds of shoppers flipping through vast selections of CDs, records, tapes, videos and posters. The deals on used and yellow tag (cosmetically damaged, functionally guaranteed) items are the best in the city, as is the selection of obscure and independent-label titles.
A grand expansion at one of North America's largest shopping centers brings it more levels of premium designer boutiques, chain retailers and two major department stores: Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's. The center offers a vast area of upscale dining, entertainment and office space. Its breathtaking architecture dates back to 1896 and with modern additions there is no shortage of natural sunlight to guide you on your way. Let the circular brass escalators wind and unwind you past more than 150 shops and stores. The center is equipped with an information desk and ATMs.
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. Some practical services are available, including a dressmaker and tailor, film developing, an ATM and a Federal Express drop-off box.
Located in a vintage Beaux Arts building dating from just after the 1906 earthquake and fire, Neiman Marcus is one of the city's most upscale department stores. You'll find all the big names in fashion: Chanel, Jil Sander, Calvin Klein, Salvatore Ferragano, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Giorgio Armani, TSE, Fendi, Gucci, Versace, Christian Dior, Donna Karen, and Yves Saint Laurent. It also features two eating establishments: The Rotunda and the Fresh Market Café.
Located across from Union Square with its own fabulous view, this legendary store features some of the finest jewelry in the world. Here you will find two floors of breathtaking crystal, flatware, china, silver, and fine diamond, gold, platinum, and gemstone jewelry. Shop for engagement rings, anniversary presents or something special for a newborn baby. You will see why it is that anything you give wrapped in a robin's egg blue Tiffany's box is sure to be considered an heirloom that will be treasured for generations.
Gaslight & Shadows is a different sort of antique shop that sells small collectibles in the city's Richmond District. This quaint shop specializes in Limoges porcelain boxes, of which it carries an extensive collection in both traditional and novelty styles. It may have the largest volume of the dainty boxes on hand in the world. It also carries vintage and antique watches, fine and costume jewelry, games and pop culture memorabilia. There is so much to look at, do not forget to check out its collections of pottery, silver, lamps, clocks and art. You really never know what you might find.
The brainchild of Andrew and Jennifer Hall, The Beer Hall is a beer lover's haven. From the customized beer bottle capped back wall, a sleek bar with countless beer behind it, and beer racks, it would be tough not to like this tiny yet inviting beer shrine. With more than 242 beers, you will surely find a favorite. Specializing in handcrafted beer, there is a small but fine selection of wine as well. Enjoy the drinks in the tasting room or pick some up for your beer party at home. Don't miss this place if beer is on your mind and in your heart.
With a number of accolades under its belt, Ernest Alexander makes its way to Hayes Valley. The store features a varied collection of menswear, neckties and accessories, travel bags and leather goods. The designer, Ernest Alexander Sabine, attributes his idea for the brand to his Latvian seamstress grandmother, from whom he was first inspired to design bags.
Garrett Leight California Optical is the place to head to, in order to add style to your look. The store offers a range of trendy eye-wear that is suitable for all occasions. The designs are modern and elegant and flatter your face. Apart from sunglasses and optical glasses, the store also provides custom-made frames for your needs.
The Scandinavians have always been known for their clean cut and functional designs. The owner of this store, Kristina Runske is no exception, being a Swede herself. She has designed this furniture store using white (no surprise!) and remnants of what seem to be her childhood baby cloths and toys! Minimal, (formerly known as Scandinavian Details) stocks handmade crystal by Orrefors and household accessories by Offect. There are reproductions of Asplund, David Design and Arne Jacobsen as well.
Whether you are a comic book collector, or a casual comic book reader, you will find a visit to Isotope worth your while. Anyone living in Hayes Valley who likes comics and graphic fiction, knows this place, and that is not just for its impressive collection of books, though it is very commendable. This lounge-cum-comic-book-store brings the best of both together to create a unique gallery-cum-reading-room kind of place, where customers can lounge around on the leather sofas while reading a book or two, or attend a live event featuring known names in the comic books business. What's more, you can tag along your furry four-legged friend to partake in this experience, since Isotope welcomes dogs.