There’s still so much to see. To cover as much ground as possible, we’ll have you hop around a bit today, starting with a beautiful morning nosh at downtown’s waterfront stretch, the Embarcadero. From there, you’ll take in a little culture in SoMa, before bee-lining to the Mission to browse the district’s famous murals, shop vibrant Valencia Street, and get in line for some killer ice cream. Don’t forget to wear walking shoes—you’ll be on your feet a lot today!
Start: At the foot of Market Street at the Embarcadero.
1. The Ferry Building Marketplace
As much a locals’ destination as an attraction, this long, high-ceilinged renovated historic building is home to so many outstanding restaurants and gourmet food shops (as well as a twice-weekly super-robust farmers’ market), it may be hard to choose where to eat. Grab a Blue Bottle Coffee and browse the shops, then have breakfast at Boulette’s Larder (closed Mondays).
From the south end of the Ferry Building, cross the Embarcadero and walk 1 block inland on Don Chee Way to Steuart Street. If you have time, stop in the San Francisco Railway Museum at 77 Steuart St. (closed Mon). Catch the nostalgic F line streetcar on the northwestern side of Don Chee Way. Take the F four stops to 3rd and Kearny streets. Walk south on 3rd street for 4 short blocks and you’ve arrived at:
2. Museum of Modern Art
After its recent expansion, San Francisco’s modern art museum (151 Third St. btw. Mission and Howard sts.; sfmoma.org; [tel] 415/357-4000), is better than ever. Plan to spend a couple of hours checking out its visiting exhibits and impressive permanent collection, as well as an unbelievably lush giant living wall and plenty of places to snack, if desired.
3. Sightglass Coffee
Inside the museum, Sightglass Coffee is a lovely spot to get a caffeine charge. Grab a little snack, if you must. But hold out for lunch. It’s your next stop.
From outside MoMa, cross 3rd Street and walk through:
4. Yerba Buena Gardens
At the heart of the Yerba Buena Cultural Center, this 5-acre patch of landscape makes a fine place to people-watch and soak up the city’s character. Wander through various gardens, and don’t miss the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial water sculpture. Then continue to the Metreon, the large building in front of you. Inside, on the first floor, you’ll find a food court with a variety of options for a quick bite. We recommend:
5. Super Duper
This local burger chain kicks up the comfort-food game with quality ingredients for their salads, burgers, and fries. Order what you want and eat it in the common food-court area. No need to linger over a long lunch (though you can, upstairs, at Samovar Tea Lounge, which has a wonderful, healthful selection plus great teas).
6. The Mission District
Plan your route or simply meander down Valencia Street between 18th Street and 24th Street to browse the dizzying array of places to stop, shop, or taste. It’s the city’s trendiest neighborhood, and a must-know, especially if you want to scout out which bars to hit later tonight. Hunger should hit again by dinnertime. And good thing, since you’re in the epicenter of hot dining spots. There truly are too many choices to list. But one of our favorites is:
7. Foreign Cinema
With incredible indoor-outdoor environs and an ultrafresh menu of expertly prepared California dishes, Foreign Cinema has it all. But if you’re in snack (or budget) mode, try a burrito from Taqueria Cancun —you really can’t come to San Francisco without trying one of our famous burritos.
After dinner, if you have stamina, hit the bars along Valencia and 18th streets—they’re always hopping.