10 Best Places to Shop in San Francisco

30 March 2017
Read Time: 5.4 mins

There’s some truth to Petula Clark’s famous tune, when she happily proclaims “everything’s waiting for you, downtown.” If it’s world class shopping you’re after, then San Francisco is the place for you, and downtown is one spot where the best of the best can be found. Head to Union Square for a taste of the upscale retail scene. Big names, and even bigger deals can be found in the suburbs too, at the outlet malls. Not to be missed, the farmer’s markets and local shops offer lots in the way of fresh foods and specialty goods. Get out, and shop till you drop in these bastions of bounty. 

Union Square 

If you’re looking for an upscale shopping experience, head to Union Square. Just two blocks north of Market Street, this historic plaza is lined with some of the city’s finest boutiques and luxury goods retailers. From Victoria’s Secret to Tiffany & Co, and fine department stores, Union Square has it all. 

Union Square is the heart of San Francisco, and the first place you should go to shop. (Image: Getty)

Fillmore Street 

Get out of the big shopping centres and head to Fillmore Street in the Pacific Heights neighbourhood of San Francisco. Here local shop owners, restauranteurs and café operators bring a wide array of unique products to the retail scene. This stylish, trendy area is full of young urban professionals and hipsters and the vibe is infectious. 

The Ferry Building Marketplace is your one stop shop for everything food. (Image: Getty)

Ferry Building Marketplace

For those with a refined palate, look no further than Ferry Building Marketplace. It’s a celebration of food at the Ferry Building. Whether it’s fresh farm produce, garden veggies, flowers or quality cheese and wine, foodies will find all their cooking accoutrements here. Fresh seafood and specialty items like locally made olive oils are a treat too. And when you’re ready to relax with a coffee or cuppa, you’ll find the finest flavours in the tea houses and coffee joints. 

Ghirardelli Square is famous for its chocolate, but also home to wine retailers, beer gardens and bakeries. (Image: Getty)

Ghirardelli Square 

Located just steps from Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square is loaded with specialty shops and food and wine venues. Famous for its Ghirardelli Chocolate, visitors will want to treat themselves to all their favourite chocolate delights, like a rich sundae. If you’re looking for another kind of refreshment, visit the wine retailers, beer garden or bakeries. 

Westfield San Francisco 

Blocks from Union Square, Downtown’s other favourite shopping destination is Westfield Mall. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it at Westfield. Youth brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and H&M are here, as are luxury brands like Coach, Boss, Tiffany and Michael Kors. And what would a Westfield be without top department store names like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s? Get your credit card ready because it’s a buying bonanza at Westfield! 

City Lights Booksellers is an independent retailer popular for its progressive causes, politics and world literature sections. (Image: Getty)

City Lights Booksellers 

One of America’s most relevant and significant book sellers, City Lights is a San Francisco institution. Specialising in books relating to progressive causes and politics and world literature, this independent retailer gained its progressive reputation when in the 1970s it became part of the counter-culture movement. 

This Ferry building market is the perfect place to pick up a snack while shopping at the Ferry Building stores. (Image: Getty)

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market 

Held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, between the hours of 10am and 2pm, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market sells the best in farm fresh produce. In addition to the fresh fruit, veggies, herbs, meats and flowers, visitors will also find an array of street foods, including tacos, sandwiches and wood fired pizzas. Located at the Ferry Building, the market is run by the non-profit Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. 

Fort Mason Center Farmers Market has almost 40 stalls specialising in organic, local produce. (Image: Getty)

Fort Mason Center Farmers Market

You can never have too much of a good thing. If you can’t make it to the Ferry Building, try the Farmer’s Market at Fort Mason, in the Marina District. With close to 40 stalls, the market specialises in organic goods and locally harvested foods. This festive marketplace is open for business every Sunday, between the hours of 9:30am and 1:30pm.

Napa Valley Winery Exchange sells some of California's best tipples. (Image: Getty)

Napa Valley Winery Exchange  

Napa Valley is one of the world’s top wine producing regions, with many award winning wines benefiting from the lovely Mediterranean style climate of northern California. One of the best wine retailers for California wines is Napa Valley Winery Exchange. Located at Union Square, the store is open every day except Sunday.


Just over the Golden Gate Bridge, the lovely little town of Sausalito is a favourite daytrip destination. Walk the Bridgeway Esplanade as you enjoy the panoramic views of Golden Gate Bay before stopping in the locally owned shops and boutiques. Sausalito is a favourite spot for lunch too and there are a number of quaint restaurants in which to enjoy a relaxed meal or a coffee and dessert. After an enjoyable afternoon spent in Sausalito, another fun activity is to take a ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf.  

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