The best rooftop bars in San Francisco
Summer's coming and the Golden City is heating up, which makes our list of the best rooftop bars in San Francisco more important than ever. We recently expanded our list to include some of our favorite Oakland spots, Oeste and Mad Oak so the next time temps hit three digits, head to one of these rooftop spots for a refreshing cocktail and an awe-inspiring vista. Of all the places where you can kick back with a drink in San Francisco (cocktail bars, breweries, speakeasies, wine bars), those with the best views always come out on top. RECOMMENDED: Complete guide to the best bars in San Francisco
The best San Francisco beaches
When you’re surrounded by the hustle and bustle of downtown, it’s easy to forget that San Francisco is a beachside city, but if you head west or north, then you'll soon start to see golden expanses of sand kissed by lapping blue waves. While it’s true you’re more likely to see folks bundled up in blankets and hoodies than board shorts and bikinis, don’t take the best San Francisco beaches for granted. It’s not about languid sunbathing here—instead, you’ll find public fire pits, rad surf shops, breathtaking San Francisco views, sandy dog paradises and some of the city’s best hikes. From the Pacific to the Bay, there’s a sandy stretch for every beach-going style. RECOMMENDED: The best day trips from San Francisco
Coolest Airbnb San Francisco homes you can rent
So you've booked that ticket to San Francisco, lined up all the best restaurants to dine at, and have plans to visit every museum in town. All you need is the perfect place to stay. You could reserve a room at one of San Francisco's best hotels, but for something a little homier, consider staying at one of these amazing Airbnb San Francisco homes. From a garden oasis to a geodesic dome to a luxurious artist's retreat, these Airbnb options are the perfect way to experience SF in style. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here.
The best coffee in San Francisco for real coffee buffs
Coffee in San Francisco has long played an important in the city. The first cup of restaurant coffee in the West was actually served here, in 1846, and mega brands including Hills Brothers and Folgers got their start in San Francisco as well. Of course, the legacy wasn’t all big business here—in the 1950s, the Italian espresso houses of North Beach were popular meeting spots for the famous beat poets, too. Today, “third wave” coffee roasters are everywhere and great coffee isn’t hard to find in San Francisco. Looking for a jolt of caffeine before tackling the best things to do in San Francisco? We know some places downtown. Need somewhere to hunker down with a laptop? We've got you covered. No matter where you are in SF, here's where to find the best coffee in San Francisco. RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in San Francisco
The 15 best things to do in Chinatown, San Francisco
One of the oldest and most established Chinatowns in the United States, Chinatown San Francisco boasts some of the city's best dim sum restaurants, galleries, tea shops and karaoke bars. From the Dragon Gate to China Live, Chinatown is a bustling neighborhood with shops, boba spots and restaurants galore. Not to mention, it's also one of the most walkable neighborhoods in a city filled with hills. Starting in late 2019, the neighborhood will also be graced with the Central Subway line, a brand new Muni route that will run from the Caltrain station in SoMa to Chinatown’s 4th and King streets. It’s worth spending an afternoon wandering through Chinatown, San Francisco's colorful alleyways, treasure-packed shops, and vibrant markets. How do I get to Chinatown, SF? Take the MUNI bus 3, 8, 30, or 45. What are the most popular attractions in Chinatown, SF? San Francisco’s Chinatown contains the largest Chinese population outside of Asia. As a result, the culture is robust, from arts organizations like the Chinese Cultural Center to the annual Chinese New Year festival every February. China Live, a two-story marketplace, retail space, food demonstration hall, and high-end bar and restaurant, is a must-see, as are the neighborhood’s quirkier, divier watering holes, like Buddha Lounge and Li Po Cocktail Lounge. Grant Avenue, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, is dotted with shops, bakeries, and grocers. Time Out tip The tiny, 450-square-foot Et. Al Gallery (620 Kearny St) resides
The best art galleries in San Francisco
San Francisco is known for having plenty of world-class art museums, from SFMOMA to the de Young, where visitors can take in masterpieces covering all manner of disciplines, styles, and centuries. But the city is also bustling with smaller art galleries you can take in paintings and other works of art. A decade ago, Bay Area art buyers would flock to Union Square, where exclusive galleries mingled with high-end boutiques. Not anymore. As gallerists have fled rising rents downtown, the resulting dispersal sparked an art resurgence in the Dogpatch, Potrero Flats, SoMA, and beyond. From international standbys to intriguing up-and-comers, classical painters to cutting-edge video artists, the best art galleries in San Francisco run the gamut. If you're looking to check out a more boutique art gallery experience and support a local business, here's where to start. RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in San Francisco
The 14 most romantic restaurants in San Francisco
When it comes to defining a romantic restaurant in San Francisco, there's a wide spectrum. For new couples on first or second dates (or really anyone who hasn't had "the talk" yet), a cheap date idea featuring affordable grub and tea lights might be all that's necessary to get the heart racing. For others, white tablecloths and an affordable tasting menu might have you playing footsie all night before looking up the nearest luxury hotel. And then there are the classics like Foreign Cinema or Zuni Cafe, with its welcoming ambience and warm-rustic California menu, that will satisfy any date night craving. Whether the mood calls for a place that's classy and comfortable or a special-occasion splurge, we found a few romantic restaurants in San Francisco that cover every scenario—all you need is your appetite. RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in San Francisco
The best Japanese restaurants in San Francisco
The last time we checked, the Bay Area is a ten-hour flight from Japan—but you wouldn’t know it based on the volume of ice-packed chests arriving daily from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market. The fact is, the best Japanese restaurants in San Francisco are the real deal, and they work with some of the best flavors and ingredients around. In the last five years, dozens of master chefs, trained at acclaimed Japanese restaurants around the country, have opened fresh, new restaurants in the Bay Area, including a new wave of yakitori restaurants that specialize in grilling each piece of the chicken to perfection on a master grill. And of course, the best sushi and ramen in San Francisco are legion as they are legendary. Around here, Japanese restaurants run the gamut from tiny, dozen-seaters to expansive modern eateries. Whether your ideal meal is super-fresh, simply prepared nigiri or wildly inventive omakase, the best Japanese restaurants in San Francisco offer up plenty of variety for every taste—here’s where to find them all. RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in San Francisco
The best pho in San Francisco and Oakland
If you’re craving an intensely comforting dish — one that will make you feel all the feels — the best pho in San Francisco and Oakland will have you smiling from ear to ear. Pho, a Vietnamese soup dish made up of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat, is a year-round staple in the unpredictable (ok, mostly foggy) San Francisco climate. The beloved Vietnamese noodle soup offers up a wide range of northern- and southern-style interpretations in kitchens across the city. Some of the best pho shops in San Francisco have been around for decades and offer a homey atmosphere, while others bring modern vibes that are no less heartwarming. From recipes passed down through the generations to new spins on this delicious comfort food, no two bowls are alike. In other words, you’ll need to try them all, won’t you? Get started by checking out our list of the best pho in San Francisco and Oakland. RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in San Francisco
The best beer gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area
California is a craft beer paradise, and the best beer gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area are the ideal place to experience it. They include German biergartens, raucous patios, open-air breweries, and even beer-fueled parking lots (trust us). Some, like Almanac Brewery and Southern Pacific Brewery, serve their own brews on tap; others curate an assortment of bottles ranging in styles from the Bay Area to Belgium. And many also double as convivial restaurants with savory snacks so you can have a little bite with your brew. There’s nothing much better than hitting up a brewery outside on a perfect sunny day (if cocktails are more your style, SF has plenty of outdoor bars, too). And across the Bay, in the East Bay, you’ll find plenty more beer gardens (and often sunnier weather, too). Whatever your taste, swing by one of the best beer gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area and don’t forget to say cheers. RECOMMENDED: the best bars in San Francisco
The best sushi in San Francisco
Sushi in San Francisco is taken very seriously, with many of the city’s best sushi restaurants flying fish in daily from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Fish Market to create the freshest, most authentic dishes this side of the Pacific. With an impressive network of master sushi chefs trained at acclaimed Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area and beyond, these 13 are among the very best restaurants in the city. Whether you prefer simple nigiri in an intimate, minimalist space or wildly inventive omakase, our list has a sushi bar for every taste. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in San Francisco
Where to find the best Thai food in San Francisco
SF is a hotbed for Thai food, from buzzy Michelin-starred restaurants to food trucks and authentic, family-run mainstays. Whether it's a hole-in-the-wall or a high-end establishment you're looking for, these restaurants serve the best Thai food in San Francisco, where you can find favorites like pad see ew and khao soi as well as innovative fusion dishes packed with flavors from Southeast Asia. No matter what pocket of the city you're in, we've got a spot for you. The Tenderloin is the best neighborhood to find family-run joints, from the original Lers Ros (a local Thai legend) to Thai Idea and House of Thai. For more modernized takes on traditional fare, head to one of the many new and trendy restaurants in the Mission, where spots like Farmhouse Kitchen and Hawker Fare are whipping up contemporary spins on classic dishes in party-like settings. And then there's Kin Khao, a Michelin-starred masterpiece that will take your tastebuds on a journey you won't soon forget. Whatever your style, the best Thai food in San Francisco ventures far beyond pad thai and green curry, and these are the restauarants to try right now. RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in San Francisco
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The ambiance is colorful and informal at this Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, from the decor to the bold curries. Kin Khao—which translates to “eat rice”—is the passion project of chef Pim Techamuanvivit, who was born and raised in Bangkok. (Her stated mission: “To liberate her beloved Thai cuisine from the tyranny of peanut sauce.”) All Techamuanvivit’s produce, mushrooms, meat, and seafood is sourced from local Northern California purveyors, from Half Moon Bay to Napa. The menu is separated into bites, meats, seafood, greens, and curries. The dishes are shareable and generously spiced, from the “Pretty Hot Wings” glazed with fish sauce, garlic marinade, tamarind, and Sriracha to the dry-fried Duroc pork ribs in a turmeric curry paste. Don’t miss Kin Khao’s modern spin on curries, like the rabbit green curry or the mackerel gaeng som sour curry.
Walt Disney Family Museum
This Presidio museum is devoted to the life and work of Walt Disney, the man behind the iconic mouse. Opened in 2009, it was founded by the Walt Disney Family Foundation and overseen by Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney Miller. The space is split between historic photographs and media from Disney’s life (spread across 10 permanent galleries) and rotating exhibits highlighting the significant animators and stylists behind the company’s beloved movies. That includes original artwork and concept art from all of Disney Studios’ animated features, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to present. Throughout, interactive galleries contain multimedia video, listening stations, early renderings, and a 12-foot diameter model of Disneyland.
This eye-popping art and science museum mesmerizes kids and adults alike. Reopened after massive renovations at Pier 15 in 2013, the museum touts over 500 exhibits, including hands-on activities, science experiments, and interactive galleries incorporating sight, touch, memory, and perception. The clever, mind-bending exhibits blend light, tricks of physics, and sound. Whether you’re ogling rare plants or awe-inspiring art (a sculpture made from 100,000 toothpicks?!), it’s easy to spend a full day here.
Asian Art Museum
The Asian Art Museum contains one of the most extensive collections of Asian art in the world, with more than 18,000 works in its permanent collection. Though the museum originally shared a space with the de Young, it quickly outgrew its cramped digs. In 2003, after extensive renovations by architect Gae Aulenti, the museum took over the former San Francisco city library building in Civic Center; you can still read the quotes about books and literature etched into marble walls on the second floor. The building is split into galleries devoted to South Asia, the Persian world, West Asia, the Himalayas and Tibetan Buddhist world, Korea, Japan, and China. In particular, the Chinese collection, considered to be the best outside of China itself, is a point of pride. That section reveals jade carvings, Buddhist sculptures, decorative ceramics, ritual bronzes, and more. The museum is slated to expand further still in late 2019 with the addition of a new pavilion on the first floor.
Cartoon Art Museum
Originally founded in 1984, this petite but well-appointed museum displays a slew of comic art, including comic strips, comic books, anime, political cartoons, graphic novels, zines, and underground comix. The museum relocated to this waterfront location in fall 2017, which affords nearly 8,000 square feet of exhibition space, as well a screening area, a library, and a collections facility. Visitors can browse everything from early Disney and Warner Bros. stills to obscure graphic art from around the world. The museum houses nearly 7,000 works in its permanent collection, including the work of illustrators like Roz Chast, Robert Crumb, Wally Wood, Edward Gorey, and Chuck Jones. Tables stationed around the space are stocked with drawing utensils for adults and kids to create their own comic art.
Contemporary Jewish Museum
Located across from Yerba Buena Park, the Jewish Museum fills the former space of the landmark PG&E Power Substation, originally built in 1881. Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, the retrofitted building is an architectural marvel, swathed in more than 3,000 color-changing blue steel panels and shaped to reflect the Hebrew letters chet and yud, which together spell the Hebrew word for life. On the second floor, the 2,200-square-foot Yud Gallery soars to 65 feet high and is dotted with 36 diamond-shaped windows; that inspiring space is devoted to audio installations, performances, and special events. The three-story, 63,000-square-foot museum showcases a vibrant range of group shows and rotating exhibitions, including the works of Israeli musician and composer Kutiman, famous illustrator and New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, legendary director Stanley Kubrick, and contemporary artist Cary Leibowitz. Plan your visit on the first Tuesday of the month, when admission is free.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
The modern art museum’s new building, which opened in 2016, merges seamlessly with its original structure, completed in 1995. Global architecture firm Snohetta designed the ambitious addition, making it one of the largest modern art museums in the country. The distinctive, textural facade was inspired by San Francisco’s fog and rippling bay. Inside, you’ll find 33,000 works of art, including painting, photography, architecture and design, and media arts. The light-flooded space features six sculpture-decked terraces, as well as the largest living wall in the country. (It’s bursting with more than 19,000 plants, including nearly two dozen species native to California.) Even if you don’t shell out for a ticket—which, trust us, you should—there are still over 45,000 square feet of free public art spaces to explore for free. Even the vibrant, monochromatic restrooms are endorphin-spiking feats of design.
Local legend Edward Galland Zelinsky founded this museum as a showcase for his unparalleled collection of antique oddities, namely coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines. It’s a must-see for vintage lovers and history buffs. The assortment spans more than 300 items, including coin-operated pianos, antique slot machines, hand-cranked music boxes, salvaged bits of local history, a steam-powered motorcycle, and various vintage arcade games. The arcades are all in working condition and can be played—most cost $.25 or $.50 apiece.
California Academy of Sciences
Cal Academy is an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and natural history museum wrapped into one. Though it’s considered California’s oldest museum—originally established in 1853—it has morphed over time to remain a vital, vibrant space. In all, the 400,000-square-foot building contains over 26 million specimens. The Kimball Natural History Museum is perhaps best known for the Africa Hall, where taxidermied animals are displayed behind glass, while the Project Lab showcases real scientists doing research in public view. The Morrison Planetarium features the world’s largest completely digital planetarium dome, measuring 90 feet in diameter. You can meander among the butterflies, marine life, and birds of the rainforest within a humid, 90-foot glass dome. And the impressive Steinhart Aquarium includes exhibits of coral reef, tidepool, and swamp habitats, as well as a colony of African penguins. The museum also has one of the most striking rooftops in the city, covered in seven rolling hills and home to an estimated 1.7 million plants.
de Young Museum
Located in the middle of Golden Gate Park, this 125-year-old museum specializes in art from America, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. In recent years, it’s become particularly known for its sprawling costume exhibits, from contemporary Muslim fashion to the contemporary designer Oscar de la Renta. The permanent collection spans the gamut from gowns, paintings, and textiles to ancient artifacts. In addition, you’ll find an impressive collection of 19th-century American and European photography with a focus on historical California photographs. The museum deftly mixes historic gems with modern technology, as evidenced by the new “de Youngsters Studio,” a multimedia space for kids to interact with art through cameras, AR, and digital works. Don’t miss the Hamon observation tower on the 9th floor: the stunning, glass-encased space overlooks all of Golden Gate Park, downtown San Francisco, the Bay, and the Marin headlands.
California Palace of the Legion of Honor
This grand Beaux-Arts building is a feat of architecture in itself, clad in white limestone, marble, and gleaming chevron wood. Devoted to ancient and European art, the museum contains more than 800 European paintings in its permanent collection—of which around 250 are on view—including works by masters like Claude Monet and Fra Angelico. The emphasis on sculpture is evident from the moment you arrive—you’ll encounter Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker in the outer courtyard. The permanent collection spans from medieval times to the early 20th century, showcasing decorative arts, paintings, sculpture, and ancient artifacts. Ancient art from Egypt, Greece, and Rome fills the Hall of Antiquities (don’t miss the mummy room). The Legion is also home to the Skinner Organ, a beautiful mahogany, ivory, and ebony instrument built by the Ernest M. Skinner Organ Company in 1924; check deyoung.famsf.org for a schedule of free concerts.
The vibe at Udupi is cheerful and low-key, and colorful string lights and a smattering of Indian instruments deck the walls. The South Indian cuisine here is strictly vegetarian and the dosas are as big as they come, made with rice flour, stuffed with fillings and served alongside sambar and coconut, tomato and ginger chutneys. The uttapam, a thicker lentil and rice pancake topped with vegetables and chutney, is equally satisfying. First-timers can opt for the South Indian thali, a sampler platter that includes rice, various curries, soup and dessert.