The Idealist

Idealist City Guide: SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco, perhaps the most prominent community in Northern California, is home to over 864,000 people in the city itself and over 4m in the larger metro area. This city is known as a financial centre and commercial Mecca, but it also has a strong, unique culture.

Known for the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable car system, and Fisherman’s Wharf, there is a great deal of history and style present in everything from the architecture to the hotels.

Style Shopping

Shopping for interiors and accessories in such a famed city is easy to do. Eclectic and inspirational shops (including all of the big name US trendy boutiques) exist throughout the metro area, but today we’re focusing on things a little more distinctive.

Zinc Details

The mix of art and contemporary furniture at Zinc Details is perhaps ideal. Located at 1633 Fillmore Street it is filled with stunning colour and vibrant details.

March

For kitchens and accessories turn to March located at 3077 Sacramento Street. Fear not if you are visiting from the UK. Their tableware and other accessories are very beautiful and eminently portable.

Big Daddy’s Antiques

Big Daddy’s Antiques is not the boring antique shops of old, but a trendy location where you’ll find dozens of one-of-a-kind items to fall in love with. It’s located at 1550 17th Street. They also have locations in LA and Seattle.

Almond & Co

Almond & Co is perhaps the best shop to find high-end accessories and furnishings with a midcentury vibe to them. It’s located at 111 Rhode Island Street. You’ll find pieces by luminaries such as Jeremy Maxwell as well as Valentine Loellmann here to choose from. Items include everything from stunning lighting pieces to tables and storage options.

Coup D’Etat

The inventory of high-end home furnishings and art at Coup D’Etat is some of the very best when it comes to eclectic and vintage vibe. This location at 111 Rhode Island St. #1, offers stylish, but comfortable items. Think the most comfortable Buffa Chair or a Christopher Kreiling meteorite table, and everything in between. Stylish, but fun, it’s subdued tones help set the design trend throughout this design shop.

Aldea Home and Baby

To the Mission District next to tour each of the unique room displays at Aldea Home and Baby as your next step on an interior design tour of San Francisco. This shop, located at 890 Valencia Street, features individually divided spaces that offer a number of styles and curated collections for each room of the home. That includes outdoor and nursery pieces. Quite the charmer, it’s easy to get inspiration at this one-of-a-kind shop in the heart of the city.

View across the Bay

Staying Over

As a hip city with a modern lifestyle, San Francisco is home to numerous boutique and high-end hotels. Today, some of the most trendy are those that are ultra modern and nestled into historic areas of the city. For example, Hotel Drisco is a charming, elegant hotel located in a residential neighbourhood that’s surrounded by historical buildings. Located at 2901 Pacific Avenue, this building is a true treasure to enjoy. It’s filled with a more sophisticated design with contemporary furnishings throughout. The Triton Hotel is a bit different. Newer, this hotel still has a lot of charm in its building design including the fact that it is an eco-friendly hotel. It sits right in the Gallery District, giving hotel guests the ability to enjoy the surroundings without a short walk. Its design, focuses on the spunky and spirited arts. You’ll find it, along with its multiple pieces of art, at 342 grant Avenue. For true glamour, visit Hotel Zelos. It’s located at 12 Fourth Street in the heart of the Union Square area. This is a true artistic treat with its style and well-appointed rooms. It sits in the SOMA District and has a number of stunning architectural elements. It was designed by Charles Whittlesey and is a true representation of this city.

Galleries and Museums

For a special tour of local arts and architecture, visit the Fine Arts of San Francisco at 50 Hagiwara tea Garden Drive. Find the Art on Demand shop located within it to take home a few pieces from de Young, Legions of Honor, and other collections and exhibits here. For an Asian theme, visit the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco at 900 Market Street. The art here is both traditional and more modern, all with an Asian influence. The gallery also features a unique Asian store with items such as wood-block prints, textiles of all types, basketry, and sculpture. A final stop on the tour of the museums and galleries here is the Museum of Craft and Design located at 2569 Third Street. Exhibits here include items from contemporary and modern craft and design. Think soul-searching types of art and pieces. There’s a shop here, too, with authentic pieces of art and sculptures you can purchase.

Food

San Francisco is a food town, with numerous options available for any type of global cuisine desired. Neighbourhood restaurants and diners are best for sampling true, authentic San Francisco cuisine. For example, end the day at Outerlands, known for its sunset dining. The food is incredible, and the vibe is very much beach-friendly. It’s located at 4001 Judah Street at 45th Avenue. For refined cuisine, check out Spruce. You’ll enjoy the fine-china, white tablecloth restaurant for its fantastic wine list (there’s also a bar area where you can see enjoy foie gras.) Located at 3640 Sacramento Street, this is a beautiful location to visit for a fine meal.

Must-See Things in Town

When it comes to finding the perfect way to experience San Francisco, visit the landmarks. From any waterfront area, check out the Golden Gate Bridge. Take a boat ride to Alcatraz Island. Enjoy the food and the eclectic shops at Fisherman’s Wharf. While you are there, stroll through Chinatown and historic Union Square (right in Downtown San Francisco.) You’ll also want to spend some time at Pier 39 for its food, vendors, and fun activities.

How to Visit from London

It’s pretty easy to travel to San Francisco from London, with Gatwick and Heathrow offering direct and connecting services to San Francisco International and flights taking from 11 hours direct. Many have layovers in various American cities as well as stops in Canada. Flights cost anything from £480 in Economy up to more than £1000, with multiple lower-costing options available for multiple stop flights.

  • Joan is an interior design project planner and freelance writer from Boston Massachusetts who lives with her husband and two bulldog terriers outside Wellfleet on Cape Cod.

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