Top 10 Things to Do around Union Square in San Francisco
Union Square is a great place to spend a day in. You can get lost in its many boutiques and galleries, or just enjoy a nice glass of wine in the park and people watch. Here’s a top 10 list of things I recommend you do in Union Square.
It’s appropriate, I think, that the number one thing to do in Union Square is to relax on the steps of the square with an espresso or a glass of white wine bought from Cafe Rulli. Depending on what day you go, you may see the Pakistan Heritage Festival or experience the Chinese New Year Festival. When a conference is in town, the square becomes a hotbed of activity with stalls selling tech ware, or you can sign-up for a Niketown Marathon. If nothing else, you can listen to some bagpipes by one of the many street performers that visit the square.
Westfield Shopping Center
The Westfield Shopping Center is a bit further down Powell street from Union Square, but it is worth checking out. It’s one of San Francisco’s only malls and there is a movie theater at the top that caters more towards couples without children. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, head down to the food court where there is every kind of food you can want: salad, soup, roast beef sandwiches, Japanese, Mexican, and even a vegan-only restaurant. Head to the top level to see the breath-taking dome and eat at the La Boulange cafe.
American Conservatory Theatre– the American Conservatory Theatre is the Bay Area’s largest regional theater company and there is always a play going on that features Bay Area actors. You can buy tickets to see a show at the TIX Booth in Union Square.
The Art Gallery of Dr. Seuss
We all grew up reading the Dr. Seuss books but how much do you really know about him? This gallery located at Geary and Powell is home to several sculptures and illustrations not seen to the casual Dr. Seuss reader. Be careful though, you can miss the entrance!
This famous sushi house always has a line going out the door at lunchtime and there’s a reason: It’s one of the best sushi places in the city and it’s well worth the wait. I recommend the Spicy Tuna and Hamachi Negi rolls, but spend time looking over their special sushi rolls.
Swig, a little further up Geary Street (Geary and Jones, three blocks away from Union Square proper) is a fun and fashionable wine bar that also turns into a karaoke bar when the sun goes down. If you want something with more of a kick, then dash across the street to Rye, Union Square’s #1 rye and whiskey bar.
This is a timed event, sadly. During the Winter holidays, half of Union Square becomes a large ice skating rink. Tie up your skates and hit the ice with a cup of hot chocolate underneath the huge Macy’s Christmas Tree. While you’re at it, and if you happen to be here during the winter, check out the adopted puppies and kittens in the Macy’s window.
Cafe Encore is more an institution in Union Square then a cafe at this point. In the busy hustle and bustle of Union Square it’s difficult to maintain a local-feeling coffee shop but somehow, Cafe Encore has maintained this atmosphere for the past ten years. It takes only three days for the workers to get to know your name and your usual coffee drink of choice. On a cold day, hop in for some coffee before doing some shopping or a nice salad for lunch.
Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks Fifth Avenue, anywhere in any city, should be a destination just for the window treatments. Whether you’re into fashion or not, anybody can appreciate the craft that goes into making a couture gown. The Saks Fifth Avenue of San Francisco is often home to Oscar de la Renta dressed, sure to take your breath away with their craft, artistry, and price tag.
The Cable Car
What journey to Union Square would be complete without a ride on the Cable Car? The Cable Car of San Francisco is world famous and is a relic from a forgotten age. It leaves from Powell and Market and goes all of the way to the Fisherman’s Wharf and it costs $6.00 to ride. You can hitch a ride whenever it stops at every other block, but I recommend catching it at Post & Powell (so you avoid the line!)