10 things to do in Union Square:
When you’re staying in a city that is a destination for foodies across the globe, your last concern should be where to eat. Attached to your own hotel is Farallon: a classic seafood restaurant with a modern twist whose coastal cuisine does not disappoint. And, just next door is Morton’s Steakhouse and Scala’s Bistro. Scala’s offers a modern Italian and French fusion vibe, while Morton’s provides a traditional steakhouse dining experience.
If you have a more limited budget, there are plenty of local restaurants that serve delicious food at reasonable prices, with the option to even order to-go and enjoy in the luxury of your room. Besides, when you book a room with a view of Union Square, who needs fine dining? Get some Chinese take-out or a large pizza and take in the city’s night lights from the comfort of your own hotel room.
2. Ride the cable cars
Hop on a cable car at Powell Street, merely steps from our front doors, and navigate your way through the hills of SF. Savor the famous clam chowder and crab at the Fisherman’s Wharf or hop off at Chinatown and experience the history, culture, and incredible food of one of the oldest and largest Chinatowns in the U.S.
3. The View @ the Marriott on Market
Short trip? Don’t worry! See all of SF in seconds from The View Lounge atop the San Francisco Marriott Marquis between Market and Mission Street. Sit by the window of the 39th floor and overlook the panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline all whilst sipping a cocktail or enjoying a bite to eat. Order happy hour, dinner, or treat yourself to a snack after a day of shopping on Market, and soak in the beauty of the San Francisco Bay Area. Let’s just hope Karl the Fog doesn’t stand in your way!
From brand names to souvenir vendors, Union Square offers stores ranging from Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton to DIY tye dye and jewelry made from recycled coins. Scan the racks at the 8-floor Macy’s department store or simply window shop at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. If you’re an art-lover, the square often hosts art fairs, presenting hundreds of pieces by the city’s local artists. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, walk a few blocks down Powell and get lost in the Westfield mall on Market Street. Order a famous Ghiradelli hot fudge sundae (to go!) from the food court and wander the floors of Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Artizia, Adidas, Zara, and so many others.
5. SF Playhouse
Go Off-Broadway! Treat yourself to an evening of theatre only two flights of stairs up from the lobby at SF’s own San Francisco Playhouse. Producing five to six independent productions per year, this venue presents professional, top-notch theatrical performances with tickets starting at only $35. An intimate alternative to more traditional theatre venues, the SF Playhouse offers locals and tourists an opportunity to share in stories that “uplift our spirits, deepened self awareness and nurture a compassionate community.”
6. Live Music
Feeling groovy? Just blocks away from Union Square are historic musical venues like The Warfield, The Fillmore, and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The Warfield began as a vaudeville theater in 1922 and now hosts a variety of national music acts, and only a few blocks away on Geary is the historical indie concert venue The Fillmore. Neighboring Union Square, in Civic Center, the Bill Graham Civic Center has hosted a multitude of significant cultural events and now serves as an arena for famous bands and events like Comedy Central’s Colossal Clusterfest. So, put on your dancing shoes and jam out to bands and performers like MGMT, The Kooks, Gary Clark, Jr., Jack White, and the Arctic Monkeys.
Just steps from Union Square, located in SF’s SoMA district, is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. One of the largest museums in the nation, the SFMOMA’s current collection includes over 33,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts. Newly renovated, this expansive museum is a must-see for fans of modern and contemporary art.
If you’re interested in a less traditional museum experience, visit the pop-up Color Factory and SF’s Museum of Ice Cream. Fun for families or the perfect spot for your next Instagram photo, The Color Factory and The Museum of Ice Cream are interactive exhibitions that invite imagination and adventure through vibrant colors and tasty props. Tickets sell out fast so be sure to buy yours in advance!
Alternatively, while not in Union Square, you can take a taxi or rideshare to the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. The de Young is a fine arts museum that offers permanent collections encompassing American art while also hosting seasonal, more alternative exhibitions. Directly across the plaza from the de Young is the California Academy of Sciences, a research institute and natural history museum that hosts interactive and educational experiences in an effort to increase scientific and environmental literacy worldwide. Get a taste of past, present, and future while enjoying the beautiful landscape of the third most visited park in the United States.
8. Powell Bart station
Just off of Powell and Market is the Powell Bart station. An acronym for Bay Area Rapid Transit, the BART is a cheap alternative to taxis or rideshares that, within a half hour for under $10 per person, can take you from the San Francisco or Oakland airports to merely blocks from your hotel. Hop on Bart to navigate SF or even venture into the East Bay and explore Oakland or Berkeley. From Powell Bart station, you have easy access to SF’s Mission district, home of incredible Mexican food and the iconic Dolores Park. Or, take a shorter ride to the Embarcadero where you can visit the Ferry Building, bargain with vendors at The Ferry Building Farmers Market (open on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm AND Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm), and purchase one-of-a-kind jewelry and art pieces from local artists.
9. Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tours
Sit back, relax, and let the pro’s show you how it’s done. Buy a ticket for a day tour of the city on a double-decker bus, where you can hop on and hop off at designated stops of your choice. Hop on at Union Square and explore the city’s most iconic sights like Lombard Street, Haight Ashbury, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Painted Ladies, and the Fisherman’s Wharf. Get your fill of San Francisco with a one-day pass that includes over 20 stops at key landmarks and attractions, pre-recorded commentary, live guides, and free walking tours.
10. Treat Yourself!
Whether you’re on a “staycation,” here on business, or on a family vacation, we understand that sometimes you have to take some time for yourself to slip into a comfy robe and cuddle up with a good book or a loved one. While San Francisco has so much to offer, with select rooms that overlook Union Square, you can take in the sights of one of the city’s most iconic spots from the comfort of your hotel room. So book in advance and request a room with a view, because you deserve it!