san fransisco stores + things to do?


As many of you know, I’ll be running the Nike Women’s Marathon in three weeks (October 18th) in the great city of San Fransisco. I’ve always wanted to visit California, especially San Fran. I decided the best way to make sure I see the city within the decade was to run there. So that’s what I’m doing.

I am also trying to make this trip as inexpensive as possible. Which means it might also double as a business trip (hello, tax deduction). I would like to spend Saturday afternoon walking to shops and talking to store owners. But right now, I don’t know any stores to visit. Do you have any boutique suggestions?

And on another note, do you have any suggestions on Napa Valley trips or hotels? We’d like to visit the wine country the day after the race. Again, on the cheap(-ish) if possible.


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  1. Laina

    Hey Jess! I can’t help you out much, but I do have two friends (my roommates from senior year – I think you have met them) living out there (specifically, in Oakland) that I could connect you with if you are interested. They may have some suggestions/know others that could help you. Let me know if you want their info 🙂

  2. Ajay

    Jess! San Fran is a great place, with a ton of things to do on the cheap, especially from a food perspective. If you’d like, I could put you in touch with a couple of my friends from Michigan that are out in the Bay Area.

    As for wine country — I swear by Sonoma. Napa has been commercialized a ton with the rise of wine drinking in the US. Many of the wine makers in Sonoma are still family owned and run.

    Shoot me an email if you’d like more information. I also have a decent foodie list as well that I can send your way.

  3. I love San Francisco. We only spent one day in Sonoma when I was there but eat at Meritage. It’s excellent and there are excellent shops in Napa right on the town square area. As for San Francisco hit the North Beach area, which is the Italian neighborhood and full of cute stores. If you can find a copy online of the Domino shopping guide for San Francisco it is excellent. Have fun.

  4. I don’t have any Napa Valley suggestions, but the hubby and I just got back from San Fran. We stayed in an inexpensive place called The Cow Hollow Motor Inn (on the suggestion of a friend). The place was safe, clean, and very basic. Parking was free. It was in a great food/shopping district (Marina District)…and quite close to Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, the Golden Gate Bridge and Chinatown. There were defiantly boutiques/shops abundant.

  5. Diane

    I lived in San Fran quite a number of years ago. I worked right off Union Square at Macys as a visual merchandiser. There was a great fabric store on Geary Street. It may not be there any more but it was like a wonderland for creative types. I think it was called Britex.

    The year I lived there the cable cars were being overhauled, so I never got to ride on one. It is so hilly there I think it would feel like a roller coaster. Enjoy your trip and best of luck on the race.

  6. Diane

    Did you check out They have a whole listing of SF Boutiques and shops.

  7. Amanda

    Not cheap, but Carnerros Inn in Napa looks to be amazing. It’s where I will stay when I actually get out there. They came into our office and did a presentation and we’ve all been drooling since then. Frank Family Vineyards are also a favorite of my boyfriend’s family. I don’t know much about them except that they like them. Have a blast!

  8. Julie

    San Francisco is one of my favorite cities! For breakfast, try Roxanne’s on Powell St. – it’s been a long standing favorite of ours. As for the wine country, we love Calistoga better than Napa. Try the Cottage Grove Inn in Calistoga – very cozy!

  9. Jess

    @ Laina: Thanks for the connection! I will let you know if I need more stores to look into. 🙂

    @ Ajay: Thanks for the recommendation about Sonoma, I will tell my running partner about it and see what he thinks. And if we need any other recommendations, I will let you know.

    @ Jessica: Thanks for those suggestions, they are all great. And I never thought about using the Lucky directory, that’s golden.

    @ S.E: Sounds like you got a great deal, we will have to check out that area when we are there!

    @ Diane: Britex sounds awesome! I will look into as well. Thanks!

    @ Thanks for those recommendations, we will call and find out what their deals are :).

    @ Julie: Nice, we will look into them!

  10. Jen

    My husband and I stayed in San Fran for a week in Feb- we stayed at the Chancellor hotel, which is on Union square- I think it’s actually in your posted photo of the marathon. It’s an older, Victorian re-do,small room but super comfy bed (only reason I needed a hotel, haha) and at about $100 a night it was a good steal. There are name brand stores of every description all around Union square and within a 10 minute walk. I never made it to the haight and shopping there. All the touristy stuff- the Buena Vista, going on the golden gate bridge, seeing the sea lions at pier 39- can’t recommend it highly enough, haha. The Stinking Rose all-garlic restaurant if you’re into garlic. Oh, and get the yellow muni pass for transit and cable car rides- touristy as hell, but the cheapest way to do it.

  11. Megan

    I’d just like to second a previous poster who recommended Sonoma over Napa. My husband and I just returned from our honeymoon there, and we fell head over heels in love with Sonoma, while Napa left us quite cold. I recommend stopping in the Sonoma Wine Shop on the main square in Sonoma to talk to some laid back guys who really know a lot about wine. If you want to take in a winery, we loved the wines at Imagery.

  12. sfordinarygirl

    I third the Sonoma idea especially Cline Cellars. I’ve never been but a friend brought me a wine from Cline with its chocolate, raspberry and velvet undertones and it wasn’t overly sweet.

    Hayes Valley and the Mission are good neighborhoods to browse shops for your jewelery. Can’t name specific shops but I’ve perused the area enough and they are very supportive to independent designers and artists.

    Check out the Ferry Building marketplace near the clock tower and embarcadero. They’ve got a wonderful farmers market on saturday with lots of great local olive oil, fruits, vegetables and just about anything. for pizza to compare with chicago try little star on divisadero.

    also check out coit tower for the views, take a bike ride around the city if you’re not overly tired and just walk. you’ll see a lot on foot. there are quite a few independent artists near the ferry building that operate their own stand. it might be worth talking to them for ideas and places.

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