4 Neighborhoods (and an Outlet) Perfect for Holiday Shopping in the Bay Area
The sophistication of contemporary San Francisco shines most brightly in the city’s food scene, but shopping is a close second. Whether you’re looking for a special gift or secretly splurging on yourself, the city is home to a number of shopper-friendly neighborhoods and commercial districts brimming with high-end boutiques, trend-conscious local shops, quirky vintage stores and everything in between.
Ringed by hotels and theaters, and with the Powell Street cable car running up its western flank, Union Square is as much a shopping Mecca as a public plaza. Prominent department stores such as Macy’s and Neiman Marcus command outsized attention, but other savvy high-profile stores such as Brooks Brothers and Samsonite have given the retail-rich neighborhood a fresh gloss. Premier luxury boutiques (Prada, Burberry and Dior) and shopping experiences like St. John Knits and Gump’s keep Union Square on top of most San Francisco shoppers’ list. Shreve & Co., a preferred jeweler for 165 years, has just opened a new flagship store at 150 Post St.
Just two blocks from Union Square, Westfield San Francisco Centre offers San Francisco’s ultimate style collection: the West Coast flagship Bloomingdale’s, the second largest Nordstrom in the United States, 200 shops and restaurants, and San Francisco’s largest day spa, Burke Williams. Men’s fashion has a new destination with Club Monaco Men’s recent debut and Michael Kors Men’s store coming this season. Bespoke — a trifecta of co-working, events and technology demo spaces — curates endless possibilities for retail-tech experiences. Under Westfield’s iconic dome, the Winter Nights Holiday Bazaar promises to be a magical holiday marketplace and entertainment destination. The Bazaar will feature unique, local artisan gifts and crafts, as well as live entertainment and special holiday food and beverages, all in one festive location.
On Stockton Street between Geary and Ellis, the Winter Walk returns through Jan.1, 2017. Caroling, food trucks and product demos will fill this open plaza in the heart of Union Square.
Yes, PIER 39 is San Francisco’s top visitor attraction. And, yes, the sea lions are very popular. But PIER 39 also offers more than 60 specialty shops throughout two levels. So maybe while the kids explore the Aquarium of the Bay or take a boat ride on the Blue & Gold Fleet, you can pick up a jersey at the NFL store or find wooden puzzles and games at Solve It!. There’s even a shop just for left-handers! If you have a thing for the beach, check out Shell Cellar, where you'll find shells and unique jewelry. Looking for that perfect San Francisco gift? Look no further than the San Francisco superstore for the best San Francisco souvenirs at Only in San Francisco.
In the Mission District, thriving Valencia Street’s retail origins are visible in its thrift shops and specialized bookstores. More recent arrivals to the corridor include uber-hip boutiques (Voyager Shop), artisan goods from local and international designers (Little Paper Planes), terrariums and taxidermy (Paxton Gate) and Japanese denim (Self Edge). There's plucky holdout Aquarius Records; the gift-filled Italian deli, Lucca Ravioli; audiophile’s paradise, Dijital Fix; and Heliotrope, with its customized aromatherapy blends. Off of Valencia Street, you'll find local shops Creativity Explored and Mission Art 415, among the best for great San Francisco artworks, and Sports Basement, the perfect spot to find something for that outdoorsy person in your life.
While it might be confusing to some visitors, Union Street is nowhere near Union Square. This strip of the Marina District is home to lavish health-and-beauty emporiums such as the Lash Lab. Similar offerings include specialists in juice cleanses, pilates and yoga apparel. Other neighborhood gems include jewelers David Clay, Jest Jewels and La Bijouterie; Moulin Pooch, possibly San Francisco’s fanciest pet shop; stationers Union Street Papery, and Images of the North, which offers one of the most extensive collections of Inuit art.
San Francisco Premium Outlets
With the addition of 185,000 square feet, San Francisco Premium Outlets is now the largest outdoor outlet center in California. Located in Livermore, 42 miles east of San Francisco, there are 170 stores, including the addition of 10 new luxury and brand-name retailers: Gucci, Versace, Tod’s, Ted Baker, Bally, CH Carolina Herrera, Roger Viver, All Saints, Sarar and A/X Armani Exchange. Tri-Valley Rapid buses connect to the Pleasanton/Dublin BART station. Check out other outlets in Vacaville, Gilroy and Napa.