Last week I shared the highlights from a recent food tour I enjoyed in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. But what if you want to explore The City at your own pace? For those looking for a self-guided option, here’s some helpful information about San Francisco food stops and landmarks to plan your trip around.
San Francisco Landmarks
San Francisco is home to a lot of well-known landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and Coit Tower, but as you walk around The City it’s easy to miss stops that are rich in history. In fact, there are 48 registered California Historical Landmarks in San Francisco alone (my husband has visited and photographed 34 of them). Although many of the buildings are long gone, the history of each notable location is preserved with markers, such as a brass plaque.
If you’re planning to visit a few San Francisco landmarks by foot, Chinatown and North Beach are two neighborhoods to focus on. Here are a few specific stops to add to your tour:
CA 83 – Shoreline Markers
This is an especially fun stop because it shows how far the shoreline has moved since gold was discovered January 24, 1848.
CA 87 – Site of the First US Branch Mint in CA
The first branch mint in The City opened in 1854. This San Francisco landmark features a nice museum as well as the original brick vault area.
CA 119 – Portsmouth Plaza
There’s a lot of history in this small plaza! It was the site of the first public school building, the announcement that gold was discovered, the celebration of California becoming the 31st state in the union and more.
CA 810 – Old St. Mary’s Church
Another noteworthy San Francisco landmark, Old St. Mary’s was the first cathedral in California. Located on the outskirts of Chinatown, this beautiful church is one of The City’s hidden gems.
San Francisco Food
Of course, what would a tour of San Francisco be without a few stops for food? Whether you want something to eat during your trip or a souvenir to take home, make the most of your time by taking some time at a few of our favorite stops.
This San Francisco food stop is one of The City’s longest living institutions. Make sure you bring cash as they don’t accept credit cards (although they do have an ATM machine for your convenience).
The Wok Shop
Are you looking for a high-quality Asian kitchenware? We got our wok at the Wok Shop in Chinatown. The woman who runs the shop is almost always there and can help you find the perfect wok. Get a preview of the shop in this segment.
You can find anything you want at Union Square! Walk around the square and pop your head into Sur La Table, Williams-Sonama, the famous Gump’s department store and any other shop that catches your eye.
After a day of walking around San Francisco, you’re sure to need another place to eat! One of my favorite Italian (and Croatian) restaurants, Albona, is in North Beach, just a few blocks from Pier 39 in a quiet residential neighborhood. The restaurant may be small, but the food is not to be missed. In particular, the gnocchi is amazing.
In fact, this restaurant is a truly unique experience as it’s the only Istrian restaurant on the West Coast. Not familiar with Istrian? It’s Italian food influenced by Eastern European seasonings like cumin, saffron, paprika, nutmeg and cinnamon.
What must-see stops would you recommend for a San Francisco food and landmark tour?
Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.