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Union Square and SoMa

Shops, museums, parks and dining in Union Square and South of Market Street
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.6 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview :  San Francisco's famous shopping, culture and cuisine begin with a trip to Union Square. There is so much more to see just off the main... more »

Tips:  Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers, because San Francisco weather is not only unpredictable and unseasonable, but it changes... more »

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Points of Interest

The square was built in 1850 and named in support of Union troops when the Civil War began. This is the heart of San Francisco, where tourists and locals mingle every day. The square is used for all kinds of public and private needs, such as open markets (flowers, art), demonstrations and rallies, and general sunning, lunching, meeting and... More

After the rush of Union Square, heading east on Maiden Lane can be a welcome break for your senses, especially the ears. While today the lane is packed with chic boutiques and cafes, in the early 1900s it was known for bordellos!

At 140 Maiden Lane, take a look at Xanadu Gallery. The building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and inspired his... More

If you have worked up an appetite (and didn't stop for a bite at one of the bistros on Maiden Lane), Madeleine is worth a stop.

This bakery and sandwich shop serves breakfast, lunch, desserts and some of the best espresso and hot chocolate around. Of note, homemade chocolate-flavored whipped cream is a decadent and necessary addition to any cup... More

Across Market Street is the massive San Francisco Shopping Centre (Westfield). It is basically a large mall in the center of the city, with an enormous selection of shops from monster retailers like Old Navy, Nordstrom, Banana Republic and Abercrombie & Fitch to smaller shops like Kiehls, Michael Kors, Vans and Aveda, to specialty retailers... More

After crossing Market Street, Stockton becomes Fourth Street. Pass the opulent Four Seasons and Marriott hotels (on your left) and cross Mission Street to enter the Metreon at the southeast corner of Mission and Fourth.

Originally built by Sony in 1999, the Metreon's website boasts that it is "a state of the art technology and entertainment... More

Cream puffs? Yes, these cream puffs are so worth the stop for your sweet tooth. The freshly made puffs come in the following flavors: vanilla bean, chocolate, caramel, pumpkin, green tea, coffee and strawberry. The flaky crust is an excellent vehicle for the light, not-too-sweet cream filling. I was never interested in cream puffs until I tried... More

Yerba Buena Gardens, housed between Mission, Folsom, Fourth and Third streets, sits in the heart of the greater Yerba Buena district. The latter is an 87-acre area that extends all the way to Harrison Street to the south and Second Street to the west.

The gardens feature a suprising number of installations and sites for the young and young at... More

The SFMOMA is definitely one of, if not the, highlight of a visit to SoMa. Unlike many musems, which are intimidating or stuffy, the SFMOMA is refreshingly approachable. There is no shortage of friendly staff on hand to answer questions or point you in the right direction.

The exhibits are thoughtful and provacative as well as timeless-... More

The W Hotel is the first of a few nearby, suggested options in SoMa to pause for a drink and/or dinner. Some of these options are more family friendly than others.

The W and its bar, cafe and restaurant weigh more heavily toward adults than children. This is a swishy place with lots of black and purple lighting, where you can people watch all... More

As you pass the W and continue east on Howard, you will get to the Thirsty Bear within a block. While this is a casual bar that happens to serve amazing, organic house brews like Polar Bear Lager and Howard St. IPA, I would not write this spot off for bringing the kids. They serve a wide variety of meals, including tapas (or small plates) for... More

111 Minna is a gallery, bar and nightclub all in one. The hip, urban space occupies 4,000 square feet on tiny little Minna Street, between Mission and Natoma and New Montgomery and Second streets. The gallery features local and international artists, well-respected DJs, live performance and film screenings. Wednesday is the big (but early) night ... More

Two words: pineapple martini.

When the bartender first recommended this cocktail, I thought, "Not for me. Sounds fruity and weird." I was wrong. Very wrong. They are amazing, smooth, tasty and not at all too sweet. But be warned: They go down very easily and can catch up with you.

If you are without children, then sit at the bar, check out the... More