Homegrown Lifestyle Outside the World’s Tech Mecca
Consider this our plea to take the road less traveled and steer away from the classic “Top 10 Things to Do in San Francisco” lists. There are tons of places to eat, drink, and shop–outside of the tourist-heavy areas of Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. We hope to see you there.
South of Market, or SoMA for short, is where bohemia, tech, and the art industry rub elbows and nod at each passerby. Here, converted warehouse buildings are turned into the lofts that end up on your Pinterest feed. Block by block, SoMA is being converted into hip galleries, coffee shops, and pubs for the architecturally-conscious. Be sure to check out the museums in the area (pictured is the newly expanded MoMA), as well as Yerba Buena Park.
The Mission is the Brooklyn of San Francisco (don’t tell them we said that), located right around Gentrify-nation, USA. It might be safe to say that everyone here is working at a startup, loves fish tacos, drinks local brews, and has a map to the hood’s dive bars on their left thigh. Also, there’s super fancy coffee and amazing ice-cream. Just stop by Humphry Slocombe for a cone of literally anything:
Dogpatch is another neighborhood that’s rising from the ashes of previously abandoned warehouses and factories. Cue newly converted lofts. Naturally, this phenomenon is attracting the younger, more artsy crowd. The abandoned buildings are being transformed into design studios, coffee bars, and restaurants. True entrepreneurial spirit abounds, which is putting the neighborhood on the up-and-up. Luckily, prices are not quite outrageous just yet. Some say Tenderloin will be the next newcomer, after Dogpatch. We’ll keep you posted.
You can’t explore San Francisco and leave out the Castro–the beacon of LGBT pride and one of the strongest communities in the world. June is Pride month, and the city does not fall short in showcasing talent and celebrating the culture we love so much. Be sure to check out the Frameline Film Festival, and watch the parade as it runs through Market in Downtown San Francisco. It’s truly one of the most incredible events to witness and be a part of.
Our pick for most oddly placed building in the city: the Cathedral of Saint Mary of The Assumption, a mind-blowing, brutalist creation near Japantown:
Where to Stay
While San Francisco hospitality is concentrated by Union Square, SoMA hosts a growing number of boutique hotels as young, culture-conscious traffic flows to less touristy neighborhoods. Here are a few of our favorite places to stay.
We find that JDV Hotels remain true to their name: joie de vivre, or, a celebration of joyful living. There’s beauty in their simple and uncomplicated approach. No neon signs, no flashy bars. They focus on comfortable, pleasant rooms and amenities, like their spa, and their delicious restaurant, Americano. If you are traveling with your better half and the goal of getting lost in the wonders of SF’s most up-and-coming areas, we’d say you’ll have a lovely time here.
The Park Central
It may not be below Market, but The Park Central makes the cut as the traditional hospitality spot that should always be considered. We like no-frills sometimes, and that’s just what this hotel offers. As part of the Starwood group, you can expect great service and good rates.
W San Francisco
Glamour and sleek lines abound at the W, but who’s complaining? Eye-catching interiors, stiff drinks at the bar, and good food makes the W a solid option for a SoMA (and beyond) vacation. Keep in mind that its location does mean that there will be heavy foot traffic and lots of action outside on weekend nights. If you’re more low-key, this may not be a top choice for you.
This large chain of hotels is synonymous with luxury, and their SF hub is no exception. If you’re coming to explore the city’s creative nature in SoMA and the adjacent neighborhoods, it’s not a wild idea to suggest you go all out and stay at this swanky spot. After all, it’s the most expensive city in the U.S. The Museum of African Diaspora and the SF MoMA hug this extra special hotel. The renowned St. Regis spa and restaurant are also worth a visit!
The Palace Hotel is like the Plaza Hotel in Home Alone II– only in San Francisco. Opulence, class, old money, chandeliers, and beyond reign supreme here. For a history lesson, grab a meal at the Pied Piper and appreciate the large-scale artwork by Maxfield Parrish from 1909. In a sea of modern, minimalistic hotels, we like the Palace Hotel’s old world feel. They really don’t make them like this anymore, and that is why we love staying here when exploring San Francisco’s ever-changing neighborhoods.