Union Square, San Francisco

Union Square, San Francisco (must see)

You can visit all the city's landmarks and tourist attractions if you want, but nothing represents the heart of San Francisco better than the iconic Union Square, which has appeared in film and television scores of times over the years. So many layers of history, cuisine, commerce, and culture in one spot! One could teach a master-class on the goings on at Union Square through the decades – from the pro-US (hence "Union") rallies during the Civil War to the red-light district on (ironically) Maiden Lane, the Dewey Monument and Alma Spreckels, the St. Francis hotel and its famous guests, the bullet hole from an assassination attempt, the 1960s protesters, the Theater District, the Powell cable car line, the Flood Building and the Woolworth's counter, the rooftop amusement park, the concerts, the window displays, and key appearances in famous movies. This place is quintessential big city San Francisco, in the way that Times Square is for NYC.

Nowadays, the square is known as a sanctuary for the shopaholic at heart, ringed by premium boutiques, high-end department stores, and mega-brands – but also as one of maybe two places in the city where you can go ice-skating outdoors during the winter. Best cheap eats? Sear's Fine Food or the Pinecrest Diner. Mid-range? Cheesecake Factory has a spectacular view of the square, and the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus is unforgettable. If you want to go posh there are too many choices, but Scala's Bistro at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel is great; also The Oak Room if you have the means.

Finally, no tour of Union Square can be complete without visiting the venerable Hotel St. Francis, where kings, presidents, movie stars, and historical figures from every field have stayed. In the grand lobby stands an antique clock and the phrase "meet me at the clock" is known to most San Franciscans. During holidays, the hotel is decked out in festive decor, with a giant chocolate castle diorama to salivate over. It feels like stepping into a bygone era of luxury and superb service.

Why You Should Visit:
This historic square makes a logical starting point for wandering San Francisco. From the range of services available to the square itself, the range of stores, restaurants, theaters, and also the famous cable cars – it's at the heart of it all...

Tip:
The Powell/Hyde cable car (which starts and ends here) is said to have the best views of any of the cable car routes. Expect a line but it can move quickly.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in San Francisco. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Union Square on Map

Sight Name: Union Square
Sight Location: San Francisco, USA (See walking tours in San Francisco)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in San Francisco, California

Create Your Own Walk in San Francisco

Create Your Own Walk in San Francisco

Creating your own self-guided walk in San Francisco is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Castro District Walking Tour

Castro District Walking Tour

It is well known that San Francisco is the place where gay and lesbian culture flourished. Castro District, where LGBT flag is flying high, houses many of the city's gay-owned businesses and households – and is where the LGBT culture is considered a distinct part of local identity. This self guided tour leads you to the best known landmarks and most visited LGBT attractions in the Castro...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
North Beach Walking Tour

North Beach Walking Tour

North Beach is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, known as San Francisco's Little Italy. This fun area features a great mix of architecture, museums, restaurants and old shops. Take this tour to explore the beauties that North Beach has to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Chinatown Walking Tour

Chinatown Walking Tour

Experience the largest Chinese community outside of Asia with this self-guided walk that will take you though the oldest Chinatown in North America. Featuring several outstanding landmarks, an astounding abundance of varied merchandise at surprising prices, and a great selection of restaurants and gift shops, this part of town is full of real people who live, shop, eat and relax here on a daily...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
San Francisco Introduction Walking Tour

San Francisco Introduction Walking Tour

Iconic bridges, splendid hotels, and steep streets that slowly slope down to the waterfront. Vibrant ethnic neighborhoods, each contributing a unique flavor to the city. Major museums, amazing architecture, shopping and dining, barking sea lions, and teeth-rattling cable cars. Whatever your dream trip to San Francisco includes, this self-guided walk is the perfect companion. Don't be afraid...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles
Union Square Walking Tour

Union Square Walking Tour

Union Square is known as San Francisco's most popular shopping destination and the third largest shopping area in the United States. In addition to that, Union Square features many amazing restaurants, theaters and a wonderful concentration of fine art galleries. Take this walking tour to explore Union Square's main tourist attractions.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Fisherman's Wharf Walking Tour

Fisherman's Wharf Walking Tour

Regardless of whether it's a hot, sunny day, or one filled with San Francisco's iconic fog, a walk through Fisherman's Wharf can feel quite special. Sure, you'll be surrounded by tourists, but they're *happy* tourists, because they're enjoying the smells of good foods, the sounds of barking sea lions, and the sights of a legendary sea port, one where a few lovingly...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles

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