Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Union Square Walking Tour (Self Guided), San Francisco

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.
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Union Square Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Union Square Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » San Francisco (See other walking tours in San Francisco)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Union Square
  • Macy's at Union Square
  • Maiden Lane
  • Museum of Ice Cream
  • Levi Strauss
  • Westfield San Francisco Center
  • Powell Street
  • Martin Lawrence Galleries
  • American Conservatory Theater
  • Curran Theater
1
Union Square

1) Union Square (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.
2
Macy's at Union Square

2) Macy's at Union Square

Macy's at Union Square is a landmark in downtown San Francisco. The iconic department store is huge and offers a first-class selection of top fashion brands including Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Clinique, Estee Lauder & Levis. In addition to shoes and clothing, Macy's has a wide variety of housewares, gifts and furniture.

Do not go there just for shopping though, there are restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, starbucks within the store and if you manage to get a seat next to window, you will have a nice view over Union Square.
3
Maiden Lane

3) Maiden Lane

From rags to riches, from tacky to elegant, classy and fashionable, the Maiden Lane is one street that has undergone an extreme make over after the 1906 earthquake. Presently laden with high end gift shops, couture salons, expensive boutiques and designer outlets, there is nothing in the fashion and luxury world that the Maiden Lane does not offer.

Although the present may seem glittery and filled with glamour and elegance, a century back the lane didn’t quite have the reputation it holds today. The street was then called the Morton Street and it was one of the most prominent red-light district of San Francisco. The Morton Street was filled with brothels and exotic dancers and was said to hold the record for reporting at least one murder every week. The 1906 earthquake, however, changed the fate of the Street. The rubbles of the Morton Street were transformed into the present day Maiden Lane.

Apart from its very colorful history, the street is also known to be an pedestrian only street, with two gates at either end that bar any automobile traffic from getting in. Whether you love to shop or just like to take a lazy walk down the road, or simply enjoy a city’s past- the Maiden Lane has something to offer to every passer-by.
4
Museum of Ice Cream

4) Museum of Ice Cream

The Museum of Ice Cream is an interactive art exhibit with ice cream and candy themed exhibits, all brightly colored, in a maze of rooms containing a pool filled with rainbow sprinkles, a candy cave, a unicorn among other things. The museum is a really good place for family to spend their time as both adults and kids will have enjoy the experience.

Everything in the museum is made for aesthetically pleasing photos so whether you are an seasoned Instagrammer or just want to share your fun experience with friends and family, there will be no shortage of photo opportunities. As you go through different rooms in the museum, you are offered numerous free tastings throughout.

Opening Hours: Wednesday-Friday: 10:30-17:00; Saturday: 9:30-21:00; Sunday: 9:30-20:30; Monday: 10:30-17:00; Tuesday: closed.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Levi Strauss

5) Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss jean was created in San Francisco in 1853 and made popular during the California Gold Rush. Today Levi Strauss is a global icon and Levi's jeans are loved by people from all walks of life.

Levi's jeans are known for being sturdy and durable, and they last a long time. Moreover, the fabric used for Levi's jeans are malleable and flexible, which allows you to easily move. Over one and half centuries, Levi's jeans have never gone out of fashion. They are trendy and also look good.

More likely than not, you have owned a pair Levi's jean at some point. So when you are in San Francisco, why not stop by Levi's flagship store on Market Street to check out its latest offers. The location of the store itself is historic, just just across Stockton Street from where the founder Levi Strauss lived from 1863 to 1864. A wall display in the store shows the evolution of the famed 501 series from late 1800s to present date.
6
Westfield San Francisco Center

6) Westfield San Francisco Center

Open since 1988, Westfield Center is an upscale shopping center and one of the most popular shopping destinations in San Francisco. The mall features more than 170 boutiques, including designer brands Herve Leger, Hugo Boss, Max & Co and Calvin Klein. It offers visitors San Francisco’s ultimate style collection, the west coast flagship of Bloomingdale’s and the second-largest Nordstrom in the United States.

Westfield has a food court which is considered by many one of the best in San Francisco with a wide selection of ethic foods known to the San Francisco area. The shopping center also features multiple gourmet restaurants and several cafes and bars.

Operation hours: Monday-Saturday: 10 am - 8 pm; Sunday: 11 am - 7 pm.
7
Powell Street

7) Powell Street

Powell Street is a street in San Francisco that connects from Market Street through Union Square, North Beach, Nob Hill, Russian Hill and ends at Fisherman's Wharf. The Powell Street Station located on Market Street is one of the most photographed spot in Downtown San Francisco. The station is a Rapid Transit and Muni Metro Station. It opened in 1973, it is where you catch the famed cable car to go to Fisherman's Wharf, another popular tourist area in San Francisco.

Along Powell Street and in the surrounding neighborhood, there is a myriad of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars of every ethnicity that one can imagine. From Dim Sum breakfast to some of the best sushi on the planet, Powell Street and the surrounding Union Square neighborhood have an abundance of offerings for the local and tourist alike.
8
Martin Lawrence Galleries

8) Martin Lawrence Galleries

Martin Lawrence Galleries was founded in 1975 and operates 10 fine art galleries in the United States specializing in original paintings, sculpture and limited edition graphics.

Martin Lawrence has a substantial collection of artwork, all of which is company owned, including works of art by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Sam Francis, and Keith Haring. Martin Lawrence Galleries is the publisher and representative for Erté, Robert Deyber, Liudmila Kondakova, Felix Mas, Douglas Hofmann, Philippe Bertho, Kerry Hallam, and René Lalonde.

Martin Lawrence has a diverse inventory of mostly contemporary art. Prices range from very reasonable up to very expensive. If you are interested in contemporary art works, Martin Lawrence is worth checking out.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
American Conservatory Theater

9) American Conservatory Theater

The American Conservatory Theater (ACT) is a major nonprofit theater company in San Francisco that offers the public both classical and contemporary theater productions.

ACT was founded in 1965 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by theater and opera director William Ball in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Carnegie Mellon University. Ball relocated the company to San Francisco after being invited by philanthropists and officials from that city to do so. The building houses ACT today was built in 1910 in the Classical Revival and Late Victorian styles, it was previously known as the Columbia Theater. The theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated an official San Francisco Landmark in 1976.

ACT also has an acting school that has produced many notable alumni including Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Princess Sarah Culberson, Benjamin Bratt, Carlos Bernard, Wynn Harmon, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Belknap, Dileep Rao, Harry Hamlin, Anna Deavere Smith, Omar Metwally, Steven W. Bailey, and Anika Noni Rose.

ACT is a wonderful historic theater and an icon of culture in San Francisco.
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Curran Theater

10) Curran Theater

If you enjoy watching Broadways, operas and live performances, the Curran Theater is a must visit in San Francisco. One does not have to be a diehard opera fan to visit and be charmed by the Curran.

Its brilliant presence and majestic look is sure to take any onlookers breath away. This magnificent building stands on Geary Street, where it welcomes its audience into a world far away from the hustle bustle of city life. Known as one of the finest Broadway theaters in the country, the Curran Theater makes the experience of watching live performances memorable with its intimate auditoriums and well-crafted interiors. One of the noted features of the interiors of the building is the ceiling above the main lobby which is hand painted to make it look like wood. As a matter of fact, the interiors and exteriors of the theater were even featured in a movie named ‘All about Eve’.

The Curran Theater was opened in 1922 and was named after its first owner Homer Curran. He owned several other theaters but only this theater retains its original name to this date. Homer Curran is most noted for writing a book for the musical ‘Song of Norway’ and the lesser known ‘Magdalena’. Today this theater belongs to Carole Shorenstein Hays who has produced many award winning Broadway plays.

Curran Theater is a beautiful and historic theater in the heart of San Francisco, only steps away from Union Square, so there is no excuse not to stop by to see what it has on offer.

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.
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
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
Famous Architecture Walking Tour

Famous Architecture Walking Tour

San Francisco is one of the world's top travel destinations, being famous for spectacular tourist attractions like Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge. But besides that, this city also features a large variety of world-known architecture, like Transamerica Pyramid, Grace Cathedral and others. Take this walking tour to explore the most famous architectural...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 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 Walk

San Francisco Introduction Walk

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
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

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