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Powell Street in Union Square, San Francisco
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Alma in Union Square Park
Alma in Union Square Park
July 22, 2016
Visitor Tips

10 Insider Tips for visiting Union Square, San Francisco

Union Square is the retail and cultural hub of San Francisco and it boasts the city’s largest collection of luxury, department and boutique shops. It is also home to a spectacular selection of hotels, art galleries, salons, and theaters. If you are planning a trip to The Square, we want to help you make the most of your time, so here are a few insider tips from our team.

1.  Bring All-Weather Gear – The golden rule of San Francisco is to wear layers! The weather can be unpredictable at times and with our Indian summers, you can expect chilly days and windy nights during the summer months here in the City by the Bay.

2.  Save some Moola – While we love a good shopping spree, you can enjoy Union Square on a budget, too. Check out our Deals Page to see which stores are having a sale and enjoy one of these wonderful happy hour specials.

3.  Safety First – San Francisco is a big city. Keep your belongings securely on your person, and don’t leave anything in your car while you’re out and about. Instead, ask the concierge at your hotel to hold onto them for you.

4.  Grab a Map – Most hotels, the Visitor Information Center in Hallidie Plaza and at Macy’s, the Westfield Concierge and our friendly Hospitality Ambassadors (the men and women wearing red coats and vests here in The Square) carry our Map to Union Square. Pick one up today, they are FREE and will help you get around this wonderful district!

5.  The Cable Car Secret – We’re breaking the local’s pact to let you know that you can indeed grab the cable car up the street a few blocks from the Cable Car turnaround at Powell and Market St. You’ll miss out on watching the SFMTA’s workers actually hand turn the car around, but you’ll skip most of the line. The drawback is sometimes cars are full by the time you get there. If you want a primo seat, wait in line.

6.  Discount Show Tickets – Tix Bay Area has a conveniently located booth right on Union Square Park (on the Powell St. side on the back of Bancarella). You can grab discounted tickets to many major shows in the City there. There are also free concerts in Union Square Park on Wednesdays and Sundays all throughout the summer, provided by Union Square Live. For a complete list of events happening in Union Square, check out our Events Page here.  

7.  Explore a little – There’s a lot more to Union Square than the beautiful urban park at the center of it all. Art galleries, boutiques, cafes and more can be discovered if you walk around the area and enjoy colorful streets like Grant Ave., Sutter St. and Maiden Ln.

8.  Take a Tour – Many tour companies offer tours of San Francisco, but there are a couple of unique tours like GoCar Tours, Emperor Norton’s Fantastic Time Machine Tour and more! Check out a complete list of tours here.  

9.  Fitness First – If you don’t want to neglect your workout routine while you’re on vacation, you’re in luck. Union Square is home to several fabulous gyms and fitness studios all within walking distance of hotels. Check them all out here.

10.  Cocktail Culture – SF is the epicenter of cocktail culture in the U.S., only possibly rivaled by New York. If you drink, we recommend trying out one of our renowned cocktail bars. See a complete list here.