Tuesday Beauty Tips: 9 Things to Do on Your Next Trip to San Francisco

Published in: Beauty Tips, Just For Fun, Top Posts

Welcome to San Francisco

Ah, the things we do for Cupid…


After I met and fell in love with El Hub, I wanted to be closer to him, so I left my favorite city of San Francisco and moved the 10 miles north across the Golden Gate Bridge to the suburbs of Marin.

I like it here, but I’m a city girl at heart. I miss SF’s bustling beauty scene, and the city’s diversity, restaurants, museums and clubs.

San Francisco at dusk

Which is why I love to visit. πŸ™‚ If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco and looking for Bay Area adventure, you’ve come to the right place! Here are 9 of my favorite things to do in the city.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands

Fisherman's Wharf
Don’t forget to wear layers (it can be cold by the water)

1. Fisherman’s Wharf

Yup, it’s super cheesy and touristy (lots of tchotchke stores), but it’s well worth doing at least once. Be sure to…

Crown & Crumpet Tea House

elizabethW scents

2. Shop till you drop

Union Square has some of the best beauty shopping in the city, and it’s all within walking distance.

Bring your credit card (and a good dose of willpower) because they squeezed plenty of shopping into Union Square. You’ll find… Nordstrom (my fave!), Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus (grab lunch at the Rotunda restaurant if you’re in the mood to splurge), Sephora and Barneys.

3. Benefit by the water

The upscale Marina district rests at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. With lots of shopping and restaurants, parking can be a pain. Come prepared to wait for a space and walk a while if you come by car.

Here you’ll find the Benefit Cosmetics store. It offers brow tinting and waxing. Later, swing by the MAC Pro store for lots of unique MAC products unavailable at regular counters (NOTE: You don’t need a MAC Pro card to shop at their pro stores).

4. Hit the outer avenues for museums and a breath of fresh air

The Sunset and Richmond districts, located at the outer edges of San Francisco (near the ocean), are rich in culture and nature.

Escape the traffic for a few hours with a trip through Golden Gate Park

Striking a pose at the deYoung

The Conservatory of Flowers

In the Richmond…

5. Good food and fun

When I worked in SF, I loved passing through the ferry building. Located in the Embarcadero near SF’s Financial District, it’s where the ferries connecting Sausalito, Larkspur and Tiburon (cities north of the Golden Gate Bridge) arrive and depart. It’s packed with restaurants and shops galore.

Tiburon, now a quaint tourist town north of San Francisco, was once a railroad/ferry depot before the Golden Gate Bridge was built

6. Get loose

Try a spa. I like the Bliss Spa in the W Hotel and have also heard great things about the Nob Hill Spa.

I look forward to my once-a-year treats at Bliss

7. Sing your heart out at Martuni’s Piano Bar

Bring your courage, your inner American Idol and some sheet music if you have it! Martuni’s is like a karaoke bar with live piano music. Kick back and enjoy the show over delish drinks. The servers are nice and the atmosphere lively. After taking singing lessons a few years ago, my teacher had me perform here one night with my classmates for the “final.” So terrifying but lots of fun! πŸ™‚

8. Canto do Brasil!

Canto do Brasil serves delicious Brazilian food (beans and rice, plantains, barbecue chicken and fish, yum!) at decent prices, and you even get a show with dinner. Nights are like Carnival! Hawt Brazilian showgirls dressed in costume dance around the tables, and they even encourage patrons to participate.

When I went with friends a few years ago, it took a few minutes to adjust to the scenery (having girls shade their goods in jeweled thongs and feathered headdresses), but it’s quite a show.

9. Stairway to Heaven

The Filbert Steps are a hidden San Francisco gem. Brace yourself for a seriously steep climb, but the reward’s a fantastic panoramic view of the Bay. Bring your camera, bottled water and a comfy pair of shoes, and keep your eyes peeled for the famous wild parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Writer William Saroyan once said, “If you’re alive, you can’t be bored in San Francisco.” He also said, “If you’re not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life.” πŸ™‚

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 67 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. CC says:

    I can’t help but think of Rice-A-Roni whenever I hear San Francisco πŸ™‚ That commercial jingle will remain in my memory forever! If I ever visit SF, this will definitely be the first travel guide I consult. Thanks!

  2. Marce says:

    I’d like to go to sooo many places! But SF looks like a place you can’t miss, specially if want to spend some $$$ on makeup, LOL. I think I’d go crazayyy!!!
    If I ever do have the possibility of visiting, I’ll be sure to invite you to some feijoada at the Brazilian place – love my Brazil! – even though I could eat feijoada at home anytime, LOL. πŸ˜€
    .-= Marce’s last blog post… Estée Lauder Pure Color Gloss Stick – Super Hero or Lip Product? =-.

  3. Paris B says:

    If I ever get my butt over to San Francisco I’m so looking up this post – thanks! πŸ™‚
    .-= Paris B’s last blog post… Dior and Guerlain Spring 2010 Collections spare no blushes! =-.

  4. Mira says:

    I love this city! I’ve lived here for al most 10 years and still feel like a tourist every once and awhile. There are really so many great places. πŸ™‚

  5. Rachel says:

    You took singing lessons? That’s so cool! I would be too shy πŸ™‚

  6. amy says:

    I will love to visit San Fran sometime, people tell me it is almost like Vancouver, but just a little bit warmer and sunnier. Plus I like it that it is multi-cultural and I won’t stick out like a sore thumb or look like a tourist.
    .-= amy’s last blog post… Wake up and Smell the Daisies: Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau de Toilette =-.

  7. Christina says:

    Karen, I looooove San Francisco, but I wish I’d had this list before my last trip. I’ll be sure to hit up some of these spots next time. Thanks for the ideas!
    .-= Christina’s last blog post… Winners Can’t Be Losers =-.

  8. Christy says:

    Great ideas! I haven’t been to SF for 12 years, back when I had no credit card or job to truly indulge in some good shopping. I loved the Nordstrom there. 7 floors yea?
    .-= Christy’s last blog post… FOTD: Victoria’s Secret Beauty Rush Flower Girl, Violet Femme & Plum Crazy =-.

  9. Ellie says:

    This is such a great post- when I went to visit SF with my family, we missed ALL of that! Maybe it’s time for a return!

  10. Marina says:

    What a great post! My BFF moved to Sacramento. So maybe one day when I visit her I will also visit SF. But I love it here,in Europe and don’t think that I would ever move somewhere else.
    .-= Marina’s last blog post… Inglot Mono Eyeshadows: Review and Swatches =-.

  11. makes me wana go travel and see all this great places
    .-= Blovet Beauty’s last blog post… Kimchi Fried Rice & Green EOTD =-.

  12. Tanya says:

    I’ve never been to SF but when I do (hopefully this summer) I’m taking this post with me. Thanks!

  13. Celine says:

    I’m going to bookmark this entry for the next time I visit SF! I always want to go and then end up not doing much!
    .-= Celine’s last blog post… maravi: The most difficult part is over.Anthony is at the vet getting Maggie euthanized.I put away all her toys, reminders are too painful right now =-.

  14. Jeanne says:

    So much good stuff, Karen! I can’t think of anything else to add!

    I went to Fisherman’s Wharf in early October with the boyfriend, and twice we were asked “where are you visiting from?” “Here!” I just wanted a Kara’s Cupcake!

    The new Academy of Sciences is so awesome — and the cafeteria is really good! (Weird thing to say, but true!) The DeYoung also has a lot of fashion exhibits cycling through — I went to the Vivienne Westwood and the YSL exhibits when they came to town. SFMOMA has an amazing Richard Avedon exhibit going on right now, too (also with an amazing cafeteria).
    .-= Jeanne’s last blog post… Deodorant Soap That Doesn’t Stink =-.

  15. Glosslizard says:

    What a wonderful post! I feel so lucky to live right across the Bay from SF! I’ve gotta check out that stairway… and hit the Bliss Spa afterwards! πŸ˜‰

  16. Catherine says:

    I love this guide! I adoooore San Francisco (and will be living there soon, if I can possibly manage it). Have yet to check out the Bliss Spa as I’m kind of afraid of really liking it lol. I’m definitely checking out all these restaurants next time I’m there though!
    .-= Catherine’s last blog post… Koji No. 84 Narrow Tip Eyebrow Tweezer =-.

  17. Diana Kim says:

    I’m from the East coast and when I visited SF last year, I knew that was the place for me. I cant wait to live there some day…hopefully πŸ™‚

  18. Jenna says:

    Sounds awesome. I wish I had done some of those things when I went there for the first (and only) time 5 years ago. I’m actually considering a law school that’s in San Francisco but I’m so scared by the high cost of living there!

  19. Ashley says:

    I keep trying to convince my parent’s to let me go to San Francisco to “visit” some family in Oakland but they won’t budge!
    Ugh I’m missing out on so much too πŸ™ Wonderful guide, I will definitely use this the next time I go! I really want to get pampered @ the Bliss Spa πŸ˜€

  20. SDpfeiffy says:

    SF is in my top 5 cities to visit. Thanks for the trip down memory lane πŸ™‚

  21. Kristen says:

    hanks so much for this lovely guide. San Francisco is my #1 city to visit, and when I finally get there, I’ll be sure to refer back to this. When traveling, nothing is more valuable than advice from a local!
    .-= Kristen’s last blog post… Bobbi BrownÒ€ℒs Holiday Gift Guide =-.

  22. Amanda says:

    Great post Karen! I’m totally keeping this as a reference. My in-laws live about an hour away from SF, and I keep saying I haven’t done enough in the city. Next time we come out for a visit we (just hubby and I) are supposed to have a fun day doing all the cool things in SF. I know it’s totally touristy but I still want to go to Alcatraz and Chinatown. I loved Fisherman’s Wharf, the one day we went and I love to eat seafood.

  23. dip says:

    what about all the great parks? i live here and my favorite spots are the amazing parks (GG and dolores), the castro for sake bombs and sushi, and shopping in the fillmore (mac, betsey johnson, marc jacobs!)

  24. Abby says:

    Karen, oh that is so cool! I flew up to SF from SD back in early October with my hubby before he deployed. (My sis in law lives right by GGP). I LOVED the deYoung Museum (and yep…I couldn’t help striking a pose either, hahaha!) and have some awesome pix from that trip. Shakespeare’s Garden in GGP is wonderful. Union Square is my fave (TIFFANY & CO…Beauty stores…whooooot) and they had flamenco dancers in the square that day. It was so fantastic. I will hit some of your other favorites the next time I am up there…I love that area so much. Have a great day!

  25. Rebecca says:

    I love San Francisco! And I always stay in Marin when I visit my grandparents (about once a year – going this Christmas!). They live right by the bay, and it’s so beautiful. I’ve visited almost everything you listed here, but I didn’t know about the Bliss Spa. It sounds awesome, I’ll definitely be checking that out!

  26. Kizzy says:

    Wow, did you do this especially for me? I’m moving to San Francisco in January! (from Europe) πŸ™‚

    thanks for this!!
    .-= Kizzy’s last blog post… Alicia Keys reveals new album cover =-.

  27. Karen M., says:

    Hey Karen!! I love my city too!! THERE IS SUCH SOO MUCH TO DO HERE!! I dont know if i can ever leave. lol!! U made me want to go out and sightsee..lol

  28. Jana says:

    wow, seeing all this makes me miss san francisco ALLLLLL over again! i wanna go back now πŸ™
    .-= Jana’s last blog post… 10 reasons why i’m officially grumpy =-.

  29. Hazel says:

    I LOVE LIVING IN THE BAY! I visit SF frequently

  30. Karen B says:

    Martuni’s would SO be a place for me. The others would have to fight me for the piano πŸ˜‰ Hehehe.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen B.,

      I figured! I was really scared to get up and sing at first, but after I got through the first chorus I knew I’d be fine. Someday I hope to do it again!

  31. Megan **** says:

    I absolutely loovvee The City! I go as often as possible. I live in Modesto which is basically between Sacramento & Fresno. SF is only about an hour’s drive from where I am. I’d love to live there, but right now it’s a little too expensive for me. πŸ™ Ha! Since the holidays are right around the corner, I probably won’t be visiting SF until the days before Christmas for Berkeleys Christmas street fair; shopping in Frisco is a must while I’m there! Do you ever go to the street fair there?

  32. thisizkim says:

    I love living in the Bay! I love the diversity. =] I’m just 45mins from SF.

  33. JillyB says:

    20 years ago I lived in San Jose and spent many weekends in San Francisco. I loved it then and still do. Thanks for all the memories, and the new things to try the next time I’m there. It’s a beautiful city.

  34. Karen says:

    Wow Karen thanks for taking me back to my trip to San Fran I had so much fun. The shopping, the eating, everything!!! I hope to be back in March for my birthday

  35. nicole says:

    I’m visiting San Fran in December!! I can’t wait! Major thanks for posting this!

    Just curious, can you recommend what kind of shoes I should pack? I’m going to have a pair of UGGS, but i have no idea what kind of weather to expect!

    Thank you!

  36. Marisol says:

    I love this post!
    .-= Marisol’s last blog post… My other fear besides cats… =-.

  37. Alexandra says:

    Awwwww i wanna go πŸ™ . But as money is tight,gods knows when we will next get to go on holiday. I have to say i love the US. Wish i lived over there

  38. tabby says:

    I’ll be there Thanksgiving week. My sister & parents live in the Bay area. I live all the way across the country. I can’t wait!!

  39. Tori says:

    I live in the bay area too (contra costa) and i loveee SF πŸ™‚ one of my fave places to go! You should have mentioned the 8 story mall!

  40. Kat says:

    Planning on going to San Fran in April, I’ve always wanted to go! Can believe I’ve never even been to west coast before? Lol.

  41. lexi says:

    Hey Girl,
    I LOVE Martuni’s! The older gay guys sipping their cocktails talking crap are the best! Also The Mint up the street on Market is my fav place for karaoke. Burma Superstar is good eats in the Inner Richmond and Giorgio’s has awesome pizza (also in the inner Richmond). I love shopping in the Inner Sunset also. I use to live in the Sunset and I miss the hustle and bustle of Chinatown #3 – 20th Street/Irving…

    That’s all I got for now but I have many favorite spots in my beloved city.

    Yes, I love working close to the Ferry Bldg. I love Miette, Acme bread, Cowgirl Creamery, Out the Door and the Farmer’s Market. There’s also a great Italian Deli for sandwiches and a shop specializing in Italian sausages…meats…

    I love my city!!!

  42. Jenny says:

    Fantastic guide, Karen! My boyfriend and I are visiting his parents who lives in the Bay Area this Thanksgiving. I’ve been meaning to look up “Things to do in San Francisco” but I kept putting it off. Will definitely check out the places you recommended πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  43. Jills says:

    Omg, I love Canto do Brasil!!! So yummy. They also make the best caipirinhas I have had in the United States. =)

  44. Kizzy says:

    None of the above. My husband’s American. After living in Holland with me for 5 years, we’re now crossing the ocean to see what’s new there πŸ˜‰
    .-= Kizzy’s last blog post… The bitch is back! =-.

  45. veronica says:

    Yay, great post highlighting our beautiful city by the Bay! I practically live in the Westfield Center at this point, the addition of Bloomies was too much for me to handle.
    .-= veronica’s last blog post… Anything but Ò€œgloomyÒ€ with The Gloomers =-.

  46. Anna says:

    Karen, I first went to San Francisco with my family when I was 10 years old and it always holds a special place in my heart. I went back there in 08 for a conference, stayed in the Haight and just love that City. It has got to be one of the most beautiful, fun-filled happy cities in the world, not to mention close to so many amazing sites, i.e. Napa Valley.

  47. Scarlett says:

    I live in San Francisco. I think you really covered the great stuff to do. Do you live in San Francisco or did u just go on a trip. Either way San Francisco is a great city.

  48. ghdpick says:

    i love my home:china
    GHD Hair straightener,re-creation of beauty

  49. Lynnie says:

    Karen, I’ve only just come across this post now but just wanted to say thanks a million for it!

    I’m coming to SF for a few days and trying to plan my trip so it’s great to have all this insider info πŸ˜€
    .-= Lynnie’s last blog post… A Spot of Summer Shopping =-.

  50. JennFox says:

    Don’t forget about Tartine Bakery on 18th st. and Guererro. Mission district. BEST deserts in the Bay Area!

  51. Katherine says:

    Hey Karen, I know this post is old but I’m so grateful you posted this. I’m moving down there this year in the fall for school and you were so helpful. Thank you so much for this post! I will bookmark this page and deff share with my family when we go in a week for open house. Thanks!!!!

  52. Emily says:

    i know this an older article, but it caught my eye since I’m moving to SF in the next couple months. Can’t wait to try all your suggestions (the Ferry building is one of my favorite places so far).

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