Top 10 Things To Do And See In San Francisco's Cole Valley

Cole Valley | © Robin Sloan/Flickr
Cole Valley | © Robin Sloan/Flickr
Photo of Natalie Savio
9 February 2017

Cole Valley is located between the more populous Haight-Ashbury, Forest Knolls, and Twin Peaks districts, but this tiny district has a character all of its own, with plenty of restaurants, shops, and activities to do that can be enjoyed by nature lovers, shopaholics, and foodies alike.

View Overlooking Cole Valley | © Robin Sloan/Flickr

Say Cheese

Since 1976, Say Cheese has been Cole Valley’s local cheese market, offering various cheeses, charcuterie, wine, and sandwiches made to order. The small, family-owned business has a friendly staff readily available to answer any questions or introduce customers to rare cheeses or their hand-selected wine collection. Say Cheese also caters events and can prepare gift baskets for customers.

Say Cheese, 856 Cole St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 665 5020

Urban Mercantile

The local home décor shop Urban Mercantile sells a variety of items such as housewares, linens, pillows, ceramics, candles, stationery, and more. Urban Mercantile is essentially a refined goods and gift store. Many of the items are from small, American manufacturers as well as from different places around the world, providing the most beautiful items for the home without the large price tag.

Urban Mercantile, 85 Carl, St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 643 6372

Kezar Bar and Restaurant

Kezar Bar & Restaurant is like a pub due to its relaxed atmosphere but with better food than one would expect. Serving New and Latin American cuisine, the bar has the best of both worlds: the ambiance of a dimly lit pub with excellent drinks and freshly made food that surpasses the average pub. There is also a TV to watch sports games.

Kezar Bar & Restaurant, 900 Cole St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 681 7678

Seafood fettuccine

A photo posted by Mike uǝɥoƆ (@midnight_and_henry) on

Cole Hardware

Cole Hardware is not a plain hardware store. It contains an array of items, some of which are not related to ‘hardware at all.’ Customers can browse the store’s aisles for Mr. Potato Head and other toys, sun hats, balloons, housewares, a 24-hour locksmith, and a large garden section in the back of the building with potted plants and more. In addition, customers can also buy the more standard items such as duct tape, nails, power tools, and other home improvement supplies. Meanwhile, each aisle is color coordinated: the housewares aisle is pink, plumbing is red, etc. Cole Hardware also joined Ace Hardware, making them the smallest Ace Hardware Store in the nation.

Cole Hardware, 956 Cole St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 319 6705


Cafe, Restaurant, Bistro, French, $$$
Map View
Zazie is a very popular brunch spot on practically any day of the week, but don’t hesitate to wait because the food is delicious. Zazie offers French cuisine that can be enjoyed either inside the restaurant or on the backyard patio. The menu is quite large with something for everyone, and the restaurant is ‘tip free,’ meaning that tips – which cover full benefits for employees – are already included in the price of the menu items, so no additional tips are required or expected. Zazie also has an extensive wine, beer, and cocktail menu.


Restaurant, Wine Bar, Italian, $$$
Map View
For drinks, go to InoVino – an Italian wine bar. InoVino also serves small bites such as cheese and desserts that can be served with wine or larger Italian entrées such as pasta, risotto, and pizza. The star of the restaurant, however, is the wine; customers can expect the wine to taste great regardless of their budget. The owner, Claudio Villani, was born in Florence, Italy and earned a Professional Sommelier Diploma prior to opening InoVino.

The Ice Cream Bar

Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream, Dessert, $$$
Map View
For dessert in Cole Valley, head to The Ice Cream Bar – a 1930’s-style soda fountain and lunch counter. In addition to homemade ice cream, the old-fashioned ice cream joint serves sodas, cookies, candies, milkshakes, and savory items such as soup and sandwiches, all of which are made from organic ingredients. There is also a menu section of alcoholic desserts, and the employees are dressed as ‘Soda Jerks’ from the era.


TANTRUM is Cole Valley’s go-to children’s store, but adults will enjoy it too. There are vintage-inspired toys, jewelry, arts and crafts, books, party supplies, and other knickknacks. TANTRUM also hosts book signings and has a mechanical seal that children can ride for only a quarter at its Clement Street location. TANTRUM in Cole Valley is temporarily closed but will reopen after renovations begin on August 1, 2016. The store’s permanent Clement Street location will be open throughout renovations and will remain open once renovations in Cole Valley are complete.

TANTRUM, 248 Clement St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 831 4115

Tank Hill

Just below Cole Valley is Tank Hill, named after the water tank that rested there from 1894 to 1957. In 1977, the local community convinced the city to buy the property for $650,000 from private investors so that it remained an open space. The fairly steep park stands at 650 square feet and has a beautiful panoramic view of the city at the top. There are pathways that make reaching the top easier and rocky points that are great for climbing or taking pictures.

Tank Hill Park, San Francisco, CA, USA