- Adriana Jones
The perfect mix between Pacific Heights upscale fashion and Marina hipster food, Cow Hollow has some of the best restaurants and stores in the area, without all of the tourists and crowds. While everyone else is heading to Union Square, stick to Union Street for a quieter experience, and don’t be shy to ask any locals for their advice – they tend to be friendly and can point you to things both on and off this list!
Get Your Coffee Fix
Start your morning in Cow Hollow off right – Wrecking Ball Coffee has the best coffee in the area and will keep you awake for the inevitable Union Street shopping spree. Whether you go with the iced cappuccino (the signature drink) or ‘Karl the Latte’, a pumpkin spice latte which is named after San Francisco’s beloved Karl the Fog, you cannot go wrong. With sustainably sourced grounds, knowledgeable staff, and pineapple wallpaper, Wrecking Ball is altogether a wonderful experience every time.
Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, 2271 Union St, San Francisco, CA, USA
Everyone knows the best way to fuel up for your weekend mornings is to go out to brunch. With brioche beignets at Belga, challah French toast at Perry’s, Tahitian vanilla waffles at the Palm House, and herb potato pancakes at Caffe Union, there’s no wrong choice. Brunch in Cow Hollow is often a popular meal, so no matter where you go, be prepared to have a short wait.
Caffè Union, 1830 Union St, San Francisco, CA, USA
Belga, 2000 Union St, San Francisco, CA, USA
Perry’s, 1944 Union St, San Francisco, CA, USA
Palm House, 2032 Union St, San Francisco, CA, USA
Get a Workout In
Union Street is home to many athletic apparel stores, many of which offer free workout sessions throughout the week. The Nike on Union Street may be a women-focused store, but it offers free workouts to all sexes, including yoga, training, and running sessions. The staff are beyond friendly, and the store has professional trainers to run each workout, allowing you to get the most out of each exercise. Any of the sessions can be signed up for on the Nike Union Street website beforehand in order to secure a spot.
Nike Union Street, 2071 Union St, San Francisco, CA, USA
Visit the McElroy Octagon House
Originally built across the street by William McElroy in 1861, this historic house was moved to its current location in 1951 and restored in the years following. It is now San Francisco Landmark 17 as well as a museum, which is open to the public on the second Sunday of each month. The house is also one of the three remaining octagon houses in San Francisco, the other two are the Feusier House and the Marine Exchange Lookout Station, also known as Land’s End Octagon House, which has fallen into great disrepair. The McElroy is the only one that the public are allowed into and is a great landmark to check out.
McElroy Octagon House, 2645 Gough St, San Francisco, CA, USA
Walk up the Lyon Steps
In case you don’t get enough exercise walking throughout the city, or if you just want a good view, head to the end of Cow Hollow. The Lyon Steps may be quite the workout, but they are beyond worth it; from the top you can see Alcatraz, the Palace of Fine Arts, and on a sunny day you can see practically the entire bay. Part way up is one of the Hearts of San Francisco art displays, one of 131 hearts auctioned off to benefit the San Francisco General Hospital foundation. The only warning that comes with the Lyon Steps is how out of shape you may feel, especially due to the fact that the steps are a popular workout spot.
Lyon Steps, 2460 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA, USA
Take Cooking Lessons at Sur la Table
This cooking store, located on Union Street, is split into two parts: one side is the retail experience, the other is a kitchen, awaiting its daily students. Sur La Table hosts cooking lessons everyday, from macaroons and croissants to global date night dinners, and it has something for everyone. The store also hosts private events, allowing you to book the entire kitchen for you and your guests. The classes can be booked online and are typically two hours long.
Sur La Table, 2224 Union St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 318 8112
From smaller boutique shops to the chain exercise stores, Union Street has a huge variety of shopping, but men be forewarned, this area is mostly comprised of women’s stores. Off of Union Street, My Roommate’s Closet offers a fantastic selection of women’s designer clothes at less expensive prices as well as great service, from personal shopping to closet consultation and private parties.
My Roommate’s Closet, 3044 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 447 7703
Get Your Sweet Fix
Despite being an area known for its health aficionados, Cow Hollow has some good options for sweet treats. Sugarfina is a high-end candy store featuring gorgeous candies from around the world. Pacific Puffs is a specialty cream puff store started by two brothers, Trent and Rhys Carvolth. The cream puffs are made with their mother’s recipe and clearly much love. Being the dog-friendly environment that it is, Cow Hollow has to also include a place for your canine companion to get their treats, and Le Marcel Bakery for Dogs provides that service. Don’t be fooled when you see the beautiful concoctions in the store, they really aren’t for human consumption, despite how delicious they look.
Sugarfina, 1837 Union St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 855 784 2734
Pacific Puffs, 2201 Union St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 440 7833
Le Marcel Bakery for Dogs, 2066 Union St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 440 2498
Visit The Yoda Fountain
Just outside of Cow Hollow, inside Presidio Park, are the Lucasfilm headquarters. Amongst the different Star Wars decorations (which include a life-size Darth Vader ) is the Yoda fountain, one of San Francisco’s many permanent art installations. A tourist destination for many, the area is typically fairly quiet during the winter and the Lucasfilm headquarters are impressively beautiful, so give yourself enough time to grab some Starbucks on campus and enjoy the views from the park.
Lucasfilm Headquarters, 1 Letterman Dr, San Francisco, CA, USA
Stroll Around Allyne Park
Sometimes a break is much needed in the hustle and bustle of the city, and Allyne Park provides a serene getaway. Adjacent to the McElroy Octagon House, the park is less than an acre big, but the many trees provide great shade for the perfect reading spot. During the winter it is often overlooked by tourists and locals alike, so make sure to give it a visit. In the summer it is a center for dog walkers, sunbathers, and small children, but it always will greet you with a welcoming and cheery atmosphere, so don’t skip it in either season. If you are looking for refreshments after some time in the park, Blue Fog Market is just across the street and offers artisan sandwiches and coffee.
Allyne Park, 2609 Gough St, San Francisco, CA, USA
Blue Fog Market, 2567 Gough St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 931 9331