Budding with a myriad of iconic landmarks, San Francisco attracts millions of visitors yearly. While you can’t miss venturing to its most well-known hotspots, the city’s distinct culture is most prevalent in destinations less familiar to outsiders. Hidden gems exist in every neighborhood, glinting with unique spots that often only San Franciscans are aware of. Take a peek at this list to uncover ten spots brimming with SF culture and are home to a selection of original souvenirs.
Three Fish Studios
After exploring the neighboring San Francisco landmarks Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach, check out this artistic hub. Founded by husband and wife artists Eric Rewitzer and Annie Galvin who have produced iconic prints, Three Fish Studios of the Outer Sunset offers the complete creative experience. Take home first edition prints inspired by the vibrant culture of California, or create your own work in the printmaking studio during a workshop lesson. This souvenir-pitstop combines imagination and originality, presenting one-of-a-kind art and an artistic experience you won’t forget.
4541 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122, (415) 242-3474
Three Fish Prints | Courtesy of Tess Holland
Green Apple Books
Unique to San Francisco, Green Apple Books opened in 1967 and has maintained its original location in The Richmond District. Come here to enjoy a variety of literature and comics, while admiring the authentic ambiance of the store. After sifting through the shop’s extensive collection of used and new books, take home your next good-read in their signature Green Apple Books tote bag.
506 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, (415) 387-2272
Exterior of Green Apple | Courtesy of Tess Holland
This small bakery in The Castro fuses festive treats with a quirky environment. Choose from their colorful menu, which includes the caramel pretzel cookie and their famous penis and venus marshmallow filled chocolate. As you munch on your choice of treat, admire the store walls that are patterned with photos of visitors sporting the signature red and white Hot Cookie underwear. Buy your own pair to take home, and leave a trace of yourself on the bakery’s wall, modeling your newest ‘hot’ purchase in a photograph.
407 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114, (415) 621-2350
Hot Cookie Treats | Courtesy of Tess Holland
The Castro Theatre
Bring your Hot Cookie treat to the neighboring Castro Theatre, a famous San Francisco landmark that possesses the unique spirit of the city. While this site offers a less tangible souvenir, your visit will supply you with an unforgettable memory to hold on to. Buy a ticket to one of this ‘movie palace’s’ sing-alongs, in which you can sing the words to one of your favorite musicals. If you’re eager to take part in this event, stop by the theatre on July 1st and 3rd to sing along to West Side Story.
429 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114, (415) 621-6350
Exterior of The Castro Theatre | Courtesy of Tess Holland
Lovejoy’s Tea Room And Attic
Tea Room, Tea , $$$
Lovejoy’s Tea Room And Attic
Spend an afternoon relishing sweet and savory teas and snacks at Lovejoy’s, located in Noe Valley. Emerging in the 1990s, this charming tearoom inherited its name based on a book series by Jonathan Gash about a British antique dealer named Lovejoy. Traces of the whimsical accent this setting, as the shop incorporates mismatched furniture and china and quirky decorations to shape the space. After indulging in their treats and bottomless pot of tea, venture to Lovejoy’s Attic across the street, where you can find antique china and collectibles to punctuate this quaint visit.
1351 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114, (415) 648-5895
Lovejoy’s Attic | Courtesy of Tess Holland
This petite gallery and store in Potrero Hill is home to an eclectic combination of goods, spanning jewelry crafted by Bay Area female artists to vintage clocks and cameras. Originating over twenty years ago, the space is loaded with individual items for the home and features a display of artwork in tandem with their artist-of-the-month. Stop by Collage Gallery to explore the assemblage of interesting trinkets and art pieces in a space blended with originality.
345 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94107, (415) 282-4401
Vintage Clocks | Courtesy of Tess Holland
Minutes away from San Francisco’s renowned Painted Ladies, this spot is where customers indulge in freshly made coffee and bread. The Mill offers a simple menu of four distinct toasts and a selection of additional spreads, each possessing flavorful tastes that emanate quality. Delicate lights and wooden features accent the open space, making it the perfect place to enjoy a weekend brunch. You can leave the coffee shop with your own Four Barrel Coffee, Josey Baker Bread, or a jar of jam, all with roots in California.
736 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117,(415) 345-1953
Coffee and Bread at The Mill | Courtesy of Tess Holland
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
After walking through San Francisco’s vibrant Chinatown, make a stop at Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory to complete your visit with a sweet treat. The bakery offers free tours, on which you can witness the production of fortune cookies and delight in the authenticity of the space. Don’t forget to take home a bag or two of fortune cookies, which can be chocolate or classic flavor. You can also customize your own fortune, adding even more excitement to this SF pitstop.
56 Ross Alley, San Francisco, CA 94108, (415) 781-3956
Inside the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory | Courtesy of Tess Holland
Flora Grubb Gardens
Nurserywoman Flora Grubb founded this modern plant nursery located in Bayview. With her work transforming Californian landscapes, she translated her inventive vision into a space complete with outdoor gardens, a cafe, and a shop with gifts for the garden and home. Flora Grubb Gardens encompasses a remarkable setting, attracting gardeners and other customers that delight in exploring the lush gardens as they sip on a cup of Ritual Coffee Roasters coffee. Stop by to create your own potted succulent arrangement or take home a colorful patio chair.
1634 Jerrold Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124, (415) 626-7256
Patio Chair Wall | Courtesy of Tess Holland
At Heath Ceramics, you’re able to witness the behind-the-scenes efforts at work in the creation of the store’s products. This spot in The Mission is the center of home goods, crafting dinnerware, tableware, and tiles. Inside, you’ll see the factory in which these impeccable objects are crafted, and you can even participate in a tour on which you can gain a glimpse into the compelling process of ceramic production. After exploring the selection of ceramics in the airy space, make a stop at the in-house cafe that serves Blue Bottle Coffee, an Oakland-based company that Bay Area natives love.
2900 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110,(415) 361-5552
Heath Ceramics | Courtesy of Tess Holland