Union Square is the hub of downtown shopping in San Francisco and the options sometimes seem endless. Crammed into this small parcel of real estate are some of the best known & best loved retail stores from around the globe. Let's face it, you can't thoroughly do all the major department stores in one day, but at least you can experience them.
There are secret gardens and places to eat when you're tired and hungry on your retail marathon. We also talk about nearby Maiden Lane — you won't want to miss it on your shopping day(s) in the San Francisco. In addition to our top 10 shopping picks there's also a number of art galleries — including Farinelli, Gallery 444, and Hang Art — adding another distinctive element to this downtown core.
Let's start off with one of our best shopping tips. Take the elevator at Bloomingdale's to the top of the building for a lovely surprise — a roof top patio with a garden.
Due to a very useful law, large, privately owned buildings in downtown SF must provide access to the public. To get to the Sky Terrace at the Westfield Mall, enter Bloomingdale's on Market Street, take the elevators to the 4th floor, follow the signs for elevators to the 9th floor.
Of course, as long as you're in Bloomingdale's…
Since 1923 Barneys has been a mecca for discerning connoisseurs and it's nice to have a branch in San Francisco.
In 2016 the Union Square store started a multi-year expansion and renovation. Look forward to the addition of a separate 19,000 square-foot, two-level men's store and the addition of Fred's Restaurant on the 6th floor. Fred's is the creation of Fred Pressman, son of Barneys founder Barney Pressman and currently only found in their NYC and Beverly Hills stores.
This Union Square landmark building is Macy's west coast flagship store. And it's huge! Best advice? Get the visitor discount card. Macy's offers visitors a generous 10% discount card that lasts for five days after validation (30 days for international visitors). Snag one by going to the Visitor Center. They can also help you with city maps and guides.
There are plenty of beauty counters on the main floor staffed with consultants eager to give you a free makeover or touch up. When you get hungry head to the Cheese Cake Factory on the top floor.
By anyone's standards, a glorious high-end department store. The stained glass ceiling alone is worth a visit.
It's also the ultimate ladies lunch spot. Head to the Rotunda restaurant for the warm seafood salad, or the lobster club sandwich and a glass of champagne. We recommend the Veuve Clicquot Brut.
The retail dream child of Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel, the stores have become synonymous with fashionable, gracious living.
Many footwear connoisseurs believe that the shoe department in the San Francisco store is the best in the city. Another insiders tip — get a free makeover and sign on for a personal shopper.
In 1901 John W. Nordstrom opened a small shoe store in Seattle using profits from the Alaska gold rush. Today we all know Nordstrom as the gold standard of quality customer service in retailing.
Head to the Cafe Bistro located inside Nordstrom on the 7th floor. It overlooks the city with breathtaking views of cable cars riding up and down Powell Street. Try their famous small bistro plates and white chocolate and raspberry bread pudding for dessert.
It's the only indoor mall in the Union Square neighborhood. Located on Market Street at Powell Street, its six levels hold 200 shops including Nordstrom & Bloomingdale's. It has a food court, but since it is San Francisco it's called a food emporium and features high-end culinary options with Thai, sushi, seafood, dim sum and other global cuisines dishes., all served under the magnificent historic glass dome.
The Tiffany Building is an eleven-story tower in the heart of Union Square. The bottom two floors are the dedicated home to Tiffany & Co. The nice thing about Tiffany's is their exemplary customer service — and there's usually no pressure to purchase. Tiffany also has a store in the San Francisco City Centre.
We call it the Disneyland for serious cooks! Plan on spending an hour or two browsing every square inch of their flagship store. Be sure to check out their events calendar before you arrive to find out if the free technique classes, junior chef classes, or cooking classes are available. Also in the works is a Willliams-Sonoma museum to honour its founder, Chuck Williams.
Although not quite on Union Square Maiden Lane is close enough, and it's something not to be missed on your SF shopping extravaganza on Union Square.
Maiden Lane sits between Geary and Post Streets and is home to a concentration of luxury retailing and wonderful restaurants. The gates of Maiden Lane gates are closed to cars daily from 11 am to 6 pm, allowing the cafes and pedestrians to transform the business district into a pedestrian oasis.
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