A Mission District walking tour for travelers from around the globe…and this local.

It’s an all too familiar scene.

Friends visiting San Francisco text to ask if I’d like to join them somewhere in the city. They know I love sharing my city with visitors, especially those who haven’t been before. Yet a small part of me cringes when I hear their list of plans: Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Union Square, Ghirardelli Square, riding in a cable car, clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.

I resist the urge to text them back with “No! Don’t do it! It’s a trap!” …Those are all parts of San Francisco that I have fond memories of, especially as a child. And for those who haven’t been before, they’re essential parts of the SF tourist experience.

The moment in which I shudder has less to do with any given person’s San Francisco itinerary and more to do with thinking back to when that was all I knew of the city. It’s all that most who visit know of the city.

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Where does one go to find the best bookstores in San Francisco?

It’s no secret that I’m a huge book nerd. My ideal afternoon includes prancing around foreign cities in search of the best libraries and bookstores. Yet in just over two years in San Francisco I’ve gotten to know my local bookstores — and they’ve become some of my favorites in the whole world.

In honor of #NationalBookLoversDay this week (which I am celebrating fully,) here is a list of what I consider to be the best bookstores in San Francisco.

best san francisco bookstores.

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I’m coming up on two years of working remotely in San Francisco. And while, yes, some of this time was spent frolicking to other countries or on my couch at home, many, many hours have been spent in search of strong coffee and even stronger wifi.

As a freelancer, I like a healthy balance between being in my own world and being surrounded by others. Routine is both my best friend and my worst enemy — I find it encourages productivity but stifles creativity. When I’m short on inspiration, sometimes it’s as simple as a walk through a new neighborhood (I love you, SF) followed by a couple of hours in a coffee shop with good vibes. I find that even changing up my seating in a familiar place can help me see things in a new light.

Finding a public space to work in offers the best of both worlds. And because there’s nothing like caffeine to fuel both productivity and creativity, for me, I find myself in the city’s best coffee shops more often than not.

When I’m on deadline, I have to prioritize the Internet connection and minimize distractions. When I’m out more to journal or generate ideas, I choose coffee quality above all else. Most days you can find me at my neighborhood go-tos, which offer a bit of both.

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Sometimes getting lost is the best thing that happens to us on any given Saturday.

I wasn’t supposed to be exploring The Presidio, the former military outpost and now sprawling urban park in San Francisco.  But when life (or your friend who is driving) takes a wrong turn, it can be for the better.

Now, we’ve established that San Francisco is a (naturally) beautiful place. You’d think I’d have learned not be surprised to turn a corner and be astonished by a beautiful sight.  Yet days of having bizarre things yelled at you in the Tenderloin or consistently being blinded by the rocks on the hands of Marina women can make you forget that nature exists, in full glory, without even having to leave the city.

When I saw these rays of light shining down, I knew I had to photograph them.  It was so much fun to play with the light and the shadows, and as well as the images came out, it is crazy to think that this sight was even more beautiful in person.

The photos are raw and unedited, just as nature is…

Presidio Forest SF1
Presidio Forest SF2

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Most people move to San Francisco for a job, for a friend, for the natural beauty.  Others (*ahem*) move to the city in pursuit of one of the U.S.’s most vibrant food scenes.

Just when you think you’re getting somewhere with your SF restaurant list (and don’t even get me started on all the additional food pilgrimages that need to take place in the surrounding Bay Area,) fifteen of your new favorite restaurants decide to open up (twelve to be exact.)
And then you’re left with the age old dilemma of: do I go back to my favorite spot (or, if you’re feeling particularly lazy, the favorite spot within a few blocks walk from your couch) OR do I venture out?  Will the trek to this or that neighborhood, or outside of my food comfort zone, pay off in the form of delighted taste buds?

To add to this ever-present challenge, here are a few more to add to your ever-growing list of SF eats.  All of them opened in the last six months, and a few in the last few weeks.


Brenda’s Meat and Three

Cuisine: New Orleans inspired/Southern
Neighborhood: NoPa (Alamo Square)
Story: Get Southern style meat and three sides (hence the name) from the genius folks behind Brenda’s French Soul Food. And, they served brunch here too. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Difficulty level: Low to medium. During busy restaurant hours you’ll likely wait (just like Brenda’s for brunch) but you’ll get in eventually!  (I’m going to try going for lunch first.)
What To Try: It’s hard to go wrong with po’ boys. And I’m pretty excited about the Little Gem and Fried Oysters Salad. Also, biscuits. Also, fried chicken.

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