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For shop-a-holics, Union Square is a must see. Whether you're looking for the latest iPod at the Apple store or wishing to buy a high end purse from designers such as Gucci or Louis Vuitton, Union Square is your place! If you are more concerned about staying within a budget, do not worry, as you can also score some trendy, yet affordable pieces at stores such as H&M or Forever 21 or further up at the Ross - dress for less store. If you can dream of it, you'll probably be able to find it within the Union Square shopping area. For foreign visitors shopping at Macys, a 11% discount card is available with suitable id.
However, if you are looking for small unique items, almost all of the city’s neighborhoods host a thriving “main street” where you can find great shopping and food. If in the Mission District, head to the quirky shops of Valencia Street; in Chinatown, Grant Avenue is an interesting place to browse -- all the way across Broadway and into North Beach, the city's old Italian section; in the Marina, check out the boutiques on Chestnut Street; Pacific Heights has Fillmore Street . Cow Hollow, Russian Hill hosts many chic shops on Union Street. Finally, for Haight-Ashbury, stroll down Haight Street for its retro and hip offerings. Don't forget to check out the cafes, bookstores, and boutiques.
You may wish to explore Chinatown, which is an easy 2 block walk from Union Square. You can find unique gifts and souvenirs here, as well as foreign movies and music. If you are in the market for herbs, be sure to check out one of the many herbalists in Chinatown. Imperial Tea, which tourists love in the Ferry Building, got its start on a modest storefront on Powell Street. Chinatown is not just cheap tourist souvenir shops --be sure to check out some of the temples, dim sum restaurants and local bakeries as well. The Chinese Historical Society of America has a very good museum in the newly renovated (2002) Julia Morgan-designed YWCA building on Clay Street, and the Chinese Cultural Center inside the nearby Hilton Financial District on Kearny Street hosts some excellent exhibits.
From Chinatown, North Beach is just a short walk up Columbus Avenue and across Broadway. A stop at Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Book Store is almost required. North Beach Leather started here, and innumerable little shops, bakeries, delis and coffee houses are found here.
Japantown is another place you may wish to visit. If you are a sushi lover, it is must-see for. There are plenty of little restaurants that serve up fresh sushi and great prices. Kinokuniya Bookstore In general, not as touristy and somewhat overlooked in comparison to Chinatown, but well worth your time. As with Chinatown, there are plenty of shops where you can pick up a souvenir for yourself or those back home.
Also not to be missed while visiting San Francisco is the historic Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street. It is a multi-million dollar restoration of building that was the bustling transportation hub of the city before the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges were built. Now it is the hub of food-lovers'fresh organic produce, meats, artisan cheeses and wine. The bi-weekly Farmer's Market brings in even more fresh, organic produce and comestibles. Thursday night Markets extend into the evenings during the summer. Shops specializing in cookware and tableware, casual and fine dining restaurants complete the homage to food. A truly wonderful addition to the shopping mecca in the area.
Ferry Building Hustle and Bustle on a bust Sat. morning
Gorgeous Flowers Can Be Purchased at the Ferry Building Marketplace
Union Square as Seen From the Top of Macy's