You might think shopping in San Francisco is a bit like shopping in any other big city, there are all the standard shops you see everywhere else, and you can get all the thing you get there somewhere else. But that’s to miss the point a little.

It is different because it is San Francisco and that means there’s all sort of nuance and difference all over the place.If you feel you must do a Mall

There’s really two to check out. First, the Westfield Shopping Center which is a step above your regular downtown mall. Located on Market St. between 4th and 5th, it is right in the heart of the city. You will find both Nordstrom and Bloomingdales as well as Burberry. Yes, it is that sort of Mall. Lots of great and different place to eat too. The piece de resistance is the fantastic dome and architecture which give the place its class and décor.

If you’re in Palo Alto then check out the mall at Stanford. This is a big sprawling open-air mall – like Westfield, it has the stores you would expect but what is delightful is the Stanford shopping center restaurants. Spread out across the entire campus and of just about every type you can think of. It is a long way to go if you’re not already there, but if you’re local check it out, it is worth it.

Photo Credit: By Michiel1972 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,Now we have done with that, we can take a look about the areas.

Union Square shopping San Francisco is the main square just above Market street headed away from the Mission. It has a huge Macy’s a flagship store in fact and there is a Neiman Marcus too if you want to be parted from your money with the best possible manners.

The edge of the square is also dotted with loads of slightly more interesting but still upmarket stores. Gumps, for example, is 150 years old and it is a true local.

This is the shi-shi part of town, so make sure that if you buy, it is special.

Next entire street to wander is Fillmore street shopping San Francisco. Just around the corner from the mall and Union Square, located between Sacramento Street and Geary Boulevard. This is a part of town where the fog rarely reaches, giving you the California feel of a boulevard lit by the sun where you can sit at a sidewalk café and enjoy your morning coffee before buying handmade shoes and organic beauty. Locally produced knitwear and excellent California style home décor.

It is worth a walk along the street for the jazz and the nightlife too. This is a humming part of the city and there’s tons of fun.

Photo Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, City Lights

This is a must see. Yes, it is only a bookstore, but it is the bookstore of the Beat Generation. You might not come across a literary beatnik these days but it is still a great bookstore with a fantastic vibe.

PhotoCredit: By Another Believer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Some cool recommendations

There’s a load of cool shops in San Francisco which have a feel of their own and the chance of picking up something everyone else doesn’t have. Here are some favorites that are worth a look.

Gravel & Gold is a find in the Mission area. The area used to be a little run down, but as it is directly off Market Street it has really picked up its act and is now a lovely, thriving community with lots to see and plenty of quirky stores like this one which specializes in lovely things by women for women. C’mon, support a sister.

Mill Mercantile – this is where all the girls who like the Tomboy look go. This, ladies, is where you can get your new brogues and they will be beautiful and you will feel a million dollars in them. Your jeans will be cut well and if you do buy fragrances at this mini department store you aren’t going to come out all girly-girl.

On Fillmore as above, Voyager and Revolver is one of the cute and different shops to spend a half-hour. It might come from anywhere, there are things for men and women and it just might be anything. You never know exactly what stock will be there, so it really is a place to go if you want something no one else has.

Our advice is to leave the big stores alone, you know what they have, go for the off-beat, the ones who have their own drum and be open to what you might come across. Shopping here is a bit like being here. Look around a bit and you’ll find something different.

Photo Credit: Public Domain,