San Francisco Union Square Walking Tour

Heart Sculpture in Union Square San Francisco

Christina Lease/Getty Images 

San Francisco's Union Square is a large shopping area that's a popular spot for tourists.

Start this walking tour by picking up a map at the TIX booth. Stand in the middle of Union Square facing Macy's to get oriented. The Financial District and waterfront are on the left, in front of you (beyond Macy's) are SOMA (south of Market area) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Chinatown and North Beach are behind, and the theatre/art gallery district on the right.

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Union Square North

Union Square, San Francisco, in sunshine
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Stores stretch along the north side of Union Square, and beyond it are Chinatown and North Beach.

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Tix, Union Square San Francisco
Betsy Malloy Photography

Within Union Square Plaza, you'll find TIX, half-price ticket booth. Go here if you want to see a play or show without breaking your budget. For the best selection, get in line about 30 minutes before half-price tickets go on sale.

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Union Square East

East Side of Union Square San Francisco
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At the plaza's opposite end, you'll find Emporio Rulli, a good place for coffee and pastry or an afternoon aperitif. Sit at an outside table to enjoy people-watching.

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Union Square West - St Francis Hotel

West Side of Union Square in San Francisco: Westin St. Francis
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Elegant St. Francis Hotel occupies the Powell Street-side of Union Square. Don't just stand outside looking at it, go in and take a look at the lobby, too.

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Union Square at Christmas

San Francisco Union Square at Christmas
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Facing the plaza, Macy's Union Square, the biggest department store west of New York City, stretches from Powell to Stockton along Geary and spills over into several nearby buildings.

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Maiden Lane

Lunch on Maiden Lane in San Francisco.
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Maiden Lane runs into Union Square at Stockton. Despite its virginal-sounding name, in Gold Rush times, it was home to prostitutes. For foot traffic only, it's lined with art galleries and restaurants.

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Walk of Fame at Hotel Diva

Walk of Fame at Hotel Diva, San Francisco
Betsy Malloy Photography

This Walk of Fame features some of the Hotel Diva's celebrity guests. Among them are Joan Rivers, Angelica Huston, and Jermaine Jackson. This little walk of fame is at 440 Geary Blvd.

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Xanadu Gallery

V. C. Morris Gift Shop, now the Xanadu Gallery
Betsy Malloy Photography

Xanadu Gallery at 140 Maiden Lane is San Francisco's only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building, a precursor for the Guggenheim Museum.

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Neiman Marcus

Ceiling of Nieman Marcus, San Francisco
Betsy Malloy Photography

At Stockton and Geary, Neiman Marcus preserves the old City of Paris department store's rotunda and magnificent stained-glass ceiling.

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Places of Note in the Union Square Area

Gump's Department Store in Union Square
Robert Holmes/Getty Images

Some of the nicest shops are on side streets. A few highlights:

  • Geary Street: Britex Fabrics has a mind-boggling assortment of fabrics.
  • Market Street: Near Powell Street and Market is San Francisco Shopping Center and Nordstrom's. The spiral escalators here are a destination in themselves.
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Map of Union Square San Francisco
Adapted from Google Maps

To print a full-sized version of this map of San Francisco Union Square, click the map and it will open a larger version. Or you can go to the interactive version.