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Discover San Francisco

Home > San Francisco > Cheap | Food and Wine | Shopping | Weekend Escapes
by Bertie (subscribe)
Trekking Sydney-sider sharing cool finds and neat treats
Published September 20th 2014
Best choice of US cities for a first timer
Planning your next overseas trip? Already done the London and Paris thing, but can't decide on Los Angeles or New York?

San Francisco offers the best of both worlds. It has the great climate of the west coast and the cosmopolitan vibe of New York, without that extra 5 hour flight cross country. Whether it is a stop over or intended destination, have a ball.

Finding myself in San Francisco this week, I explored San Fran (as it is affectionately known) with a different eye. It is a tourist friendly and certainly walkable city. It has the cultural mix of Melbourne, sophistication of Manhattan and California at heart.

The avid shopper will not be disappointed. All the major American boutique and chain stores are conveniently located in the Union Square district of downtown, close to all hotels. Your pick of the department stores, from Macy's, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Barneys or Saks.

For the foodie, variety of American diners, southern spices to fine Italian, abundance of Thai and Vietnamese, to pizzas and burger joints. You can fight the jetlag with all the coffee places, Starbucks, Peets, Coffee Bean and more or cozy cafes with wifi for the trendy gen-somethings.

A cool find was Bun Mee (San Franciscan-ised for Banh Mi), the infamous Vietnamese baguette sandwiches on Market Street. Fresh, clean, no hassle style of eatery, ordering system and sandwiches. Non-traditional, but tasty choice of fillings range from lemongrass pork to red curry ground beef known to locals as sloppy bun. Don't be put off by the addition of "jalapenos", it has more scare than bite or just opt out. The kaffir limeade quenches thirsty, but I opted for the much needed caffeine fix of the unmistakable Vietnamese ice coffee.

San Francisco, eats, shopping, Sausalito, Napa, tourist, visit
Bun Mee, Market Street


San Francisco, eats, shopping, Sausalito, Napa, tourist, visit
Bun Mee Menu


You pay at the counter upon ordering and can linger as long as you like, without being hassled by waiters for their tip.

Dessert, try the original San Francisco ice cream biscuit. Vanilla, cappuccino or mint ice cream wedged between two oatmeal biscuits (or as the locals say "cookies"), then chocolate dipped coating. Just $3 at the corner store. No tip required.

San Francisco, eats, ice cream, dessert
San Franciscan Ice Cream Cookie


If the touristy sites are mandatory, hop on the cable car to soak in the hilly streets of San Fran or at least visit Lombard Street. If you don't know what the deal is with Lombard Street, that's a sign you must check it out. If you have more time on your side, cross the golden gate bridge to Sausalito to soak up some culture, art galleries, the red wood forest amongst other water activities.

If it is wines you are interested in, then set aside a day trip to the Napa Valley. It's a two hour drive north, but worth it if you have come this far. The area is gorgeous even if you prefer a bold Aussie red to a Californian zinfandel. Treat yourself to lunch at Bottega.

Safe travels fellow jetsetters.
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Why? Best choice of US cities, first timer, not into LA or too far to NY?
Where: San Francisco
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