San Francisco Travel Guide 2013

Union Square , San Francisco – A Comprehensive Travel Guide

Union Square Parking Garage

First renovation from 1939-1941

The next major renovation from 1939-1941 produced the world’s first underground parking garage. The parking garage with 985 spaces was dug directly under the square. Today it’s a popular parking spot and one of many parking stations available in and around Union Square. The prices sneak up on you though and the hourly rate fluctuates depending on the hour of the day. If staying at a hotel near this location it’s recommended you do not hire a car as hotels charge upwards of $100 per night for valet parking.


Fast forward to 1998 and local city planners were busy planning the upgrade of the square. Paved surfaces, extension to the underground car park, outdoor cafes and restaurants, shopping complexes and new park facility improvements all attributed to the square’s growing popularity.


The grand re-opening by Mayor Willie Brown in July 2002 saw a newly renovated Union Square opened to the public. Declaring ‘’Use it; it’s your square, ” both locals and visitors embraced the inviting, elegant square as it became another great San Francisco landmark. To further public enjoyment of this great public space, the city introduced free WI-FI in 2004.

Union Square Ariel View


Shopping in San Francisco is a favourite past time with countless options available. If you can think of it, then it can be found here. Union Square is surrounded by some of the biggest brand name department stores, upscale boutiques, luxury outlets and speciality stores. With a thoughtful layout and impressive collection of shops, restaurants and entertainment, you will soon see why this is considered the heart of San Francisco.

Department stores in Union Square

Some of the world’s largest department stores either over look the square or are located within a short 2-3 block radius. We are talking huge here too. Several of these stores have dedicated locations to female and male shoppers spanning over multiple floors. The big six located here include:

  • Macy’s
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Barneys New York
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Neiman Marcus
Saks Fifth Avenue Union Square

Upscale boutiques

World famous luxury goods retailers and fashion boutiques are dotted throughout Union Square. Enjoy a range of upscale shops which include:

  • Tiffany & Co
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Gucci
  • Chanel
  • Hugo Boss
  • Salvatore Ferragamo
  • Cartier
  • Marc Jacobs
  • Hermes
  • And many more…

Two blocks south of Union Square…

The Cheesecake Factory on top of Macy's in Union Square San FranciscoCan’t get enough of shopping? Then head a short 2 blocks south of Union Square where you will find many more brand name stores. Some of these include Old Navy, Abercrombie & Fitch, Urban outfitters, Apple Store, United Colors of Benetton, Anthropologie and countless more.

Eating and drinking

Boasting some of the best restaurants and bars in the city, there is no shortage of options available here. Being so close to the theatre district means several establishments are open to the late hours. Fine food is not just a luxury here, but a way of life for San Franciscans.

Here is a great short video to wet the appetite and whistle.

One popular dining venue with superb views of union Square is The Cheesecake Factory. Enter the Macy’s building from where an express lift will whisk you to the restaurant. Request a table outside or on the inside window to enjoy the views of the square. But be warned, the wait times for a table at this restaurant can be long! But in my experience the wait times were certainly worth it.

Love budget travel guides - here's a few ideas

by -

Can't wait til they put the SF sanp guide out.
The SF Convention/Visitors has this online guide:
Events and nightlife: Francisco Chronicle online has a good guide:
Take advantage of free walking tours of many neighborhoods from

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Fodor's Fodor's San Francisco 2013: with the Wine Country (Full-color Travel Guide)
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