How to Plan the Ultimate San Francisco Staycation (2024)

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A TikToker who shall not be named recently quipped she has to get out of San Francisco in the summer because the weather is “so bad.” And to this, we say — they’re missing out. Why would you ever leave a breezy season by the bay to sweat through a heat wave across the country, or fight crowds around the world? San Francisco empties out deliciously in July when it’s possible to snag a hotel deal, splurge on a massage, and feast on the finest dumplings, tacos, and cioppino around town. Here’s how to staycation like you mean it in the city by the bay.


Check into the Jay Hotel

How to Plan the Ultimate San Francisco Staycation (1) The Jay Hotel

For a cool new hotel, pretend to be a luxury traveler at the Jay Hotel (433 Clay Street). No offense to the scene in Union Square, but it’s in a much more serene spot near historic Jackson Square. The hotel just got a multi-million dollar renovation and reopened in 2023. So now the striking Brutalist exterior architecture reveals stunning modern interiors by design firm Avroko. Oh, and in-house dining is all courtesy of the Omakase Restaurant Group, the team behind Niku Steakhouse and Dumpling Time, among others.

Oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co.

How to Plan the Ultimate San Francisco Staycation (2) Hog Island Oyster Co.

Staycation doesn’t officially start without postcard-perfect oysters, french fries, and a glass of bubbles, slurped right by the water. Down a dozen Sweetwaters at the one and only Hog Island (1 Ferry Building), while watching the ferry boats drift by and the bridge lights twinkle on.

Nightcap at the Third Floor Terrace

Are you still shaking off work? On the elevator ride upstairs to your room, stop off at the Third Floor Terrace for one last co*cktail on the deck. There are plenty of firepits to stay cozy despite the fog, and in the evenings sometimes wild parrots chatter nearby.


Croissants at Maison Nico

First things first: coffee and croissants. Any true San Franciscan knows that pastries are a competitive sport, and the current king of layers is Maison Nico (710 Montgomery Street). Wake up over a cafe au lait and your pastry of choice — seasonal quiche, pain au chocolat, or the serpentine brioche feuilletée.

Browse the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

How to Plan the Ultimate San Francisco Staycation (3) Amanda Lynn

Head back to the waterfront for the farmers market (1 Ferry Building). It’s easy to fall into a neighborhood market routine, but the Ferry Building on a Saturday morning is still a dazzling destination. Snack on samples of seasonal fruits and veggies and see how many star chefs you can spot picking up produce for the day’s menu.

Dim sum lunch at City View Restaurant

Climb toward the Dragon Gate (Grant Avenue and Bush Street) to visit Chinatown. Head north on Grant Avenue toward City View (33 Walter U Lum Place), which moved to a new location last year, swapping the white tablecloths and classic carts for a modern space with jade green booths. It’s still some of the best dim sum in the city, with explosive soup dumplings, juicy shrimp har gow, and crispy crab claws.

Wander through Chinatown and North Beach

Continue strolling under the colorful lanterns along Grant Avenue and start ducking into shops. Highlights include eating your fortune at Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory (56 Ross Alley), experiencing tea traditions at Red Blossom Tea Company (831 Grant Avenue), or upgrading your wok at the Wok Shop (718 Grant Avenue).

How to Plan the Ultimate San Francisco Staycation (4) Molinari Delicatessen

Then spill out into the checkered tablecloths and Italian pride of North Beach. Now’s the moment to restock on salami at Molinari Delicatessen (373 Columbus Avenue), seriously consider a hand-painted espresso mug at Biordi Art Imports (412 Columbus Avenue), or pick up a new book at City Lights Bookstore (261 Columbus Avenue).

Irish coffee at the Buena Vista

If you’re fading in the afternoon, it’s fair to stop for a classic cappuccino at Caffè Greco (423 Columbus Avenue) or bohemian beer at Vesuvio Cafe (255 Columbus Avenue). But as long as we’re playing tourist, keep rolling down the hill to the Buena Vista (2765 Hyde Street) and belly up to the bar for an iconic Irish coffee.

Dinner at Scoma’s

How to Plan the Ultimate San Francisco Staycation (5) Joanie Simon

Real ones know how to dodge all the tourist traps in Fisherman’s Wharf and skip straight down the dock to Scoma’s (1965 Al Scoma Way). The “Lazy Man’s” Cioppino is brimming with shellfish yet completely free of shells. Nobody has to crack their own crab on staycation.

Ride the cable car

Go full tourist and hop on the cable car at the corner of Hyde and Beach streets. It’s possible to tag your usual Clipper card. Yes, it costs $8, but look, it’s a special treat for staycation. Ride over the hill and back to that pillowy soft hotel bed.


Brunch at Zazie

How to Plan the Ultimate San Francisco Staycation (6) Zazie

For some people, it’s not a staycation without eggs Benedict. Slide into the sunny back patio at Zazie (941 Cole Street), where there are no hard decisions before breakfast. It’s possible to get one, two, or three eggs, stacked on Dungeness crab or smoked salmon. And add on a single buttermilk pancake, for good measure.

The de Young Museum and Golden Gate Park

Take a stroll into Golden Gate Park, that playground full of gardens and museums. Hit any attractions you haven’t ticked off your SF bucket list yet. Or it’s always worth revisiting the de Young (50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive) for special exhibitions. At the time of writing, there’s a fabulous fashion exhibit exploring 100 years of style by the bay.

Tacos at Nopalito

How to Plan the Ultimate San Francisco Staycation (7) Nick Perry

If the pancake has worn off, it might be time for a taco, or at least a place to sit down with a cold margarita. The best option nearby is Nopalito (306 Broderick Street), where chef Gonzalo Guzmán grinds his own masa, deep fries carnitas, and smashes fresh salsa. The covered back patio offers a shady spot to chill for a minute.

Soak at Kabuki Springs & Spa

Okay, enough with the walking: Staycation calls for a trip to the spa. Soak tired feet in the springs at Kabuki Springs & Spa (1750 Geary Boulevard), the city’s longtime favorite public bathhouse. There are hot pools, cold plunges, steam rooms, and saunas. Make sure to check the schedule for men’s, women’s, and all-gender days, and book ahead for eastern or western massages.

Sourdough from Jane the Bakery

How to Plan the Ultimate San Francisco Staycation (8) Leigh Nile

Like any good tourist visiting San Francisco, the souvenir of choice is sourdough. Thankfully, whenever you stagger out of the spa, you’ll only be a couple of blocks away from one of the best bakeries in the city. Swing by Jane the Bakery (1881 Geary Boulevard) for a loaf of classic sourdough, and savor the staycation memories on toast all week.

How to Plan the Ultimate San Francisco Staycation (2024)


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