Discover the Adventure
San Francisco's Union Street

Don't Be Confused; This is Union Street... Not Union Square

Union Square not enough shopping for you? Or, perhaps you're looking for something a little less crowded and a little more boutique-y.Then you definitely want to head on over to my favorite part of the Cow Hollow neighborhood - Union Street!

Trendy as the Ladies who Lunch, yet with a Victorian ambiance that hearkens to the days of calling cards on polished silver trays, Union is several blocks of charming nooks and crannies filled with some of San Francisco's best shops and boutiques; cafes, bars, and restaurants.

The street is long, so plan on spending at least half a day exploring up and down the street - don't miss the cross streets - you will find some real gems off the beaten track.

Union offers great shopping with over 200 shops and galleries, superb dining at over 40 restaurants and cafés, exciting nightlife - it's the place to see and be seen - and exquisite pampering at renowned spas and salons.

Union Street: Cow Hollow's Hidden Treasure

Shopping at Jest Jewels; photographer unknownShopping at Jest Jewels; photographer unknown

If you're a newcomer to San Francisco, you may not have heard of the shopping and dining that's available in the Union area of Cow Hollow.

It's nestled within historic Victorian and Edwardian buildings, in an area that supported dairy farms before it became one of San Francisco's most posh places to live during the late 1800s.

The shopping district encompasses several blocks of walkable and unique shops.

You'll find everything from custom framing - Artisans of San Francisco - to home decorative accessories from all over the world - Z Gallerie.

Many of the shops, galleries, and cafes are up and down the cross streets, or in cute little courtyards, so don't forget to explore there as well!

Union Street: a Few of my Personal Favorite Shops and Cafés

Union Street Festival; Photo Courtesy of SRESProductions.comUnion Street Festival Photo Courtesy of
  • T. Z. Shiota on Fillmore: if you're interested in Asian pieces, art objects, and Japanese prints, T. Z. Shiota's has been operated by the Shiota family for over 100 years
  • Mimi's: for a wearable art boutique, try Mimi's on Union
  • Flag Ships for: Bebe, A/X Armani Exchange, Fog City Leather, and Three Bags Full - all on Union
  • PlumpJack Wine Store on Fillmore: for you wine lovers
  • Jest Jewels: for fun and trendy jewelry, accessories, and unique items
  • Bella and Daisy's: also on Union, they carry treats, beds, clothing, etc. for the four-legged member of the family

Exhausted from all that shopping and in need of sustenance?

Rose's Cafe at the corner of Steiner and Union is a good choice for Asparagus, Wild Nettles, Spring Onions and Fresh Ricotta Pizza, or House Made Fettuccine with Niman Ranch Pork Ragu and Ricotta Salata.

Or try The Brazen Head on Buchanan Street if you want a true neighborhood place with Old School San Francisco flair.

Balboa Cafe on Fillmore is another classic San Francisco eatery, where you just might run into former SF Mayor (and current CA Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, or even Governor Jerry Brown.

If you're visiting San Francisco the first weekend of June, you'll definitely want to get down to Cow Hollow for the Union Street Festival, one of The City's largest free annual events!

And for a Little Bit of Union Street History

McElroy Octagonal House; CC Mike HoffmanMcElroy Octagonal House; CC Mike Hoffman

If you find yourself in San Francisco on the Second Sunday or the Second or Fourth Thursday of the month, take the opportunity to visit the McElroy Octagon House at Union and Gough (pronounced goff) Streets.

The Octagon House was built by William C. McElroy in 1861 and was one of five octagon houses in early San Francisco.

It houses collections representing the decorative arts of the Colonial and Federal periods, plus period documents and signatures!

There's no charge to visit Octagon House, although a contribution toward maintenance and other expenses is always appreciated.

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