Union Square San Francisco: Touristy Or Not?

Union Square San Francisco: Touristy Or Not?

April 15, 2021 Off By Danny White

Located at the heart of downtown San Francisco, the palm-fringed public plaza of Union Square has long been an iconic destination and arguably the most favorite tourist hotspot in the area. With its glut of fashion stores, cultural hubs, fine dining destinations and what not, there is no dearth of things to do once you find yourself at this buzzing epicenter of the city.

Union Square San Francisco: It’s all about location

Ringed by Tenderloin on the northeast, Nob Hill on southeast and the Financial District on the southwest, you can hardly escape Union Square while in San Fran, no matter whether you’re a local or a tourist at the city looking for a top Union Square happy hour place. Furthermore, some other city tourist hotspots—read Golden Gate Bridge, the neighborhood of SoMa (South of Market) and Chinatown—are all situated within walking distance of the Square. And if that was not enough, the Fisherman’s Wharf is just a few minutes away once you hop on one of those historic cable cars of San Francisco that tourists rave about. Or, if you want to go off the land for a while, there is the ferry to Alcatraz waiting for you right there.

Retail therapy, or….

Retail therapy is one thing, “shop until you drop” is another. And if you’re at Union Square and you’ve a thing for shopping, it is more likely to be the latter (so stay on your guard). To begin with, there is the massive nine-story domed atrium of Westfield—anchored by Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom and with a Saks Fifth Avenue and a Neiman Marcus courting your attention from just around the corner. Add to it pet favorites such as Tiffany’s, H&M and Apple and it is more than likely that at this point, you’ll be clutching your head in total despair. Once again, be on your guard, don’t let your shopper’s emotions let loose, stay moderate and don’t max out your credit card.

And then there is: Macy’s.

To be honest, we would actually recommend those with a veritable shopper’s gene in them to leave their credit cards at their hotel when visiting Union Square. You can maybe buy an item or two, but we suggest you take in the atmosphere more since it’s simply exhilarating, especially for shopaholics. In fact, Union Square actually receives a lot of bad rap as well, from tourists and locals alike, for being, among other things, such a frantic shopping destination. However, whether or not you are a fan of shopping and designer brands, we strongly encourage all the first-timers in the city to actually pay a visit to the Macy’s. The decadent offerings coupled with the dazzling scale of this almost 100-year old building are worth a visit just for the experience of it.

Pretty much the same goes for other tourist favorites such as the cable car and open-bus tours. Yes, a good many locals will turn their noses up at the mention of those. And yes, they are a bit too touristy. All the same, they are a lot of fun as well, so why not give them a try while you are there?

And even the cultural-minded (some may say high brow) ones can barely afford to give Union Square a miss. The area is home to a number of famous theater house and live music venues, among them August Hall, American Conservatory Theatre, Curran Theatre and San Francisco Playhouse, to name but a few.