Stock up on savory sourdough
Get that bread.
Nothing screams San Francisco more than a freshly baked loaf of sourdough bread. Soft with a slight tang on the inside, and golden and chewy on the outside, the first sourdough loaves were made during the California Gold Rush in 1849 after traditional French starters took on the delightfully unusual flavor that is known and loved today. (The strain of bacteria—Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis—is named after the famed city after all.) Since then the city has become a sourdough mecca of sorts, so be sure to lovingly carry a loaf (or two) home for further indulgence.
Where: Boudin, Tartine Bakery, Josey Baker Bread at The Mill, Marla Bakery.
Best for: foodies, friends, and parents.
Pick up some chocolatey treats
Indulge your sweet tooth.
Home to the oldest chocolate company in America, San Francisco has a few bragging rights when it comes to the rich confection. After arriving in 1849, Domingo Ghirardelli opened up his renowned chocolate company in 1852, establishing San Francisco (and the rest of the Bay Area) as a haven for chocoholics. Following in Ghirardelli’s footsteps, many other Bay Area chocolatiers—including the nation’s oldest, continuously family-run Guittard Chocolate—have set up shop. Whether you’re into sweet milk chocolates or seriously dark 75% cacao, stock up at San Francisco’s small-batch, artisan-made, or name brand companies.
Where: Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Dandelion Chocolates, Recchiuti Confections.
Best for: foodies, friends, aunts, and parents.
Get cultural with beatnik bounties
“Follow your inner moonlight.”
Travel back in time while perusing poetry titles or rummaging through buckets at indie record shops to find that perfect keepsake. As a foundational city for a myriad of artists, thinkers, and free spirits, San Francisco treasures its rich literary, artistic, and musical traditions. From the Beat Generation to the Summer of Love, taking home a piece of history to give as a unique gift or to keep as a cool souvenir for yourself is a must. You’ll be glad you did the next time you reach for a copy of Howl or play that rock vinyl on blast.
Where: City Lights Booksellers and Publishers, The Booksmith, Amoeba Music, Rooky Ricardo’s Records, Originals Vinyl, Jack’s Record Cellar.
Best for: hipsters, parents, music lovers, and teens.
Pick up an artisan souvenir
Take home something handmade.
There’s nothing like bringing home a treasured trinket or locally-crafted ware from your latest travel destination. Luckily, San Francisco has no shortage of local artisans, creators, and crafters each specializing in their own, unique artform. For one-of-a-kind clothing items, cool graphic t-shirts, handbound books, original art, botanical-infused candles, and so much more, the City by the Bay has just the right souvenir for you and your loved ones.
Where: San Franpsycho, Curator, Needles & Pens, Gravel and Gold, San Francisco Mercantile, Scents of San Francisco.
Best for: hipsters, in-laws, family, and friends.
Don’t skip the classic tourist souvenirs
Nothing beats quintessential kitsch.
It wouldn’t be a trip to San Francisco without a visit to the famed Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, where travelers will find not only remarkable views of the Bay, but also souvenir shops galore. Whether you’re on the hunt for an “I ♥ SF” shot glass, a pair of weird and wacky socks, or an “I escaped Alcatraz” key chain, this classic tourist area has definitely got what you’re looking for.
Where: The San Francisco Sock Market, Lefty’s San Francisco–The Left Hand Store, Alcatraz Gift Shop, Christmas in San Francisco, Krazy Kaps, Under the Golden Gate.
Best for: teens, family, kids, and in-laws.