Travel & Culture

I Spent 3 Days In San Francisco: Here Are 13 Things I Tried

May 24, 2024

When you think of San Francisco, you often think of the Golden Gate Bridge, the colourful Victorian style homes, and lots of picture perfect hills that you see in postcards.

Of course now you may even think of the tech innovation in the Bay Area that has changed the name and game of the city. But, one thing I learned is the city is so much more than this. It’s a city that’s diverse and has a tight knit arts and culture scene. 

Every individual I spoke to had so much love for the city. You could see this through their passion projects and community work whether it was leading the Cherry Blossom Festival, reviving the Chinatown Night Market, or sharing the history of Presidio. There was a love for their city and roots that was driving them fueling their fire.

Keep reading and save this guide for your next trip to San Francisco to immerse yourself in the city’s arts and culture scene. –Farah Khan

Where To Stay

Hotel Kabuki: If you’re looking for a unique and charming place to stay, Hotel Kabuki, nestled in the heart of japantown is the perfect place to be. It’s a boutique hotel that is a blend of Asian and Western culture with full amenities, a beautiful gym, meditation garden, and is steps away from local shops and eateries. 

The hotel also has Nari, a Michelin starred Thai restaurant that has influences from Thai and Californian heritage.

If you’re heading to San Francisco to explore the arts and culture scene like I did, everything from the design elements, food options, to location makes it a great option

What To See + Do

Explore San Francisco’s Cultural Heritage

Japantown: One of 3 remaining Japantowns in the U.S. and interestingly enough, all 3 are in California, San Francisco’s Japantown has a special place in the city as this was where the first Japanese American community settled in 1906. With a rich heritage, you’ll find local shops teaching and selling origami, anime toy shops, great local restaurant deals, and more. 

In fact, the largest Cherry Blossom Festival in the U.S., Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, is hosted in Japantown. I was lucky to attend the 57th annual festival and experience Japanese culture through performances, artists, local businesses and trying cuisines. This is a must visit if you want to immerse yourself in a rich cultural heritage!

Chinatown:  San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia with a strong sense of community and rich history. As you walk through the colourful streets of Chinatown, especially on a night of the Chinatown Night Market, the streets come alive with local businesses, delicious street food, and entertainment. 

Fun fact: It is estimated that more than 15,000 attendees visit the Night Market. Whether you love trying new bits, want to support local businesses, or simply want to experience the culture, this is a must-visit. It happens every second Friday of the month throughout the year.

Explore San Francisco’s Iconic and Artistic Landmarks 

Presidio National Park: As you enter the park, you’re immediately struck by the beauty and nature of the surroundings in Presidio including a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge, hills all around, and historic architecture. You can hike, bike, or walk around the Tunnel Tops and enjoy stunning views of the bridge and skyline. This was one of the highlights of my trip, learning about the history of Presidio as a military base and checking out the spots from Baker Beach to Fort Point and more.

Cable Cars at Fisherman’s Wharf: An iconic part of the city, the cable cars are the oldest manually operated cable car system in the world and a must-try if you’re in San Francisco. As you cling to the cable car, you’re treated to beautiful views of the city that is quintessentially SF. 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA): A must-visit destination for art and culture lovers alike. One of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the U.S. and located in the heart of the city, SFMOMA offers both an immersive and educational experience with an extensive collection. Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Love is a must-experience exhibit. 

Gardens of Golden Gate Park: Comprising 3 unique gardens—Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco Botanical Garden, and Conservatory of Flowers– as a part of Golden Gate Park, they each offer a serene escape and connection with nature that is unlike any other while serving as historic landmarks.

Salesforce Public Park: Just steps away from SFMOMA, this was an urban oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. Strolling through the Salesforce Public Park will captivate you and you may even forget you are 70 feet above ground as there is tons of greenery. There’s even a free gondola to take you up! 

Where To Dine

Alora: Located on the Port of San Francisco, Alora is an exquisite waterfront restaurant that offers flavours from countries along the Mediterranean Sea with a blend of California cuisine. Dishes included mezze to handmade pastas, but the famous San Francisco sourdough is a must-try at Alora!

The Grove: If you’re looking for a cozy spot to grab breakfast or lunch, The Grove is steps away from SFMOMA in the heart of downtown. A warm, rustic atmosphere with comfort food makes it a great stop to relax and satisfy your palate. 

Empress by Boon: A true culinary experience located in Chinatown. Empress by Boon is led by Michelin-starred Chef Ho Chee Boon who blends Cantonese cuisine with a modern twist. If you’re willing to splurge, go for the tasting menu and the Grilled Alaska Black Cod is a must try!

Fermentation Lab: Right in the heart of Japantown, Fermentation Lab offers a range of fusion dishes and fermented beverages from different cultures. Whether you want breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or refreshments, there will be something on the menu for you.

Chotto Matte: Experience the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian food, Nikkei cuisine, at the chic and lively Chotto Matte. The restaurant is designed to give you a multisensory experience with music, visuals, and great food, making for a perfect night out. 


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