on December 17, 2011
Downtown is the main hub of the city and as a result is one of the busiest parts of it. Getting there is easy enough – you can take a bus or if you are feeling energetic it is possible to walk there from almost any other area of the city in around 30 minutes – but just remember how steep the roads are in San Francisco! The most way to get there, if you are coming from Fisherman’s Wharf, is by the world famous cable car. You can board it down on Hyde and the ticket costs five dollars. There is a turnaround point right in the middle of union square where you can catch it back to the Wharf, although this stop is very popular and there is almost always a line that stretches a fair way up the street.The main part of Downtown is Union Square, which is a shopper’s paradise. All of the big hitters are here, including many of the famous New York department stores, such as Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue. We loved wandering around the big department stores and it would be a particularly good way of spending the day if the weather isn’t so good. We went at the end of October and the shops were extremely busy so I can only imagine how hectic it gets nearer to Christmas and during the sales – I can only imagine that you’d have to really love shopping and grabbing a bargain to enjoy it! There are a lot of chain stores around here to including a huge Abercrombie and Fitch and lots of electrical goods stores where international visitors can grab a bargain.The square has been designed so that it is a central point for people to meet and as a result it is a fairly open space with plenty of benches and places to sit and watch the world go by. It is a great place to do this as well because it is one of the busiest areas of San Francisco and there is a lot to watch. There are a lot of cafes and shops in the area as well where you can grab lunch to go so you can sit on one of the benches and enjoy the experience.There are a lot of hotels in this area as well and many of them are much cheaper than the equivalent down in Fisherman’s Wharf. It would make a good enough place to stay if you are on a budget because it is easy to get anywhere in the city from here.The only tourist spot here per se is the San Francisco Museum of Crafts and design, which as you would imagine is quite a niche museum. It shows how contemporary art and design can been seen in every day life. There is no admission fee, just a suggested donation of three dollars, so not an expensive way of whiling away a morning or afternoon if that is you thing.Just away from Union Square is the Tenderloin District which has a reputation of being a gritty neighbourhood and is one of the only areas of San Francisco that we didn’t particularly enjoy – it is here that you see the somewhat rougher side of the city. It is here however where all the local theatres are and there are a number of good bars to frequent. It is also, at the far end, home to city hall, which is worth a visit to look at the grand building.Overall I would say that Union Square is a great place to visit if you want to shop although that is pretty much all there is there.
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