Party Earth Review Although Union Square’s name technically refers to its 1850s-era beginnings as a place where pro-Union rallies were held prior to the Civil War, today it is better known for its surrounding blocks full of shopping... ... read full review
Between Stockton and Powell Streets
and Post and Geary Streets
San Francisco, CA 94108
BART: Powell Street
MUNI F Line: 4th Street & Market Street
24/7; official park hours 6am–midnight
|Add to Calendar|
Swing in the Square with the West Coast Ramblers
West Coast Ramblers
|Add to Calendar|
Fingersnaps DJ & Art Collective Celebrate SF Pride
|Add to Calendar|
Downtown / Financial District, San Francisco –
Although Union Square’s name technically refers to its 1850s-era beginnings as a place where pro-Union rallies were held prior to the Civil War, today it is better known for its surrounding blocks full of shopping options, live theater, restaurants, boutiques, and hotels.
Six department stores, including high-end chains like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, keep the chic set busy for hours – and if a new Giambattista Valli cocktail dress doesn’t burn out the fashionistas’ Amex cards, then the fine art and antiques at the dozens of art galleries should do the job.
Tidal waves of tourists flood the area daily to jump on the historic cable cars that run along Powell Street, pop into one of the major chain stores, or fill up at eateries ranging from single-room dives to multi-level banquet halls.
As night falls, the nearby Curran and American Conservatory satiate theater lovers craving a little bit of New York’s Broadway, as dance happy throngs in their finest duds line up outside the small but very popular selection of upscale clubs.
Saloon-style dens, cozy jazz joints, and culinary cocktail lounges – though also limited – provide a hangout for everyone in between, while weekends entice brunch goers to the historic French Quarter northeast of the plaza and the open-air cafés of Belden Place.
When the new year approaches, the city’s Christmas tree and Menorah lighting brings thousands to the Square itself, which also hosts various concerts, public events, and wine tastings within its tree-lined expanse.
With so much to be had, Union Square is both a launch pad and a runway – a perfect place for San Francisco denizens to set off on an adventure into the city, or to recuperate after finishing one.
Lots of tourists, shoppers, photographers, foodies, chic ladies, artsy types, theater lovers, families, young professionals, club-goers, brunch fanatics, hotel guests, and more tourists. All ages.
More than a hundred retail outlets are within easy walking distance, including the Apple Store (1 Stockton Street), Macy’s (170 O'Farrell Street), Saks Fifth Avenue (384 Post Street), Nordstroms (865 Market Street), Neiman Marcus (150 Stockton Street), and many other major chains.
Dozens of art galleries and boutiques are nearby, though many are closed on Mondays and Sundays. Artists frequently display works in the park.
Live music options include blues at Biscuits and Blues (401 Mason Street), DJs and various local acts at Swig (561 Geary Street), a piano man playing nightly at Lefty O'Doul’s (333 Geary Street), jazz at Harry Denton's Starlight Room (450 Powell Street) and Bix (56 Gold Street), and dancing, DJs, and occasional live acts at Vessel (85 Campton Place) and Ruby Skye (420 Mason Street).
Every July 14, the area around Beldon Place – the city’s official French Quarter – explodes with berets and “Bonjour!” during the massive Bastille Day celebration. The Jewels in the Square Performance Series brings live music, dance, outdoor movies, and other entertainment to the park, Wednesdays at 12:30pm and 6pm, and Sundays at 2pm from April through October.
The park features an ice skating rink from November to mid-January. Annual Christmas tree lighting and Menorah lighting.
Restaurants run the gamut and include the food court and Cheesecake Factory in Macy’s (170 O'Farrell Street), giant steaks at Alfred's Steak House (659 Merchant Street), pan-Asian cuisine at Postrio (545 Post Street), bargain hot dogs at Show Dogs (1020 Market Street), and savory crêpes at Crêperie Saint Germain (222 Second Street).
A large selection of mostly higher end French cafés populates Belden Place. Parking near the Square can be very difficult, especially on weekends.
Prices range from bargain bites to mortgage-level meals, though overall costs tend to drop a block or two from the Square.
Anything goes, from skater gear to Louis Vuitton. Most of the higher-end establishments have dress codes.
Mondays through Thursdays for a less crowded but still bustling scene, Friday and Saturday nights for the party vibe, or weekdays, especially when it’s sunny, for an overall packed scene.
The Sir Francis Drake Hotel (450 Powell Street) is a ritzy joint that provides stunning views of the Square and surrounding neighborhoods.