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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > California > San Francisco

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Shopping in San Francisco

San Francisco has many of the big names, mostly clustered around Union Square. There are also dozens of galleries and bookshops within short radius of the square.

Key areas

A walk through Chinatown can pay dividends, as discounted imported jewellery, clothing and objets d'art appear down Grant Avenue, every few yards. The Haight has become somewhat commercial. But past the GAP, at the Haight-Ashbury intersection, you can find folk art, music, and vintage clothing shops.

There is a more intellectual vibe in North Beach, where Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Avenue, stays open until midnight. Here, you'll also find made-in-San Francisco boutique designer shops. Al from Al's Attire in Grant Street has a penchant for elaborate shirts and coats made from his own coveted collection of vintage material.

Currently in vogue, Ghirardelli Square, a former chocolate factory located at 900 North Point Street, and Cow Hollow, to the north of the exclusive Pacific Heights, are both worth making the effort. Tiny Hayes Valley, west of the Civic Centre, has a stretch of funky local art galleries and stylish clothing boutiques, plus an astonishing array of top-notch restaurants and hip nightspots. Pacific Heights, has a similar yet slightly more upscale feel, with many modern houseware and high-end gift shops.

Markets

It's a foodie city, so come to the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, one of the country's best, which runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. For vintage and curios, try Alemany Flea Market, which runs all day every Sunday.

Shopping centres

Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre on Market Street includes Nordstrom department store, which occupies the top five floors of this nine-level collection of 90 merchants. For a refined experience, try the Crocker Galleria, modelled after Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It's in the heart of the financial district at Post Street.

Opening hours

Opening hours vary widely - many shops are open well into the evening and most are open at least some hours on Sunday.

Souvenirs

For cheap and cheerful souvenirs, you have two good choices – the bazaars that appear round every corner in Chinatown or the tourist-geared outlets around Fisherman's Wharf. From Golden Gate Bridge models to fridge magnets, it's all at these spots.

Tax information

San Francisco adds an 8.5% non-refundable sales tax on every item.

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