Underground Concierge

San Francisco Underground Concierge Program

Just blocks from Union Square and the Theatre District, you’ve got the world at your feet. Embrace it. Then embark on the path less taken. Hotel Emblem is inspired by the Beat Generation and we know you love the eclectic, obscure and unknown as much as we do.

Our Underground Concierge has come up with 6 unique self-guided city tours that are anything but touristy. Scroll down for the inside look or download the Beat Generation map here. And get ready to channel your fearless spirit and experience them all.

Beat Generation Experience

For the love of the Beats and all that is nonconformist – this is a must do. The 1950s literary movement that rejected political and cultural norms brought writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac into the spotlight; both lived in San Francisco during this period of time. The epicenter of it all was North Beach, located less than a mile from Hotel Emblem. Walk the same streets and drop into the same hangouts as the Beats with this essential list. 

Culinary Picks in San Francisco

Mama’s on Washington Square

Location: North Beach THE breakfast and brunch spot in San Francisco. Imagine: the fluffiest omelettes around and French toast with house made bread. Try and make it there during the week; on weekends the average wait for breakfast is about two hours. Yes, it’s worth it, if you have the time.

Jackson Place Café

Location: Jackson Square A tiny, hidden spot that you would surely miss if you weren’t looking for it, Jackson Place is a local coffee shop that not only provides great coffee but breakfast dishes and lunch paninis, too.

Café de la Presse

Location: Union Square A French café in the heart of Union Square, Café de la Presse serves traditional and elevated bistro favorites. Make like you’re in Paris as you eat and flip through the selection of newspapers and magazines sourced from around the world.

Mymy

Location: Nob Hill No average coffee shop, Mymy serves some of the finest breakfast food in the city. Lines start early on the weekends but do yourself a favor and grab a great cup of coffee at Contraband while you wait.

Tartine Manufactory/Bakery

Location: Mission This megabakery/wine bar/ice-cream shop/restaurant has it all. Breakfast options include excellent pastries and coffee, but really you can go any time of the day. It’s known for organic ingredients and thoughtful preparations and has won numerous culinary awards.

Mama’s on Washington Square

Location: North Beach THE breakfast and brunch spot in San Francisco. Imagine: the fluffiest omelettes around and French toast with house made bread. Try and make it there during the week; on weekends the average wait for breakfast is about two hours. Yes, it’s worth it, if you have the time.

Jackson Place Café

Location: Jackson Square A tiny, hidden spot that you would surely miss if you weren’t looking for it, Jackson Place is a local coffee shop that not only provides great coffee but breakfast dishes and lunch paninis, too.

Café de la Presse

Location: Union Square A French café in the heart of Union Square, Café de la Presse serves traditional and elevated bistro favorites. Make like you’re in Paris as you eat and flip through the selection of newspapers and magazines sourced from around the world.

Mymy

Location: Nob Hill No average coffee shop, Mymy serves some of the finest breakfast food in the city. Lines start early on the weekends but do yourself a favor and grab a great cup of coffee at Contraband while you wait.

Tartine Manufactory/Bakery

Location: Mission This megabakery/wine bar/ice-cream shop/restaurant has it all. Breakfast options include excellent pastries and coffee, but really you can go any time of the day. It’s known for organic ingredients and thoughtful preparations and has won numerous culinary awards.

Molinari Delicatessen

Location: North Beach This North Beach Italian deli serves everything from sandwiches to homemade pastas and sausages. Its old-school vibe isn’t just for show – this spot has been around since 1896 and stands by its timeless atmosphere and quality.

Yank Sing

Location: South Beach Dim sum, anyone? Yank Sing does it in both traditional and contemporary style. Order some, and also don’t miss the Peking duck. All in all, a trip to this Michelin-rated restaurant is a true treat.

Blue Barn

Location: Russian Hill Some of the best salad in the city comes from Blue Barn. It partners with local producers to create inspired, seasonal menus. There are five locations throughout the city, and we like the Russian Hill location because the lines aren’t usually as long.

Zuni Café

Location: Hayes Valley / Civic Center This iconic, James Beard award-winning restaurant is still doing it right. When (not if) you go, try one of our three favorites: the Ceasar salad, the fancy burger on focaccia, or the roasted chicken.

Tony’s Pizza

Location: North Beach While San Francisco isn’t famous for pizza, Tony’s makes the case to put the city on the map. Forbes has named it “The Best Pizzeria in America” and the crowds waiting to get inside seem to agree. Tip: Tony’s has a “by the slice” store adjacent to their restaurant to stop in for a quick bite instead of waiting in line.

La Taqueria

Location: Mission You’re in California, your first question should be, “Where do I find the best burrito?” The answer for San Francisco locals is easy: La Taqueria. This no-frills “true original” has been turning out the best tacos and burritos for over 40 years.

Trestle

Location: North Beach Michelin restaurant on a budget? Yep. Trestle offers a different three-course pre-fix meal daily for just $38. Truly one of the best values in the city.

Leo’s Oyster Bar

Location: Financial District Besides a great raw bar serving oysters, clams, crab, shrimp and lobster, Leo’s menu is full of decadent specialties like caviar, crudo and uni. Add to the mix a swank 1950s vibe, and you’ll see that Leo’s is a must-visit.

Rich Table

Location: Hayes Valley “A place with no dress code, where the food speaks for itself,” this Michelin-rated restaurant delights you with Californian cuisine and a killer wine list. Plus, it’s routinely on lists as one of the best places to get dessert in San Francisco.

Foreign Cinema

Location: Mission Continually rated one of the best restaurants in the city, Foreign Cinema blends food, drink, film and art gallery into one sensory expression. Enjoy French bistro-style cuisine while watching a film, screened nightly in the outdoor courtyard.

El Techo

Location: Mission Serving upscale Mexican street food, El Techo has one of the best rooftop locations in the city. A hidden gem, you’ll have to be careful not to walk past the single host standing on the street, who will direct you up the residential elevator.

Art Experiences

San Francisco has long been heralded as one of the most culturally rich cities in the world, and a large reason for that is the abundance of major museums and art exhibits, both on and off the beaten path. Here are some of our favorite spots that lie on the road less taken.

Murals & Street Art

Locations: Mission

There are over 1,000 murals in the city, and the largest concentration is in the Mission District.

  • Balmey Street: This is where it all started in 1972. While the artwork is constantly changing, many of the older murals remain and have been restored. 
  • Clarion Alley: A little further north of Balmey Street, you’ll find street art in a welcoming alley that’s been an art epicenter since 1992. 

16th Avenue Tiled Steps

Location: Sunset

Located on Moraga St. between 15th and 16th ave, the tiled step projectwas a neighborhood collaboration to create a themed mosaic up the 163 steps. Discover more stairs in San Francisco by clicking here. 

Leica Store Gallery

Location: Financial District 

A destination for all who love photography, this enclave features around five yearly exhibitions focusing on established and emerging photographers from the Bay Area. To find out the latest exhibits, click here

Gallery 444

Location: Nob HIll 

Family-owned and operated, Gallery 444 showcases only original prints, painting and sculpture.

7-Story Canvas

Location: SoMa

In April 2015, #ZettaMurals ran an Instagram contest to find muralist to paint their creative designs on a given floor in the stairwell. The 7-Story Canvas exhibit is open for public viewing featuring these winning designs.

Stairways of San Francisco

The unique culture of our city manifests itself in so many different ways. One of the most unique expressions can be found in staircases throughout the city. Explore these eight colorful, famous stairways of San Francisco. They include four mosaic sets of stairs, the Sand Ladder near Baker Beach, the Filbert Street Steps near Coit Tower, plus a few surprises.

Staircase Between Crissy Field & The Golden Gate Bridge

District: Presidio
Location: Battery East Trail between the Golden Gate Bridge and Crissy Field/Fort Point

This set of stairs does not have an official name, but it's the best way to get between Fort Point/Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge. It's part of the Battery East Trail. The great thing about the stairs is that they offer a short cut between these two locations (instead of walking along the road). You will also get some amazing and less common shots of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Flights Of Fancy Staircase

District: Bayview
Location: Arelious Walker at Innes Avenue

Completed in 2014, these stairs are dedicated to Dr. Arelious Walker, a former pastor and advocate for the Bayview District. The design is a combination of patterns from various cultures including Adinkra cloth from Ghana, Native American painted pottery, and woven patterns from Central America and from the Middle East. 

Filbert Street Stairs

District: Telegraph Hill/North Beach
Location: Filbert between Sansome and Coit Tower

They take you to the top of Telegraph Hill from the waterfront near Levi's Plaza. It's a popular route for those wanting to get from The Embarcadero up to Coit Tower on foot. One you climb the first steep set, you’ll be taken through a lovely garden area with wooden steps – picture perfect.

Hidden Garden Stairs

District: Inner Sunset
Location: 16th Avenue at Kirkham

This set of stairs was completed in 2013. Broken up into several sections, each features a design with flowers, butterflies, leaves and other fauna.

Lincoln Park Steps

District: Inner Richmond
Location: California at Lincoln Golf Course

This is the newest set of mosaic stairs in San Francisco. They are on California Street where it dead-ends into Lincoln Park Golf Course. It's a smaller staircase, but offers a colorful patter of bring yellows, greens and oranges.

Lyon Street Stairs

District: Pacific Heights
Location: Lyon Street between Broadway and Green Streets

One of my favorite views of the San Francisco Bay is from the Lyon Street Stairs. This attraction starts on the top at Broadway Street and makes its way from Pacific Heights down to the Marina District. The first block is beautifully manicured with one of the Hearts of San Francisco near the bottom. The second set is more basic and steep but takes you quickly from one district to the next.

Sand Ladder

District: Presidio
Location: Battery East Trail between the Golden Gate Bridge and Crissy Field/Fort Point

This set of stairs is, as its name implies, covered in sand. It’s part of the Pacific Coast Trail and has become famous as its one of the toughest parts of the run during the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.

16th Avenue Tiled Stairs

District: Inner Sunset
Location: 16th Avenue and Moraga

At 16th and Moraga, you’ll find the most famous set of mosaic stairs in San Francisco. The 163-step beauty was completed in 2005 as a community project by more than 300 neighbors.

Urban Hikes

While you may not have come to San Francisco for a hike, we highly recommend you take the chance explore some of the most picturesque views in the country, if not the world. Want to pack a lunch? Check out our Underground Concierge Culinary Experience section for deli options that have grab-and-go food.

Fort Funston

Location: Lakeshore

Difficulty: Easy, though it’s all on sand (which can be difficult for some); Sand Ladder Trail is steep, but short

Time: Depending on how much you want to explore, your hike time can be anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours

Dog-friendly: Dogs are permitted off-leash under voice control, except for the 12-acre enclosure on the northwest side, where equestrians and hikers share the Bay Area Ridge Trail segment

What you’ll see: The most ecstatic dogs on earth, endless views of the Pacific Ocean, old fort ruins, plenty of California poppies, and some red-tailed hawks.

Inspiration Point

Location: Presidio

Difficulty: Easy, ranging from a mixture of sandy trails, dirt paths, asphalt roads, and concrete walkways

Time: 1.5-hour loop, starting and ending at the Inspiration Point lookout area

Dog-friendly: Dogs permitted, on-leash only; you’ll be near a lot of busy roadways

What you’ll see: Andy Goldsworthy’s Spire (constructed from Monterey cypress trunks), redwoods, charming brick houses, fennel, blackberry bushes, eucalyptus, meadows (some are under restoration), and views of the city’s northeast corner all the way to the East Bay on a clear day

Lands End

Location: Sea Cliff

Difficulty: Easy, mostly flat until you begin the steep but safe descent to Sutro Baths

Time: 1-hour out-and-back trails

Dog-friendly: Dogs are permitted, leashed or under voice control

What you’ll see: Wild views of the Pacific Ocean (and Marin and the Golden Gate Bridge on a fogless day) and the historic Sutro Baths and ruins.

Logos Creek Valley

Location: Presidio

Difficulty: Easy, a mixture of elevated boardwalk and sandy paths

Time: 30-minute loop trail

Dog-friendly: No dogs allowed

What you’ll see: Sandy dunes, a delightfully spooky forest of Monterey cypress and pine, colorful coastal shrubbery and butterflies

Glen Canyon Park

Location: The Castro / Diamond Heights

Difficulty: Easy at the beginning, then moderate once you hit the grassy canyon

Time: 1-hour loop trail, starting and ending on Bosworth Street

Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed, but keep them on-leash; coyotes have been spotted numerous times in Glen Canyon Park

What you’ll see: Extremely impressive eucalyptus groves, more blackberry bushes than you can count, red-tailed hawks, wildflowers and rock outcroppings that are a blast to climb on.

John McLaren Park

Location: Visitacion Valley 

Difficulty: Easy to moderate ascents and descents over both paved and dirt trails

Time: 40-minute loop trail starting and ending in the parking lot off John F. Shelley Drive

Dog-friendly: Dogs are allowed, off-leash OK

What you’ll see: Happy dogs swimming in the reservoir, the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, meadows, pine and eucalyptus trees, McNab Lake full of happy ducks.

Mount Sutro

Location: Sunset 

Difficulty: Easy to moderate climb and descent, just be wary of poison oak

Time: 40-minute loop, depending on how many trails you want to connect (all are very clearly marked)

Dog-friendly: No rules are posted, but keep your dog on a tight leash if you bring one, because there is poison oak everywhere

What you’ll see: Huge eucalyptus groves, a sunny meadow at the top, and even a brief glimpse of Sutro Tower through the trees at the summit

Mount Davidson

Location: Twin Peaks

Difficulty: Moderate dirt trails all the way to the top

Time: 1-hour, there-and-back trail, or a loop, depending on which routes you connect

Dog-friendly: Dogs permitted, off-leash OK

What you’ll see: City views all the way to the East Bay on a clear day, a front row view of Sutro Tower and the Mount Davidson cross

Bernal Hill

Location: Bernal Heights 

Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous (uphill climb)

Time: 40-minute loop trails

Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed, off-leash OK

What you’ll see: A breathtaking 360-degree city view, kite flyers, dogs, a red rock maze at the base

Park Hopping

San Francisco is one big playground, with a bunch of little, more literal playgrounds embedded within. We’re counting down the Top 10 parks so you can get out there and explore the best. 

Alamo Square

Location: Hayes Valley

Mysteriously always cold regardless of temperatures across the city. It's a pleasant yet likely uneventful experience. The essence of Alamo lies in it being an open invitation to fantasize about the surrounding homes. Including the Full House house.

Bernal Hill

Location: Bernal Heights 

Bernal Hill provides visitors with a breathtaking 360-degree panorama and clear views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown, San Bruno Mountain and the hills of the East Bay. These windswept slopes are still sunny when Twin Peaks is shrouded in afternoon fog. Red-tailed hawks soar overhead, the breeze sends waves through the native grassland community, and visitors hike around the hill’s peaceful summit to escape from the complexities of urban life. 

Dolores Park

Location: Mission 

Referred to as Hipster Hill, “Dolo” is San Francisco's hottest park. A sunny day is every bit as social and sloppy as a festival in the height of Indian summer.

Glen Canyon Park

Location: The Castro / Diamond Heights 

A chaparral terrain as classically NorCal as hating SoCal, the plant and animal life in these grounds serves as a time capsule for what much of the city looked like before major redevelopment in the 1800s. Some native species to look out for: the California blackberry, the dramatically wind-swept Monterey cypress and the San Francisco forktail damselfly. 

Golden Gate Park

Location: Sunset 

The Academy of Sciences and the de Young. The Conservatory of Flowersand Japanese Tea Garden. Hippie Hill. Hippie Hill on 4/20. Outside Lands. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Strawberry Hill and Stow Lake. Two functioning windmills. Roller discovers. Swingers. And an actual herd of buffalo. 

Grand View Park (Turtle Hill)

Location: Sunset

The tiled Moraga Steps take you 666 feet up to a stamp-sized park with panoramic views of the city. The 1.1 acre of land is more ecologically valuable to the city than most of the other 49 square miles because of its rare native plants. Some of the whimsically named species you’ll find here include the Franciscan wallflower, dune tansy, bush lupin, beach strawberry, bush monkey flower and coyote bush. 

Huntington Park (Grace Cathedral Park)

Location: Nob Hill 

This mixed-bag park is loved for its eclecticity. Go for a run, walk your dog or just do some people watching (Aaron Paul filmed Need for Speed here, and familiar faces tend to pop up now and again).

Lafayette Park

Location: Pacific Heights 

Great for dogs. The recently renovated tennis courts and the design-y playground will make humans happy, too. Make sure you climb to the woody summit for great views and tree trunk-framed sunsets.

Patricia’s Green

Location: Hayes Valley 

Not really a park but you can get an ice cream from Smitten and sit on the grass for a while, which is good enough for us. If you’re feeling particularly liberal with definitions, you can extend your park day to include a dark ale and pickle from adjacent Biergarten.

Twin Peaks

Location: Twin Peaks

Arguably the best views in the city -- from the familiarity of the Market Street lights at night, to the five bridges you’re able to count on a clear day.