Exploring San Francisco is easy from our central location in the SoMa district. Stay where the rush of the crowd is, or go to the fringe for unexpected experiences that play to your individualistic side.
Plan a San Francisco Road Trip
From Los Angeles to Seattle and beyond, follow your heart to San Francisco and enjoy a few staff-recommended stops along the way. Get inspired with travel stories on the HearHere App. Enjoy a 7-day free trial with promo code VICEROY.
SoMa, short for “South of Market,” is a fairly large district, reaching from Embarcadero to 11th, between Market and Townsend. This eclectic neighborhood hosts a variety of restaurants, swanky night spots, art spaces, loft apartments, furniture showrooms and tech companies.
Union Square has one of the largest collections of retail stores, department stores, boutiques and art galleries in the western United States, making it one of the world’s premier shopping districts. It’s a hub of activity nearly all day, every day.
San Francisco offers some of the best shopping in the world. Union Square, Hayes Valley, Haight-Ashbury, Fillmore, Mission, Sacramento Street, Chinatown and downtown’s Westfield San Francisco offer unique shopping experiences for every budget and mood.
Like a Local
Experience the city like one of its own. Whether you’re a hipster, fashionista or techie, we’ll show you all the best hotspots to mix and mingle with the eclectic crowd that calls this city home. Ask our Front Desk for local tips and inspiration on where to go and what to see while you’re in town.
Explore Downtown San Francisco
The Bay Area has it all: the inspiring hustle of one of the most dynamic cities in the world, and some of the most beautiful natural scenery on the planet. Take advantage of the miles of trails surrounding you and explore San Francisco like a local with one of these epic hiking excursions. We promise you won’t be disappointed as you rack up the likes on your photos.
Location: San Francisco Difficulty: Easy to moderate (the stairs to Sutro Baths are steep but safe) Distance: Approximately 3 ½ mile loop Elevation Gain: 538 ft Dog-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on leash
Located on the Northwestern corner of the city, this trail is a must-see. Start at the Cliff House where you can pick up some snacks and beverages along the way. From there head down the Sutro Ruins Trail to the view the Sutro Baths and Point Lobos, then continue up Sutro Baths Upper Trail until you meet the Coastal Trail/Lands End Trail Loop. Don’t forget to make it down to the Labyrinth which was created by a local artist and is a favorite to walk through and/or photograph.
Insider Tip: Don’t forget a light jacket as this trail is along the coast so it may be breezy or foggier than the rest of the city.
Location: San Francisco Difficulty: Easy to moderate Distance: Approximately 2 miles out and back Elevation Gain: 272 ft Dog-friendly: Yes, dogs allowed on leash
Find stunning 360-degree views of the city and surrounding bay area atop one of the tallest peaks in San Francisco. Start at Portola Drive and Twin Peaks Boulevard and make your way up the trail. Don’t forget to stop at Christmas Tree Point. Those looking for more of a challenge (see moderate to strenuous hike) can do the Creeks to Peaks Trail which is approximately 2 miles each way and takes you from Glen Canyon Islais Creek to the top of the peaks. As this is one of the taller hills in the city, you often can see fog on one side of the hill while the city is under blue skies, so plan to bring a jacket in case of cooler temperatures.
Location: San Francisco Difficulty: Perimeter - moderate, Sunset Trail - difficult (but the views are worth the effort) Distance: Perimeter - approximately 5.5-mile loop, Sunset Trail - approximately 3 miles each way Elevation Gain: Perimeter - 350 ft, Sunset Trail - 800 ft Dog-friendly: Sorry, only service animals allowed
The largest natural island in the Bay (760 acres), you’ll need to hop on a ferry to access the hiking and historic state park. Remember you’ll need 2 per person for your round trip journey. Pack a lunch and make a day of a trip to this old native American hunting/gathering spot and old military outpost. This island also used to be the Ellis Island of the West and was an immigration station that processed travelers from over 80 countries from 1910-1940. Enjoy 13 miles of hiking trails or sit by the cove and watch the sailboats go by. We recommend either the Perimeter Road/Trail (5.5miles) or for the more adventurous (see harder) hikers, take the Sunset Trail up to the top of Mt. Livermore (3 miles). Both have amazing views of the bay in all directions including views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and Alcatraz from one vantage point.
Location: San Francisco Difficulty: Easy to moderate Distance: Approximately 2.7 miles each way Elevation Gain: Approximately 200 ft Dog-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on leash
Hike from Baker Beach to the Golden Gate bridge on this trail in the northern part of San Francisco. Start at the 25th Ave Gate off of Camino Del Mar and head north on the trail. You can make your way down to the beach and can check out the surf and sand. Adventurous souls can even venture further to the northern, clothing-optional, part of the beach if you’re wanting to avoid the tan lines while taking in the California rays.
Insider Tip: Bring a jacket in case of a breezy day or fog.
Location: San Francisco Difficulty: Easy Distance: Approximately 2-mile loop Elevation Gain: 160 ft Dog-friendly: Yes, dog on leash or off under voice command
A popular spot for hang gliders and natives, this dog-friendly hike and beach are a great close retreat from the city. Walk along the beach and see if you can see the dolphins or whales breach the surface. Don’t plan on swimming though as the tides and undercurrent are very strong. Enter any area and take the Funston Trail to the beach and follow the loop around to where you started.
Location: North Bay Difficulty: Easy to moderate Distance: Approximately 3.5-mile loop Elevation Gain: 842 ft Dog-friendly: Sorry, no dogs allowed
Take a short drive or shared car service across the Golden Gate Bridge Walk amongst the giants in Muir Woods. With an abundance of trail options and lots of monstrous redwoods, you’ll want to beat crowds and go early (8:00 AM) if possible. Weekdays tend to have less traffic.
Location: North Bay Difficulty: Easy Distance: Approximately 2-miles each way Elevation Gain: 170 ft Dog-friendly: Sorry, no dogs allowed
Perfect for a day trip with the family. Hike all the way to the beach, located at the end of the trail. Pack a picnic and blanket to enjoy one of the best views in town as you listen to the waves crash.
Location: North Bay Difficulty: Easy Distance: Approximately 2 miles each way Elevation Gain: 170 ft Dog-friendly: Sorry, no dogs allowed
Take this trail to visit the “Gate Keeper to the San Francisco Bay”, a working (but historic) lighthouse built-in 1855, at the end of the trail (weather permitting). Parking can be found at Point Bonita. Don’t miss Battery Wallace, one of the most scenic picnic spots.
Insider Tip: Make sure to bring a jacket or sweatshirt as temperatures and breezy conditions may occur along the coast.
Location: East Bay Difficulty: Moderate Distance: Approximately 7-mile loop Elevation Gain: 1,814 ft Dog-friendly: Sorry, no dogs allowed
Take the trail starting at Juniper campground and start down Deer Flat Road until Meridian Ridge Road and go right toward Murchio Gap. Continue straight onto Prospector’s Gap Road (this is where it gets a little more challenging so take your time and enjoy the sights). Once you make it to Prospector’s Gap, go right onto North Peak Trail. When you get to the Devil’s Elbow, take another right and head up Summit Trail. Once you reach the top you can see amazing views and rest before your journey back down. When you’re ready, head down the Juniper Trail (west end of the lower parking lot). Enjoy the downhill hike and take in the sights, sounds, and your accomplishment for completing this journey.
Location: East Bay Difficulty: Hard (recommended for avid/experienced hikers) Distance: 13.1 miles loop Elevation Gain: 3,585 ft Dog-friendly: Sorry, not dogs allowed
You like a challenge, huh? We respect that. Sometimes the biggest challenges reap the greatest rewards. You’ll want to take this hiking loop clockwise to get the hardest and most steep part of the hike out of the way first and allow for an easier descent on the wider part of the trail. Don’t forget to take lots of water and snacks, this trail takes 6-8 hours to complete.
Start out at Mitchell Canyon Ranger station and go up Mitchell Canyon Fire Road and turn left onto the Eagle Peak Trail. This will take you right up to Eagle Peak and will be your first 1000 ft of elevation gain. From here you will follow the trail and stay on towards Prospector’s Gap via Meridian Ridge Road and Prospector’s Gap Road. Once you reach Prospector’s Gap you’ll take the North Peak Trail (there are several trails that converge here so make sure to take the right one). Take the North Peak Trail to the Summit Trail and go right up to the top of the peak. Congrats! You made the 7-mile hike up and one of the few that go this way. Take some time to enjoy the moment, get some pics, and get ready for your descent down. From here take the Juniper Trail located at the west corner of the lower parking lot. Once you get near the Juniper campground you’ll go right on Deer Flat Road then take Deer Flat Road until you hit Meridian Ridge road and go right towards the Murchio Gap. Take a left at Mitchell Canyon Fire Road and this will take you all the way back to the ranger station.
Location: East Bay Difficulty: Easy to moderate Distance: Approximately 2.1-mile loop Elevation Gain: 900 ft Dog-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on leash or under voice command
A quick ride across the bridge into the hills of the East Bay provides you a sunny and warm retreat with great views of the bay. Drive over to the Tilden Steam Trains via Fish Ranch Road off of Highway 24 to Grizzly Peak Road. There are a couple of parking areas here that you can start at once you take a right onto Lomas Cantadas and an immediate left onto Seaview Trail Road. Head straight onto Vollmer Peak Trail and keep right. Take a right when you get to the Arroyo Trail and follow that up to some of the most scenic vistas in the East Bay. There are great spaces to sit at the peak and take photos. Make your way back down the Arroyo Trail until you meet the Vollmer Peak trail. This will take you all the way back to the parking lot.
Location: East Bay Difficulty: Easy to moderate Distance: Approximately 3.2-mile loop Elevation Gain: 570 ft Dog-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on leash
Escape to nature in the Oakland area. Park near the ranger station/community center on Sanborn Drive and head into the park to take the Sunset Trail to the right. Make a left onto the Sequoia Bayview Trail. Continue until you meet the Cinderella Trail on the left. Head down the Cinderella Trail until you hit the Sinawik Trail and take a left all the way back to where you began.
You haven’t truly experienced San Francisco until you’ve explored the parks. They are natural wonders — and also bona fide social scenes. Bring a beach blanket, some snacks and your favorite beverage and hang out with those that make our city hum.
How to Get There: Take the F trolley line or an underground Muni train from Market Street West to Church Street Station. Walk South 4 blocks. Park is at the corner of 18th Street and Dolores Street or Church.
Vibe: Referred to as just Dolo by the locals, you might also hear this park called the “Beach”. Even though it’s nowhere near the water, this park is popular for its warm temps, large grassy area, and views of downtown. Especially further up at the top. Sit back, take in the rays, and enjoy the heartbeat of the city.
Insider Tip: There are often people roaming around and selling various items. Enjoy at your own risk.
Golden Gate Park
How to Get There: The easiest and most direct way to get here is by a shared car service.
Vibe: Referred to as the Central Park of the West Coast, this park has everything from museums to gardens to hiking and even buffalo. Go for a jog, walk, or find a grassy area to sit and talk. This park is typically abuzz with runners, locals, and visitors enjoying outdoor activities like frisbee golf or volleyball. You can also visit the Conservatory of Flowers, DeYoung Museum, Botanical Garden, and California Academy of Sciences. You’re sure to find lots of activities to keep you busy all day in this large park where many of the city’s music festivals reside (Outside Lands and Hardly Strictly to name a few).
Insider Tip: Located in the Western part of the city, it can often be breezy and/or overcast so don’t forget that jacket or hoodie.
Washington Square Park
How to Get There: Take a stroll, it’s about a 30-minute walk and fairly flat to the North Beach neighborhood. You’ll be glad you did as you stroll past the shops and gelato stores in the old Italian part of town.
Vibe: Set in the posh North Beach neighborhood, Washington Park is a favorite hot spot and hang out. Grab some local gelato and a space on the lawn and plan which nearby Italian restaurant is the most authentic. From this location, you’re just a short walk away from Coit Tower, one of the iconic towers of the skyline.
Alamo Square Park
How to Get There: Hop in a shared ride service for this one as some hills are best left climbed via car.
Vibe: If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, you probably have seen this view a thousand times. Get a good view of the Painted Ladies and hum the theme to Full House (“Everywhere You Look….”).
How to Get There: A quick shared-ride should get you here in less than 10 mins.
Vibe: More of a lawn, than a park, visit here for an art walk through their rotating sculpture garden. Once you're done with the walk, head over to the Biergarten for a pint.
Mosaic Steps of the City
While San Francisco is known for its famous hills, food scene and natural beauty, you won’t want to miss the hidden gems. Standing out from the pack are the three tiles mosaic steps of the city. Get your camera and your walking shoes and get some steps in. Fortunately for you, we’ve developed a way for you to see all three in one day.
Hidden Garden Steps
The first stop is the Hidden Garden Steps. Take a shared ride service to 16th Avenue and Kirkham Street. These steps are the most hidden (ergo the name) and less trafficked. Take in these steps and get walking as the next stop is just a short hop, skip or walk away.
16th Street Steps
Make your way south on 16th Avenue until you hit Moraga Street, make a left and you’ll be at the 16th Street Steps. These are the oldest of the steps and the most popular. The staircase is many flights long with a new artist design for each flight. Get ready, this leg workout never looked so good. Once you’ve caught your breath, you’ll need to hop in another car to head to the last stop.
Lincoln Park Steps
The Lincoln Park Steps can be accessed by taking California Street to where it ends just past 32nd Avenue into the Presidio in the Northwest part of the city. The widest of the three, these beautiful stairs are the end of the tour but lead to one of our favorite parts of the city, the Presidio, filled with nature, parks, and hiking.