How to Plan a Girls’ Weekend Getaway in San Francisco
San Francisco has no shortage of girl gang-worthy outings. From sophisticated cocktail bars to award-winning restaurants and urban spas, here are 11 ways to indulge and bond with your besties while exploring the City by the Bay.
It might be easy to assume San Francisco's restaurant scene is oversaturated. (After all, the city boasts more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S.) Not so. One of the city’s newest culinary gems, Birdsong, proves there's always room for one more—so long as it’s worthy (and it is). In a progressive dining room designed to feel more residential than commercial, chef Chris Bleidorn—an alum of Saison and Atelier Crenn—cooks Pacific Northwest ingredients using heritage methods like open fire, smoke, dry-aging, and fermentation. One menu highlight: morel mushroom stuffed with Sonoma lamb and green almonds, resting in a charcoal sauce.
Dining at Lazy Bear is like going to your coolest friend’s dinner party—without the potential drama. This Mission District favorite is a must-do with a group of friends, even if the price tag is a little steep (dinner starts at $165 per person). At each of the night's two seatings, guests start in the upstairs cocktail lounge, outfitted like a living room with rugs, couches, and lamps, before migrating downstairs for a 15-course dinner comprised of dishes like guinea hen with rosemary and golden beet or halibut with artichoke and blood orange. Just two communal tables means you’re all but guaranteed to leave with new friends—just be sure to book far in advance.
San Francisco has long been known for its hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants, but the scene recently got a major upgrade in the form of China Live, a posh restaurant, bar, and marketplace in—where else?—Chinatown. It's the perfect place to go if your group is feeling indecisive, thanks to the Market Restaurant’s eight cooking stations sizzling up a variety of high-end fare with a European twist, from stone oven roasted Peking duck with fruit glazes to Taipei-braised beef rib noodle soup to chrysanthemum salad with starfruit. Bonus: everyone will be able to find a seat with the long communal tables. Don't miss the discreet Shanghai-inspired Cold Drinks Bar upstairs, which shakes up some of the city’s finest cocktails.
TOUR TO BOOK: Before indulging in all the delicious bites, work up your appetite with an urban hike. This three-hour tour will lead you to the top of Kite Hill, through a hidden eucalyptus forest behind Sutro Tower, and up to the 650-foot Tank Hill summit. After five miles of walking, you'll be hungry enough to try all the best food the city has to offer.
Japantown remains one of San Francisco’s most underrated neighborhoods: its ideal position distances you from the traffic and chaos of downtown while still being centrally located. The place to stay is trendy Hotel Kabuki, which was recently renovated with a blend of modern amenities, zen-inspired design, and edgy pop art. The reasonable rates make it all too easy to splurge on that corner Deluxe king suite with a balcony and view of the neighborhood—home to an endless array of quality ramen restaurants, sushi spots, and karaoke bars.
This cheeky hotel caters to young on-the-go travelers looking to pack a lot into a short weekend. Centrally located near Union Square, it’s a stylish crash pad whose next-level amenities can bring even the most jet-lagged back to life. We're talking bikes available for those looking to cruise the waterfront promenade, a Fido-friendly policy, and an upscale bistro and lounge areas that serve as great places to plot your next moves.
If your girl gang is looking for a boutique hotel that's in the center of the action but won't break the bank, Hotel G hits the spot. Urban minimalist rooms with local artwork feel more like chic studio apartments, letting you feel like a local for the weekend while still reaping the benefits of hotel service and amenities. The hotel’s bar, Benjamin Cooper, has fast become a local favorite for its on-point oyster and cocktail pairings.
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San Francisco’s sleekest social playground, in the recently-opened Kelly Wearstler-designed Proper Hotel, has quickly become quite the scene. In a city that often favors being underdressed, patrons here are well-heeled and typically single, and look right at ease snuggled in Wearstler's signature playful floral armchairs and lip-shaped love seats. In addition to an indoor bar, there's an outdoor space where, once the stars come out, guests can cozy up by fire pits with a cocktail from one of the resident mixologists. We suggest opting for the Salem Saberhagen (made with St. George Terroir gin, orange muscat, pineapple, honey, and lime) and timing your arrival right: although magical at any time of day, the skyline view overlooking upper Market Street is best seen at sunset.
Looking to pair your imbibing with a bit of art? Everything at this midcentury-modern lounge in the Mission was custom-designed, from the booth-style seating (great for groups) to the quartzite bar inlaid with old-growth Bay Laurel and sculpture wall inspired by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. Equally inventive are the ingredient-forward cocktails like Grandma’s to Blame (made with Islay gin, clarified grapefruit, manzanilla, lavender, honey ferment, and salt), which pair perfectly with refined bar bites like Dungeness crab and aged cheddar fondue.
SEE + DO
Looking for that one-of-a-kind souvenir? Make a beeline for Divisadero Street, where independent boutiques hawk creative wares made by local artists. The one not to miss is Rare Device, an expertly curated gallery-esque storefront filled with home accents, handmade jewelry, and beautiful objects (botanical candles; ceramic light pendants) just begging for shelf space. Look out for independent artists from Japan, Sweden, and Canada among the collection.
For next-level pampering with a city view, Nob Hill Spa is the place to go. The three-level space houses a sauna, steam rooms, and an indoor infinity pool with floor-to-ceiling window views of the San Francisco skyline. You’ll find all manners of facials, manicures, and massage services here, and group treatments can be arranged. Don’t miss lunch on the deck.
At the end of a long weekend of eating, drinking, and shopping, a girl needs to replenish. Inspired by Japanese bathing culture, Onsen is a sanctuary in the middle of the city. But you have to know where to go. Look behind a Japanese restaurant and teahouse of the same name (which serves sharable small plates) for this sento-inspired bathhouse, where you can soak in a hot tub, redwood sauna, and steam room.
Pack some easy wardrobe staples for exploring breezy SF.
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