Whenever I'm in San Francisco, I stay on Irving Street with family who just happens to live there. It's a little gem of a culinary and shopping street in the Inner Sunset district, right next to Golden Gate Park. It's mostly residential, which is why it's so charming. No large hotels here. Just apartments, families, Chinese bakeries, great pizza, amazing comfort food, coffeehouses and the sweetest boutiques. If you visit San Francisco, I highly recommend a trip to Iriving Street. If you are staying downtown, take the "N" Muni train toward Ocean Beach. Get off at 9th Street and enjoy the city like a local.
Here are a few of my fave shops with links included:
Ambiance: What can I say? I'm obsessed with this store. They have a few locations in San Francisco, including the original on Haight Street, but the Irving location (above) is by far my favorite. The vibe is definitely girly with amazing dresses, jewelry, shoes, accessories and separates. I can never leave here without making a giant dent in my bank account. But at home in L.A., their pieces get me the most compliments. If they had one in my neighborhood at home, I'd be broke. Locally owned and the staff is super sweet and helpful.
Crossroads Trading Co.: Yes, I know they have locations in So Cal, but I've always had better luck finding gems in San Francisco (below). This location is a good size, not too overwhelming, organized, neat and clean. Pre-owned clothing, some new stuff, and designer items on the walls and behind the register. I once found a black leather Bebe jacket here, in pristine condition, for 30 bucks. Enough said.
Wishbone: Been going to this shop for over 10 years. Great place for unique, quirky gifts, jewelry and cards. Children's toys and clothing. Lots of stuff I've never seen anywhere else.