What’s better than giving loved ones the perfect holiday gift? Giving a gift with a story! If you’re traveling to San Francisco this season, don’t just settle for bringing home cliché souvenirs: instead, scoop up locally made, SF-inspired goodies for friends, family, and yourself. Read on for our guide to unique, budget-friendly stocking stuffers with travel tales to tell.
We get it: you “heart” SF. But there’s a more creative – and local – way to show it than with the standard tourist t-shirt. Show you’re in the know with some swag from local designers San Franpsycho or The City Apparel. Both companies design their own casual T-shirts and hoodies stamped with a Golden Gate logo, though each label puts its own spin on its depiction of the iconic bridge. San Franpsycho’s also got loads of smaller items that are easy to stuff into what little space you’ll have left in your suitcase before heading home: think California-shaped necklaces, woven scarves, cheeky aprons, and two-tone sunglasses running from about $10-$20.
Of course, you don’t have to show off a logo to represent Northern California. Stop by Urban Sidewalk, a tiny storefront in North Beach where everything – from clothing to jewelry – is designed in California. Or, splurge at one of the city’s several Marine Layer stores. This SF-based label specializes in cozy apparel for the local lifestyle, with pieces perfect for hitting the streets or hitting the trails.
For Artsy Types
Staying at the HI-SF Fisherman’s Wharf hostel this winter? You’re in luck: your one-stop holiday shop couldn’t be closer! The Fort Mason Center, whose pavilions sit just down the road from the Fisherman’s Wharf hostel, is hosting the San Francisco Bazaar Holiday Show this year on Dec. 13 and 14. That means local crafters and artisans galore slinging everything from handmade pottery to locally designed clothing and jewelry. Bonus points for holiday gluttony: food trucks parked just outside the pavilion will give shoppers ample opportunities to fuel up on local eats. Best of all, the bazaar is free to attend and rife with bargains for those who love the thrill of the hunt.
For craftiness any day of the year, hop a BART train across the bay to Oakland’s Temescal Alley. This row of horse-stables-turned -shops is about as kitschy, cute, and local as you can possibly get. It’s about a 45-minute trip to the little artisan alleyway from downtown San Francisco: get the BART to Oakland’s Macarthur Station from Powell Street Station (near HI-SF Downtown) or Civic Center Station (near HI-SF City Center), then take a quick walk over to the little artisan alleyway.
For the foodie on your list, you couldn’t ask for better shopping grounds than San Francisco. Friends and family back home will swoon over treats from Bay Area confectioners Tcho Chocolate, Dandelion Chocolate, and Hooker’s Sweet Treats (be sure to check out all of our favorite made-in-the-Bay sweets). The savory side of the San Francisco food scene is on display over at the Ferry Building, a veritable one-stop-shop for edible gifts. California olive oil, honey and beeswax candles from nearby Sonoma County, and locally sourced bath products all travel well from hostel, to suitcase, to home!
For something a little different, bring home some holiday cheer with a bottle of wine made right here in San Francisco. Even your most wine-savvy friends and family members would likely be surprised that both Bluxome Street Winery and The Winery SF blend and bottle their vino right here in the city; bottles sporting SF-centric labels make unexpected – and always appreciated – gifts for oenophiles everywhere (for more on wine, check out our full guide to tasting wine country without a car).
Got a heavy reader in your life back home? Impress them with a gift from City Lights Booksellers, the infamous bookstore founded by legendary Beat poet and Jack Kerouac buddy Lawrence Ferlinghetti. On the second floor of the shop, you’ll find a shelf of titles published under City Lights’ own label, from poetry to fiction, rare translations to works on social and political thought.
Stay at one of our three San Francisco hostels.