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The San Francisco Financial District (“FiDi”) is the home of major convention sites and large companies, including the Salesforce Tower. For that reason, most of the business hotels are located around here, and if you’re traveling to San Francisco for work, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself in the FiDi. Here are some fun things to do in the neighborhood after work. (And if you can extend your stay in SF over the weekend, I recommend using credit card points to book the Hotel Kabuki – here’s how.)
The Ferry Building is a must-see in the Financial District. Get a sense of San Francisco’s local shops at the Ferry Building, right on the water and conveniently in the FiDi. It’s open until 7p on weekdays, so make this the next stop on your journey after 5. You can snack your way from one end to the other, having just a little bite here and there at the individual counter-service restaurants. Pick up a bag of famous Blue Bottle Coffee and a loaf of sourdough at the Acme Bread Company, or just window shop the various crafts you come across.
How to Get to San Francisco’s Financial District
SFO is the closest airport, but Oakland is smaller and has less traffic if you’re arriving outside of rush hour. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) has options into the Financial District from either airport, but I’d recommend taking an Uber or a Lyft.
I don’t recommend renting a car in San Francisco’s Financial District. Parking is very expensive at most of the business hotels ($30-$50 per day), and it’s a huge hassle. Most of the recommendations here are very walkable, even with San Francisco’s hills. When you don’t feel like walking, Uber or Lyft are easy options.
Where to Eat in San Francisco’s Financial District for Dinner
Leo’s Oyster Bar // San Francisco is well-known for its oysters, and Leo’s Oyster Bar is a fantastic place to get them. It’s an old-school, glamorous restaurant that reminds me of Mad Men with its cherrywood, well-stocked bar and black-and-white floor tiles. It’s not exactly cheap, but it’s a great place to get your evening started. If you get out of work just a little early, happy hour is from 3-5 on weekdays when the oysters are only $1.50 apiece. Order a dozen for yourself, sip a glass of wine, and continue your adventure. (For even more SF seafood recommendations, check out the Top 5 Seafood Restaurants in SF.)
Wayfare Tavern // Famous chef Tyler Florence’s flagship restaurant Wayfare Tavern is in the FiDi. It’s casual and un-fussy, with some serious better-than-bar-food dishes. The fried chicken and steak tartare are some of the best, and the “Cobb” deviled eggs are to die for. (Food & Wine Magazine even awarded Wayfare Tavern with the Best Fried Chicken in America title.)
Oasis Grill // If you find yourself a little overserved at the end of the night, Oasis has your back. They have several locations throughout the FiDi, one of which is across the street from the Hyatt Regency. Get some excellent shawarma there, to be ready for your morning meeting. Definitely try the hot sauce – you can order it on the side if you’re scared.
Tadich Grill // This is the place to impress a client (or anyone) with both your taste and your local knowledge. Established in 1849, Tadich Grill is San Francisco’s oldest restaurant, and current owners have been running it since the 1920s. Get reservations.
Liholiho Yacht Club // Come for the drinks, stay for the atmosphere. Liholiho offers a tropical-inspired food menu in a casual, modern atmosphere. But it’s really the cocktails that are works of art. Many of them feature unique flavors and spices, such as turmeric and lemongrass, and they’re always served beautifully.
Pagan Idol // Tiki fans, you must visit Pagan Idol, which will transport you from the FiDi straight to an island bar. Don’t be fooled by the cheesy atmosphere or the fact that your cocktails are served in coconuts and/or wooden skulls: They pack a strong, alcoholic punch. Speaking of punch, split a giant cocktail with a friend or three.
Things to See in San Francisco’s Financial District at Night
Ferry Building // Get a sense of San Francisco’s local shops at the Ferry Building, right on the water and conveniently in the FiDi. It’s open until 7p on weekdays, so make this the next stop on your journey after 5. The Ferry Building is packed with unique shops that sell everything from crafts to books to clothing. You can snack along the way too, having just a little bite here and there at the individual counter-service restaurants. Pick up a loaf of sourdough at the Acme Bread Company or a treat at the famous Dandelion Chocolate, or just window shop the various crafts you come across.
Walking Around the FiDi // This is less of a recommendation and more of a heads-up. Regardless of what time of day you’re walking around the Financial District in SF, you are likely to encounter the worst of the city’s struggles with homelessness. Some of the country’s largest and wealthiest tech giants have their headquarters in the FiDi, but this neighborhood still has many groups of homeless camped along the streets. Multiple times, and in broad daylight, I’ve seen open-air drug use and people openly urinating and defecating in alleyways. This isn’t to scare you away from the area – violent crime is low – but just to remind you to be aware of your surroundings. Chances are, if you’re here for work, you’ll have either a meeting or a hotel somewhere in the FiDi, so you should still make the most of the many things to do here! This is just something to be aware of.
Coffee Sampling // San Francisco and Seattle are bitter rivals from a who’s-got-the-best-coffee standpoint. The great thing about that is, you can sample the best coffee right in the middle of the FiDi! Most shops give you a brewed cup for free if you buy a bag to take home, and these make for some really wonderful souvenirs. They’re suitcase-friendly too. Check out Blue Bottle on 2nd Street, Philz, Bluestone Lane, and Mazarine Coffee. They’re all excellent and within an easy walk around the FiDi.
SF MOMA // On Thursdays, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is open until 9:00p. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the Ferry Building or a short Uber. Tickets cost $19 if you’re under 25, or $25 if you’re not. That’s a bit pricey for an art museum, but this one is world-class, with exhibits changing frequently. Even if you’re not a huge modern art fan, and I’m usually not, this is a big museum with lots to see.
Also check out:
- San Francisco’s Financial District After 5:00 pm
- Sacramento, CA After 5:00 pm
- San Diego After 5:00 pm
- Bernal Heights, San Francisco After 5:00 pm
- San Diego After Five: Enjoying Warm Nights
- San Jose After Five