Are you on the hunt for amazing things to do in Union Square, San Francisco? Read ahead for our top picks.

If you’re visiting Golden Gate City for the first time, you may be looking for things to do in Union Square, San Francisco.

Union Square is often considered the ‘center’ of the city, and it’s a great place to base yourself during a trip because of its central location.

In fact, many of the main hotels in San Francisco are located in and around Union Square, which is why we thought it’d be useful to write an article about the best things to do in this central part of the city.

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Well, luckily for you, we’ve got you more than covered!

To make things super easy for you – all of these suggestions are located within a 5-10 minute walk of Union Square, or they’re located in the heart of Union Square itself.

Whether you’re a fan of art galleries, Broadway shows, or architecture, there’s bound to be something on this list of things to do in Union Square that you’ll love.

Now let’s get going and start crafting your perfect itinerary!

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

First on my list, why not stop by the Museum of Modern Art?

It’s one of the largest museums of contemporary art in the USA, and you’ll often catch exhibitions by visiting artists if you’re a local.

And the interesting architecture of the building itself makes it one of the coolest things to do in Union Square!

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Top of the Mark rooftop bar

Next up on our list, it’s the gorgeous Top of the Mark rooftop bar.

If you want to enjoy some great drinks, and beautiful views, then you’re absolutely going to love it here. It’s such a fantastic place to spend a few hours!

Bonus points if you time your visit for sunset – that’s the best time for amazing views!

Asian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum is my next suggestion for things to do in the area, and it’s home to a huge collection of international art.

It has an impressive 18,000 works in its permanent collection, with several of those being up to 6,000 years old!

We’d say that this was one of the things to do in Union Square, San Francisco that’ll easily kill a couple of hours if you’re waiting for a theatre performance.

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Grab a steak at John’s Grill

Next up, it’s grabbing a juicy steak at John’s Grill.

This place is located in the very heart of Union Square, San Francisco – and it’s a perfect location for grabbing a special lunch or dinner!

If you’re into steak, it’s a wonderful option for dining out, and it’s right in the heart of Union Square.

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Check out the Dragon Gate in Chinatown

Next on our list of things to do in Union Square – it’s checking out the famous Dragon Gate in Chinatown.

This is right on the edge of the Union Sqaure neighborhood, and it’s one of the city’s most iconic photo opportunities!

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Garden Court Restaurant

You should certainly add the Palace Hotel to your list of things to do in Union Square, San Francisco. 

But it’s the Garden Court Restaurant that puts this spot over the top!

It’s super bougie and serves delicious fine dining fare and brunch in a decadent room with a hanging chandelier and Art Deco styling.

Although the food is sensational, it’s also a great spot if you’re looking for breathtaking Instagram shots!

Read more about San Francisco: Top 15 upscale restaurants in San Francisco!

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San Francisco Cable Car Museum

Our next suggestion is the San Francisco Cable Car Museum!

This fascinating museum takes you through the history of cable cars, how they work, and what makes them such a large part of the city’s culture.

Oh, and don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on your way out!

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Yerba Buena Gardens

Next on our list of fun things to do in Union Square, is relaxing in the Yerba Buena Gardens.

This place is a really nice urban garden in the heart of the city, and it’s a lovely place to grab lunch and enjoy some people watching!

This is a gorgeous option for sunny spring and summer days, when you want to be outdoors enjoying the fresh SF air.

Dewey Monument

If you’re looking for unique activities in Union Square, you can’t beat a trip to the Dewey Monument.

This charming memorial statue is perched right in the heart of Union Square and is dedicated to Admiral George Dewey’s triumph in the Battle of Manila.

It’s only a quick stop, making it one of the things to do in Union Square, San Francisco if you’re in a hurry!

Ferry Building

Next, you’ll want to check out the Ferry Building. Whilst it isn’t strictly in Union Square, it’s only a 5-10 minute walk away, and well worth it!

It’s a historic marketplace that sells a selection of Bay Area eats like cheese, produce, coffee, and local candy that you can stock up on for souvenirs.

Once you’re done, you can have a pleasant stroll along the waterfront!

Rise Over Run rooftop bar

Rise Over Run is our next suggestion for things to do in Union Square, San Francisco.

Located inside The Line Hotel, this place is another amazing rooftop destination right in the heart of Union Square.

The vibe here is sophisticated and cozy, and it’s a perfect place for spending warm summer nights.

Read more about San Francisco: The best places for late-night food in San Francisco!

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Bartlett Hall

If you can’t get enough of gastropubs, you’ll love this next suggestion.

Bartlett Hall a traditional bustling gastropub that boasts delicious American dishes, craft cocktails, and brews that’ll have you relaxed and full-up in no time.

Throw in the historic setting and you’ll have a gorgeous afternoon on your hands!

Westfield San Francisco Center

For a spot of retail therapy head to Westfield San Francisco Center!

It’s a huge 9-story shopping mall that boasts over 170 shops and restaurants inside a rather gorgeous dome-covered building.

It’s a fantastic choice if you’re traveling for fussy kiddos or need to do some last-minute holiday shopping.

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Brenda’s French Soul Food

Next up on our list of things to do in Union Square, San Francisco, it’s the amazing Brenda’s Soul Food.

If you’re ever in San Francisco and looking for some delicious comfort food in the Union Sqaure area, you gotta check out Brenda’s French Soul Food!

It’s a cozy little spot in the Tenderloin neighborhood (about 5-10 minutes from Union Square) that serves up some seriously amazing dishes. You can’t go wrong with their fluffy, buttery biscuits or their famous beignets – they’re like little pillows of fried dough covered in powdered sugar.

They also have some great vegetarian options, like their vegan gumbo or their tasty roasted beet salad.

Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with anything you order here. Plus, the staff is super friendly and the vibe is always laid back and welcoming.

Read more about San Francisco: 35 romantic date ideas in San Francisco

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Fraenkel Gallery

If you’re a fan of contemporary art, then you’ll want to add Fraenkel Gallery to your list of things to do in Union Square, San Francisco.

Since its founding in 1979, this impressive gallery has showcased more than 300 separate photography exhibitions.

Whether you’re an artistic fiend or are new to the photography world, this is one that’s bound to enlighten you.

Golden Gate Theatre

Next up on our list – it’s taking a trip to the Golden Gate Theatre!

This spot has a capacity of 2,297 which makes it a prime spot for operas, touring plays, and big Broadway musicals.

The shows are the main draw, but you’re bound to be impressed by the stunning interior and old-school vaudeville vibe.

The Golden Gate Tap Room

Next up for things to do in Union Sqaure, San Francisco – it’s the Golden Gate Tap Room.

If you’re in San Francisco and looking for a spot to grab a drink with friends (especially in the Union Square area) you have to check out Golden Gate Tap Room.

This place has a huge selection of craft beers, ciders, and cocktails, and the vibe is super chill. We highly recommend trying their Moscow Mule – it’s the perfect blend of spicy and refreshing.

As for food, their truffle fries are a must-try, and if you’re feeling something more substantial, the BBQ pulled pork sandwich is always a crowd-pleaser.

And the best part? There are plenty of games to keep you entertained – from pool tables to giant Jenga – so you can hang out for hours. It’s a great choice for things to do in Union Square, San Francisco.

Read more about San Francisco: 20 amazing dessert places in San Francisco

Go shopping

Need some retail therapy?

Shopping is a classic pick for things to do in Union Sqaure, because this neighborhood is jam-packed with stores and big brands.

From Macy’s, Zara and Neiman Marcus, to Apple and The North Face – you can find everything you need here!

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Martin Lawrence Galleries

The Martin Lawrence Galleries is next up, and I think you’re going to love it.

This spot is completely dedicated to showcasing the work of up-and-coming artists. 

So, if you’re a fan of new-fangled artwork and off-the-wall pieces, you’ll adore spending a few hours here!

Visit the historic St. Francis Hotel

Next on our list, it’s visiting the historic and iconic St. Francis Hotel.

Built in 1904, the hotel has a super rich history and has been a fixture of the city’s skyline for over a century. It’s absolutely worth checking out if you’re into history and design.

The hotel has also hosted countless famous guests over the years, including presidents, celebrities, and world leaders. Which makes it quite the location for celebrity spotting too.

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Take a ride in a San Francisco Cable Car

How could we write this list without mentioning the famous San Francisco cable cars!

Union Square is one of the most popular locations in the city to hop on the cable car, so it’s a great option to add to your list of things to do in Union Sqaure, San Francisco.

You can take a cable car ride from Powell and Market to Union Square, which is an iconic San Francisco experience.

Read more about San Francisco: 16 of the best Golden gate Vista Points

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Ice skating

During the holiday season, Union Square features an outdoor ice-skating rink, so it’s a great choice for things to do in this area.

Sure, this option isn’t available all year round, but it’s a classic pick during the winter months!

So, if you’re therein the winter month, wrap up, and put on some skates.

Maiden Lane

Maiden Lane was once part of the city’s Red Light District

But it’s now one of the best things to do in Union Square, San Francisco if you adore boutiques and galleries!

Stroll through the pedestrianized streets to pick up everything from unique artwork to clothes from high-end designers like Chanel!

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Visit the art market

If you time your visit to Union Square just right, you might be lucky enough to visit during one of the market days.

These are always our favorite days in Union Square, as it’s such a lovely contrast to the commercial high street stores nearby.

Read more about San Francisco: 9 reasons you’ll love visiting Haight Ashbury in SF

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Hallidie Building

Our next pick for great things to do in Union Square, San Francisco is the Hallidie Building!

It’s a stunning building that’s tucked between Montgomery Street and Kearney Street that was designed by architect Willis Polk.

Thanks to its modern exterior, enormous walled windows, and structured style, it’s one of the most beloved buildings in the city!

Museum of the African Diaspora

Another museum worth checking out in the area, is the Museum of the African Diaspora.

This contemporary art museum champions the work of Black artists and encourages visitors to embrace the beauty of African culture.

Although you can check out their permanent exhibits, it’s worth looking through their events program to see if artist discussions or community events are running.

Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar & Lounge

Another rooftop bar is next on our list of things to do in Union Square, San Francisco!

Charmaine’s Rooftop Bar & Lounge is located in the Proper Hotel, and it is a gorgeous spot for rooftop cocktails, and we know you’re going to love it.

This is one of the best bars in San Francisco right now, and it’s an ideal place to enjoy when you’re I this part of the city.

The vibe here is cozy, stylish and beautifully designed!

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Children’s Creativity Museum

If you’re traveling with kiddos, you’ll want to explore the next item on our list of things to do in Union Square, San Francisco!

The Children’s Creativity Museum offers little ones between 2 and 12 years old the chance to explore multimedia, technology, and hands-on exhibits that will expand their horizons.

Better yet, it’s relatively affordable for the incredible activities it offers.

Read more about San Francisco: Is visiting Alcatraz too scary for children?

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Can’t make it to the iconic Macy’s in NYC? 

No problem, as this glorious department store is one of the finest things to do in Union Square, San Francisco!

You can pick up goodies from high-end retailers like Tiffany & Co and Louis Vuitton while you’re here. 

But you’ll find a fantastic range of products from Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom too! 

So, prepare to shop until you drop!

The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Our final suggestion for awesome things to do in Union Square, San Francisco is the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

It’s packed with interesting exhibits on Jewish history and culture, making it a fantastic option for history buffs!

And if you’re visiting on the first Friday of the month, the museum offers free entry for travelers on a budget.

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I hope this list of things to do in Union Square, San Francisco has been useful and given you loads of ideas!

Which of these suggestions, San Francisco, will you be visiting first? Let us know!

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