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San Francisco Shopping

1458 Haight Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 552 5095

An Aladdin's cave of sequins, flowers, polka dots, ruffles, and ribbons, Ambiance is a girly-girl's paradise. With the help of friendly saleswomen, SF fashionistas find all the dresses they ever dreamed of here, from vintage-inspired cocktail outfits to spaghetti-strapped summer frocks. Ambiance also carries tops, skirts, and jeans, as well as pretty accessories. It gets crowded here on weekends.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 7 pm, Sundays 11 am to 7 pm.

Amoeba Music
1855 Haight Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 831 1200

A music junkie's paradise, Amoeba has an encyclopedic selection of new and used CDs, as well as DVDs, music posters, LPs, and 45s. Everyone from pierced club kids to aging Deadheads comes here to offload their used CDs for cash or trade then stay for hours to browse. Unlike Virgin and other media mega-stores, Amoeba has an extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff, many of whom moonlight as musicians or DJs. Plus, there are live in-store performances every week (sometimes local bands, sometimes major phenoms like DJ Shadow).

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10:30 am to 10 pm, Sundays 11 am to 9 pm.

3101 Sacramento Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 928 1287

Known for its eclectic collection of unusual finds, Bae specializes in home furnishings ranging from Asian porcelain lamps and crystal candlesticks to high-end bath salts and small tabletop items that easily stuff into a suitcase. It's the perfect place to pick up a whimsical gift—perhaps a picture frame of alabaster or horn, or a salt-and-pepper shaker set of carved shell. Unlike some of the shops further up Sacramento Street in Presidio Heights, Bae stocks great gifts for under $30. And fear not: If you fall in love with a gorgeous lead-crystal floor lamp, they'll be happy to ship it home for you.—Updated by John Vlahides

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.

Good Vibrations

Founded in 1977 to offer sex information and toys geared toward women, this store is no dimly lit back-alley den. Rather, it's bright, comfortable, and friendly, stocked with condoms, lubricants, books, and videos, as well as state-of-the-art vibrators and other playthings. The knowledgeable personnel will discourse on the finer points of the Rabbit Pearl or the Magic Wand, and on occasion, founder (and sex therapist/educator) Joani Blank displays her "museum"—dating back to 1869—of antique vibrators.

Polk Street location open Sundays through Thursdays 11 am to 8 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to 9 pm. Mission location open Mondays through Wednesdays 11 am to 8 pm, Thursdays 11 am to 9 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to 10 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 9 pm.

135 Post Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 800 766 7628

Founded in 1861 by Solomon Gump to introduce Gold Rush parvenus to the decorative arts, the famous Gump's purveys costly, beautiful, and unusual housewares in addition to a wide selection of inexpensive gifts. As well as bedding, bath accessories, china, and crystal, you'll find jewelry and objets d'art, such as Limoges boxes and Murano glass. Gump's wares show a strong Pacific Rim influence, and an 18th-century Ching dynasty Buddha (not for sale) greets visitors who enter from Post Street.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.

M.A.C. (Modern Appealing Clothing)
387 Grove Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 863 3011

Rich hipsters with a hankering for avant-garde Belgian and Japanese designers shop with the big dogs at M.A.C., the longtime Hayes Valley mainstay for pricey-but-worth-it works of fashion art. Owned by stylish brother/sister duo Ben and Chris Ospital, the store is like a brick-walled curio cabinet for the family's collection of eclectic artworks and unexpected garments—if you've ever dreamed of a corset that looks exactly like a miniature men's three-piece suit, then this is the boutique for you. With a well-edited selection that includes A.F. Vandevorst, Tsumori Chisato, and Martin Margiela, there's no shortage of totally wearable and expertly tailored looks for clients with the means. The men's collection is really the highlight here, with a large offering of Dries Van Noten alongside Lanvin, Engineered Garments, and local label Turk + Taylor. Though there's often a killer sale rack for women, the men's clothing rarely goes on sale.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays 12 pm to 6 pm.

Miette Confiserie
449 Octavia Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 626 6221

At Miette Confiserie, the sunny French-style sweet shop in Hayes Valley, the world is your candy oyster—or gummy rat, chocolate carrot, or sweet tart skull. While there's none of Wonka's lickable wallpaper, the flowery pastel-hued space with cheerful shop girls and gumdrop topiaries is a sugarcoated backdrop for overflowing jars and tables laden with imported herbaceous chocolates, artisan lollipops, and Parisian macarons. The in-house kitchen dolls out homemade caramels, marshmallows, toffee, and likewise serves as a sweets laboratory for local culinary talent. Wash down a fresh-spun pouf of organic cotton candy with an elderflower spritzer. For artisan cakes and assorted pastries, check out their sister shop, Miette Pâtisserie, in the Ferry Building.

Open daily 11 am to 7 pm.


Even the handmade Venetian masks on the walls won't distract your attention from these exquisite shoes. Made in Italy and designed by owner Paolo Iantorno, the collection includes superb women's boots, each pair with its own personality, as well as heels, flats, sandals, and handsome men's boots and loafers. Shoes tend to range between $150 and $400—a bargain for footwear that is at once so comfortable and stylish.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays 11 am to 6 pm.

Hotel Photo
Paxton Gate
824 Valencia Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 824 1872

Macabre oddities and unusual garden items inspired by the natural sciences fill this gallerylike space at Paxton Gate. The front of the shop has weathered-oak shelves displaying the skulls of rodents and small animals, cases of brilliantly colored butterflies pinned under glass, and giant vintage trophy heads of bison and deer (fear not: none of them are endangered or poached). The squeamish can distract themselves with unusual jewelry and small-batch soaps made with heady botanicals, before heading to the rear of the shop, which explores plant life. Here you can discover orchids and succulents, an array of unusual plant books and garden tools, and an open-air backyard that showcases Paxton Gate's custom outdoor architecture.—John A. Vlahides

Open daily 11 am to 7 pm.

R.A.G. (Residents Apparel Gallery)
541 Octavia Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 621 7718

In a town as quirky as San Francisco, you have to work pretty hard to stand out… but R.A.G. can help you get there. The garments here (for both men and women, locally designed and arranged in a gallerylike space) are either one-of-a-kind or made in small batches, so you'll be able to find pieces that no one else has. The clothes are distinctive without being too wacky; their originality lies in funky details like frilled seams, an asymmetric cut, or a whimsical tennis-player pattern on a dress.

Open Mondays and Wednesdays through Fridays noon to 7 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 6 pm, and Sundays noon to 6 pm.

Rainbow Grocery
1745 Folsom Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 863 0620

With endless varieties of miso, tofu, and seaweed, baked goods that accommodate every allergy known to medical science, and luminous fruits and vegetables, Rainbow is the most extensive emporium of organic vegetarian food you'll ever hope to find. It also carries great natural beauty products and an encyclopedic range of vitamins, medicinal herbs, and detoxifying teas. Stock up on supplements, buy a vegan gift, or simply assemble a delicious and virtuous picnic.

Open daily 9 am to 9 pm.

Sue Fisher King
3067 Sacramento Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 888 811 7276

If you like to cover your bed with luxurious throw cushions and grace your dinner parties with elaborate table settings, then this place is for you. The selection of opulent home accessories includes Venetian glass mirrors, Anichini pillows, and gorgeous hand-blocked silk bed-coverings. The furniture selection, including pieces from Paris and the Far East, is elegant but not stuffy. There's also a wide selection of flatware and European dishes (you can order a set with your family crest or monogram) and Italian bath linens.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm.

1672 Haight Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 626 5939

If you want to look cool without seeming like you're trying too hard, Villains is the place to go. The look is understated but youthful and urban. The great selection of designer T-shirts includes the quirky Gama-Go brand, a local favorite. The cute staff members really know their denim and will help you pick the perfect pair of jeans from their vast selection, which includes 7 for All Mankind and Citizens for Humanity. Sneaker fetishists will have a hard time resisting Villains Shoes next door.

Open daily 11 am to 7 pm.

Wilkes Bashford
375 Sutter Street
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 986 4380

A San Francisco original since 1966, Wilkes Bashford is the city's priciest and most exclusive department store, catering to local elite hungry for upscale sportswear, couture, and premium men's suits—labels include Brioni, Kiton, Monique Lhuillier, and Azzedine Alaia. But with Neiman Marcus, Saks, and Barneys all in the neighborhood, it's Wilkes' personal service that keeps customers coming back. The sales team and tailor will make house calls, and the staff is experienced in closet clean-outs and wardrobe editing. Gift wrapping is always gorgeous (and free), and if you get hungry while perusing the season's looks in the private salon, just order a little "room service" from the acclaimed Campton Place. Too tired to carry your packages home? Wilkes will have them delivered.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm.

XOX Truffles
754 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 421 4814

His truffles may look rough-hewn, but their creator, Jean-Marc Gorce, is a master craftsman, named one of the top ten chocolate makers in the United States by Chocolatier magazine. His tiny shop sells 27 flavors. Try the peanut butter with dark chocolate—a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup that has died and gone to heaven. Or sample "Casimira's Favourite," named after Gorce's wife: smooth white chocolate ganache perfumed with Madagascar vanilla.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 6 pm, Sundays 10:30 am to 6 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.