Living in the north east side of San Francisco, I don't get out to the Sunset district very often as it's on the completely opposite side of the city. It's fun to explore the different neighborhoods within the 7x7 boundaries though, as they are all so unique and charming in very different ways. Joe and I recently wandered out to the outer sunset for an afternoon and evening and had a blast. Continue reading for a glimpse into our day and some ideas to do when you're being a tourist in your own city. Make sure you make it to the bottom for one of my new favorite restaurant reviews!
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Mosaic Stairway on 16th Avenue
The tiled steps on 16th Avenue are one of the city's hidden gems. I've been here a few times, and each time I'm always overwhelmed by the amount of detail that went into the creation. It's a great thing to see and is a free activity, but one that isn't overcrowded with tourists. You'll likely see a few other groups of people on the stairway, taking pictures and taking in the amazing view of the sunset and ocean from the top, but will definitely have enough space to take your own photos and soak in the beauty on your own.
There are 163 steps in total and the project was undertaken between 2003 and 2005, inspired by famous stairs in Rio de Janeiro. At the top of the stairway, you'll reach Grand View Park where you're able to enjoy an amazing view overlooking the entire city. The project's website explains that over 200 neighbors sponsored the handmade tiles within the stairway, and over 300 people helped to actually put them in. It's amazing to see the final product of an entire community coming together.
Ocean Beach is a 3.5 mile stretch of white beaches and is normally not too crowded with tourists, so can make for a nice, quiet day or evening. This beach is known for its great waves and foggy skies. As the beach faces the Pacific Ocean, you'll find a beautiful sunest over the water (on days where it's not completely foggy.) A sunset in The Sunset -- how perfect! Ocean Beach and the Sunset district are San Francisco surfers' paradise (check out the surf report here). This beach isn't typically filled with lots of people laying out in swim suits, as the southwest area of San Francisco is often overcome by @karlthefog, but it's a great place to go for a run or just enjoy the views. On the few hot days each year, you will, however, find the entire city flock to either Ocean Beach or Baker Beach to get their normally pasty colored skin some rays of sunshine.
The General Store
The General Store is an awesome shop in the Outser Sunset that sells things like decor, candles, clothing, jewlery and more. First of all, the store smells amazing, and second of all, I want everything in it! They have a ton of handmade items and functional design pieces. It's a really cute shop with great aesthetics and a cool ambiance. If you're reading from Los Angelos, they recently opened up a shop there too. Visit their website here.
Outerlands is a trendy restaurant for the residents of this beachside neighborhood. It's ambiance is extremely cool with salvaged-wood decor dominating the entire inside, from floor to ceiling. It's run by chefs Yoni Levy and Brooke Mosley. We went for dinner after watching the sunset at Ocean Beach and absolutely loved our meal, but also have heard amazing things about their brunch. They serve fresh bread daily and you can purchase rolls as well, and it may be the freshest bread I've ever had -- day dream worthy! For an appetizer, I'd suggest the winter squash and ancho chile soup. For dinner, I ABSOLUTELY loved the bavette steak with barley porridge, lacinato kale, and jus. We both loved our meals so much that our plates were completely clear and our bellies were very full! The service was great too; they were super down to earth and friendly, and not overbearing or pushy at all. They have a full bar and an extensive wine and beer list as well. In terms of my restaurant rankings, I think it's definitely a close 5/5 in my mind. I would 100% recommend going, but make sure to get a reservation first!