When most people think of San Francisco, they think: bridge, cable cars, Alcatraz (we get it, Clint Eastwood was great in that movie). But, from neighborhood pop-ups to back-alley street art to the most precisely curated design shops, the city is teeming with cool happenings. And we should know—we’re based here.
When we want to play tourist, we frequently hit the blog Spotted SF for fresh ideas. It’s the passion project of San Francisco-native Leslie Santarina, who does all the writing and photography for her finger-on-the-pulse little black book in her spare time. Her approach to discovering new places in her city is simple, and profound: “I think about one thing that would bring joy to my day, do it, and see what else I can explore around it.”
As an SF lifer, Santarina is intimately familiar with nearly every last corner of this city, so we asked her to share a few amazing experiences you’re not likely to find in a guidebook about San Francisco. “A guidebook is a good starting point,” she says. “But also allow yourself a few days to put the book down, get lost, and discover something you wouldn’t have otherwise. Plus, this means you’ll meet people who actually live here, as opposed to only other tourists.”
BYOB Pizza Night: The Mill
The Whereabouts: "The Mill is a café and bread shop on Divisadero Street in the NOPA neighborhood."
The Scoop: “They are known for great coffee, thick slices of toast with toppings, and fresh loaves of bread made onsite by head-baker Josey Baker’s team. Yes, that’s his real name.”
The Insider Tip: “My favorite time to go is for Monday Night Pizza. It is a one-type, no-options pizza on a really delish sourdough crust. You can order by the slice or a whole pie. The best part is that it’s BYOB. It makes for a tasty, affordable, and casual walk-in dinner spot.”
A New Kind of General Store: The Perish Trust
The Whereabouts: “You’ll also find this gem on Divisadero Street in NOPA.”
The Scoop: “It’s a general store full of vintage items, found pieces, handmade objects from local artists, beautiful quarterly magazines, and books. You’ll discover something new each time you visit. And owners Rod and Kelly are a fun duo.”
The Insider Tip: “They host a number of pop-ups throughout the year to showcase the work of local and visiting artisans.”