5 Must-Visit Places in San Francisco

by Neia Balao

San Francisco may be known as the beating heart of the tech world, but after many visits, we know it’s much more than that. Teeming with unique and rich histories and cultures, with delicious food and world class music, San Francisco is easily one of our favourite cities in the world. With that in mind, we’re excited to profile this vibrant city this month, celebrating its character through the eyes of talented creatives.


Our first of this series is by Neia Balao, a writer from Vancouver, BC with a penchant for exploration—especially through the process of writing. She’s a lover of pop-culture and a self-described very proud homebody.



As a lover of music and an avid vinyl collector, Amoeba Music was a must-see on my list, and it did not disappoint. The San Francisco store, which opened in 1997 in the historic hippie neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury district, is especially known for its size (the space was once used as a bowling alley!) and houses the broadest, most eclectic collection of music and film. It’s an iconic independent music store, and experiencing it for myself was definitely one of the best moments of my trip. Did you know records fit perfectly in most seat pockets on airplanes?



An Instagram friendly aesthetic and a delicious selection of freshly baked goods? Sign me up! When I was planning my most recent trip to San Francisco, I knew I had to check out the bakery that had been blowing up my Instagram explore page, and it certainly lived up to the hype. My recommendations? The Churro Croissant and the Chocolate Caramel Cruffin. Seriously, they’re delicious.



Dolores Park perfectly encapsulates the diverse, artistic, and vivacious spirit of San Francisco. Located in the Mission District, this park is one of the most popular green spaces in the city, and it makes for the perfect place to relax, people watch, and enjoy a little picnic (in my case, a makeshift charcuterie board). At its busiest, the park’s energy is infectious, and after spending a few hours amidst a ton of locals, I wound up feeling like one too!



Another gem located in the Mission District, the Clarion Alley Mural Project is an entire alleyway which is home to a diverse array of public art. Wandering through this alleyway was a moving experience, as many of the murals display politically charged messages amidst bold splashes of color. Observing the use of art as a form of public protest both subtly and blatantly was a definite highlight for me—and it gave me a sense of the city’s real character.



My friends and I were determined to find an authentic, street-style Mexican restaurant on our trip, and I think we hit the jackpot on this one. Taqueria El Farolito is what food-dreams are made of—large portions, a well-priced menu, and a flavorful selection of Mexican food, with mariachis to match! From one foodie to another, this Mexican eatery is one of the best I’ve ever been to. Period.

Written by Neia Balao. Find Neia on Instagram and read more of her work on her website.

Photos by Megan Kwan. Find more of Megan’s work on her Instagram.