One of San Francisco’s main thoroughfares, ever-pulsating Market Street cuts a diagonal line from the Embarcadero on the city’s northeastern edge to the Twin Peaks neighborhood. It’s home to everything from big-name shops, restaurants, and cafés to offices, theaters, and plazas—attracting visitors and locals both day and night.
Market Street spans 4.5 miles (7 kilometers) and is where much of the action takes place in San Francisco, from both a working and visiting perspective. Union Square, Civic Center, and the Financial District are on the drag’s northern side, and the South of Market (SoMa) and Castro districts lie on the southern side. Book a hop-on hop-off bus tour to explore the sights at your own pace, or jump aboard the F-Market MUNI line to ride down Market Street in a vintage streetcar.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Being a main artery of San Francisco, Market Street is a virtually unavoidable experience for all visitors to the city.
- Market is flat and walkable from the Embarcadero through the downtown area; it starts to get hilly as you near the Castro and Twin Peaks.
- With heavy pedestrian traffic, bus lanes, and streetcar tracks, Market Street is busy and can be a stressful driving experience for first-timers.
- Market’s sidewalks are well maintained and accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
A variety of public transportation options ply Market Street, including several MUNI bus and train lines, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, and the San Francisco Cable Car, which runs down Powell Street to Market. There is plenty of metered street parking available, but pay attention to posted signs about prohibited parking during rush hour.
When to Get There
Market Street bustles all day long—go in the late morning or afternoon for shopping or lunch, or have dinner at a popular restaurant such as Zuni Café. The street is quieter at night, when locals head home after post-work happy hour. You’ll get the best photos in the early morning, before the 9-to-5 crowd arrives.
Across the Embarcadero from the end of Market Street sits the Ferry Building Marketplace, a haven of gourmet goodies nestled amidst stellar views of San Francisco Bay. Eat your way through the historical building, tasting cheese, oysters, bread, wine, coffee, and ice cream, or try your luck at getting a table at the Slanted Door, one of the city’s best Vietnamese eateries.