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Jan 16, 2020 | SF Activities

10 Things to Do in the Theater District

Resting between Union Square and the Tenderloin neighborhood, San Francisco’s Theater District spans nearly 10 blocks and includes notable venues like the Orpheum Theatre, Curran Theatre, and Golden Gate Theatre. While attending a hit Broadway musical, play, or musical performance is the obvious choice for things to do in the Theater District, the historic neighborhood offers so much more than groundbreaking live theater. Come for the theater, stay for the rest. 

1. Grab a Coffee at Sightglass Coffee

The indie, sibling-owned coffee company has made waves in the coffee industry since its inception in 2009. From bean to cup, Sightglass Coffee is transparent with their business practice, from where their beans are grown and how they are processed, to who handles them along the way and how they are house-roasted in their flagship store just south of the main hub of the Theater District on 7th Street. Swing by their company headquarters, which also functions as a production roastery, coffee bar, and community gathering space, for a fresh cup of joe.

2. Go on a Theater District Tour

Take a walking tour of the Theater District with San Francisco City Guides every third Thursday of the month beginning at 4 p.m. Learn the humble beginnings of San Francisco’s theater scene, including detailed narration of the historic district, noteworthy architecture, and impressive marquees still in use today. The free tour meets at the entrance to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at 701 Mission St.


3. View the Historical Facades of the Theaters

The interiors of the district’s glorious theaters aren’t the only things worth gawking at. From the Geary Theater’s classical pillars, stonework, and awnings to the Curran Theatre’s brickwork and arched windows, get lost in the magnificent architecture of the Theater District. Built in 1926 and designed by theater architect B. Marcus Priteca, the Orpheum Theatre’s facade is a prime example of the Plateresque style. Characterized by ornate designs and figures, the late Spanish Gothic details make the Orpheum one of the most easily recognizable structures in San Francisco.

4. Visit Books Inc.

The west’s oldest independent bookseller’s hosts regular events like author discussions, book launches, signings, and writing workshops. Stay up to date with their calendar of events, or pop into the shop to browse their wide collection of bestsellers and Indie Next pics. Find Books Inc. at 601 Van Ness Ave. in Opera Plaza.

5. Shop on Larkin Street in the Tenderloin Neighborhood

The notorious neighborhood has plenty of hidden gems, if you know where to look. Stick to Larkin Street for unique indie shops. Score vintage finds at Vacation SF, locally made art and homegoods at Fleet Wood, and earth-friendly, custom hand printed t-shirts at The Loin. Other favorites include RS94109 record store and The Magazine’s collection of out-of-print editions of famous publications.

6. Explore Union Square

Just steps from Hotel Abri, the 2.6-acre public plaza is home to upscale department stores, boutiques, restaurants, and cultural destinations including art galleries, museums, and walking tours. Stay awhile in the palm-lined shopper’s paradise to watch the historic cable cars, street performances, and the free summer concert series.


7. Walk down Market Street

Referred to as the Champs-Élysées of the city, Market Street cuts through the heart of the Theater District and is filled with upscale shops, eateries, lounges, and remarkable architecture. The street is gearing up for a massive makeover, which will open the thruway up exclusively to pedestrians, bikeriders, and Muni service only, effectively putting a ban on private vehicles. The hopes of modernization will make the street safer, while giving pedestrians free reign of the storied “lifeline of the city”.

8. Get a Cocktail at Whitechapel

Inspired by London’s infamous neighborhood, Whitechapel features the largest gin selection in North America. The cocktail lounge’s industrial and Victorian digs pairs nicely with the ornate architecture of the Theater District. Celebrate the history and traditions of the spirit with a top-notch cocktail menu and global bites at their location on Polk Street.

9. Have Dinner at Puccini & Pinetti

Book a reservation at Puccini & Pinetti for Modern Italian fare with a California twist. Impeccable service, a warm ambiance, and the award-winning cuisine makes Puccini & Pinetti the ideal eatery to savor a meal before a show. Enjoy seasonally inspired dishes with their special Theater Offer, which gets you 10% off your dinner when you present your ticket stub on the day of your show.

10. Catch Live Jazz Music at Black Cat

Named as one of the most romantic venues in the city by the San Francisco Chronicle, Black Cat is channeling the classic jazz clubs of old, with a glam twist. Exposed brick walls, antique velvet, distressed leather, and gold finishes set the scene, while intimate nooks and lighting add to the ambiance. The 1906 venue hosts nightly live jazz performances, with shareable plates, cocktails, and a 90-plus-bottle wine list. Tap into the legacy of San Francisco’s jazz era with a visit to Black Cat on Eddy Street.

Enjoy the ultimate theater experience in the city with special savings on accommodations and dinner at Puccini & Pinetti when you book direct with Hotel Abri, a historic San Francisco hotel known for its spacious rooms and suites, high-tech features, and prime location in the heart of the Theater District.


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