Explore San Francisco with Our Underground Concierge

Just blocks from Union Square and the Theatre District, you’ve got the world at your feet. Embrace it. Then embark on the path less taken. Hotel Emblem is inspired by the Beat Generation and we know you love the eclectic, obscure and unknown as much as we do.

Our Underground Concierge has come up with 6 unique self-guided city tours that are anything but touristy. Scroll down for the inside look or download the Beat Generation map here. And get ready to channel your fearless spirit and experience them all.

Our culinary picks

Tartine Manufactory/Bakery

This megabakery/wine bar/ice-cream shop/restaurant has it all. Breakfast options include excellent pastries and coffee, but really you can go any time of the day. It’s known for organic ingredients and thoughtful preparations and has won numerous culinary awards.


Not your average coffee shop, Mymy serves some of the finest breakfast food in the city. Lines start early on the weekends but do yourself a favor and grab a great cup of coffee at Contraband while you wait.

Café de la Presse

A French café in the heart of Union Square, Café de la Presse serves traditional and elevated bistro favorites. Make like you’re in Paris as you eat and flip through the selection of newspapers and magazines sourced from around the world.

Mama’s on Washington Square

THE breakfast and brunch spot in San Francisco. Imagine: the fluffiest omelettes around and French toast with house made bread. Try and make it there during the week; on weekends the average wait for breakfast is about two hours. Yes, it’s worth it, if you have the time.

Jackson Place Café

A tiny, hidden spot that you would surely miss if you weren’t looking for it, Jackson Place is a local coffee shop that not only provides great coffee but breakfast dishes and lunch paninis, too.

La Taqueria

You’re in California, your first question should be, “Where do I find the best burrito?” The answer for San Francisco locals is easy: La Taqueria. This no-frills “true original” has been turning out the best tacos and burritos for over 40 years.

Tony’s Pizza

While San Francisco isn’t famous for pizza, Tony’s makes the case to put the city on the map. Forbes has named it “The Best Pizzeria in America” and the crowds waiting to get inside seem to agree. Tip: Tony’s has a “by the slice” store adjacent to their restaurant to stop in for a quick bite instead of waiting in line.

Zuni Café

This iconic, James Beard award-winning restaurant is still doing it right. When (not if) you go, try one of our three favorites: the Ceasar salad, the fancy burger on focaccia, or the roasted chicken.

Blue Barn

Some of the best salad in the city comes from Blue Barn. It partners with local producers to create inspired, seasonal menus. There are five locations throughout the city, and we like the Russian Hill location because the lines aren’t usually as long.

Molinari Delicatessen

This North Beach Italian deli serves everything from sandwiches to homemade pastas and sausages. Its old-school vibe isn’t just for show – this spot has been around since 1896 and stands by its timeless atmosphere and quality.

Yank Sing

Dim sum, anyone? Yank Sing does it in both traditional and contemporary style. Order some, and also don’t miss the Peking duck. All in all, a trip to this Michelin-rated restaurant is a true treat.

El Techo

Serving upscale Mexican street food, El Techo has one of the best rooftop locations in the city. A hidden gem, you’ll have to be careful not to walk past the single host standing on the street, who will direct you up the residential elevator.

Foreign Cinema

Continually rated one of the best restaurants in the city, Foreign Cinema blends food, drink, film and art gallery into one sensory expression. Enjoy French bistro-style cuisine while watching a film, screened nightly in the outdoor courtyard.

Rich Table

“A place with no dress code, where the food speaks for itself,” this Michelin-rated restaurant delights you with Californian cuisine and a killer wine list. Plus, it’s routinely on lists as one of the best places to get dessert in San Francisco.

Leo’s Oyster Bar

Besides a great raw bar serving oysters, clams, crab, shrimp and lobster, Leo’s menu is full of decadent specialties like caviar, crudo and uni. Add to the mix a swank 1950s vibe, and you’ll see that Leo’s is a must-visit.


Michelin restaurant on a budget? Yep. Trestle offers a different three-course pre-fix meal daily for just $38. Truly one of the best values in the city.

Art Experiences

San Francisco has long been heralded as one of the most culturally rich cities in the world, and a large reason for that is the abundance of major museums and art exhibits, both on and off the beaten path. Here are some of our favorite spots that lie on the road less taken.


Murals & Street Art

There are over 1,000 murals in the city, and the largest concentration is in the Mission District. Balmey Street: This is where it all started in 1972. While the artwork is constantly changing, many of the older murals remain and have been restored. Clarion Alley: A little further north of Balmey Street, you’ll find street art in a welcoming alley that’s been an art epicenter since 1992.

Location: Sunset

16th Avenue Tiled Steps

Located on Moraga St. between 15th and 16th ave, the tiled step project was a neighborhood collaboration to create a themed mosaic up the 163 steps.

Location: Financial District

Leica Store Gallery

A destination for all who love photography, this enclave features around five yearly exhibitions focusing on established and emerging photographers from the Bay Area. To find out the latest exhibits, visit Leica Gallery LA.

Location: Nob HIll

Gallery 444

Family-owned and operated, Gallery 444 showcases only original prints, painting and sculpture.

Location: SoMa

7-Story Canvas

In April 2015, #ZettaMurals ran an Instagram contest to find muralists to paint their creative designs on a given floor in the stairwell. The 7-Story Canvas exhibit is open for public viewing featuring these winning designs.


The unique culture of our city manifests itself in so many different ways. One of the most unique expressions can be found in staircases throughout the city. Explore these eight colorful, famous stairways of San Francisco. They include four mosaic sets of stairs, the Sand Ladder near Baker Beach, the Filbert Street Steps near Coit Tower, plus a few surprises.

District: Presidio

Staircase Between Crissy Field & The Golden Gate Bridge

Location: Battery East Trail between the Golden Gate Bridge and Crissy Field/Fort Point

This set of stairs does not have an official name, but it's the best way to get between Fort Point/Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge. It's part of the Battery East Trail. The great thing about the stairs is that they offer a short cut between these two locations (instead of walking along the road). You will also get some amazing and less common shots of the Golden Gate Bridge.

District: Bayview

Flights Of Fancy Staircase

Location: Arelious Walker at Innes Avenue

Completed in 2014, these stairs are dedicated to Dr. Arelious Walker, a former pastor and advocate for the Bayview District. The design is a combination of patterns from various cultures including Adinkra cloth from Ghana, Native American painted pottery, and woven patterns from Central America and from the Middle East.

District: Telegraph Hill/North Beach

Filbert Street Stairs

Location: Filbert between Sansome and Coit Tower

They take you to the top of Telegraph Hill from the waterfront near Levi's Plaza. It's a popular route for those wanting to get from The Embarcadero up to Coit Tower on foot. One you climb the first steep set, you’ll be taken through a lovely garden area with wooden steps – picture perfect.

District: Inner Sunset

Hidden Garden Stairs

Location: 16th Avenue at Kirkham

This set of stairs was completed in 2013. Broken up into several sections, each features a design with flowers, butterflies, leaves and other fauna.

District: Inner Richmond

Lincoln Park Steps

Location: California at Lincoln Golf Course

This is the newest set of mosaic stairs in San Francisco. They are on California Street where it dead-ends into Lincoln Park Golf Course. It's a smaller staircase, but offers a colorful patter of bring yellows, greens and oranges.

District: Pacific Heights

Lyon Street Stairs

Location: Lyon Street between Broadway and Green Streets

One of my favorite views of the San Francisco Bay is from the Lyon Street Stairs. This attraction starts on the top at Broadway Street and makes its way from Pacific Heights down to the Marina District. The first block is beautifully manicured with one of the Hearts of San Francisco near the bottom. The second set is more basic and steep but takes you quickly from one district to the next.

District: Presidio

Sand Ladder

Location: Battery East Trail between the Golden Gate Bridge and Crissy Field/Fort Point

This set of stairs is, as its name implies, covered in sand. It’s part of the Pacific Coast Trail and has become famous as its one of the toughest parts of the run during the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.

District: Inner Sunset

16th Avenue Tiled Stairs

Location: 16th Avenue and Moraga

At 16th and Moraga, you’ll find the most famous set of mosaic stairs in San Francisco. The 163-step beauty was completed in 2005 as a community project by more than 300 neighbors.

urban hikes

While you may not have come to San Francisco for a hike, we highly recommend you take the chanceexplore some of the most picturesque views in the country, if not the world. Want to pack a lunch? Check out our Underground Concierge Culinary Experience section for deli options that have grab-and-go food.

Fort Funston
Location: Lakeshore

Fort Funston

Difficulty: Easy, though it’s all on sand (which can be difficult for some); Sand Ladder Trail is steep, but short

Time: Depending on how much you want to explore, your hike time can be anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours

Dog-friendly: Dogs are permitted off-leash under voice control, except for the 12-acre enclosure on the northwest side, where equestrians and hikers share the Bay Area Ridge Trail segment

What you’ll see: The most ecstatic dogs on earth, endless views of the Pacific Ocean, old fort ruins, plenty of California poppies, and some red-tailed hawks.

Inspiration Point
Location: Presidio

Inspiration Point

Difficulty: Easy, ranging from a mixture of sandy trails, dirt paths, asphalt roads, and concrete walkways

Time: 1.5-hour loop, starting and ending at the Inspiration Point lookout area

Dog-friendly: Dogs permitted, on-leash only; you’ll be near a lot of busy roadways

What you’ll see: Andy Goldsworthy’s Spire (constructed from Monterey cypress trunks), redwoods, charming brick houses, fennel, blackberry bushes, eucalyptus, meadows (some are under restoration), and views of the city’s northeast corner all the way to the East Bay on a clear day.

Lands End
Location: Sea Cliff

Lands End

Difficulty: Easy, mostly flat until you begin the steep but safe descent to Sutro Baths

Time: 1-hour out-and-back trails

Dog-friendly: Dogs are permitted, leashed or under voice control

What you’ll see: Wild views of the Pacific Ocean (and Marin and the Golden Gate Bridge on a fogless day) and the historic Sutro Baths and ruins.

Logos Creek Valley
Location: Presidio

Logos Creek Valley

Difficulty: Easy, a mixture of elevated boardwalk and sandy paths

Time: 30-minute loop trail

Dog-friendly: No dogs allowed

What you’ll see: Sandy dunes, a delightfully spooky forest of Monterey cypress and pine, colorful coastal shrubbery and butterflies.

Glen Canyon Park
Location: The Castro / Diamond Heights

Glen Canyon Park

Difficulty: Easy at the beginning, then moderate once you hit the grassy canyon

Time: 1-hour loop trail, starting and ending on Bosworth Street

Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed, but keep them on-leash; coyotes have been spotted numerous times in Glen Canyon Park

What you’ll see: Extremely impressive eucalyptus groves, more blackberry bushes than you can count, red-tailed hawks, wildflowers and rock outcroppings that are a blast to climb on.

John McLaren Park
Location: Visitacion Valley

John McLaren Park

Difficulty: Easy to moderate ascents and descents over both paved and dirt trails

Time: 40-minute loop trail starting and ending in the parking lot off John F. Shelley Drive

Dog-friendly: Dogs are allowed, off-leash OK

What you’ll see: Happy dogs swimming in the reservoir, the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, meadows, pine and eucalyptus trees, McNab Lake full of happy ducks.

Mount Sutro
Location: Sunset

Mount Sutro

Difficulty: Easy to moderate climb and descent, just be wary of poison oak

Time: 40-minute loop, depending on how many trails you want to connect (all are very clearly marked)

Dog-friendly: No rules are posted, but keep your dog on a tight leash if you bring one, because there is poison oak everywhere

What you’ll see: Huge eucalyptus groves, a sunny meadow at the top, and even a brief glimpse of Sutro Tower through the trees at the summit

Mount Davidson
Location: Twin Peaks

Mount Davidson

Difficulty: Moderate dirt trails all the way to the top

Time: 1-hour, there-and-back trail, or a loop, depending on which routes you connect

Dog-friendly: Dogs permitted, off-leash OK

What you’ll see: City views all the way to the East Bay on a clear day, a front row view of Sutro Tower and the Mount Davidson cross.

Bernal Hill
Location: Bernal Heights

Bernal Hill

Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous (uphill climb)

Time: 40-minute loop trails

Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed, off-leash OK

What you’ll see: A breathtaking 360-degree city view, kite flyers, dogs, a red rock maze at the base.

Park hopping

San Francisco is one big playground, with a bunch of little, more literal playgrounds embedded within. We’re counting down the Top 10 parks so you can get out there and explore the best.

Location: Hayes Valley

Alamo Square

Mysteriously always cold regardless of temperatures across the city. It's a pleasant yet likely uneventful experience. The essence of Alamo lies in it being an open invitation to fantasize about the surrounding homes. Including the Full House home.

Location: Bernal Heights

Bernal Hill

Bernal Hill provides visitors with a breathtaking 360-degree panorama and clear views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown, San Bruno Mountain and the hills of the East Bay. These windswept slopes are still sunny when Twin Peaks is shrouded in afternoon fog. Red-tailed hawks soar overhead, the breeze sends waves through the native grassland community, and visitors hike around the hill’s peaceful summit to escape from the complexities of urban life.

Location: Mission

Dolores Park

Referred to as Hipster Hill, “Dolo” is San Francisco's hottest park. A sunny day is every bit as social and sloppy as a festival in the height of Indian summer.

Location: The Castro / Diamond Heights

Glen Canyon Park

A chaparral terrain as classically NorCal as hating SoCal, the plant and animal life in these grounds serves as a time capsule for what much of the city looked like before major redevelopment in the 1800s. Some native species to look out for: the California blackberry, the dramatically wind-swept Monterey cypress and the San Francisco forktail damselfly.

Location: Sunset

Golden Gate Park

The Academy of Sciences and the de Young. The Conservatory of Flowers and Japanese Tea Garden. Hippie Hill. Hippie Hill on 4/20. Outside Lands. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Strawberry Hill and Stow Lake. Two functioning windmills. Roller discovers. Swingers. And an actual herd of buffalo.

Location: Sunset

Grand View Park (Turtle Hill)

The tiled Moraga Steps take you 666 feet up to a stamp-sized park with panoramic views of the city. The 1.1 acre of land is more ecologically valuable to the city than most of the other 49 square miles because of its rare native plants. Some of the whimsically named species you’ll find here include the Franciscan wallflower, dune tansy, bush lupin, beach strawberry, bush monkey flower and coyote bush.

Location: Nob Hill

Huntington Park (Grace Cathedral Park)

This mixed-bag park is loved for its eclecticity. Go for a run, walk your dog or just do some people watching (Aaron Paul filmed Need for Speed here, and familiar faces tend to pop up now and again).

Location: Pacific Heights

Lafayette Park

Great for dogs. The recently renovated tennis courts and the design-y playground will make humans happy, too. Make sure you climb to the woody summit for great views and tree trunk-framed sunsets.

Location: Hayes Valley

Patricia’s Green

Not really a park but you can get an ice cream from Smitten and sit on the grass for a while, which is good enough for us. If you’re feeling particularly liberal with definitions, you can extend your park day to include a dark ale and pickle from adjacent Biergarten.

Location: Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

Arguably the best views in the city — from the familiarity of the Market Street lights at night, to the five bridges you’re able to count on a clear day.