South of Market (SoMa), San Francisco: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

If you’re heading to the Golden City, set some time aside to explore South of Market, also known as SoMa to locals. Encompassing Mission Bay and South Beach, SoMa is one of the city’s most vibrant and dynamic neighborhoods. With its mix of sleek modern architecture, historic brick buildings, and trendy restaurants and bars, South of the Market has something for everyone.

Whether you’re a local looking for a fun night out or a visitor exploring San Francisco for the first time, you’re sure to find plenty of excitement and adventure in this bustling district. You’ll find several excellent museums, including the acclaimed San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and the beautiful Yerba Buena Gardens.

Catching a Giants game at the waterfront Oracle Park is a must when visiting South of Market, too. The area is dotted with upscale dining options and high-energy nightclubs when you want to hit the town, and you’ll find plenty of accommodation options from mid-range to luxury hotels.

Ready to begin your San Fran adventure? Check out this complete guide on one of the Golden City’s most exciting neighborhoods, including what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay in South of Market (SoMa).

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What to see & do in SoMa

San Francisco Museum of Art

Enjoy a dose of culture and inspiration at the San Francisco Museum of Art. Affectionately known as SFMOMA, this iconic museum is a true gem of the city, showcasing some of the world’s most innovative and thought-provoking contemporary art.

Boasting a world-class collection from the modern era to today, this popular San Francisco museum has everything from classic works by Frida Kahlo to exciting pieces by emerging artists.

The San Francisco Museum of Art is also an architectural masterpiece. Designed by the acclaimed Norwegian firm Snøhetta, the museum’s expansion in 2016 added a stunningly modern 10-story addition to the original 1935 building.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

But the real magic of SFMOMA’s architecture is inside the building. The soaring central atrium spans all ten floors, with a mesmerizing spiral staircase winding through the center. The open, airy space is flooded with natural light, making it the perfect setting for the museum’s dynamic and inspiring exhibits.

Whether you’re a lover of art, architecture, or both, the San Francisco Museum of Art is bound to leave you dazzled and inspired.

Yerba Buena Gardens

You won’t want to miss the beautiful Yerba Buena Gardens while exploring South of the Market. This vibrant oasis in the heart of Downtown San Francisco offers a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Yerba Buena Gardens

Stroll through the lush gardens, catch a show at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, or simply relax on the expansive lawns. With its beautiful fountains, striking public art installations, and lively events calendar, Yerba Buena Gardens is the perfect place to unwind and soak up the San Francisco sun.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Looking for a dynamic and inspiring cultural experience in SoMa? Head to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. This innovative venue features an ever-changing lineup of exhibits, performances, and events, highlighting the best in contemporary art and culture.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

From experimental theater productions to cutting-edge visual art installations, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is sure to spark your creativity and inspire your imagination.

Children’s Creativity Museum

Get ready for a day of fun and creativity at the Children’s Creativity Museum. This one-of-a-kind museum offers hands-on exhibits and activities designed to spark the imagination and encourage creative thinking in kids of all ages.

The Children’s Creativity Museum is the perfect place for young artists, inventors, and thinkers to explore and play, from building with recycled materials to designing your own stop-motion animation.

Museum of the African Diaspora

Step into the vibrant world of the African diaspora at the Museum of the African Diaspora. This fascinating museum celebrates the culture and history of people of African descent from around the world through diverse exhibits and programming.

From contemporary art to historical artifacts, the Museum of the African Diaspora offers a truly immersive and educational experience.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Explore the rich and fascinating history and culture of Jewish people at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The museum celebrates the diversity and creativity of Jewish traditions and identity through modern art installations and historical artifacts.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum

You can also enjoy a dynamic lineup of exhibits, performances, and events that offer a thought-provoking and engaging experience.

Oracle Park

Go, Giants, go! Catch a game and root for the home team alongside the rowdy local fans at Oracle Park. Located in South Beach, this iconic baseball stadium, formerly known as AT&T Park, is the perfect place to enjoy a game of baseball with friends and family.

Oracle Park

Oracle Park is one of San Francisco’s must-visit destinations for sports fans and casual visitors alike, boasting breathtaking views of the bay and a lively atmosphere. Cheer on the Giants and experience the excitement of America’s favorite pastime in one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country.

Orpheum Theatre

If you’re looking for a night of unforgettable entertainment in SoMa, look no further than the historic Orpheum Theatre. Set in the vibrant Civic Center district, this historic theater has been a fixture of San Francisco’s cultural scene for over a century. It’s hosted some of the biggest music, theater, and dance names.

Orpheum Theatre

With its opulent décor and world-class acoustics, the Orpheum Theatre is the perfect place to experience the magic of live performance. Whether you’re a Broadway buff or a music lover, the Orpheum Theatre will leave you enchanted and inspired.

Where to eat & drink

South of Market (SoMa) is a dynamic neighborhood in San Francisco known for its diverse dining and drinking spots. You’ll find plenty of fantastic places to wine and dine.

Indulge in an unforgettable Michelin-star culinary adventure at Birdsong. Feast on creative and beautifully plated dishes of upscale Pacific Northwest cuisine like halibut pommes soufflé puff and morel mushrooms stuffed with Sonoma lamb. Sip world-class wines from the restaurant’s award-winning wine list.

For a cozy and intimate dining experience, look no further than The Flytrap. Just two blocks from the Modern Museum of Art, this bustling restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants in San Francisco and a SoMa institution. Dine on delicious modern American cuisine in a warm, welcoming ambiance at communal tables.

When you feel like heading south of the border for a sublime Mexican meal, Californios is the go-to spot in SoMa. Expect an elegant and intimate atmosphere and impeccable service at this two-Michelin-starred eatery, where you can indulge in the flavors of Mexico with innovative dishes like chicharrones with truffle shavings and crispy-skinned grilled squab tacos.

Savor a taste of Old-World British charm and sophistication in the heart of San Francisco at The Cavalier. Relax in refined surroundings with elegant décor and dine on classic British dishes with a modern twist, like Skuna Bay salmon with buttered leek broth and grilled ribeye with red wine chimichurri.

Enjoy a quiet drink in a cozy, intimate atmosphere at the speakeasy-inspired Local Edition bar. This is an excellent spot for classic and creative cocktails with friends.

For a more vibrant atmosphere, try the South Side Spirit House. The buzzing bar features an ever-changing art installation by local artists and boasts an impressive selection of top-shelf spirits, including rare and unique finds.

If you’re a wine enthusiast looking for a chic and sophisticated spot to enjoy a glass (or bottle) of your favorite vintage, Press Club is the place for you. With its sleek and modern décor, knowledgeable staff, and extensive selection of wines from around the world, this South of the Market gem is the perfect destination for a casual evening out with friends or a romantic date night.

Bookworms with a penchant for craft cocktails should head to Novela. The cozy and intimate bar has a unique literary theme, with shelves of classic novels and vintage typewriters. Sip on a delicious cocktail inspired by your favorite literary characters while enjoying a laid-back ambiance and friendly service.

Where to stay

With its central location, SoMa is one of the most popular areas to stay in San Francisco. The accommodation selection here is vast but targets mostly mid-range and luxury travelers. For more selection, check out neighboring areas like Union Square or The Embarcadero.

Hotel Zetta San Francisco

Hotel Zetta San Francisco

Just a short stroll away from the Powell Street cable car turnaround, Hotel Zetta San Francisco offers a trendy and stylish spot to stay. Enjoy modern amenities like free Wi-Fi, espresso machines, SMART TVs, and game consoles. You can access a 24-hour fitness center and a complimentary weekly yoga class. The hotel also has a stylish lobby lounge, an upscale restaurant, and a bar that serves modern British pub food.

The Clancy

The Clancy, Autograph Collection

Located off I-80, close to the Moscone Center, The Clancy, Autograph Collection is a refined hotel offering sophisticated guest rooms with Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Upgrade to a suite for separate living rooms and charming city views. Amenities include an industrial-chic restaurant and bar, as well as a gym and a coffee shop. Breakfast and valet parking are also available for your convenience.

Hyatt Regency

Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown SOMA

This contemporary high-rise hotel is designed for comfort and is conveniently located within a short walk from the Moscone Center and Union Square. The Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown SOMA boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that offer city views. Dine at a trendy American restaurant and enjoy regular beer tastings on the terrace at a chic bar.

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco

Enjoy the classic Four Seasons style at the Four Seasons San Francisco. A short walk from Union Square and Yerba Buena Gardens, the hotel boasts top-notch amenities like a full-service spa, an adult indoor lap pool, and an urban-chic restaurant. Suites boast beautiful city views with large soaking bathtubs, flat-screen TVs, and iPod docking stations.

The St Regis San Francisco

The St Regis San Francisco

Situated right next to the Museum of Modern Art, the St Regis San Francisco offers refined rooms with marble and exotic-wood details, rainfall showers and soaking tubs, and gorgeous city views. The hotel features a fine-dining restaurant and St. Regis Bar, where you can enjoy handcrafted cocktails and elevated restaurant fare. The hotel also provides a 24-hour gym for your convenience.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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