Sweet and addictive Beard Papa’s Japanese cream puffs are the city’s new favorite indulgence.
Even the most enthusiastic of elves needs a break from shopping sometimes. South of Market Street in San Francisco's Yerba Buena arts district, new museums, fresh eateries, and old favorites are perfect for a time out. And yes, if you simply must, there's terrific shopping too, at arty gift shops and at the new Bloomingdale's.
San Francisco's Yerba Buena arts district is just south of Market Street. Muni bus lines 14, 15, 30, and 45 serve the area. The most plentiful parking is at the Fifth and Mission Garage (enter on Mission Street headed east).
Museum of the African Diaspora: New center focuses on African arts; this month, check out the show of beaded prayer packets. Info: Closed Tue; $10; 685 Mission St.; 415/358-7200.
Museum of Craft and Folk Art: View crafts made by Japanese Americans in internment camps during WWII. Info: Closed Mon; $5; 51 Yerba Buena Lane; 415/227-4888.
Yerba Buena Gardens: Really, what can't you do here? Take in fountains, gardens, an art museum, a carousel, shopping, and movies, plus an ice rink for holiday twirling. Info: Between Third, Fourth, Mission, and Folsom Streets; 415/820-3550.
Bloomingdale's: The largest Bloomie's outside New York, in the Westfield San Francisco Centre mall. Info: 865 Market St.; 415/856-5300.
Foto-Graphix Books: Ansel Adams photo books find a home alongside Art Spiegelman cartoons at this appealing shop. Info: Closed Mon; 655 Mission St. (at the Cartoon Art Museum); 415/495-7242.
SFMOMA MuseumStore: Art books, colorful tableware, and unusual jewelry. The adjacent Caffè Museo has soups and paninis. Info: 151 Third St.; 888/357-0037.
Ame Restaurant: Refined dining inside the new St. Regis Hotel includes sake-marinated black cod and chawan-mushi, a delicate Japanese custard. Info: $$$$; 689 Mission St., 415/284-4040.
Beard Papa Sweets Café: The custard-filled cream puffs from Japan are finally available in S.F. Info: 99 Yerba Buena Lane; 415/978-9972.
Our favorite place to stay in the area is the sleek W San Francisco (from $199; 181 Third St.; 415/777-5300). Modern, arty rooms in warm tones have just the right shot of urban sophistication, and at the hotel's new 5,000-square-foot Bliss Spa, you can watch a movie while having your nails done.