San Francisco

Cool Airbnbs Near SF to Book This Winter

Take a break from it all.

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

We often think that though San Francisco has so much to offer-diverse culture, outstanding food, views at every turn, and ample outdoor space-what we perhaps love the most about the city is everything that’s right outside of it. In case you’ve forgotten about the wonder that is within half an hour of the 7×7, take this list as a little nudge to start planning your next weekend escape. Live somewhere outside of SF and want to plan a fun weekend here? We’ve got a few for you as well. 

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

Serene Waterfront Home with Panoramic Views

Tiburon, California  
4 guests/$300 per night
Distance from SF: Approx. 30 minutes by car
You can’t get closer to the water unless you’re in it. This (2 bedroom, 2 bath) private waterfront home is all about the huge private deck with views of Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, and Berkeley Hills, but even when you’re inside, you can still take them in thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. 
What guests say: “This was by far the best Airbnb experience I’ve ever had, outstanding hospitality from host! Game changer. I couldn’t have asked for more! Not only is the property itself impeccable and exceeded my expectations but Karen’s attention to detail, thoughtful touches and quick responses made me feel 100% taken care of and comfortable.”

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

Incredible House with Stunning Views of the Palace of Fine Arts

Marina District, San Francisco, California
6 guests/$1,295 per night
Distance from SF: In SF
This 3,000 square foot luxury (3 bedroom, 3.5 bath) home has more than one could (or should) expect in a San Francisco house, including a fully stocked chef’s kitchen, high-end everything, a private well-manicured backyard with a covered patio that houses a grill, outdoor fireplace, and dining table, a spacious deck off of the kitchen, and spectacular views of the Palace of Fine Arts, a stunning structure built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition that lights up at night. Though you likely won’t want to leave, it’s also within walking distance of the Presidio, as well as lots of shopping, bars, and restaurants.
What guests say: “Location was perfect to enjoy the SF life – food, shopping, entertainment – all within walking minutes from the house. And at night we could decompress and enjoy a beautiful fire (and glass of wine :). We could not be more thankful for this experience and we wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

Modern A-Frame Oasis in the Trees

Sausalito, California
3 guests/$400 per night
Distance from SF: Approximately 10 minutes by car
This unique A-frame (2 bedroom, 2 bath) cabin has treehouse vibes with two decks (one with a hammock), a living room with glass walls, a large wood-burning fireplace, thoughtful decor, a sauna, and views of Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the Bay Bridge. You’ll feel like you’re secluded in nature, but downtown Sausalito is within walking distance and SF is just a short ride (over the Golden Gate Bridge) away.
What guests say: “Joao’s house is an incredible spot. Trees swaying in the wind through windows on every wall and beautiful interiors – it feels like a perfect European pied-a-terre and should be featured in a home magazine. Highly recommend for anyone looking to live in their dream home for a while.”

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

Modern Home on the Slopes of Mount Tamalpais

Mill Valley, California
8 guests/$1,300 per night
Distance from SF: Approximately 30 minutes by car
This three-story (4 bedroom, 4 bath) home atop Middle Ridge on Mount Tam would be all about the views if it weren’t also steps from some of the best hiking and mountain biking trails in the Bay Area and a quick drive to downtown Mill Valley. There are also modern appliances, a fireplace, chef’s kitchen, and everything you need to practice yoga. Still, it’s the view from the open-air living space and most of the bedrooms that will capture your heart. You can even enjoy them while watching the sunset from the outdoor hot tub.
What guests say: “Perched high on the hillside with a broad sweeping wrap around deck, on one side you have gorgeous views of San Francisco, and on the other side the majestic tree lined slopes of Mt. Tamalpais. Relaxing on the deck feels like you are floating on tree tops.”

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

Mid-Century California Case Study House with Non-Stop Views

San Rafael, California
5 guests/$804 per night 
Distance from SF: Approximately 40 minutes by car
Case Study homes were commissioned by “Arts & Architecture” magazine between 1945 and 1966 in an attempt to get some of the country’s greatest architectes to create model homes that were both inexpensive and replicable. This (4 bedroom, 2 bath) home was designed by Beverly Thorne (who liked the challenge of building into steep hillsides) and built in 1962 and uses a steel structure to create an indoor/outdoor living experience. It’s also the only Case Study home in Northern California. Even better: You can spend the night in it and fully enjoy the history, era-appropriate furnishings, top-of-the-line appliances, and, of course, the views.
What guests say: “It was really special to stay in an actual modern case study home and the hosts have furnished it true to its era but with wonderful modern conveniences.”

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

Floating Home with Views of San Francisco

Sausalito, California
6 guests/$825 per night
Distance from SF: Approximately 22 to 35 minutes by car
You’ll literally be sittin’ on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away at this tranquil 3,000 square foot (3 bedroom, 2 bath) floating home that’s far more luxurious (though still well-loved) than your typical houseboat. There’s a gourmet kitchen, living room with fireplace, large decks on each floor, a floating dock with a barbecue, and unobstructed views of San Francisco, the East Bay, and  Sausalito. There are also kayaks for you to use so you can paddle around and say hello to some curious seals, as well as the friendly houseboat community.
What guests say: “This home is an oasis of tranquility, in a wonderful community and close to city living. Pati’s home is spacious and very well appointed with artfully selected furnishings, very comfortable, tons of cozy blankets and a sauna to chase away any chills. You will be living ‘that dock life’ in style! We particularly enjoyed the low floating dock, where we cooked many meals on the grill and ate almost all our dinners.”
 

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

Spacious Home Near Golden Gate Park and the Beach

Outer Sunset, San Francisco, California
10 guests/$996 per night
Distance from SF: In SF
This enormous (for SF, anyway) five bedroom, 3.5 bath house is within walking distance of Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach, and is also near public transportation, so you can easily get downtown if needed. There’s also a chef’s kitchen with 15 foot ceilings, ocean views from the master suite, and the pièce de résistance: a stylish backyard with a firepit and hot tub.
What guests say: “Shamir and Diana’s home is spectacular. It’s stylish, impeccably clean and comfortable, open and airy… and includes a hot tub and chickens! Of particular note is the charming backyard, super comfy beds and beautiful master bath. There is tons of space and it has a great floor plan-we had 7 people staying in all and everyone had plenty of room to spread out and be comfortable.”

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

Modern Victorian Close to Restaurants and Shopping

Cow Hollow, San Francisco, California
8 guests/$1,383 per night
Distance from SF: In SF
This classic (4 bedroom, 5 bath) Victorian home has been updated with modern touches and luxury appliances, and comfortable, but stylish, furniture. It also has a backyard with a firepit and a rooftop deck with panoramic views, but the real selling points are 1) how many people it sleeps and 2) the fact that it’s in a residential neighborhood, but still just a few blocks away from some of SF’s best shopping, bars, and restaurants.
What guests say: “Ingrid was a terrific host. She was extremely friendly and communicative, and the home was even better than pictured. It is very thoughtfully decorated. Feels like home immediately.”

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

Sanctuary in the Redwoods with Swimming Pool and Hot Tub

Mill Valley, California
4 guests/$914 per night
Distance from SF: Approximately 30 minutes by car
Retreat into nature at this (2 bedroom, 2 bath) mid-century home made of old growth redwood and glass that is surrounded by redwood trees and hiking trails, but is also a short drive to the bars and restaurants in downtown Mill Valley. This house is built for relaxing, and whether you want to do that by the pool, in the hot tub, lounging on the deck, or by the fireplace is up to you. Every detail of the architecture, from the brick archway to redwood everything to the glass walls is a sight to behold.
What guests say: “This is one of the most beautiful and unique properties I’ve ever been lucky enough to discover. Hidden in the trees, it feels hours outside the bay. The sauna and pool are incredible and the house is super stylish and well-appointed. If you are looking for an amazing weekend away from the city, do yourself a favor and stay here.”

Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb

Stately Home Surrounded by Beautiful Gardens

Belvedere, California
14 guests/$2,995 per night
Distance from SF: Approximately 30 minutes by car
The owner of this (7 bedroom, 7.5 bath) estate probably doesn’t want people throwing wild parties there, but if ever a house called for just that, this is it. Where to even start? Perhaps the indoor pool flanked by columns, the sauna, the hot tub, the gym with Bay views, the countless patios, the fire pits, the tennis court, the trampoline, or the bocce court? Or maybe just the truly magical grounds with all sorts of hidden nooks and delightful surprises.
What guests say: “The house was just as advertised: a beautiful ‘retreat’ so comfortable that we would have been perfectly content not to venture out. The grounds provided one delightful surprise after another: the conservatory and badminton/tetherball court, the campsite and courtyard fountain, the sculptures and chess set, the hammocks and many seating areas for reading and just watching the world go by.”

Daisy Barringer is an SF-based writer who loves nothing more than an impromptu Northern California road trip. Follow her on Instagram @daisysf to see where she’s headed next.

San Francisco

Where to Eat in SF's Chinatown, According to Local Experts

Just in time for Lunar New Year.

Photo by Brian John Godfrey
Photo by Brian John Godfrey

Last February, when there were only a handful of COVID cases in the United States, throngs of people stopped going to San Francisco’s Chinatown out of an unfounded fear that the neighborhood was more likely to have people with the virus. Business for bars and restaurants almost immediately dropped 50 to 70%. Unfortunately, despite our Chinatown being the oldest in North America and an important part of Chinese culture in the city since it was established in 1848, the tourists stopped going there. And then so did locals outside of the neighborhood. And soon, the bars and restaurants were mostly empty and the owners uncertain of how they could survive.

Joceyln Tsaih, an artist who made her way to Oakland by way of Taiwan and Shanghai, saw what was happening to SF’s Chinatown and other Chinatowns in the Bay Area and decided she needed to do something about it. In March of 2020, she created Save Our Chinatowns, an initiative to support Chinatown communities in the Bay Area through art, conversation, and shared love of food.

Courtesy of Joceyln Tsaih Instagram
Courtesy of Joceyln Tsaih Instagram

“I created it as a direct response to the COVID-related racism that was impacting Chinatown businesses in a negative way. I wanted to use my platform as an artist to create a way for people to support them.” Save Our Chinatowns originally launched as a GoFundMe fundraiser (eventually raising over $40,000), and soon, a few more women joined Tsaih’s grassroots efforts to create art and culture-focused initiatives to benefit their beloved Chinatowns.

Because here’s the thing. While Tsaih and the rest of her team believe San Francisco’s Chinatown is an important part of the city’s cultural makeup, it’s more than just that. It’s also personal. “I’m not originally from the Bay Area,” Tsaih explains. “I grew up in Shanghai, China, so Chinatowns across the US have served as a slice of home from me. Being in a Chinatown environment makes me feel immediately like I’m closer to home even though my family is in Shanghai and Taiwan and I’m very far from them.”

“I feel like in Chinese culture and in Chinatown, everything is largely centered around food. That is a big part of how we come together as families and the community and I want people to experience that,” she adds. Not sure where to start? Tsaih recommends the famous Dragon Gate. “That area has been kind of tailored to tourists. It’s very flashy and fun and an eye-opening way to start your journey.” (And it makes for a great Instagram photo as well.)

Want to know where to go from there? We asked the women behind Save Our Chinatowns about their favorite spots and what makes them their go-tos. After all, who better to get recommendations from than people who are using their free time to help save the neighborhood? Here are their picks:

Photo by Christine Calara
Photo by Christine Calara
Photo by Christine Calara

Kam Po Kitchen

“Kam Po Kitchen is an old-school Hong Kong style eatery that I adore. The staff has a no-nonsense attitude and service ethos that is actually kind of endearing and somehow comforting. It’s a spot that is beloved by locals as well. The roast duck over rice is my personal go-to, but everything I’ve had there has been delicious. As an added bonus, the portion sizes are huge!” Maya Kulkarni, a Berkeley-based artist and designer who is “very inspired by how food can shape identity.”
How to order: Call 415-982-3516.

Photo by Telstar Logistics
Photo by Telstar Logistics
Photo by Telstar Logistics

Sam Wo

“Sam Wo is a classic SF staple since it opened in 1907. Its casual, no-frills community has always been my favorite to go to late at night when the lines weren’t stupid long. Nothing beats ending your night out more than orders of BBQ pork rice noodle rolls and waiters forgetting to give you water after asking multiple times. Feels familiar and like home.” – Linh-Yen Hoang, a Vietnamese-American artist and designer whose work is “informed by her identity and experiences, both ordinary and nuanced.”
How to order: Use UberEats for delivery.

Lucky Creation 

“Lucky Creation is paradise for vegans. Everything is plant based and affordable, with a wide range of fake meats. The seasoning is subtle but complex, as opposed to in-your-face flavors of more tourist-oriented spots. You can’t go wrong ordering anything with bean curd.” Megumi Tanaka, an interdisciplinary designer, artist, developer, and expert on obscure information.
How to order: Call 415-989-0818.

Photo by Gary Soup
Photo by Gary Soup
Photo by Gary Soup

R&G Lounge

“When I think of R&G Lounge, I think of sitting at the round tables with family for special occasions. I also think of their signature salt and pepper crab and other Cantonese banquet style dishes. It’s a whole experience we’ve certainly taken for granted in the past.” Daphne Wu, an Oakland-based freelance web designer who is passionate about community building through food, drinks, and storytelling.
How to order: Use Caviar for delivery.

Lai Hong Lounge

“You can’t go wrong with Lai Hong Lounge if you’re looking for dim sum. All my favorite dim sum dishes are great here and even their egg tarts are the classic dim sum ones that can be hard to find nowadays! If you’re feeling fun you should order the custard buns because they come in the shape of little pigs.” – Jocelyn Tsaih
How to order: Use GrubHubPostmates, or UberEats for delivery.

Photo by Jennifer Woodard Maderazo
Photo by Jennifer Woodard Maderazo
Photo by Jennifer Woodard Maderazo

Golden Gate Bakery and Dragon Papa

“I’m obsessed with egg tarts, so when I’m in Chinatown, I always try to see if Golden Gate Bakery is open (their hours are very unpredictable), and if not, sometimes I’ll get a snack called Dragon Beard Candy. It kind of looks like floss, which is why they named it Dragon Beard, but it’s a sweet pastry. I like getting a box of that candy from there.” Jocelyn Tsaih, an Oakland artist by way of Taiwan and Shanghai, interested in utilizing art as a tool to amplify voices, raise awareness, and give back to communities. Her work is a reflection on human connection and identity.
How to order: Golden Gate Bakery is temporarily closed. Call 415-539-7728 for Dragon Papa.

Want to help save the Bay Area’s local Chinatowns? There’s a list of things you can do on the Save Our Chinatowns homepage, and right now, you can donate money and get a digital copy of their limited-edition zine for the Lunar New Year, titled “Have You Eaten Yet?” that includes recipes from Oakland Chinatown businesses.

Daisy Barringer is an SF-based writer who was lucky enough to grow up going to the famous Chinese New Year Parade most years. She’ll miss it this year. Gung hay fat choy! 

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