New York vs San Francisco

These two cities have more in common than a bustling Union Square. With a long celebrated food culture and indie art and poetry scene, there are surprises and delights around every corner. With warmer weather on the horizon, there is no better time to compare local favorites and see how these two coastal cities stack up on their love of food, art, and city views.  

New York vs San Francisco | Starwood Hotels


Waking Up

With two cities on the top of the food list, it’s no surprise that the coffee culture is almost as important as breathing. Okay, maybe not breathing, but it is a necessity.

SF: Trendsetters in San Francisco line the streets for a taste of the smooth nitro cold brew at Mazarine Coffee. Their science experiment-like techniques are instagrammable and give visitors the energy to take on Nob Hill by foot.

NY: Back on the East Coast, you’ll find New Yorkers sipping a small batch roast at Toby’s Estate in Brooklyn. Try the street namesake Bedford Blend Espresso and for the true coffee enthusiasts, sign up for an afternoon of crafting your own blends at Toby’s Brew School.

Tasting Time

With hundreds of palate-pleasing establishments in both cities, it’s near impossible to choose when lunchtime approaches. That’s why San Francisco's & New York’s Food Hall craze gives you the chance to indulge in the best each city has to offer.

SF: Framed by its historic clock tower, The Ferry Building Market is one of the best in the country combining an expansive market for every taste and awe-inspiring architecture. Shop one of the world's best farmers markets and create an impromptu picnic with the signature triple-cream cheese Mt. Tam from the Cowgirl Creamery on Acme Bread Company olive loaf.

The Ferry Building Market San Francisco

NY: Mario Batali’s Eataly in New York’s Flatiron offers a kaleidoscope of Italian fare. After a stop at La Pizza for one of the city's best Neapolitan-style pizzas, head straight to La Birreria on the rooftop for a house made cask ale and views of Madison Square Park. Did we mention they have a nutella bar?


Not to be outdone by the adoration of foodies across the globe, each city also celebrates a passionate audience with one thing on their agenda: Great cocktails.

SF: Located near Union Square, Pacific Cocktail Haven (P.C.H.) is the brainchild of bar star Kevin Deidrich. Enjoy bold and playful hand-crafted libations like the Sherry Cobbler in this chill setting with industrial details. 

NY: An intimate and dimly lit cocktail den, Nitecap in the lower east side of New York embodies the speakeasy culture we love, complete with fun and inventive concoctions like the Play it Cool and an impressive brandy list.


See it all

SF: Beyond the amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge lays the expansive Golden Gate Park. Ride the landmark carousel, visit the Japanese Tea Garden, picnic by a waterfall, and see a herd of buffalo. Feeling active? Start at the park’s entrance in the Upper Haight Ashbury area and follow a 3-mile path that leads you right to Ocean Beach.

NY: New York’s backyard, Central Park, is slightly smaller in size, but not personality. The urban oasis boasts a lake, zoo, a John Lennon Memorial, and the stunning Belvedere Castle. Fill your day with visits to your favorite movie cameo locations or relax and people watch on the great lawn of Sheep Meadow.

Central Park in New York City

Despite the obvious differences in topography, there is no denying the stunning views and skylines each city has to offer.

SF: For sweeping views across the city, head to Mission Dolores Park. At the top of the park, admire the charming rows of houses and the various hills that denote the city’s distinct neighborhoods. At the bottom, visit the city’s Mission District full of great boutique shops and the best Mexican food in town.

NY: To capture panoramic views of the quintessential New York skyline, hop on a water taxi from Manhattan or walk the infamous Brooklyn Bridge and make your way to Brooklyn Bridge Park. After treating yourself to a cold treat at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, stroll the riverfront promenade camera ready in-hand.


Easy Ridin’

There is no better way to explore each city than by taking advantage of their bike share programs.

SF: With San Francisco’s Bay Area Bikeshare you can spend the day cruising along the Embarcadero with a stop in Fisherman’s Wharf. Before you park your wheels for the day, head back to the Ferry Building Market for Sow Juice. After popping all those wheelies, order the Hula Girl to keep the energy going.

NY: Grab a Citi Bike in New York and you’ll have no excuse going from uptown to downtown along the Hudson or East River. Stop by the Butcher’s Daughter, cleverly known as the Vegetable Slaughterhouse, for their goddess of green juice before pedaling through the tree-lined and celebrity strewn streets of the West Village.

Kayak by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Sun up or Sundown, hop into a kayak and see each city in a different light.

SF: Head across the bay to Jack London Square in Oakland after the sun sets for the beloved Full Moon kayaking ride led by California Kayak Company. The evening views show an illuminated Golden Gate Bridge and a glass-like estuary as you paddle the night away. 

NY: In an effort to promote NY’s waterfront and Hudson River, Pier 26 Boathouse in Downtown New York offers free Kayaking almost entirely throughout the year. The program is run by volunteers and offers instruction, safety equipment, a locker & lock for your personal items. Set your alarm early and watch the sunrise reflect off of the prominent downtown high-rises in a spectacular glow.


Feeling Poetic

With smaller, unique neighborhoods home to creatives and artists of every genre, these two cities offer the opportunity to hear novice and experienced poets alike. For the brave, many establishments offer open-mic night.

SF: Famous Alley Cat Books in the Mission district will leave you inspired with wall-to-wall books and a calendar full of local poetry readings and film screenings. 

NY: Otto’s Shrunken Head not only has the best piña colada’s in New York, but puts on open mic poetry the first Sunday of the night. 

The Heavy Hitters

Feel inspired after visiting some of the country’s most celebrated pieces of artwork housed in these spectacular venues.

SF: Newly reopened after a long-awaited renovation that doubled the gallery space, don’t let the SFMOMA’s size intimidate you. The museum’s detailed location-based app will help guide you through the impressive Pollack and Warhol pieces and up into a gallery’s worth of Diane Arbus photos.

SF Museum of Modern Art

NY: Devoted exclusively to contemporary art, New York’s Bowery neighborhood is home to the New Museum. Here you will find adventurous and provocative exhibits from all over the globe.

So whether your vibe is more of New York's “Hurry up already” or San Francisco's “Take it easy”, it’s clear that from coast to coast these two destinations see eye-to-eye with diverse offerings for locals and visitors alike.

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