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San Francisco

haight street shopping san franciscoSan Francisco is a shopper's dream, no matter what size your budget is. Huge department stores and tony boutiques can be found in the Union Square area, while bargain hunters flock to the thrift stores of Haight-Ashbury and the Mission District.

Head to Haight Street for hippie favorites like incense, used books and thrift store fashions. Bibliophiles should check out the Bound Together bookstore on Haight Street -- you won't find any Danielle Steel on the shelves, but you will find the works of Noam Chomsky and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mickey's Monkey at 218 Pierce Street is a must if you're looking for a lava lamp or other kitschy collectibles. With millions of new and used CD's and LP's, Amoeba Records is considered by many aficionados to be the best record store in America, offering everything from jazz and opera to R&B and progressive rock. You can literally spend an entire day picking through the racks (or you could just ask one of the staff -- approachable music lovers who combine encyclopedic knowledge with a refreshing lack of condescension).

Union Square and its surroundings make up San Francisco's most popular shopping district, where big-name stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks rub shoulders with designer boutiques like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Cartier.

In North Beach, you'll find boutiques selling handmade goods, as well as City Lights, one of the city's best and most historic bookstores (it was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and has served as a meeting place for writers, artists and intellectuals).

Chinatown's ticky-tacky tourist shops are fun to browse, but don't miss the side streets, where you'll find higher-quality items like fabric, jewelry and traditional herbs.

The fashionable Mission District offers a wealth of thrift stores, antique furniture and unique housewares. Valencia Street is the main drag.

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