For visitors, Union Square is an ideal place to get your bearings, take in the sights and sounds of the city and begin your day. If you face Macy's, you will see cable cars rumble by to your right on Powell Street. Beautiful hotels and high-end boutiques and department stores surround the square on all sides. Of note: the century-old Westin St. Francis (Powell) and its famous red awnings survived the 1906 earthquake; it features an opulent lobby, antique grandfather clock and one of the city's best restaurants, Michael Mina (Michelin two-star).
If you enjoy shopping, allow plenty of time to roam around the square. Beyond the mammoth Macy's are: Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany, Williams-Sonoma, Nike and Neiman Marcus (Geary and Stockton), which has a grand rotunda topped with an impressive stained-glass dome. During the holidays, the store brings in an enormous six-story Christmas tree. It's well worth exploring Post Street, Maiden Lane and Geary Street to the east for smaller, but equally important boutiques.
This guide recommends heading down quaint Maiden Lane next, which is reserved for pedestrian traffic only.