Yokohama is underrated. It cannot compete with Tokyo, both in terms of nightlife and things to offer, that's a fact. I just think it hasn't yet gained the interest it deserves, because it is full of nice things to see and do. More importantly, it is like a concentrated version of Tokyo where everything is close and reachable by foot.
The most important thing to keep in mind about Yokohama is that the city is best enjoyed in the good season, or, better, every time it is a good enough weather to be outside. Yes, most of the beauty of Yokohama lies in the urban landscape, the seaside area, the open spaces.
One place I like to spend time at are the shops and restaurant complex known as Yokohama Bay Quarter.
I like it for several reasons:
Distance from the station
It is very close to where I live and conveniently located near the main train station. This means that I don't have to be on a train for long and I don't have to walk too far once I get off the train. There are also underground passages that can be used to reach the mall.
Goods on offer
The underground walk goes through Porta, another subterranean matrix of shops and boutiques that sell anything one may need, including food and imported goods. But that's not all. At the end of Porta mall there is an option to go through the Sogo department store or go past it and resurface just by the Bay Quarter.
The mall is built in a way that recalls a cruise liner — from a distance the curvy terraced floors indeed look like something maritime, although I don't know why it was decided that the Bay Quarter should resemble a boat. My guess is its closeness to the sea. Whatever the reason, I like the style. And at night it looks super cool with the reflection on the water and all.
Protection from the rain
Just in case I want to go to Bay Quarter on a rainy day, I can reach it entirely via underground and can stay indoors for shopping or dining.
Bay Quarter is built by the water. Personally, this is the determinant element. I love the seaside, so if I can pick a place that is by the water, ideally with terraces or open spaces to be able to sit in the sun, then my first choice would be such a place. The key element is that all the restaurants facing the water have open-air tables. This is really great in summer, or even on a sunny winter day. Just sitting on a terrace and basking in the sun is something that is not so easy to find in Tokyo, unless one wants to move away from the city center towards the bay.
A small sightseeing taxi boat departs from a small pier by the mall. It is called Seabass, and takes passengers from Yokohama to Minatomirai, Aka Renga, Yamashita Park, and further down. A delightful experience for people who like commuting by water.
In summary, Bay Quarter has restaurants, shops, food stores, it overlooks the bay, is centrally located close to the station and there is a ferry terminal — what else would I ask for?
To get there, it is enough to get off at JR Yokohama Station, and either walk the short walk from the North or the longer one through Porta and Sogo from the East exit. Shops and restaurants are listed on the mall's website.