Chinatown  Entrance

Credit: San Francisco Travel Association-Scott Chernis

The legendary San Francisco Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia as well as the oldest in North America and consistently a top draw to die-hard local culture hounds and intrepid traversers of the globe; covering 24 square city blocks and overlapping 5 postal codes, it encompasses an area roughly a mile long and 1.34 miles wide. Rumor has it there are two distinct Chinatown experiences: One for the locals, and one for tourists. Pass through visitor-oriented Grant Avenue’s intricately beautiful dragon gate and wander lamp-lined and vibrantly colorful streets filled with restaurants, shops and mini malls-all with a more commercial vibe than traditional offerings over on Stockton Street, where you will find a more authentic presentation, reminiscent of Hong Kong, with its open air produce and fresh fish markets, mom and pop stores and restaurants. Stop by bustling Portsmouth Square, a one-acre park dubbed the “Heart of Chinatown” and steeped in important early California history; be sure to pop into Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory-the only place in the city where these familiar treats are still made by hand-watch, sample and buy a bag of 40 of these delightfully quintessential Chinese cookies for just $3.00! Experience the exotic temples of Waverly Place; explore authentic galleries and shop and feast to your heart’s content; immerse yourselves in an exotic world of sensory extravagance beyond your wildest dreams. No itinerary necessary here: best to wander aimlessly, and steep awhile in the vivid yet surreal mystique of Chinese architecture and culture-toss preconceived notions out the window while you’re there and discover your own interpretation of Chinatown!

Exploring America > U.S. Cities > San Francisco Tours

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