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Chinatown is known as one of San Francisco’s top destinations for visitors, offering a rich sensory and cultural experience. From enjoying incredible food to gazing at one-of-a-kind architecture, you’ll have plenty of great options like the following for making the most of your trip to Chinatown.
Pass through Dragon Gate
Dragon Gate is a unique piece of architecture, featuring green tiles, three portals, and striking carved lions. It’s a splendid sight and given that Dragon Gate acts as an entryway to Chinatown, many people find that this is a natural starting point for their visit to the neighborhood.
Go on a Walking Tour
On top of being a leisurely way to see some of the neighborhood’s top sites, a walking tour of Chinatown removes the stress of finding parking and offers exercise to boot. For instance, try starting at the Dragon Gate and stopping at spots like the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and St. Mary’s Square.
Visit the Chinese Cultural Center
The Chinese Cultural Center counts community engagement and support for artists among its missions. As such, it serves as a valuable hub where visitors can learn about the Chinatown area and Asian American culture. The center also runs tours and other events.
Chinatown’s culinary scene stands out for its quality and diversity. You can grab Vietnamese comfort food at My Canh, coffee and all manner of things to eat at V.I.P. Coffee & Cake Shop and enjoy a spice-filled feast at Z & Y Restaurant, which focuses on Sichuan offerings. Those are just a few of the neighborhood’s many options.
Enjoy the Tea
Tea is extremely interwoven with Chinese culture, so no trip to Chinatown would be complete without it. A great outlet for tea is Vital Tea Leaf, which sells “an extraordinary variety of teas” from its three locations.
For even more options, consider a visit to the Hop Hing Ginseng Company, an apothecary featuring teas as well as tonics. And if you’d like a brewing lesson along with a tasting opportunity, Red Blossom Tea may be the spot for you.
Grab Some Dessert
Chinatown features some unique desserts that you shouldn’t miss. For instance, Golden Gate Bakery offers egg custard tarts, though you should check to make sure that they’re open the day of your visit, as they keep somewhat irregular operating hours. (Those hours have even inspired a Twitter account that tracks if the bakery is open!)
Another option, which has been highlighted by the GoCAR Tours company, is the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, which puts some unique spins on its namesake dessert. If you’ve never had a chocolate-dipped or strawberry fortune cookie, you’d be remiss not to check this spot out.
Relax in St. Mary’s Square
For a relaxing break during your visit to Chinatown, you can make a stop in St. Mary’s Square. Its trees and bushes provide greenery to enjoy, and it has convenient benches and restrooms.
There is also a play area that children can have fun in. Making this area even more worthwhile is the presence of Old St. Mary’s Cathedral, a historic Catholic site.
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