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"Chill Out in Chinatown" Chinatown Tip by Rixie

Chinatown, San Francisco: 183 reviews and 341 photos

  Traditional Chinese clothing on sale, Grant Avenue
by Rixie
  • Traditional Chinese clothing on sale, Grant Avenue - San Francisco
      Traditional Chinese clothing on sale, Grant Avenue
    by Rixie
  • Chinatown building - San Francisco
      Chinatown building
    by Rixie
  • Guardian of the Gate, lower Grant Avenue - San Francisco
      Guardian of the Gate, lower Grant Avenue
    by Rixie

The first time I visited San Francisco's Chinatown, I couldn't believe it. There were so many people, and they all looked like me! Growing up Asian in another part of the US, I had become accustomed to being different, but walking along Grant Avenue, Chinatown's main thoroughfare, I blend in with the crowd. It's the largest Chinese community outside of China.

Chinatown still lifts my spirits. It's colorful, fun, and exotic (a Dutch friend of ours exclaimed, "It's just like walking down a street in Asia!") There are always interesting things to see and do, and they don't require a lot of money. Browse through the shops for souvenirs(children especially will love the inexpensive toys and sweets), have a bowl of noodles or a dim sum lunch, watch the old men play pa gow in Portsmouth Square, listen to the California Street cable car go clanging up and down the hill, buy moon cakes or lotus buns at the Far Eastern Bakery.

Visit the current exhibit at the Chinese Culture Center -- there's a walkway from Portsmouth Square that goes over Kearny Street. The CCC also offers classes in Chinese art and culture, and gives historical walking tours of Chinatown.

At Old St. Mary's, the red brick Catholic church at the corner of Grant and California, Mass is still celebrated in Cantonese, and all worshipers are welcome.

The Chinese Historical Society on Clay Street has a museum with both permanent and changing exhibits, plus a bookstore.

Address: Bordered by Broadway, Bush, Kearny, Stockton Sts.
Directions: Grant Avenue is the main street. There is an ornamental Gateway to Chinatown at the beginning of Grant, near Bush.
Phone: +1 888-212-3203

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 9, 2007
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