Since the 1860s the Chinatown in San Francisco has been a popular tourist attraction; a home to one of the biggest Chinese communities beyond the borders of the Asian continent. Chinatown’s main vein is Grant Avenue and its adjacent alleys and streets are rich in culture and history.
The Chinatown Gate located at the intersection of the Grant Avenue and Bush Street is the perfect spot to start your guided tour in San Francisco. You’ll be greeted by the traditional dragons that “crawl” across the top of the gate as well as the fou dogs that guard this beautiful gate.
You’ll pass by colorful queues of shops selling memorabilia as you continue your tour to the famous Grant Avenue and to the Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral. This basilica dedicated in 1854 was San Francisco’s very first Catholic cathedral. It was made of bricks and beautiful granite rocks from China.
If you continue walking along Grant Avenue you’ll find the Chinatown Kite Shop famous for its kooky, colorful collection of fun flying creatures: dragonflies, owls, butterflies, and cartoon characters. You’ll also find Chinatown’s oldest bakery -- the Eastern Bakery built in 1924. Enjoy their freshly baked pastries and their best seller: the lotus golden yolk mooncake.
Waverly Place is another must-see. It’s also known as the “street of painted balconies” because of the colorful building facades nestled along this street. This place was once dubbed as the “15-cent street” because hair cut services here were at 15 cents! Today, haircuts start at around $6. At the mid section of Waverly Place, you’ll see the Tin How Temple, America’s oldest Chinese temple, built in 1852.
Past the Clay Street, you’ll see the Chinese Historical Society Museum founded in 1932 which showcases historic artifacts and photographs that tell the stories of Chinese migrating in the American continent.
Near Stockton Street is the heart of Chinatown’s commerce. Visit the busy shops to see barrels filled with ginseng, shelves packed with herbal medicine, and windows full of beautifully roasted ducks.
The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company sitting at the Ross Alley is famous for its freshly baked wafer. You’ll be amused by women in the shop making fortune cookies at an amazing speed and expertise.
You can end your guided private tour at the Portsmouth Square. At this very place, Captain John Montgomery of the USS Portsmouth raised the flag of the USA for the first time in San Francisco in the year 1846. This is a very special and historic spot which now serves as a beautiful rendezvous for family and friends of all ages.
Have a taste of Chinatown’s knotty food and drinks, unravel its interesting history, and experience its rich culture with the help of our expert tour guides here at Private Tours San Francisco!
Things to do in SF!