If you have wee folk along on your mural walk (see previous tips), this is a great place to let them out of the stroller and run wild for a bit. This little gem of a playground has been an oasis for Mission district tots since the 70's and was rescued from several decades of decline by determined and enterprising local residents and businesses. Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center (see murals tip) volunteers created stunning tile mosaics and painted murals to decorate the outer walls and unique, serpent-shaped play structure, and over a million dollars in bond money provided new benches, swings, sand box, cushioned flooring, landscaping and other improvements.
I had to be careful not to make the little ones (and moms) nervous with my camera so see the attached web URLS for more pictures, reviews and some history.
One of the best places to go for good inexpensive food is the Mission District. Browse the sidewalk markets, examining tropical fruits and Latin condiments in the many markets here, or hang out at the Spanish, Mexican, Salvadoran, Honduran, and other Latin Style restaurants (see my restaurant tips). While the neighborhood is a bit on the gritty side, it's quite safe virtually anytime, and the sunny weather in this part of town can be a warm relief from the fog and drip of downtown, Fisherman's Wharf, or anywhere on the west side of town. The center of the Mission District is at 16th and Valencia. One way to get there from downtown is to take BART to Mission and 16th, and then walk a couple blocks east. A few blocks further east, one will find Mission Dolores, the original San Francisco settlement. Several blocks back toward downtown on Mission is the old Mint, a survivor of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. A few blocks south, and the murals of Clarion Street can be found. Another favorite itinerary is to take a Muni trolley or the faster Muni rail line to Castro, at Church and Market. Browse the Castro District for awhile, and then hike down 16th into the Mission. The Roxie Theater is one of several theaters in town to see foreign and culture films at a discount ticket price. There are numerous bars and bookshop cafes to check out in the Mission District.
If you are looking for something truly unique and specifically San Francisco, look no further than taking a tour of the historical San Francisco Armory. Okay, so it doesn't sound all the special (unless you are a military history buff), but there is truly something amazing going on inside those large imposing brick walls. The building is now owned by Kink.com. Yes, the BDSM porn site. The tour will take you through the building, where you get to see impressive sets and props as well as the creek that actually runs through the basement. The fun and knowledgeable tour guide will happily answer any questions you have about what it is like to work for a porn company and yes, a little about the history of the building as well. Even if you aren't familiar with the company, it is a fascinating experience and one you aren't likely to have anywhere else.
Certainly the oldest building in San Francisco is Mission Dolores. Newer Catholic Churches have been built beside and collapsed during the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, while the four foot thick adobe mud walls, huge hand split timbers, and lime plaster of Mission Dolores miraculously settled and survived. The tour of the Mission provides the best historical perspective on the peninsula of San Francisco prior to the cramped and congested city for which it is now famous.
A self-guided tour is easy, typically uncrowded, and soulful, about 30 minutes. The donation fee is $3-. Examine closely the Chapel's alter artwork, much of which was imported from Mexico or made by the local Ohlone Indians. The Ohlone Indian Museum helps one to appreciate the indigenous population that lived in the area prior to discovery by the Spanish in 1770's. In the cemetary in the back are buried early mission padres and a governor of Alta California, among other notable historical figures. The bookstore has an excellent collection for the fascinating and turbulent short history of California. Hours and other visiting information is provided in the mission's link below.
I disagree with VT member Karenincalifornia, numero uno among the Top 5 for SF, for her misinformed assignment of Mission Dolores to the Castro District at this website. Her assignment runs counter to both historical and geographical information. Castro District begins at the three way intersection of Castro, Market, and 17th streets. If one walks the 5 blocks east, they will walk downhill until Church Street, where the MUNI tunnel and Dolores Park are located. At that point, the terrain flattens out into the Mission District proper, with another two blocks walk to Dolores Street. Walk left on Dolores for another 2 blocks to Dolores and 16th, and you are at the center of the Inner Mission District, in front of Mission Dolores itself. However, both Castro and Mission Dolores can be appreciated within one afternoon.
I'm so amazed with the many murals all over Mission District. One alley that we stumbled upon has two rows of lively and colorful murals. What a fun way to put your creative talents to good use instead of vandalizing the walls for no reason at all!
On the picture is the Women's Building Mural called Maestrapeace on Lapidge St. You have to see it to believe how much time and effort went into it. This is truly a remarkable labor of love from women artists!
Popularly known as Mission Dolores, it is one of the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 established under the direction of Father Serra. The rough-hewn redwood roof timbers are still lashed together with rawhide. The alter is one of the most ornate mission alters. There is a small museum. The photo is taken from behind the towers of the Basilica in the cemetery garden.
The website says: "Mission Dolores is the final resting place of some 5,000 Ohlone, Miwok, and other First Californians who built Mission Dolores and were its earliest members and founders. Other notables include the first Mexican governor, Luis Antonio Arguello, the first commandant of the Presidio, Lieutenant Moraga, and victims of the Committee of Vigilance, Cora, Casey, and Sullivan. Cemetery markers date from 1830 to about 1898.
"The curator of Old Mission San Francisco de Asis is Brother Guire Cleary, S.S.F. His office hours are generally 9:00am-3:00pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays" The mission is open daily 9-4. Admission $2. Over 64 $1.
The basilica is still an active church. It is a combination of Moorish, Mission and Corinthian styles.
Basilica Religions Services:
Saturday Evening Vigil:
5:00pm in the Old Mission Chapel
8:00am, 10:00am, and 12:00pm (Spanish Mass) in the Basilica
7:30am in the Old Mission Chapel, 9:00am in the Basilica
7:30am in the Old Mission , 9:00am and 7:00pm in the Basilica (Bilingual Mass)
Friday 6:00pm in the Old Mission, First Friday includes Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
Weekdays before the 9:00am Liturgy in the Basilica
Individual - Saturday 4:00-5:00pm or by appointment
Founded by Spanish settlers in 1776, the Mission district is home to some of the city's oldest structures, as well as some of the hottest young people and places around. Colorful murals celebrate the prominent Latino presence that has long defined the Mission. The area grows increasingly diverse and gentrified along Valencia St. Politically, the Mission is the city's most radical pocket, marked by left-wing bookstores, active labor associations, and bohemian bars and cafes filled with hipsters and hippies.
This is a must-do.
It started in the 70's with a small group of muralists and has grown into a thriving community arts program dedicated to the beautification of inner-city environments, providing a creative outlet for emotional expression and nurturing positive collaborative experiences. Of an estimated 600 murals around the central San Francisco area, the lion's share are here along the streets and alleys of this vibrant, largely Latino neighborhood.
This is not graffiti.
Most of the works are commissioned pieces with the balance painted by youth and civic groups. Styles range from skilled artisans' nearly photographic detail to the wobbly brushstrokes of a child, with themes addressing everything from cultural pride to socio-economic oppression to bright, visionary dreams of the future. They are powerful, spiritual, angry, sorrowful, uplifting, joyful, peaceful, complex: impossible to view impassively.
The program, Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, offers organized tours on the weekends, or just stop by their office (2981 24th St) for a $3 self-guided map. See the website for hours, tour info, history of the project, and great photos of some of the art.
If Chinatown is Little Asia, then Mission is Little Mexico. My morning mural trek (see previous tips) wandered by shop windows of religious icons, sidewalk displays of clothing and trinkets and past outdoor markets of sunny fruits and jewel-toned vegetables. The smell of enchiladas and tamales and the sound of mariachi music wafted from tiny cafes, and mothers with little ones in tow chatted together over their marketing in soft, staccato Spanish. And everywhere there is color: anything that can be is painted, planted, dyed, tiled or otherwise adorned in vibrant, brilliant color.
I walked both 24th (Church to Hampshire) and a large section of Mission Street, down to Mission Dolores and the Women's Building, and perceived 24th to be the center of a friendly, tight-knit neighborhood. Mission St. is a main thoroughfare and while not lacking in activity, felt much more commercialized and gritty.
This is an area best visited in daylight and is rumored to have some of the best restaurants in the city for travelers on a budget. And do bring the kids - they'll be welcome here and cheerfully entertained with all the bright and shiny things to look at!
You've almost reached the end of your 24th St. mural walk (see previous tips). You are starving. Time to refuel. I'd put Dynamo Donut on my to-do list for the Mission 'cause the darn thing kept kept popping up during my research. Rumor had it that these were no ordinary donuts but hot little numbers with some big-time culinary reviewers lately so me thinks I must see what the fuss is about.
Hmmm... chocolate saffron? Apricot cardamom? Chocolate rosemary almond? Nope, not your average cop stop. The locals in the lineup swore that this Dynamo virgin must do the deed with nothing other than maple-glazed bacon apple. Bacon? Seriously? Absolutely, they say, and decide to hang around to watch the initiation. Never one to back out on a double-dog dare, I take the first, very tiny, very tentative bite - and find Shangri-La. OMG. Heaven opens. Angels sing. The locals smile.
Good coffee, too.
7am - 5pm, Tuesday-Saturday
9am - 4pm Sundays
This is just amazing. The Women's Building's MaestraPeace Mural was the collaborative effort of seven artists and is a tribute to the wisdom, nurturing and healing powers of women throughout the world. Appropriately enough, it covers a community center that provides a diverse range of non-profit services for the women and girls of the San Francisco area.
The center provides a guide that highlights the symbolism and images of notable women incorporated into the work. You can also purchase T-shirts, postcards and other mural-related items at the reception area: better than cheap, dime-a-dozen tchotchkes of cable cars and a great way to support a worthy cause.
This is also a good place to make a potty stop during your exploration of the Mission district.
Additional note: visit the murals in Clarion Alley while in the area - it's just a couple of blocks east.
Mission district is one of the oldest in the city, occupied by Spanish speaking people and students that prefer an alternative way of life, I guess the rents are cheaper here too. For the visitor it’s a good area to walk around, with many cafes and several restaurant with cheap food. The name of the area comes from the Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco (see next tip).
After the Mission Dolores we walked to Mission Dolores Park(pic 1) , once a cemetery for the jews but now full of people that do sunbath or play weird games (pic 2). Although we enjoyed our walk through the park it was full of mud in many areas. What we liked most at Mission (except the cafes) were the beautiful graffiti and murals in many walls (pic 3), showing scenes from daily life but also important montents of American history or just surreal paintings. I didn’t like some buildings like the Mission Bank though (pic 4), the architecture was incompatible :)
Nothing beats a warm sunny day in San Francisco's Dolores Park. Once my boyfriend asked me "what is the L.A. equivalent of Dolores Park?" I thought for a few minutes, hmmm'd and haww'd and replied "Nothing!"
This city park covers a few blocks on the western edge of the Mission District. On a nice day you'll find everyone from families with their dogs playing fetch, punkero rock bands playing a live set, hipsters drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon with their three-legged dogs checking each other out, hippies playing hacky sack and smoking weed and some guy trying to sell you pot truffles in 6 different flavors. In other words, everyone comes here to hang out, eat a snack from nearby Bi-Rite Market & Creamery, and just enjoy the day.
Climb to the top corner of the park and you've got one of the most beautiful views of the city. I don't know of another park quite like it - just come and hang out and see for yourself!
Viva La Raza! (nope I don't speak spanish, we filipinos are the only former spanish colony that spain did not teach the spanish language!). Whether you're looking to take in the newer, locally-owned stores and cafes or get a taste of the neighborhood's history and Latin culture, the area is crawling with things to see and do. Gentrification of Mission District Started in the 90's hence the area is now more cosmopolitan. 24th Street area is the culturally rich heart of the Mission, the stretch from Dolores Street through to Valencia Street is young and upscale, the area around 16th and Valencia streets hops with nightlife and the industrial area near Bryant Street has some hip, trendy restaurants.
The mission is located in the aptly named Mission District, with Mission Street, Valenica Street, 16th and 24th Streets being some of the main thoroughfares. This neighborhood has long been a destination for Mexican and Central American immigrants and has one of the highest Latino population densities in the city. It's wide, often tree-lined streets are filled with a mix of older Hispanic shops, restaurants and run down flophouses, nearby gentrified Victorian mansions, modern apartments, book shops, trendier cafes, and nightlife.
The big draws for tourists in this area are Mission Dolores and the Mission Basilica, Dolores Park, and the annual Carnival Festival in May. Locals seems to enjoy the mural-lined alleys, wide array of cheap taquerias, and some of the nightlife opportunities not found in other areas of San Francisco.
The Mission District can be reached on the BART at either 16th and Mission Station or 24th and Mission Station, which kind of book end this neighborhood. The Mission, Park, and the murals of Clarion Alley are near the 16th Street Station between between Valencia and Mission Streets while Balmy Alley's murals are between 24th Street and 25th Street near Folsom Street.