San Francisco's Chinatown#11 in Best Things To Do in San Francisco
- 4.5Food Scene
While New York City's Chinatown tends to take center stage in the USA, San Francisco's Chinatown is just as much of a star. San Francisco's Chinatown hosts one of the largest Asian communities outside of Asia, and is considered one the oldest in North America. Chinese immigrants first started coming to California in search of fortune during the Gold Rush. After being driven out of the gold mines (due to discrimination and restrictive legislation against Chinese immigrants), the Chinese moved to build businesses of their own in the area that is now Chinatown – one of the city's most visited neighborhoods.
The best way to experience Chinatown is to simply wander around the neighborhood. Chinatown isn't very big (about 24 blocks), so even a short stroll will likely get you to top spots in the neighborhood.
Grant Avenue is the main thoroughfare, and the most tourist-heavy. The Chinatown Gate is here, as well as plenty of souvenirs shops. Though make sure to venture beyond Grant Avenue. Waverly Place houses the oldest Chinese temple in the USA, the Tin How Temple. Ross Alley is home to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, where visitors can see how fortune cookies are made. Great China Herb Co. on Washington St. is filled to the brim with fresh, Chinese herbs and an on-site doctor to recommend remedies. You can also find spices at Ming Lee Trading Inc. on Jackson Street, along with Chinese candies. Cooks should circle back to Grant to visit The Wok Shop to browse Chinese cookware, or grab one of Golden Gate Bakery’s famous egg tarts.
Chinatown is open to explore 24 hours per day, though individual business hours vary. To reach Chinatown, hop off the Montgomery Street Bart Station or the Market St. & Second Street Muni Metro Station, then walk a little more than a half-mile northwest. Several bus tours also make stops in the neighborhood, but for a more in-depth look at the area, consider a walking tour. For more information on Chinatown, consult the neighborhood's website.
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#1 California Academy of Sciences
Attention all traveling families: recent visitors said this is the perfect place to bring kids in San Francisco. The California Academy of Sciences brims with plenty of things to see, including an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and even a rainforest.
The Steinhart Aquarium is home to about 40,000 animals representing more than 900 different species, including a penguin colony from Africa, a swamp with an albino alligator, a shark lagoon and a separate 100,000-gallon tank that mirrors the ecosystem of the California coast. Meanwhile, the Osher Rainforest houses 1,600 animals, including 250 free-flying birds and about 100 reptiles and amphibians in its four-story complex. The Morrison Planetarium is known for its 75-foot-diameter screen, which screens "Tour of the Universe" shows daily. And the Kimball Natural History Museum boasts dinosaur fossils, an interactive science exhibit and a unique earthquake simulator.
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