When visiting San Francisco, California there are so many things to see and do that it is often difficult to decide which things you should do and see in which order. Perhaps one of the most interesting things to note about San Francisco is the diversity of the many 'neighborhoods' throughout the city. Of these many diverse neighborhoods, perhaps the most famous is San Francisco's Chinatown.
With more than one hundred restaurants, Chinatown owes no small part of its fame to the great delicacies that can rarely be found outside this part of town. There is something about the ambience and atmosphere, the smells, sights, and sounds that make the food that much more appealing to the average diner. If you have tried Chinese food elsewhere, be sure to try it here and compare. I think you will find that there really is no comparison and it's hard to go back to dime store Chinese food once you've tasted 'the real thing'.
In addition to the great food you will find readily available within the Chinatown area, there is a vast wealth of architectural beauty that will take your breath away. Some of these buildings aside from being stunningly beautiful have a rich history as well. Some of the more traditionally Chinese buildings that can be found in Chinatown are the Bank of Canton, the Sing Chong Building (which was destroyed during the earthquake of 1906 and rebuilt), and the Bank of America building which as 60 dragon medallions on its façade in addition to the many golden dragons that adorn the rest of the buildings exterior.
Chinatown is made up of 8 streets: Clay, Commercial, Grant, Jackson, Pine, Sacramento, Stockton, and Washington; and 11 alleys: Beckett, Hang Ah, Joice, Old Chinatown Lane, Ross, Spofford, Stark, St. Louis Place, Walter U. Lum Place, Waverly, and Wentworth. Tucked in the nooks and crannies of these streets and alleyways, you will find herbal shops, gift shops, restaurants, and all of the many sights and sounds that make the Chinatown area of San Francisco a truly unique travel destination.
Portsmouth Square is literally the heart of Chinatown. Not only does it mark the beginning of this section of town, which has grown and expanded since the beginning of its days, it also remains to this day the area for monuments and celebrations regarding the Oriental Community of San Francisco at large. If you have even the slightest bit of interest in history, this is an area that you will find monumentally appealing. If you are more interested in art, entertainment, and good food, you should find plenty of that here as well.
As I have said before, Chinatown is really a great place to explore while visiting San Francisco. Make sure you have plenty of time to explore the roads and alleys and that you bring a healthy appetite with you. If you have little ones in your life, whether they are making this trip with you or you are going solo, you will find that there are plenty of goodies to buy as souvenirs that will provide both delight and challenge.
While there are newer 'Chinatown' areas cropping up within San Francisco, the original still remains the greatest draw for tourists. In fact, Chinatown rivals the Golden Gate Bridge as a tourist attraction and has been rumored to be even more of a draw. The original Chinatown of San Francisco remains an important gateway to the past as it represents an important segment of the history of San Francisco, this country, and immigration to America. I strongly urge you to remember that when during your visit to San Francisco and that you will take a stroll down the streets and alleys of Chinatown to see for yourself how much American history Chinatown really does represent.
Even if you aren't hungry when you begin walking the streets of Chinatown, I can pretty much guarantee that you will be before too long. The wonderful smells of great cuisine simply cannot be escaped when strolling along these city blocks. It's both wonderful and torturous at the same time. Be sure to enjoy a dish or two while you are there and have lots of fun. That, after all, is what vacations are all about.