5 must-see spots in Chinatown in San Francisco

1) Alleys of Chinatown

There are over 40 alleys in this small section of the city and the ones listed here are the more notable ones. In the 1800s and early 1900s these were the sites of former gambling halls, brothels, opium dens and other daily activities, like fish markets and barbershops. Look up each alley’s unique history as you encounter them.

 Ross Alley in San Francisco's Chinatown

Ross, Waverly, Duncombe, Beckett, Cooper, Wentworth and St. Louis Alleys

3) Tin How (Tien Hau) Temple

Find the doorway along this alley and be prepared to climb several flights of stairs. And take note, photos are not allowed. Once inside you’ll see it’s a small, decorative and sacred space for prayer and worship. For visitors, simply enjoy the peace and silence.

San Francisco - Tin How Tien Hau Temple

125 Waverly Place

+1 415 986 2520

4) Street of Painted Balconies

This area is comprised of two blocks and today is known as the ‘Street of Painted Balconies’ for its colorful and ornate buildings. Of all the Chinatown alleys, it’s the most picturesque. On street level are restaurants and storefronts, and above are family associations and temples.

Chinese lanterns in San Francisco Chinatown

Waverly Place (between Washington and Sacramento Street)

5) Portsmouth Square

Considered the heart of Chinatown, this park hosted many historical events, including the first raising of the American flag within the city in 1846, the opening of the first public school in California in 1847, and this is also the place where the discovery of gold was first announced in 1848. There are historical markers and statues throughout the park.

San Francisco - Portsmouth Square

Kearny Street (between Clay and Washington)

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