Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Your Ultimate City Guide

Top 12 Things to Do in San Francisco’s Chinatown

Published by Josh Hirsch.

Exploring a city is something that is always incredibly fun to do whether you’re just visiting on a trip or you’re a local. When it comes to learning more about a city, you want to take time to see what kind of fun activities it has for you to explore. Finding fun local activities and sites to see can be a great way to not only appreciate a city, but to get a better gauge on its culture. San Francisco’s Chinatown is an area that most people have heard of, but few realize just how many amazing places there are to visit or how many things there are to do. Fortunately, we have compiled a list of the top twelve things to do when visiting this historic location!

Chinatown Gate

Learn about the culture while tasting the delicious flavors of the neighborhood

Learn About Culture and Stuff Your Face with Sidewalk Food Tours 

The best way to learn a lot about a new place is to eat what the locals eat. This comprehensive three-hour tour will take you on a journey through Chinatown while you visit five amazing food locations that are sure to delight your taste buds. For a single flat price, you can learn all about the culture and stories behind Chinatown all while eating five amazing foods from local favorites. This tour makes it easy for you to see the best part of Chinatown while chowing down on some authentic food from local business owners. You really can’t beat sightseeing, delicious foods, and a fun form of exercise.

Visit Portsmouth Square

Portsmouth Square, also known as the Heart of Chinatown, is a historical site that has seen California through many historic moments. For the traveler looking to learn a little bit more about the legacies left behind in the United States, there is plenty to visit and learn about at this scenic location. There are plenty of things to do in this thrilling historical spot within San Francisco. Whether you’re interested in learning about the first announcement of gold being found or you want to spend time learning about how civilians faced off with a gang that was bringing pain and suffering to the community, Portsmouth Square has plenty to offer you in terms of key historical moments. In the event that you’re not a huge history buff, don’t worry. Portsmouth Square is a great place to hang out and check out the sun.

Dragon's gate in Chinatown SF

You won’t want to miss this architectural masterpiece

Take A Stroll Through Dragon’s Gate

In case the name isn’t enough to bribe you to visit this amazing spot in San Francisco, the amazing backdrop for all of your best Instagram photos just might be. The Dragon’s Gate is an archway that was erected during a time of political turmoil, and it is always the right moment to check out this beautiful structure. In the event that you feel like you’ve had some bad spirits hanging around, you can easily scare them off with the lions on each side of this beautiful piece of architecture. It is considered a top thing to do in Chinatown because it is such a great spot to visit. After you’re done posing with the gate, you can easily pop over for some delicious food or tea in the surrounding area. Popular reviews say that this location is absolutely perfect for people watching.


Visit Old St. Mary’s Cathedral

This historic site is a pretty big deal, and not just because it was the tallest building in California for a little bit. When this building all but burned to the ground leaving nothing behind nothing but bricks, the community and local officials came together to renovate this holy site for future use. You don’t need to be religious to enjoy how beautiful this building and its stunning interior is. You can appreciate the architecture and look through the art before stepping back out into the bustling streets. Just make sure you don’t accidentally crash a wedding!

people enjoying lunch in a restaurant

With these kinds of flavors, you won’t want to miss this opportunity

Grab Lunch at Bergoni Bistro

When you’re exploring a city, you need to make sure that you have enough food to keep yourself going. Finding the right food, particularly in a place like San Francisco with so many options, can be tricky. Fortunately, Bergoni Bistro is one place that locals and tourists alike seem to agree on. This top Chinese eatery is renowned for providing visitors with high-quality food that is guaranteed to thrill. Despite its contemporary look, the chefs pride themselves on providing completely authentic food that is guaranteed to help you enjoy a good meal that will keep you logging miles when you’re done. Don’t worry, they also have a collection of alcoholic beverages for those who need a little something extra.


Marvel at The Asian Art Museum

It is always the right day to take time to learn more about other cultures, and this museum is the top way to do exactly that. You can stroll around and enjoy being surrounded by beautiful works of art all while learning more about the Asian communities within San Francisco and beyond. There are plenty of things to do here for people of any age. You’ll find beautiful things to enjoy for adults and children alike, making it great for families. Check out their website to find out what kind of special events might be coming up!

A woman making fortune cookies

Did you ever wonder how they get the fortunes inside the cookie?

Visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

This is one San Francisco tour that locals and tourists alike will not want to miss out on. For those who love fortune cookies, seeing where they are made can be an exciting way to pass time. This factory makes completely custom, homemade fortune cookies that are guaranteed to not only provide you with a delicious traditional cookie, but offer you exciting alternatives. You can enjoy fortune cookies with a variety of toppings and flavors to bring something even more special to your experience.


Buy A Unique and Beautiful Kite at Chinatown Kite Shop

 The majority of people buy souvenirs that they will never look at again, but Chinatown Kite Shop has something to offer you that you won’t want to forget. This business provides beautiful, unique kites at a reasonable price. You can marvel at the beauty of these stunning creations or buy one for yourself to go fly by the beach. Whatever your goal is, these well-crafted kites will help you live your best kite experience. As an added bonus, these make amazing presents.

Firework display for Chinese New Year

If you time out your trip, you’re in for a remarkable celebration

Celebrate the Chinese New Year

Many people know about the Chinese New Year and have seen amazing images from China, but Chinatown has plenty to offer on this special day. In fact, this festival is easily one of the top experiences that you can have here. You can drop by for a daylong adventure to see amazing sights and eat delicious food while celebrating the new year. This Chinese New Year is complete with a stunning parade that will bring out pure joy even in the most cynical heart. Adults and children alike can take time to marvel at the stunning display of costumes and more as the full spirit of the holiday is presented to them. Though the celebrations do change a little bit every single year, you’ll never be disappointed when you visit.


Get Bubble Tea at Steap Tea Bar

In the modern world, there is nothing we all love more than a contemporary twist on a traditional concept. Bubble tea is one special drink that has only been growing in popularity over time. You can get this drink in a wide variety of delicious flavors, and it even comes with a tasty snack at the bottom. At Steap, they have aimed to bring a fully modern business based on a traditional idea. Whether you’re looking for your favorite traditional flavor or decide to try out one of their exciting new hemp products, you will not be disappointed by the quality and flavor of these amazing drinks.

A stroll up Grant Avenue in Chinatown SF

If you’re going to explore, take a stroll down this main thoroughfare

Walk Up Grant Avenue

While New Orleans might have Bourbon Street, San Francisco’s Chinatown has Grant Avenue. This is one area that is absolutely perfect for tourists, but if you’re a local, you’ll probably love it too. The entire street is lined with exciting shops and places to eat. You’ll find yourself in a bustling area surrounded by a variety of exciting ways for you to spend your money so that you can get the most out of your day. This area is an all around and nice and pleasant spot to visit if you want to enjoy Chinatown. You can have fun trying local snacks and taking amazing pictures surrounded by locals and tourists alike.


Enjoy Drinks at Li Po Cocktail Lounge

If you’re looking for a way to recover after a long day of walking or you want to add a little something special to your day, Li Po Cocktail lounge has plenty to offer you. This cocktail lounge provides a fun and completely Instagram-worthy interior. This top Chinatown dive bar is an excellent way to enjoy drinks with friends. If you want the true local experience of visiting Chinatown, Li Po is a must. It doesn’t hurt that they also have absolutely amazing drinks.

San Francisco’s Chinatown provides a rich cultural experience that is perfect for exploring the world around you. It’s an amazing place to learn about other cultures, enjoy amazing food, and see stunning sights that will make for truly great vacation photos. You will never run out of things to do in this vibrant and exciting area, so don’t hesitate to plan on spending an entire day here learning and eating to your heart’s content. Whether you’re looking for a little bit of history or just for an amazing snack, Chinatown has you covered.