We actually stayed at the Grand Hyatt, which is right next to Union square. So our hotel room was only a block from the entrance to Chinatown. I walked through Chinatown one evening with my husband, but there was so much to see that I went back another day while my husband was at his conference.
Of course I had to take a picture of the Chinatown entrance, the Dragon Gate. But the fun really starts once you start walking down the streets. Walking is definitely the only way to really experience Chinatown. It really is a world unto itself!
Did you know that Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest Chinatown in North America? It is also one of the largest Chinese communities outside Asia.
For me, walking the streets of Chinatown is probably the closest I will get to experiencing Chinese culture. The streets are lined with red lanterns and brightly painted buildings. Even the street lamps are beautiful.
It was fun to walk down the street and see the shops in Chinatown. You could find souvenir shops, clothing shops, restaurants, herbal shops, toy shops, temples, kite shops and shops that seemed to sell a little bit of everything!
It seemed that there was something interesting to look at no matter where I looked.
Chinatown was bursting with color! It is definitely a photographer's playground.
I spent hours walking through the shops in Chinatown, checking out their wares. Many of the shops sold similar items like parasols, silk and paper fans, postcards, chopsticks, dragon statues, paper lanterns, Buddha statues, silk dresses, incense, dolls, candles, scarves, bags and jewelry. But there were always fun and unique items to be found.
One thing that I did not quite have the courage to do on my own was eat at one of the restaurants in Chinatown. One restaurant that I thought was particularly lovely was the Empress of China. I only went into the lobby of the restaurant, but I thought it was beautiful.
Maybe the next time I am in San Francisco I will talk my husband into taking me to eat at the Empress of China. I hear that the restaurant itself is also lovely.
Or I could be brave and go eat lunch by myself at one of the other many restaurants in Chinatown. The only problem is that there are so many that I wouldn't know which one to choose!
In addition to colorful restaurants, there was also lots of colorful street art in Chinatown. I particularly liked these murals.
As you would expect, there were lots of dragons to be found in Chinatown. Many of the shops sold dragon statues and there were some pretty cool dragon decorations to be found.
It was nice to be able to walk through Chinatown and explore at my own pace. I am sure that my children would have enjoyed seeing Chinatown, but they probably would have been done much sooner than me! The same could be said for my husband, though it would have been nice to have a shopping companion. I did end up buying several souvenirs from Chinatown, which my children loved. I also got a nice leather coin purse for myself so that I can always remember my trip to Chinatown in San Francisco.