Photo: Kate Mereand-Sinha
The most thriving and active Chinatown outside Asia
Noteworthy for: San Francisco’s Chinatown isn’t just some tourist attraction. It’s a living, working, community hub.
Talk of the town: This is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, and the oldest in North America.
From the three-tiered Bank of Canton to Golden Gate Bakery’s famous egg tarts, some pockets of San Francisco’s Chinatown don’t feel much like America at all. During the Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, the majority of Chinese immigrants to America arrived through the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco, creating one of the first, largest and most renowned Chinese neighborhoods in the United States.
While most area maps will mark Grant Avenue as the heart of Chinatown, hop over to the street parallel to get a more local feel. Along Stockton Street or any number of narrow alleys, soak in the bustle of residents dipping in and out of corner markets, bakeries and herbal shops, as well as murals depicting Chinese-American history and public buildings featuring ornate Chinese architecture.
If you’re in town in early February, San Francisco’s Chinese New Year celebration is a fantastic affair, culminating in a parade of floats, firecrackers and a 200-foot-long Golden Dragon.