What to See & Do
San Francisco’s Mission San Francisco de Asís, or Mission Dolores, is the city’s oldest surviving structure (dating back to 1791, though Franciscans first established the Mission in 1776) and a stop along California’s historic Missions Trail. The heart of the Mission is its Latino Cultural District. Running along 24th Street between Mission Street and Potrero Avenue, this vibrant stretch boasts Latino-owned shops, bakeries, and eateries; galleries selling Latino-made and -inspired artworks; and colorful murals. The community-based non-profit Precita Eyes Muralists hosts muralist-lead guided tours highlighting this neighborhood artwork, most notably in Balmy Alley, which features a rotating array of artwork on everything from human rights to famous Latino figures. Several blocks away you'll find Clarion Alley, another art-covered space with a broader focus.
Another great way to experience the neighborhood is through its culinary delights. Foodie Adventures! offers guided walking tours showcasing some of the Mission’s lesser-known spots, like La Palma Mexicatessen—where gorditas, flautas, and handmade tortillas are par for the course—and Kings Bakery Cafe, where you'll find an array of delicious pastries and baked goods—the coconut cake is a favorite.
Once one of San Francisco’s main theater districts, the Mission also remains a great place to catch a show, whether it's live music at the aptly named Chapel or a stage performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the once-vaudeville Victoria Theatre. Occupying a former art deco theater, the multi-screen Alamo Drafthouse Cinema doles out a delicious menu of food and drink during the films, which range from first-runs to cult-classics.
The hillside, palm tree–studded Dolores Park is one of the city’s most popular gathering spaces, and provides prime downtown views as well as a plethora of events ranging from summer movie nights to “First Caturdays,” an unofficial gathering for felines and their human friends every first Saturday of the month. It’s also an ideal perch for picnicking, and its Helen Dillar Playground features net climbing, swings, and even a giant slide for kids.