San Francisco, is famous for many things, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Golden Gate Bridge, Ghiradelli Chocolates, and the infamous Alcatraz to name a few, but there is so much more to the City by the Bay. During my 8 years living in the Bay Area, I found time to see some of the more touristy attractions mentioned above, but spent very little time exploring beneath the surface of San Francisco’s many unique neighborhoods.
I suppose I thought I’d spend more time there later, and instead spent my free time exploring father afield. If you read this blog, you’ll know that I’m doing my best not to make that same mistake here in our new home, Los Angeles.
The good news is that I visit the Bay Area often, it’s just a six hour drive up Interstate 5, and during our most recent visit we were on a mission to see more of the City. We chose to explore the vibrant Mission District (pun intended), where we discovered delicious food, a fabulous park, and amazing street art! So in other words, my perfect day!
The Mission District
The Mission District, or The Mission, is located in east central San Francisco, and is borederd by SOMA, Potrero Hill, The Castro, Noe Valley and Bernal Heights. Due to it’s location the Mission is insulated from San Francisco’s famous fog, which means it’s often warmer and sunnier than other neighborhoods.
Our first stop upon arrival was Tartine Bakery & Cafe, which is known for it’s mouth watering breads and pastries. The line is usually around the block, but luck was in our favor and we walked right in!
I had a tough time deciding, as I wanted one of everything, but ultimately went with something on the smaller side, a Mexican wedding cookie, while Elliot got an eclair! Located on the corner of Guerro and 18th, Tartine doesn’t have a sign, so look out for the long line and you’ll know you’ve arrived.
Mission Dolores Park
Sweeping views of the city, large grassy areas, and a fabulous playground are just some of what you can expect while visiting Mission Dolores Park. There is also a large off leash area for those dog lovers out there.
The kids enjoyed the Park’s playground, while I followed them around taking photos of the gorgeous city views. As we were leaving we met, Chris, the Paint a Record guy, and decided this would be a fun activitity. Chris gets the records from yard sales and thrift shops, and sets up at the Park most afternoons and weekends. The acrylic paint dried within minutes and wallah, the perfect Father’s Day present!
There’s no time like the present, and after all that park play an ice cream seemed like a great idea! Lunch? Isn’t ice cream lunch? Another San Francisco institution, the Bi-Rite Creamery is a popular place, so we joined the line and patiently waited our turn.
Peach season is upon us, so the Peach Cobbler flavor seemed like a perfect choice, and with large chunks of fresh baked cobbler and peaches throughout, it did not disappoint! Bi-Rite Creamery is just up and across the street from Tartine on 18th Street.
The Mission is famous for it’s wall murals, some of which were painted in the 1970s, and reflect the neighborhood’s Latino culture and traditions.
More recently other types of street art have entered the mix and there are litteraly hundreds of murals throughout the neighborhood.
Don’t worry, I won’t be posting hundred’s of photos, only a few. You’ll have to visit the neighborhood yourselves if you want to see more!
Clarion Alley, off of 18th between Mission and Valenica, is the home of the Clarion Alley Mural Project, which was started in 1992 by Mission residents. The murals here were predominately political in nature, some quite extreme in their views.
19th & Mission
My favorite street art discovery of the day was this Mini Heros mural painted in 2009 by three indivduals known as KEB, WAND and BUTR. Miraculously it’s still in existence! What could be better than street art and superheros?!
Across the street from the Mini Heros you’ll find an amazing tribute to Carlos Santana painted by local artist Mel Waters.
Walk a little further up 19th and you’ll come to San Carlos Street, which is also the home of a giant honeybear painted by local artist, and a favorite of mine, Fnnch.
Wandering along Mission Street we went as far as Lilac Alley, located half a block from the 24th Street Bart Station. The Alley is 2 blocks long between Mission and Capp Streets, and is lined on both sides with vibrant murals.
Knowing the kids might be hungry at the end of the mission, we decided to end our day with an early dinner. We chose Straw, a carnival themed restaurant with unique comfort foods, and decor. Straw is located on Octavia Street in Hayes Valley, a short drive from The Mission and another super fun SF neighborhood worth exploring.
After having cookies for breakfast and ice cream for lunch it made sense to chose the Ringmaster, a burger sandwiched between two glazed doughbnuts for dinner. The idea was fun, but I think I’ll stick with a more tradational bun in the future! We finished up with cotton candy for dessert! Yum!
Tips & advice should you choose to go on your own Mission:
- I’ve pinpointed some of the places we visited, but keep in mind there isn’t really any right way to explore The Mission.
- San Francisco can be a tough park, but using the parking app Pay by phone, enables you to manage everything directly from your phone eliminating the need to keep running back to feed the meter.
- Walking along Mission Street you’ll find shops, restaurants and markets selling everything from luggage and fidget spinners to t-shirts and fruit. Keep your eyes open, you never know what you might discover.
- Interested in finding more of San Francisco’s street art? Check out SF Mural Arts a webiste showcasing the city’s vibrant art scene complete with artist and locations.
Pin for later:
Take me with you!
Would you like directions to all these fabulous places? Why not take me with you! you can download this and other fun hilarystyle articles using the GPSmyCity app!
Very nice! I only had time for the “touristy” things, but sure hope to go back one day!
Nothing wrong with touristy things!! It “only” took me 8+ years to get around to this neighborhood…
cool street art! #citytripping
Oh so fun to see Something new in SF than the usual! Loving all that street art, especially the honey bear! Love that view and love the sound of that ice cream!!! Mmmm so much to love on one post! #CityTripping
Awe! Thank you!! It was a perfect day!!
Excellent post, I love the Mission! I was over at Tartine a couple of weeks ago and got to stand in the infamous line for an hour I think. It was so worth it for that fruit tart though! I also quite enjoy that you describe San Francisco as “just” a six hour drive away from LA. 😉 I dread that drive!
Thank you! I know the drive isn’t fun, but with the right company and some good tunes it’s not so bad! Xx
I have been to San Francisco only once (not good, I know). I have not visited the Mission but looks like my kind of place. I know there is so much to see in the city. I really want to go back! #FarawayFiles
There are so many great places to see… if you do find your way back, the mission will be waiting for you!
Great to read about some of the less touristy places in San Fran. I’ve still yet to go to the city, can you believe it? I particularly love the murals on the buildings in this area. Thanks for putting it on the map and linking to #citytripping
With so many great places in the world it’s hard to get them all in, but if you do get a chance San Fran is pretty great! I always wish I could explore more of your part of the world!
What a great looking area to discover – and one of the lesser-known districts too. That park looks absolutely brilliant for kids and I love all the street art you showcase on your travels. It makes complete sense that you’d follow a doughnut burger with candy floss (what we call it in the UK). Thanks for sharing these great discoveries on #FarawayFiles
It was a lovely day! Although I’m still working off all those treats!
The mission district is such a fun neighborhood to explore. I remembering seeing lots of colorful street art. I went to a really great restaurant but I can’t remember the name. I am going to have to try that donut burger though. Pinning for future reference. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
Hilary my parents lived in Los Gatos just outside of San Jose for 3 years so I felt like I knew San Francisco well until I read this post. Need to go back and explore the Mission district. All the street art is incredible. So my thing #FarawayFiles
I felt the same way after living just miles away for 8 years! Amazing how much these cities have to offer!
It seems you’ve got a perfect weather in San Francisco. I love this this neighborhood and next time I’m in town I’ll make sure to give Tartine Bakery & Cafe a try. #TheWeeklyPostcard
We definitely lucked out!! The sun was shining all day!
I love that you included the map. Great post and the art is amazing.
Thank you! I’m always interested in finding cool art, and wish others would share locations, so I’m just found what I wish more people would do! 😊 glad you enjoyed the post!
Elaine J Masteres
Such a bright and cheerful take on the Mission. Last time I was there I stayed right on Mission in an Airbnb. Big mistake. However, I loved visiting the adjacent streets and parks. The mural scene is spectacular too. So nice to see the sun out too.
Thank you! I do agree that staying right on Mission might not be the best location for a comfortable night’s sleep, but it’s certainly a fun place to spend an afternoon!
I love the street art. We mainly did the tourist sites when we were in San Francisco I’d love to go back and scratch below the surface. I did have a giggle at ‘just 6 hours’ drive in the UK we would consider that a long journey! My girls would love the ice cream shop. #TheWeeklyPostcard
Ha! I also consdier six hours a long journey, but we seem to make the drive a few times a year! Distances between cities in the US are all really far, so if I want to go places, I have to make due.
OH WOW I LOVE THIS POST, the street art is so incredible and that cake!!! I so so want to go what a vibrant region x
Thank you so much! It was pretty much a perfect afternoon!!
The street art in this district is so colourful, how delightful. Love it! Great part of town to relax and just chill out! Nice!
Very colorful and in some places very “colorful!” Ha ha! It was a fabulous way to spend an afternoon!
I know what you mean 🙂
Bi-rite Creamery is so amazing. What flavors did you try?
I had peach cobbler!! It was delicious!
Just had Bi-Rite’s peach 🍑 cobbler for the first time this week. It was so divine!