Living in the heart of San Francisco’s bustling Mission District, MarkMaker Aleksandra Zee is not lacking for artistic inspiration. New talent is easy to seek out in the local galleries, theatres and bookstores that dot the streets, or simply absorbed from the colorful murals that scream from (almost) every wall.
The Mission District (or simply “the Mission” to locals) is San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood, as well as home to the city’s vibrant Latin American roots and an increasingly creative crowd. Soak up the area’s culture with our whistle-stop tour.
1. Precita Eyes Mural tour
Street art is hard to miss in the Mission, but taking one of Precita Eyes Mural tours will guarantee you see the best of it. The Precita Eyes muralists have been coloring the walls and buildings of the district since the late 70s, painting the story of the local community directly onto the brickwork.
Mural Arts & Visitors Center, 2981 24th Street
When it’s time for a caffeine pick-me-up, look no further than Sightglass. Based in SoMA but with a branch here in Mission, this is a place that really cares about its coffee, from the expertise of its roasters down to the discerning selection of specialty beans from around the world.
Sightglass, 3014 20th Street
3. Mission Dolores
Wondering how the Mission District got its name? Take a trip to Mission Dolores, the oldest structure in San Francisco and still very much a cultural hub for the area. The famous church was actually built by Ohlone Indians before the city itself, and its graveyard should be of interest to movie buffs – a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo was shot here.
Mission Dolores, 3321 16th Street
4. Press: Works on Paper
For a well-stocked bookstore, City Lights in North Beach is a San Francisco institution, but we also love the range of niche books and magazines for sale here at Press. The minimal layout is a world away from the crammed shelves you’ll find elsewhere around the city, but anyone interested in art, fashion or design may just leave with their new bible.
Press: Works on Paper, 3108 24th Street
5. Mission Dolores Park
Found yourself something to read? Head on over to Dolores Park where you can enjoy it with sweeping views over downtown San Francisco. The 16-acre park is a perfect picnic spot on a sunny day, with plenty of room to spread out with a group of friends. It was renovated recently too, so make the most of the new playing fields, tennis courts and free WiFi.
Mission Dolores Park, 19th & Dolores Street
6. Galería De La Raza
Chicano and Latino art is one of the Mission District’s major draws, and there’s no better place to celebrate it than Galería De La Raza. This non-profit gallery has been showcasing the most exciting Latino talent since 1970, working with students through community elders to plan the gallery’s events and new murals around the city.
Galería De La Raza, 2857 24th Street
7. La Taquiera
The Mission District is not short on great food options, but don’t leave without buying a burrito from one of many local taquerias. For the best in the area head straight to La Taqueria and opt for the carnitas filling, voted by FiveThirtyEight as America’s Best Burrito. There’s also a secret menu for regulars in-the-know, so make sure you ask for the special salsa roja sauce kept behind the counter – you’re welcome.
La Taquiera, 2889 Mission Street
8. Roxie Theatre
Opening its doors back in 1909, The Roxie Theatre is easily San Francisco’s oldest movie theatre and still arguably its greatest. Now operating as a community-run nonprofit, this is the place to catch everything from edgy arthouse fare to 60’s B movies or the latest releases.
Roxie Theatre, 3117 16th street
Want to see more of San Francisco? Once you’ve ticked off this Mission District checklist, take a look at our 24-hour guide and explore the rest of the city’s best bits.