With lantern-strung streets lined with elaborate facades and trinket-filled shops, Chinatown is a visual delight for little explorers. The neighborhood displays nearly as many murals as the Mission and just as much vibrancy. You’d be hard pressed to find an inch of blank space in the city’s oldest and most colorful district. Day trip it in your own backyard and watch your youngster gobble up culture just as fast as they do their dumplings.

Chinese Historical Society Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

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Chinese Historical Society of America
All visits to Chinatown should begin at this charming museum housed in an ornate building designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan. Visual and tactile exhibits offer a proper introduction to the Chinese experience in San Francisco. A resident artist keeps things lively for little ones. Tip: drop by the Chinatown branch library (1135 Powell St) to score free tickets by flashing your SF library card

965 Clay St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
415-391-1188
Online: chsa.org

St Mary Square Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

St Mary’s Square
Tucked away off busy Grant Street, this hidden nook sports a fun play area with a scenic backdrop of Financial District towers.

651 California St
San Francisco, Ca

Willie Wong Playground Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground
This modern playground bears the name of a local 1940s basketball player named for the rootin’ “woo woos” he would get.

830 Sacramento St.
San Francisco, Ca

Bargain Bazaar Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

Shop

Bargain Bazaar
Chinatown has innumerable shops bursting with with unique trinkets and toys that reach out to little hands. With three floors crammed with goodies, this fun shop is our favorite.

667 Grant Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
415-391-6369

Buddha Exquisite Corp Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

Buddha Exquisite Corp.
This shop is a visual extravaganza of Joss paper, the paper versions of money and material goods burned at funerals. Marvel at perfect paper replicas of iPads, 6-packs of Coke, sushi platters and air-conditioned mansions complete with maid and armed guard. They’re much cheaper than the real thing, so make sure your kiddo’s letter to Santa is real specific.

756 Jackson St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-391-2806

Eat

Good Mong Kok
Nothing satiates little tummies quite like a savory pork or chicken bun. Squeeze your way into this shoe-box sized take-away for some of the best dim sum in Chinatown. Bummer for Bugaboos: Stockton’s jam-packed sidewalks make it a strict No Stroller Zone.

1039 Stockton St.
San Francisco,Ca
415-397-2688

Yin Du Wonton Noodle Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

Yin Du Wonton Noodle
Drop by this cozy mom & pop eatery for delicious, inexpensive wonton noodles and rice dishes (prices peak at $5.95) in a pristine setting.

648 Pacific Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
415-834-9388

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Golden Star Vietnamese Restaurant
Overlooking Portsmouth Square, this tasty restaurant fills up during lunch for pho, grilled meats and kid’s favorites: crispy imperial rolls.

11 Walter U Lum Pl.
San Francisco, Ca
415-398-1215

Begoni Bistro Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

Begoni Bistro
This restaurant sports a menu of refined Vietnamese dishes and the most stylish dining room in the neighborhood. Boon for beer lovers: it’s also one of the few places in Chinatown where you can get good brew on tap.

615 Jackson St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-757-0120
Online: begonibistro.com

 Golden Gate Bakery Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

Golden Gate Bakery
This bakery is justly famous for their dan tat — rich custardy egg tarts in delicious flaky crust — as well as their corresponding lines.

1029 Grant Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
415-781-2627
Online: goldengatebakery.com

Fancy Wheat Field Bakery
Pop in for a large selection of egg tarts and baked goods. Your child’s new favorite treat might be a fluffy, sweet bread cocktail bun filled with sweetened coconut paste.

1362 Stockton St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-982-1368

Do you have a favorite Chinatown hangout? Tell us in the comments below! 

—Garrick Ramirez

All photography by Garrick Ramirez