San Francisco/Mission

Guitar man mural on Balmy Alley

The Mission District is noted for its ethnic diversity, in particular the neighborhood's large Hispanic community. Though the district is slowly gentrifying, many urban artisans and immigrants still make their home here, and the restaurant and nightlife scene here is among the best in the city and perhaps the most locally oriented one. The district is bounded roughly by the 101 freeway on the east and north, Dolores/Church Streets on the west, and Cesar Chavez Street on the south.


The Mission District (fit in with the locals by just calling it "The Mission") lies to the east of the oldest building in San Francisco, Mission Dolores. The area was the site of the Spanish mission that was the kernel of the city San Francisco is today. The mission itself was secularized in the 1820s, and the lands were given to the Native Americans who lived there. Many sold or lost the land in later years.

During the 19th century, the Mission District was physically separated from San Francisco proper, which mostly clustered around the seaport on the San Francisco Bay. The district's area was a pleasant country day trip for San Franciscans, and soon grew into a small village. By the end of the 1800s, the area had been assimilated into the rest of the city.

By the early 20th century, after the 1906 earthquake that destroyed several blue-collar neighborhoods, Irish and Italians relocated to the quickly expanding Mission District. From the 1940s the district gradually became more populated with Mexican/Latin-American immigrants creating a strong counterculture in the arts and politics during the civil rights movement. Following this era, the Mission remained a strongly Chicano and Latin-American neighborhood, but also with a great contingency of African-American, Asian-American and European-American driven by the relatively cheap rents in the neighborhood. In the 1980s and early 1990s, it attracted an influx of new artists, musicians, and other counterculture types.

By the turn of the 21st century, the district experienced an increased gentrification. Expensive restaurants and the construction of "live-work" spaces were moving in to the area, displacing hundreds of residents. However, as the post-Internet boom recedes, the wave of affluence is partly diminishing and the Mission is continuing to be a place for multicultural encounters, where long term residents, immigrants, hipsters and yuppies are living side-by-side.

Get in

From other parts of San Francisco and the Bay Area, BART serves the Mission neighborhood with stations at 16th Street and Mission (served by the MUNI 14, 22, 33, 49 and 53 bus lines) and 24th Street and Mission (served by the MUNI 14, 48, 49 and 67 bus lines).

The MUNI Metro J-Church line runs along the western edge of the area from downtown between the Mission and the Castro and Noe Valley neighborhoods, and passes within a block of the Mission Dolores that gives the Mission neighborhood its name. From the J line you can just walk into the area or easily transfer to one of the following MUNI bus lines:

Other bus routes which serve the area include the 14-Mission and 14R-Mission Rapid buses, which run right down Mission Street from the north and south, the 49-Mission/Van Ness, which comes down Mission Street from Van Ness near Fisherman's Wharf, the 9-San Bruno which runs along Potrero Avenue through the Mission neighborhood, the 12-Folsom/Pacific which heads down Folsom through Mission to Cesar Chavez before looping back to the 24th St BART station, and the 27-Bryant which runs along Bryant Street through Mission to Cesar Chavez.

For cars, the Cesar Chavez Street exit from highway 101 comes right into the Mission, and the San Jose Avenue exit from Highway 280 North brings you past Bernal Heights and onto Guerrero Avenue.

Get around

The Inner Mission is only about 20 blocks by 10 blocks, and is easily navigated by foot. The Mission is generally safe for walking (even though 16th and Mission remains a major drug dealing corner). It's not dangerous, but one should expect a certain amount of urban grittiness at night up and down Mission Street near 16th. Valencia Street, just one block over, is much more gentrified and is filled with bars and eateries.

By car: You will find that people attending religious ceremonies at one of the churches dotting the Mission will park down the center lane of Valencia. This is not a common practice at any other time and not advised as SFPD will not hesitate to have you towed. A popular dinner destination neighborhood, street parking is difficult to find in the early evenings. There are two cheap parking garages, one at 21st Street and Bartlett between Valencia and Mission and another on 16th and Hoff St also between Valencia and Mission.

By bicycle: You'll see many people using the dedicated bike lanes on Valencia Street, but the entire neighborhood, with the exception of the Dolores Park area, is flat and easy to navigate.


Mission Dolores Basilica, next door to the original Mission



Roxie Cinema


Valencia Street between 16th and 24th streets is a major shopping corridor packed with boutiques, thrift stores, and more. Mission Street, one block to the east, is also a commercial center, but more focused on the Latino community.


Opera cake, Tartine Bakery



While you're in SF, a shot of Fernet Branca with a ginger ale chaser is a must. Also try beers from two great local microbreweries: Anchor Steam (once described as "sex in a bottle") and Speakeasy's Prohibition Ale and Big Daddy IPA.



Go next

Routes through Mission

Balboa Park Noe Valley  S  NE  Civic Center Financial District

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, February 10, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.