Chinese New Year in San Francisco

Published March 8, 2015 by lynn k scott

I have been attending the annual Chinese New Year Celebration almost as long as I have been in California (almost 18 years now).  The New Year’s celebration is typically held a few weeks after the Chinese New Year has passed.  On Saturday there is a huge parade and Sunday there are street vendors, where the city blocks several streets off from on-coming traffic so people can walk up and down looking at all the good luck charms, health vendors, companies providing various promotions, plants, community care programs and the like.

I have to add, my husband is a San Franciscan native.  It drives him absolutely nuts when I “act like a tourist”, esp. when we aren’t.  I had to take pictures all day today, so I would have them to add to the blog.  That earned me the nickname, “tourist” from both him and my daughter.  Every time we needed to continue moving, I would hear, “come on tourist”.  What I go through for my writing.

We decided to go in earlier than we usually do.  We arrived by 11:30 and to our surprise, the streets were filling up with people; fast.  My daughter already has the traditions down.  Bakery, ice cream shop, and tea for mom.  After we park, we start walking to Chinatown.


It’s almost as if he’s welcoming us to Chinatown!

We stumble upon the “speak no evil, hear no evil and see no evil” monkeys.  There are several of these “statues” throughout the festival.  People stop to take pictures with all sorts of displays.


My daughter stopped to pose with the “Monkey King”.  I love this story.  I loved the movie even more.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for Jet Li (who starred as the Monkey King).


From here we head to the bakery.  After all, it’s time to get our baked bbq pork buns (aka brown buns).  My husband likes some of the rice desserts.  Then there is the sweet butter cream buns.  As soon as we finished our purchase, we found an empty bench right outside and sat down.  I NEEDED my pork bun.  You have to understand, I wait all year for this.  I only buy these items during the New Year’s festival.  I mean it costs $10 in tolls, two bridges, gas and $15 in parking to go to/from San Francisco.  So, it’s extra special when I do get to consume these simple, yet saliva-inducing, baked delights.

Eastern Bakery San Francisco




After we finish our snack, we continued walking up Grant Street to a shop that sells ice cream, some fast food Chinese food and most importantly, a clean bathroom.  I always remember this place, because one of the stalls in the women’s bathroom cracks me up.  Talk about making the most of the space you have.  When using this stall, once the door closes, you have mere inches between the door and your knees.


From top of the hill, you can see some of the festival as well as the new Bay Bridge in the background.  Each year, I take a picture from this spot.  I am in love with the beauty of the bridge.  Sometimes, the bridge in encased in fog, another thing San Francisco is famous for, but other days, I am lucky to have a clear shot.  There is truly beauty in things as simple as looking upon a bridge.

We continue walking up and down the streets.  For those who have never been to San Francisco, if you’re a fan of hiking, you get a great workout minus the wild animals and poison ivy.

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This guy comes up and hands all of us some Oolong milk tea.  Now, I’m not the biggest fan of milk anything but I love Oolong tea.  It’s a free sample so it’s almost a must try.  WOW!  It was incredibly delicious.  Walked right over to the vendor stand, gave them my $3 and I had a yummy drink for the rest of my journey through Chinatown.  My daughter on the other hand, full of grace and manners, promptly spit her drink out, near the guy who gave the sample.  Oh, what motherly pride I was beaming with while desperately looking for a hole to be swallowed up by.  Children:  the reason hair dye was invented. (sigh)

Here are a few more pictures of the festival.

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We’ve seen what we’re going to see.  We take advantage of the being in “the City” and head over to Pier 39.  Might as well make the most of our day.  I hope you’ve enjoyed “visiting” Chinatown.   Stay tuned for our adventures on the Wharf.


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