Mission Accomplished

San Francisco’s Mission District Explored


The Victorian-style line of the streets of Mission District. The 1906 earthquake and fire caused the revival of 19th century architecture, featuring ornate details and vibrant colors that San Francisco is well known for. Photo by Megan Chai

Megan Chai

(Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a story originally produced by Class of 2015 Verde staffers Eliza Ackroyd, Lucy Fox and Claire Priestly with repackaging and additions by Megan Chai (Class of 2019)).

The San Francisco Mission District encompasses an area recognized for its long-standing Hispanic community. In more recent years, hipsters have gravitated toward this historic district, creating a unique mix of cultures that has come to characterize the neighborhood. Full of iconic attractions such as the first Philz Coffee shop, Mission Dolores and many delicious eateries, the Mission is worth a visit. A number of our suggestions lie within the one-block radius of 18th Street and Dolores Street and are great places to begin an exploration of this incredible district.

Dog Eared Books

Dog Eared Books is a quaint bookstore located along Valencia Street filled with a diverse collection of new and used books. Paper notes peek out of the displayed books, with handwritten details and comments about the book. Cascading light fills the store, offering a homey and comfortable atmosphere. This local bookstore is definitely worth the visit for a next great read or just to browse their wide selection of books.

Clarion Alley Murals

Walking around the neighborhood, you are sure to see the vibrant murals that the Mission District is well known for. Clarion Alley is a small street situated between Mission Street and Valencia Street filled with colorful murals painted by local artists of the Clarion Alley Mural Project. Since 1992, the ever-changing alley is covered with artistic murals with thought-provoking socio-political topics.

Philz Coffee

At the intersection of 24th Street and Folsom, you can find the coffee you know and love in its original location. Every inch of wall and ceiling is covered with murals; white, fluffy clouds dominate most of the back wall, and a starry sky twinkles above the baristas. Ordering can be a little hectic, but the experience is worth it. The classic Mint Mojito has never tasted so good. Custom choose your roast — dark, medium or light — to match your caffeine craving. Make sure to check out this Philz location filled to the brim with Mission hipsters and coffee aficionados.

Bi-Rite Creamery

Bi-Rite Creamery is one of the best ice cream options in the city, and their classic salted caramel is unbelievably smooth. At peak hours — mid-afternoon and late evening — the creamery has lines out the door and around the block, but is well worth the wait for a scoop of this ice cream.

Dolores Park

Bring a picnic blanket to sit on while you enjoy a cone of delicious ice cream from the Bi-Rite Creamery or the baked goods from Tartine Bakery, for Dolores Park is within walking distance of both. Although part of the park is currently under renovation, the City of San Francisco hopes to have it ready in time for the beginning of summer 2015. Despite the construction, Dolores Park still offers acres of grassy terrain. Also open for use is a large playground, equipped with several slides, a swing set, a climbing wall and a rope bridge.

Mission Dolores

Missing those fourth grade field trips to historic missions? Well, you are in the right place — a three-block trek from Dolores Park will take you right to the footsteps of one of San Francisco’s oldest buildings, one which survived the 1906 earthquake. Stained glass and adorned ceilings characterize the chapels, and outside visitors can explore a garden and a serene graveyard. A trip to Mission Dolores is not for everyone, though. Though its $3 admission fee is affordable, it does not offer much entertainment other than a little slice of history.