Welcome to Union Square and Chinatown
- Ross Alley: Breathe in the scented air as you watch the nimble hands of workers at Chinatown's Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory on this narrow one-block, shop-lined alley first built in 1849 in the days of the gold rush.
- Chinatown walk and dine: Stroll down Grant Avenue and Stockton Street, Chinatown's main thoroughfares, and enjoy steamed pork buns and red-bean sesame balls from the decades-old shops along the way.
- Shopping in and around Union Square: Prime your credit cards and dive right in, from department stores like Bloomingdale's to the boutiques of Maiden Lane.
- Tin How Temple: Climb the narrow stairway to this space in Chinatown with hundreds of red lanterns, then step onto the tiny balcony and take in the alley scene below.
- Union Square: Grab a seat and soak up the grandeur—and the sun—in the heart of the city's signature plaza.
In these two neighborhoods, cars equal hassle. Traffic is slow and parking is pricey. Take advantage of the confluence of public transit at Powell and Market Streets: buses, Muni light-rail vehicles and BART (Powell Street Station for both), cable cars, and F-line streetcars run here.
It’s an easy walk to Chinatown from Union Square, and both Powell lines of the cable-car system pass through.
Planning Your Time
Set aside at least an hour to scope out the stores and sights around Union Square—or most of the day if you're a shopper—but don't bother arriving before 10 am, when the first shops open.
Allow at least two hours to tour compact Chinatown. Come on a weekday (it's less crowded) and before lunchtime (busiest with locals). You won't need more than 15 or 20 minutes at any of the sights, but exploring the shops and alleys and having a few bites along the way is, indeed, the whole point.