Gung Hay Fat Choy! Celebrating the Chinese New Year in San Francisco

See recent posts by Debbie Abrams Kaplan

Last year's (Year of the Ox) Chinese New Year's Parade in San Francisco


Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year to you! This holiday has been a big deal in San Francisco ever since the gold rush in 1847 started bringing Chinese immigrants into California in large numbers, and is a great cultural event to bring your little (or big) ones to. Lots of colorful costumes, firecrackers and yummy food to boot! Although the actualy Chinese New Year is on Valentine’s Day this year, most of the festivities take place on February 27th. Here’s how to get the most out of your day:

Chinese New Year’s Parade – Did you know that the idea of a Chinese New Year’s parade was actually concieved in San Francisco during the 1860’s? Before then, parades in honor of the holiday didn’t exist in China or anywhere else. Now the city’s is one of the largest of its kind worldwide. Attend the parade to see dragons, dancers and firecrackers exploding over the streets. While the most scenic place to watch is in the heart of Chinatown, it can get pretty crowded, so you might be better off watching from the starting point at Second and Market. Stay at the Palace Hotel and you might even get to watch from the comfort of your room!

Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt – A great way to see the parade from a different perspective, this scavenger hunt tests your knowledge of San Francisco, your ability to work as a team, and your ingenuity passing back and forth through the parade route as you work to gather clues. This hugely popular treasure hunt is difficult but fun – and there’s no need to be a local. Contestants meet at Justin Herman Plaza, outside the Hyatt Regency, and the hunt begins just before the parade (giving you more than four hours to complete it). If you don’t come with your own team, you can always join a team of four to nine players when you arrive.

Chinese Dim Sum – And of course – what’s a holiday without a festive meal? Chinatown is always a good choice of yummy grub, although it’s probably best to avoid it while the parade is still on. Clement Street in San Francisco’s Richmond district has plenty of restaurants that are popular with the locals. Try take-out dim sum from Clement Restaurant at 621 Clement Street. They’re known for their barbecued pork buns, and the lines out the door. For sit-down dim sum, try the House of Banquet at 939 Clement. Stay at the Laurel Inn and you’ll be within walking distance of Clement Street.

– Debbie Abrams Kaplan of Frisco Kids and Kaplan Ink.

All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Oyster may earn an affiliate commission.