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 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 the celebration:
Chinese New Year’s Parade – Yesterday I posted about this fabulous 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. If you know anyone staying at the Palace Hotel (or you have access to a downtown office on the route) you might even get to watch from there.
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. But don't bring young kids. 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 inner Richmond district (my old hood) has plenty of restaurants that are popular with us 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. Out of towners can stay at the Laurel Inn and be within walking distance of Clement Street.
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