the best San Francisco City Walk ever

Hope, our San Francisco city guide (c) 2019 by David Ourisman

I have often recommended the free walks offered by San Francisco City Guides. Both interesting and informative, taking one of these walks is a great way to learn about the history, culture, and contemporary life of San Francisco. The walks are sponsored by the SF Public Library and supported in part by hotel taxes and contributions from walkers. If you're planning to be in town, definitely check out the schedule and take advantage of this great resource available to visitors and residents alike.

Our walk this morning was the best that I've ever taken. The Omni Hotel Walk is named somewhat deceptively. Being one of the major sponsors of City Guides, the hotel has arranged for this walk offered primarily (but not exclusively) to their guests every Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

While the regular Chinatown Walk attracts a large crowd, our Omni walk had but four participants — two hotel guests from Chicago, Claire, and myself. Along with Hope, we walked the back alleys of Chinatown, away from the touristy storefronts on Grant Avenue. Hope is a gifted tour guide and shared stories of the waves of Chinese immigration to San Francisco, beginning with the Gold Rush. We saw Chinese markets selling spices, seafood, and vegetables. We visited a Temple, saw a fortune cookie factory, and visited an alley that used to be an opium den. As a special treat, we ended up on an alley with a Chinese festival going on.

Hope left us with a list of recommended Chinatown restaurants — not the tourist traps on Grant Avenue but truly authentic restaurants mostly filled with Chinese Americans. We had lunch at one of her choices — Boiling Shrimp Seafood at 150 Waverly Place. The restaurant was packed. We sat at a large round table with a family of Chinese Americans from San Francisco, shared our food with one another, and communicated as best we could with Google translate. It was a great lunch and a great cultural experience ... all just 30 minutes from home!

Email me for Hope's list of restaurants.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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