The first time I visited San Francisco's Chinatown was on Chinese New Year. It was an amazing experience – there was lots of activity with the streets bustling with people. You could see and hear sparklers being set off in the middle of the street. On the main street, there was a big parade with loud drums and music.
For my visits after, there were no celebrations. Even so, there were still many people on the streets, and it seemed as lively as ever. I got to better experience the vivid colors of the town, from the murals on the wall to the bright red lanterns. Many stores line the streets, offering different Chinese food and novelties.
If you explore enough, there are some streets which were well decorated but are quieter with less foot traffic. These are my favorite streets to take pictures, because you can dance in the middle of the street with little worry. They’re also a nice place to stay for a while and absorb the atmosphere.
A great place to visit is the Golden Gate Cookie Factory. It’s in a small alley and a little bit difficult to find, but it’s easy to spot when close because there’s always a long line. Inside, you see people shaping fortune cookies and laying out the ingredients from scratch. Better yet, they offer free samples, so you can taste a fresh fortune cookie.