Family Vacations in California

Family Vacations in California: Chinatown and the Chinese New Year

San Francisco's vibrant Chinatown is the most populous neighborhood of its kind in North America and a must-see stop on any visit to the City by the Bay.

For 15 days during the Chinese New Year, San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood bustles with sound and color -- even more than it usually does. This is the largest Chinatown on the continent, and it pulls out all the stops for the annual festivities. The Chinese New Year begins on the first day of the first moon of the lunar calendar, which usually falls between late January and mid February.



The Chinese New Year Parade (a San Francisco tradition since just after the 1849 Gold Rush) is now the biggest illuminated nighttime parade in North America. In fact, it's the largest event of its kind on any continent except Asia. Participants take the year's theme and run with it, crafting gorgeous floats that range from purely aesthetic to political. Dancers and stilt-walkers entertain the crowds, and others light firecrackers, pass out "funny money," and do their best to bring good luck to the New Year.

The parade culminates with Gum Lung, the Golden Dragon -- an ornate, human-powered 200-foot silk, gauze, and velvet beast with a bamboo skeleton. Year-round, Chinatown is one of the Bay Area's most visited tourist hotspots, with plenty of eateries, bars, and shops. But it also serves as an authentic neighborhood where people live, work, and play.

Chinatown and the Chinese New Year Information

Address: Chinatown Entrance at Grant Ave. and Bush St., San Francisco, CA

Telephone: 415/391-2000

Continue to the next page for details on family vacations in San Jose and peculiar Winchester Mystery House.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • San Francisco City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit San Francisco.
  • California State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in California, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.