Whether your traveling to a city for the first time, or the hundredth time, you inevitably end up asking “What should we see?”. In San Fransisco the typical responses are Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, and Chinatown. In most big city’s you can hop on and off a bus and see all of these places. While riding around you will hear your standard commentary that tells you about whatever your looking at–rarely do you get anything insightful.
If you are planning on going to San Francisco and you want something different, check out Chinatown Alleyway Tours. Its a locally run tour group operated by teens and young adults who live in the Chinatown community. Rather than walking you through the neighborhood to see your standard collection of silk, watches, and handbags–these teens will give you a first hand look at the community itself.
What sets Chinatown Alleyway Tours apart is their passionate tour guides. You won’t just see the neighborhood–you’ll get to experience it. These types of tours remind me of the chef table at a restaurant–you get a first hand look at what really goes on, but more importantly you feel like you are a part of the restaurant staff. After spending a couple hours with one of the Chinatown Alley guides you won’t don’t just learn something different about the neighborhood, you’ll come away thinking you’ve lived there. Mary Ellen Hunt describes it best:
These are not your typical tours, pointing out only the cosmetic highlights of one of San Francisco’s oldest immigrant communities. The guides who lead the tours – usually a few of them at a time – are savvy, lively storytellers and knowledgeable politically, as well as historically. A couple of hours spent with them walking down the byways and alleys will help you get to know a side of the neighborhood behind the touristy side of the largest Chinese community outside of Asia.
You can read more of Mary Ellen Hunt’s article here.