High-Flying Lion Dancers in SF Chinatown


Here's the routine:

  1. Park in the affordable garage below the public park in Chinatown.
  2. Walk through Chinatown and grab a boba drink from Lady Luck Cafe or a moon cake from Eastern Bakery.
  3. Walk through the North Beach Little Italy area and hike the steep hill to Coit Tower.
  4. Pause to catch our breath and look out over the beautiful city.
  5. Continue down to Pier 39 for clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.
  6. Then trek the mile and a half back to the car, tired but happy. The perfect day in San Francisco.

We've walked this same route a million times when visiting San Francisco, but today was different because we happened to catch these incredible lion dancers practicing for their show.

Keep scrolling to see the brave acrobats in action, jumping from pole to pole 8 feet in the air while carrying each other!


Entrance gate to America's oldest and largest Chinatown.


Boba drinks from Lady Luck Cafe!

I sample the purple taro smoothie or iced drink wherever we travel. Let's be honest, it's like dessert and often contains no tea, compared to many other drinks on the bubble tea shop menu.

It's always fascinating to experience how various shops interpret this classic Taiwanese refreshment; it tastes different every time! Have you ever tried a taro boba drink? It's like a subtle, nutty version of a vanilla milkshake, but purple because it's made with purple taro root, similar to sweet potato.

This particular shop offered to add a layer of real mashed taro, as you can see above the boba. I tried it and didn't love the texture in the drink, but it was fun to try!

What is boba, you ask?

"Boba is made from tapioca starch, also known as cassava starch, which is why it's often also labeled as "tapioca pearls." They're small spheres that are often simmered in a brown sugar syrup to give them a sweet taste and dark black color." - allrecipes.com

Brandon opted for a classic boba latte with espresso and whole milk.


Remember to pick up a souvenir from the many tourist shops.


Mural of everyone's favorite martial artist, Bruce Lee.


Have you ever tried a moon cake? These soft, dense desserts are the size of the palm of your hand and about two inches thick, filled with mouth-watering traditional flavors like lotus, sweet black bean, and mixed nuts with coconut flakes. Some contain salted egg yolks for an extra punch of character.

Photo Credit: Alpha, flickr

Brandon and I bought a full box to share with our friends and family, since many of them had never eaten one before. Of the three flavors, I enjoy the lotus seed paste version the most because of its lightly sweet flavor and smooth texture.

Don't you love the beautiful designs on top?


Eastern Bakery sells our favorite moon cakes year-round, which is unique because the hand-stamped treats are usually reserved for the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration each fall.

The oldest bakery in Chinatown, Eastern Bakery was established in 1924! If you stop by, remember to try a mini custard tart as well.


While in Chinatown, we also picked up a pack of red envelopes to fill with cash and send to our nieces and nephews, teaching them about Lunar New Year.

Envelopes like these are gifted to friends and family, especially children, to symbolize good luck and good wishes. They're given on special occasions like birthdays, weddings, and Lunar New Year, which falls in January or February, depending on the lunar cycle. The color red symbolizes happiness and good luck in Chinese cultures.

Did you notice the pineapple in the corner? Too cute!


Now, back to the lion dancers!


These talented, high-flyer dancers come from LionDanceME, the entertainment company that delights audiences with traditional cultural dances all year long, not just during Chinese New Year.

Click here to see one of their live street performance videos.

You can't see it in the photo above, but those pole platforms get taller and taller on the left side of the stage; some platforms are 8 feet off the ground! Quite the feat for these strong dancers. Plus, in the final show, they're holding the big lion masks while jumping from pole to pole. Amazing skills.


A blue lion, practicing his moves.


Glimpse of San Francisco's famous hills. Trust me, they get way steeper!


Thanks for joining us in our dessert walk through San Francisco's historic Chinatown!

Want to keep the party going? Read the blog posts below about our Little Italy food tour in North Beach, just steps away from Chinatown.

The Best North Beach Food Tour in San Francisco

Secret Tunnels on San Francisco's Barbary Coast