Portsmouth Square
Portsmouth Square
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Duration: < 1 hour
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The area
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Neighbourhood: Chinatown
As the oldest in North America, San Francisco's Chinatown is an exotic experience. A unique neighbourhood decorated with colourful shops, historic streetlights, hanging lanterns, and pagoda roofs awaits behind the stone-carved dragon gates. Feast on dim sum at the tea houses, or meet the locals who gather at historic Portsmouth Square to play chess or practice Tai Chi. Fish markets, produce stands, tourist shops, jewelry stores, fortune tellers, temples and restaurants come together to create a world unto itself in this historic neighbourhood.
How to get there
  • Montgomery St • 9 min walk
  • Montgomery St • 9 min walk
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.0
52 reviews
Excellent
12
Very good
25
Average
10
Poor
3
Terrible
2

StephenCross
Dublin, Ireland18,410 contributions
Oct 2023 • Couples
Portsmouth Square is in front of the Hilton Hotel. It’s a place where many Chinese people, mostly older men, play cards and other games.
Written 8 October 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Waddler
York, UK10,072 contributions
Aug 2023 • Family
We came for the playground, but it was a bit "urban" and in the morning overrun with adults doing exercises so a bit awkward for kids to play.

The square itself isn't particularly attractive, and could do with a clean up. If you want a chinatown playground head to Willie Woos which is clean, modern with good equipment and murals.
Written 6 September 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Thomas V
Oakland, CA16,415 contributions
Jun 2023
It's the heart of Chinatown, at least from a park perspective. Lots of people around on a sunny day, which is to be expected as this is a very densely populated part of town. Good place to sit and rest.
Written 30 June 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TheShis
Tel Aviv, Israel39,605 contributions
Mar 2023 • Couples
This is nothing but a filthy square, filled with garbage all over the place, some local elders playing cards and numerous homeless people.
Written 22 June 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TravelingSoccerLoon
Saint Paul, MN3,188 contributions
Oct 2022
In the heart of Chinatown, public square essentially functioning as a community center with locals playing cards and doing other activities. Definitely a daytime place to visit. One evening, we walked by at night and the area was pretty sketch.
Written 11 May 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sam
Washington DC, DC12,008 contributions
Mar 2023 • Couples
Nice square around Chinatown. There were some locals playing chess. Others just hanging out nearby. Good spot to have a drink or a smoke too
Written 3 April 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Quinten Jiskoot
Amsterdam, The Netherlands530 contributions
Sep 2022
One of the nicest spots in the city to watch people, in my humble opinion. I could sit here for hours.
Written 14 October 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

The_Loup_Garou
Phoenix, AZ1,66,281 contributions
Aug 2019
A Nice Cultural Experience

In August, I did a long stroll though Chinatown, and ended at Portsmouth Square, a square block of concrete and lawn, bounded on the west by Walter U Lum Place (a very small street), on the north by Washington St, on the south by Clay St, and then on the eastern edge of Chinatown, Kearney St, where the Financial District officially begins.

Years ago, I had first visited Portsmouth Square, when we stayed at the Hilton Financial District, which is directly across the street, and is attached to the Square by a pedestrian bridge. The Chinese Cultural Center is in the Hilton, on the bridge level, but I have never encountered it being open. As I did not cross the bridge on this visit, I cannot say if it was, or not.

Portsmouth Square is a gathering place, and for all of the residents near-by, many of whom are of Asian descent. It’s a lovely area to push the babies in strollers, for the older kids to play, and for the adults to play board games on the plentiful tables, and benches.

It was still early in the morning, on a Summer weekday, so the Square was not heavily utilized - yet. I have observed it rather filled on Sundays, so I got to see more, than usual.

Though the traffic on Kearney St is quite heavy, at all times, the raised nature of the Square on its eastern edge, separates the space, from most of the traffic - it seems a world away.

When more active, it is a good place to absorb a bit of Asian culture, and just enjoy this oasis in the city.
Written 28 May 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

mini
Fremont, CA1,79,840 contributions
Jan 2020
I went to Portsmouth Square in Chinatown area of San Francisco.

It is a public gathering ground Locals may be playing mah jong.

There is a playground.

It is also the place where the first public school in California was located.
Written 10 January 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Citallwic
Columbia, SC9,123 contributions
Nov 2019
Yes, you will see some homeless people at Portsmouth Square, and some others that only look like they're homeless. It's a San Francisco thing, not a peculiarly Chinatown thing. In any event, discomfort of this sort is a scant price to pay for visiting this iconic little place in the heart of Chinatown. Most who visit have probably never seen a place quite like this. Historic interest aside, the people watching is endlessly fascinating. I was drawn to the card players, looked on for a good bit, and took some photos. They ignored me because they are used to it.
Written 6 December 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Portsmouth Square (San Francisco) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos) - Tripadvisor

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