The Mission is one of San Francisco's most vital neighborhoods. Grand, century-old homes can still be found along the sunny palm tree-lined Dolores, Church, and Guerrero Streets. Smaller Victorian cottages dot the intimate, quiet cross streets and alleys.
The oldest building in San Francisco is here. Founded in 1776, Mission Dolores still stands at 16th Street and Dolores, and is open to visitors as well as those attending its services. Two blocks away, Dolores Park is a favorite neighborhood hangout, and informal home to the San Francisco Mime Troupe. On sunny days the gently sloping greensward is thronged with sizzling sun worshipers. On warm nights the park is just as crowded with hipsters taking in the scene.
Stroll along Valencia Street any evening, and you'll experience an urban planner's dream. Thousands of young residents out for a bite to eat, a standing room only reading at the Make Out Room, tuning up their bikes at The Freewheel, or checking out the latest avant-garde performance at Dance Mission. There are lines out the door at upscale tapas restaurant Andalu, and the homey Breton-style crepe-maker Ti Couz. Dave Egger's 826 Valencia foundation for kids offers writing workshops next to Paxton Gate, a store full of curiosities designed to spark anyone's imagination.
Access to public transportation is plentiful in the Mission. In addition to bus lines there are two BART stations, at 16th and Mission and 24th and Mission.