The Best Mission District Murals in San Francisco
Any visit to the Bay Area should include a trip to see the Best Mission District Murals in San Francisco. Not only is this neighborhood famous for its amazing food, world renowned musicians, and street festivals, but it is the center of some of the most brilliant, colorful, and powerful murals in the world. The Mission District murals in San Francisco portray social injustices, political issues, cultural themes, and are street art at its finest. A lot of the art changes frequently so you can keep going back for more!
The Mission Dolores Basilica was built in the 1770’s as one of the northern California catholic missions established by Mexican colonists. It is San Francisco’s oldest building and the neighborhood surrounding it is home to the vibrant Latin community known as The Mission. Enjoy this DIY Guide to the best Mission District Murals in San Francisco to get a feel for the roots of San Francisco.
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Know before you go
When To Go
I recommend you not stress about the weather here and come whenever you can! It is unpredictable due to the Bay, the hills, and the micro climates. The official warm months are June through October and cold months are December through February. Not to worry, there is plenty to do rain or shine. Just think layers and comfortable shoes! The Mission tends to be more sunny and warm than other parts of the city.
Where To Stay
As a favorite tourist spot for families and conventions, San Francisco has innumerable budget friendly choices. Try a VRBO. I recommend you choose your location based on your transportation preferences. Consider if you are up for a lot of walking on hills? How comfortable are you with navigating a public transportation system? Are you renting a car? Will you be using rideshare services? If you are renting a car, please know that parking can be a bit of a hassle!
Where To Eat
You can’t go wrong here. The Mission is filled with traditional Mexican and Central American food. You can enjoy a sit down meal or grab a taco as you stroll around. Some recs from a trusted local:
West of Pecos
Taqueria El Castillito
La Espiga de Oro
Papolote Mexican Grill
How to Get to The Mission: Take a BART train to the 16th & Mission Street station, or have your ride share drop you off there. You will be on foot for your tour, so if you do drive, remember where you parked the car!
Guided tours of the murals are offered by a lot of great organizations:
A Guide to the Best Mission District Murals in San Francisco
On Mission Street between 17th and 18th Streets you will find Clarion Alley. This is the home of a mural project started in 1992 and continues to involve hundreds of artists who repaint murals regularly.
The Women’s Building
From Mission Street turn onto 18th Street between Valencia and Guerrero Streets to find the famous Women’s Building mural. The building, a community arts and education center for women, was painted by 7 female artists in 1994 and is called MaestraPeace or “Woman teacher of peace.” Look for artist Georgia OKeefe, a pregnant goddess holding up the sun, nobel peace prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, and other famous women poets, musicians, and healers.
Balmy Street Alley
Take Mission Street to 24th Street for a long corridor famous for its murals. Find Balmy Street Alley at the corner of Harrison Street. Balmy Street Alley is the oldest of the mural projects dating from the 1970’s. Businesses began asking local artists to paint the sides of their buildings because the murals became so popular. The Precita Eyes Muralists have been painting and maintaining murals on Balmy Street Alley since the 1970’s and continue to provide arts education dedicated to the cultural heritage of the district.
Lilac Street Alley, Cypress Street Alley, Osage Street Alley, Lucky Street Alley
Continue on the 24th Street corridor for more remarkable murals draping the back alleys of buildings. An organization called MissionArt415 established a safe solution for graffiti artists by providing space and art supplies for muralists to create. These alleys are home to the evolving artist community that San Francisco is famous for.
A fun tip: At 280 Orange Alley, amidst the mural scene of the Mission, is a Peephole Cinema playing silent films 24/7! Find the peephole and check it out. The tiny theater, started in 2013, is the work of animator artist Laurie O’Brian. See if you can find it on Orange Alley between 24th and 26th Streets.
Here is a list of more murals, each with their own history and story, in the mission district:
St. Peter’s Church at Mission Street and Alabama Street.
24th & York Mini Park murals and mosaic snake
House of Brakes murals above the garage at 24th Street and South Van Ness Avenue
Once Upon A Time in the Mission mural at 24th Street and Shotwell Street
The Carnival mural at 24th Street and Folsom Street
Cesar Chavez Elementary School mural at Folsom Street between 23rd and 22nd Streets
Santana mural at 19th Street and Capp Street
La Familia Santana mural at 24th Street BART station
La Llorona Sacred Waters mural on 24th Street and York Street
I was astounded by the artistry and history as I explored The Mission with a focus on the murals. You would be here all day if I shared all the photos I took! Get yourself there on your next visit to SF, bring your camera, grab a taco, and enjoy!