Sprawling across what was originally known as "the Mission lands" belonging to the Mission San Francisco de Asis, Mission is now one of the city’s hippest. Rapid gentrification has transformed it from a working-class district into one filled with boutique clothing stores, eclectic cafes and independent music shops.
Dolores Park lies at the heart of Mission, with fantastic views of the San Francisco Bay and skyline from its grassy lawns. The Mediterranean Revival-style Mission High School lies alongside, as does the historic Mission Dolores. Mission Dolores is not only the district’s namesake but also the oldest surviving mission in California and now a heritage-listed museum detailing the local history, while the early-20th century basilica adjacent is also open to the public and worshippers. It was here that the "Mission Burrito" originated and today dozens of taquerías serve up a locally-inspired Mexican cuisine, together with countless street food vendors and Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Nicaraguan restaurants that give the area a unique flavour. Mission serves as a focal point for Latino artistic, musical and cultural movements, with the Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts founded in the 1970s for this purpose, while the annual Carnaval parade takes place here each May. Murals inspired by the traditional Mexican painting style of Diego Riviera adorn many of the walls and apartment buildings throughout the area, initiated by the influential Chicano Art Mural Movement of the 1970s. Studios, galleries and performances spaces have sprung up within this creative and alternative environment, while independent films are screened at San Francisco’s oldest operating theatre, the Roxie.
The Mission District is well served by the BART rail system, with stations on Mission Street at both 16th and 24th streets. Numerous buses also ply the area, or it’s pleasant enough to explore on foot or by bicycle.
Ohlone Native Americans were living in the area that is now the Mission District when Spanish Missionaries arrived in the late 18th century, with Father Francisco Palóu founding the Mission San Francisco de Asis in 1776. Mission was home to the state’s first professional baseball stadium known as Recreation Grounds, the remains of which can still be seen at Garfield Square.