Portsmouth Square
Portsmouth Square
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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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4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles52 reviews
Excellent
12
Very good
25
Average
10
Poor
3
Terrible
2

Waddler
York, UK12,143 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
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.

freewaymaster
Orem, UT221 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2019 • Family
Homeless doing drugs in the restroom. A hundred men stand around smoking. Another 100 gambing. The school children hanging out in front of the elevators. This whole place should be demolished and rebuilt. I think all of san Francisco should be demolished and rebuild actually. Whole place stink of homeless, cigarettes, and sewage.
Written 4 April 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.

permia
Ireland63,588 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2018 • Couples
It's a fine space, with greenery, trees and some appealing historical statuary and plaques.

It was closest to where ships carrying Chinese docked around the mid 1800s. They made their way here and secured lodgings around the square. Thus the beginning of Chinatown in the city.

An impressive sculpture called the Goddess of Democracy holds the flame of freedom aloft. A charming stone art work commemorates the first Californian school that opened in 1848. Robert Louis Stevenson is remembered with a grand sculpture of a sailing ship plus aphorisms from his oeuvre.

In 1846 the US wanted California as a state. In July of that year the American flag was raised by Commander Montgomery from the USS Portsmouth to assert US authority over the territory. Hence the naming of square in honour of this historical event.
Written 7 November 2018
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.

Bigredmachine
Salt Lake City, UT2,247 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2017 • Friends
Portsmouth Square plaza was the center of many events in the early history of San Francisco. For example, the American flag was first raised in here by Commander John B. Montgomery of the U.S.S. Portsmouth in July 9, 1846. The plaza was later named in honor of his ship. Also, the first public school building in California was erected here in 1847 on the southwest corner of plaza. Many religious services and public meetings were also held in this building. Today, Portmouth Square is known as the Heart of Chinatown because Chinatown started along eastern side of the square and now extends around and beyond it.
There is a nice park here with benches, statues, markers, and plaques describing the history of the square.

Written 2 April 2017
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.

GameServer
Tel Aviv, Israel443 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
June 2015 • Couples
Portsmouth Square was the only place where we could rest our feet after walking for hours on Chinatown. The place was buzzing with action, and filled with eldery citizens playing mahjong and cards. This isn't a quiet park where you can close your eyes and day-dream, there is a lot of commotion going on.
Written 18 July 2015
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.

spiewaa
Winfield, IL468 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2015 • Friends
For me - this is the heart of San Francisco Chinatown. It feels like a country within the city. We were here around 6-7 pm in January. The atmosphere in the square was amazing: music playing, people dancing in one part of the square; people playing cards in another part of it. It was the closest to being in China without leaving the US. I truly recommend this to everyone visiting Chinatown.
Written 16 April 2015
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.

StephenCross
Dublin, Ireland30,165 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
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.

Thomas V
Oakland, CA17,051 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
June 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, Israel41,444 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
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.

E.L.E
Brno, Czech Republic18,613 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
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.

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Portsmouth Square - All You MUST Know Before You Go (2024)

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