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San Francisco Carnaval: Memorial Day Weekend

As a San Francisco resident for over 10 years, I’ve learned that holiday weekends in the city are a real treat. Locals flee town for the mountains, national parks, and points south, leaving the restaurants and parking spaces to the rest of us. If you’re coming to the city as a tourist for Memorial Day weekend, I highly recommend you get out to some of the more residential neighborhoods, like the Mission District, to see and experience some of the best culture, nightlife, and food the city has to offer.

The Mission District is a neighborhood of vibrant murals and cutting-edge restaurants, where Spanish and English are spoken side by side. During the Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, each year a Carnaval festival takes place showcasing the cultures of Central and South America along with Africa and the Caribbean, and complete with a massive parade and dancing in the streets.

For two days you can shimmy to the sounds of salsa and samba, mambo and cha cha cha along Harrison Street between 23rd Street and 16th Street. Food vendors hawking fresh fish tacos, burritos bigger than your head, and sugary churros will be on hand, along with stages for live entertainment, a special kids area with face painting and games, and even a soccer pavilion. Whether you want to join the drum circle or be there on Sunday morning when the parade kicks off at 9:30am, this promises to be a colorful and lively event that really speaks to San Francisco’s melting pot nature.

Mission mural photo courtesy of IgoUgo member airynfaerie.

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My name: Rachel Berg.

Favorite way to get around: By Venetian gondola during starlit high tide, gliding past decaying and slightly spooky palaces, with perhaps a bottle of prosecco placed between the gondola seat cushions.

View that took my breath away: Unable to sleep in the mystical city of Sfat in Israel, I wandered outdoors predawn and was treated to a purple-on-purple sunrise below the mountaintop that seemed to emerge feet-first through ground-level clouds.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Sunny weather isn't everything. Some of my best travel memories involve go-karting through a deluge turned mud-fest in Mexico, drinking tea in the cold Denali tundra, and watching electric thunderstorms roll through national parks out West.

Most challenging travel moment: Getting leveled by altitude sickness in Cuzco and realizing that my body was forcing me to slow down and rest despite the fact that there was so much to do and see.

Travel ambition: To see the northern lights.


Truck Games

Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.
Truck Games

Eric Graham

Hey Rachel,

Great review on San Francisco Carnaval Festival. I would love to get into such a great occasion while enjoy the great tasting fish tacos and burritos.


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