THE MISSION DISTRICT
DIRECTIONS FROM SACRAMENTO
By car: Take Interstate 80 over the San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge. Exit at Cesar Chavez Boulevard. Make a right at Potrero Avenue, left on 24th Street. Find street parking or park at a covered lot at 21st and Bartlett. Cost is $16 for 24 hours.
By mass transit: Take Amtrak from Sacramento to the Emeryville station, bus to the Embarcadero ($27 one-way). Take BART from the Embarcadero to either the 16th or 24th street stations ($1.75 one way).
Balmy Alley (24th Street between Treat Avenue and Harrison Street). (www.balmyalley.com). Murals both personal and political line a blocklong alley bordering a neighborhood and park.
Clarion Alley (halfway between Mission Street and Valencia Street, parallel to 17th Street and Sycamore Street). Not as well known as Balmy Alley, but just as political.
Women's Building (3543 18th St.). (www.womensbuilding.org). The entire facade of the community center building is covered in murals, most notably the Maestra Peace memorial.
Taquerias: La Taqueria (2889 Mission St.). Said to be the most authentic of the scores of taquerias in the district; Pancho Villa Taqueria (3071 16th St.). Crowds out the door at lunchtime. Taqueria Cancun (2288 Mission St.). Close to a BART station, it draws crowds from the financial district and downtown.
Humphry Slocombe (2790 Harrison St.) (www.humphryslocombe.com). Pricy at $3.25 a scoop, but people flock to get the Secret Breakfast flavor bourbon and cornflakes.
Dynamo Donuts (2760 24th St.). (www.dynamodonut.com) Maple bacon and chocolate spice assault the tastebuds.
Panderia La Mexicana (2804 24th St.). Baked breads galore, sweet but not as sugary as doughnuts, and just as satisfying.
Paxton Gate (824 Valencia St.). (www.paxtongate.com) Want a huge stuffed unicorn? Cough up $4,000, pal. A coyote penis bone is only $3.75, though.
The Pirate Store at 826 Valencia (826 Valencia St.) (http://826valencia.org/store). A touch of whimsy for a good cause promoting child literacy and tutoring in the Mission.
Precita Eyes Mural Arts & Visitors Center (2981 24th St.) (www.precitaeyes.org) Seller of arts supplies, patrons for muralists and docents for the "Mission Mural Trail."
Hidden Bookstores (2141 Mission St. second and third floors.) Valhalla, first edition fiction; Bolerium, American Social movements; Libros Latinos; Meyer Boswell, law books.
Dolores Park (18th and Dolores) At 13.7 acres and BART close, you can see a cross-section of the Mission either sunbathing, skateboarding, playing tennis, walking dogs or gathering occasionally in the evening for a movie on a big screen.