The Chinese New Year Parade Route

All the the best viewing spots for 2017!


Where are the best places to watch the SF Chinese New Year parade? Inquiring minds want to know, so here they are...

costumed ladies, san francisco chinese new year parade
SF Chinese New Year Parade
(© Kobby_dagan | Dreamstime.com - Chinese New Year Parade Photo)

Last year, I walked the parade route for the Chinese New Year Parade to see what the best viewing spots would be and they are using the same route for 2017. Here's what I found.

Best Places to View the Parade:


Good Spots on the Map (red pins)...

See full screen

Scouting the Parade Route

The parade starts at Second and Market Streets, downtown and works its way past Union Square, ending up in Chinatown at Kearny and Washington.

san francisco chinese new year parade map 2016
2017 Parade Route

As I went along the route, I looked for good places to stand, and also for spots on the second floor or above: basically, any position that would make for better views above the heads of the crowd. Result: slim pickings, but there are some good spots! Here are the highlights.

Traveling the Parade Route

The parade begins at Second and Market.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, market street
Market Street, Between Second and Third

Turns right onto Kearny after one block.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, kearny street
Kearny Street

Short trip down Kearny, then left on Post Street.

Down Post Street to Union Square, past all the fancy stores: Gucci, Cartier, Brooks Brothers, Armani, etc.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, post street
Post Street

Along the north side of Union Square (past Saks).

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, union square
Union Square, From the North Side

Right on Powell, around the corner at Saks Fifth Avenue.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, powell street
Powell Street

Great views from the second and third floor corner windows of Saks, but they close those areas off the day of the parade.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, saks window view
Designer Gowns View Windows... Sorry!

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, saks window view
View From the Fur Department...No Go!

One block down Powell, then right on Sutter Street. The Sir Francis Drake Hotel is on that corner.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, sutter street

Sutter Street

The first real find! The Sutter/Stockton Garage overlooks the parade route and has several open levels above the street (that aren't blocked by those trees).

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, sutter stockton garage
Sutter/Stockton Garage, facing Sutter Street

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, sutter stockton garage
Sutter/Stockton Garage, corner of Sutter and Stockton

Note: the streets on the parade route will of course be blocked off for the parade starting at 5:00 pm, but the garage also has an entrance on Bush Street in back, and Stockton Street on the side. As far as I can tell, this garage doesn't do reserved spaces like some of the others, so it may not be a great place to park, unless you get there really early. Even so, you can still go up there and watch the parade as a pedestrian.

This actually turned out to be a great place to watch from in 2016. Very few people were up there, almost no one until right before the parade started.

View from the Sutter/Stockton Garage, 5th floor.

The parade route continues down Sutter to Kearny, and left on Kearny. All the way down Kearny to Washington Street where the judging stands will be.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, hilton viewing stands area
End of Parade Route, by the Hilton Hotel

The parade judges will be at Kearny and Washington, near the City College campus on the corner.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, judging area
Judging Area

The glass walls of the City College campus offer a view of the end of the parade near the judges stands; I don't know how good of a view it will be, or how crowded, but it's a possibility. The second story is the library; I don't know if it will be open during the parade.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, city college view
View from inside City College near the judging stands.


Seats in the Stands

At various locations on the parade route, viewing stands like bleachers will be set up. You can buy a ticket for a seat in one of the stands.

This year, the stands will be set up at two locations:

  • On Kearny Street, between California and Sacramento.
  • On Sutter Street, between Grant and Kearny.

Buying Tickets for the Stands

To get tickets for the Sutter Street stands and Kearny Street stands, you can purchase them through the official parade site, at chineseparade.com. $30 each plus $8 shipping and handling fee for less than 10 tickets. 10% off for 10 or more tickets. Under 2 yrs free.

You are reserving a seat in the bleacher area, but there are no assigned seats.

Seats in the Stands

Here is what the stands seating actually looked like in 2016:

Sutter Street Stands, at Grant

Kearny Street Stands

Fewer viewing stands in 2017...

The Hilton Hotel on Kearny in past years has had viewing stands set up in front of the hotel, as well as on the bridge that connects them with Portsmouth Square, but for 2017 they won't be doing it.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, kearny bridge, hilton hotel
Bridge Over Kearny, in Front of Hilton

The bridge will be closed to the public during the parade.



Last, and Probably Least

This spot is free, and would give you a place to sit down if you get there early-ish. At the corner of Kearny and California, there are two buildings on the parade route that have a series of steps going up to them.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, califonia street
600 California Street, on Kearny

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, california street
601 California Street, on Kearny

During the 2016 parade, the steps at 600 California were blocked off, but the 601 steps were popular. The top two or three rows should have a great view.

Kearny Street Steps at 601 California

Opinions vary as to whether it's better to watch from a spot towards the beginning of the route (performers have more energy) or towards the end (less crowded); difficult call!


Hotels on the Parade Route

Staying in the city on February 11, 2017? A number of major hotels are right on the parade route. But only some rooms look down on the parade.

Westin Saint Francis

The Westin Saint Francis Hotel on Union Square is on the corner of Post and Powell, where the parade makes a turn. Your room would have to be looking down on that corner (northeast corner of the hotel).

Check out the Saint Francis Hotel on TripAdvisor.com.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, saint francis hotel
Westin Saint Francis Hotel, Powell and Post

Sir Francis Drake

The next hotel on the route is the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake, at 450 Powell Street. It's on the corner of Powell and Sutter, where the parade makes another turn. Rooms facing Powell or Sutter should look down on the route.

Check out the Sir Francis Drake on TripAdvisor.com.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, sir francis drake hotel
Sir Francis Drake, Sutter Street Entrance

The Marriott

The San Francisco Marriott Union Square is at 480 Sutter, right at Powell, just across the street from the Sir Francis Drake. The rooms on Sutter Street look down on the parade route.

marriott hotel, union square, sutter street
Marriott Union Square, Sutter Street Entrance

Check out the Marriott on TripAdvisor.com.

Grand Hyatt

Also, the Grand Hyatt San Francisco, at 345 Stockton Street, faces the parade route on its Sutter Street (north) side.

Check out the Grand Hyatt on TripAdvisor.com.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, grand hyatt hotel
Grand Hyatt, Sutter Street Side

Hilton Hotel, Financial District

The Hilton is near the end of the parade route, right across from Portsmouth Square. The hotel entrance faces Kearny Street where the parade passes, but this year they are not setting up the bleacher seating in front. The rooms don't face the parade area, but you would staying right in the heart of it.

hilton hotel, san francisco financial disctict
Financial District Hilton, Kearny Street

Check out the Hilton Hotel on TripAdvisor.com.


rooster painting
Will 2017 be a lucky year? For more information about the parade, as well as other fun New Year's events in Chinatown, plus Chinese New Year customs and all about the Year of the Rooster, see Chinese New Year Celebrations.
Also see tips on where to park for the parade.

More to explore...


> > Chinese New Year Parade


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