The Chinese New Year Parade Route

All the the best viewing spots for 2017!


Where are the best places to watch the SF 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)

I walked the parade route for the 2017 Chinese New Year Parade to see what the best viewing spots would be. Here's what I found:

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, kearny street
Kearny Street

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.

There is a bridge crossing Kearny Street in front of the Hilton just before the judges stands. It looks like a great viewing spot, and it is, but to get up there you have to buy a ticket for the stands that will be set up on the overpass (see below).

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

Seats in the Stands

At several 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 four locations:

  • On Kearny Street, between California and Sacramento.
  • On Sutter street, between Grant and Kearny.
  • On Kearny Street, in front of the Hilton Hotel (near Washington)
  • On the bridge over Kearny Street, in front of the Hilton and near the end of the parade.

Buying Tickets for the Stands

For the tickets for the Sutter Street stands and Kearny stands between California and Sacramento, 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.

Last year (2016), Groupon.com offered a deal on the tickets for the stands in front of the Hilton Hotel on Kearny near Washington. They were $39 for the ones in front of the hotel and $59 for the seats on the bridge in front of the Hilton.

They haven't shown up yet this year on Groupon, but I would keep checking. Otherwise, contact the Hilton Hotel (Financial District one, 415 433-6600) about getting tickets.

san francisco chinese new year parade route 2016, hilton viewing stands area
Hilton Hotel Stands Location

The bridge looks like a great place to watch the parade!

Seats in the Stands

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

Sutter Street Stands, at Grant

Kearny Street Stands

Hilton Hotel Stands

bleacher on bridge over kearny street by hilton hotel
Bleachers on the Bridge by the Hilton


Last, and Probably Least

This suggestion might be a little on the lame side, but if you get there earlyish, it might work out well. At the corner of Kearny and California, there are two buildings that have a series of steps going up to them. Standing on a step could give you a bit better view over the heads of the crowd. Just a thought.

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.

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? Several 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 goes by, and has bleacher seating in front and on the bridge that connects the hotel to the square. The rooms don't face the parade area, but they sell tickets for the seating there. 415 433-6600.

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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