For most visitors to San Francisco, the city by the bay, the usual tour would entail the trolley hop-on-and-off to many of the city's attractions. A couple of leisurely hours spent at the Fisherman's Wharf, browsing around quaint shops on Pier 39, while devouring Dreyer's ice-cream or gigantic strawberry filled freshly-made crepes.
Most may want to rent bicycle to see some of the attractions like the Lombard Street – also known as the crookedest street – the Ghirardeli Square, and some may take a Segway tour to the Golden Gate Park.
But if you are a free-wheeling rebel, Mission District is the place where you should head for.
Interestingly diverse, with residents belonging to every economic and social stratum, this neighbourhood is a rich bohemian cultural laboratory.
Through a provocative artistic movement ongoing since the early 1970s, called the Mission Muralismo, an awareness about injustice and social issues in society are highlighted through street art that embodies a desire for change.
Traces of Mexican mural painting, pop art, cartoon, graffiti etc can be found strewn around the narrow alleys in a refreshing manner.
The easiest way to get there is to take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to the 24th Street Station and strolling up to Dolores Park. -Text by Zofeen T. Ebrahim, photos by Kulsum T. Ebrahim
Balmy Alley, the famous lane where this dynamic art movement began in 1972, through the works of Patricia Rodriquez and Graciela Carillo.
By 1984, their project was taken further by Ray Patlan, who led an initiative that resulted in 25 additional murals in Mission District recording cultural and social developments.
Inspired by Balmy Alley, a group of street artists came together to form the Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP).
Visiting Mission District alleys is like visiting an art gallery.
Art in every nook and corner.
Biking racks -- art and colour at play.
Its artistic community is as vibrant as it is diverse.
The Mission is a cafe society that scoffs at excess, complains about money, drinks the elixir of art and action, and provides its own poetry and mythmaking, Annice Jacoby wrote.
Grab humongous sandwiches from Ike's Place and head to the Dolores Park for a picnic lunch while enjoying some good views.
From urbanites to undocumented day labourers, the Mission District residents range from the 20-somethings, fresh out-of-college students to families who have lived here for generations.
Every few months, the walls get repainted with a new collection of murals, just as a new exhibition is put up at the gallery.
By some rough estimates of the more than 600 colourful murals throughout the city of San Francisco, Mission District holds most of them.
Even the ground you walk on has bits of artistry.