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Visiting Mission Dolores, San Francisco’s Oldest Attraction

Located in the storied San Francisco neighborhood of Mission District, Mission Dolores is the oldest surviving mission and the oldest building in San Francisco. Officially known as Mission San Francisco de Asis, it was founded in June, 1776 by the sainted Friar Junipero Serra y Ferrer, and continues to serve local parishioners to this day.

Mission Dolores is a top attraction in San Francisco that’s loved by both tourists and locals. Whether you’re a resident or a guest, make sure to include a visit to this historic site on your must-do list.

Here are some of the things to see and do at the mission.

  1. Visit the Old Mission and adjacent Basilica

    The Old Mission refers to the original structure built by the Franciscan order in 1776, while the Basilica was completed in 1918. The mission building has survived the many disasters and major historic events that happened in the city throughout history, including the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the Mexican War of Independence, and the California Gold Rush.

    Adjacent to the Old Mission is the Cemetery and Gardens of Mission Dolores. The Mission Cemetery is the only remaining cemetery in San Francisco, and is the burial grounds of many Ohlone and Miwok Native Americans, as well as the first European settlers in the city. The gardens have been restored by replanting the same native plants and trees that were first grown here in the late 1700s. They now include a rose garden that was donated to the mission by the Golden Gate Rose Society.

  2. Listen to the Basilica Choir

    The Basilica Choir is a group of volunteers that sing at the church’s 10 a.m. mass, as well as on feast days and holidays. They also stage annual concerts at the basilica, including their Christmas and Spring Concerts. The group has also performed internationally to wide acclaim and has released several CD recordings.

  3. View the Mission Dolores Mural

    One of the mission’s most popular attractions, the Mission Dolores Mural is also known as the “secret” mural because it was hidden from view for 200 years by a “reredos” or ornamental screen – a baroque-style relief sculpture from Mexico. Covering the entire wall behind the wooden altar of the Old Mission, the mural was created by Native Americans in the 1700s, and combines elements from Catholic beliefs and Native American culture. It is said to be the first of its kind in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  4. Visit nearby attractions

    After visiting the mission, you can go see some of the other attractions in the area, including:

    • Mission Dolores Park – Just a short walk from Mission Dolores, this park is one of the most popular in the city, featuring nearly 16 acres of green lawns, sports courts and fields, a playground, and more.
    • The Castro Theater – First opened in 1922, The Castro Theater is an iconic San Francisco landmark and one of the few picture palaces in the country that still operates to this day.
    • Mission District murals – A 10-minute walk from Mission Dolores is Clarion Alley, where you’ll find around 700 colorful and meaningful murals adorning walls, gates, and buildings.

Mission District is a vibrant community and one of the top choices for rental properties in San Francisco. If you want to learn more about starting or running a rental business here, Ray Amouzandeh will be happy to help. Call him at 415.494.7009 or email SFHomez(at)gmail(dotted)com.