The Mission is maybe the zaniest, dreamiest neighborhood in the admittedly very zany, dreamy city of San Francisco, and it’s impossible not to fall in love with this neighborhood. The new Secrets of the Mission District Scavenger Hunt provides the perfect opportunity to explore this amazing place.
Part über-hip, part historical, and all beautiful, the Mission makes for a great hunt, whether you’re on a corporate team-building scavenger hunt or joining us for its public-hunt debut on July 11. Here are four of our favorite stops.
1. Arizmendi Panaderia & Pizzeria
This worker-owned cooperative bakery’s popularity has risen like a massive loaf of its own chocolate-cherry sourdough bread. Tackle a Wolverine (a cannonball-like mass of whole wheat sourdough) and you’ll happily discover apricots, cherries, golden raisins, and walnuts within. Corn-cherry scones are also delish. And the daily pizza special… OK, we’ll stop here.
2. The Recreated Hidden Mural of Mission Dolores
Concealed for more than 200 years behind a wooden altar in Mission Dolores, one of the first murals painted in California was fully uncovered in 2000. It gets even better: Local artists painted a re-creation of the mural—the original was painted by members of the Ohlone tribe—on a nondescript wall near Bartlett and 22nd Street.
3. Woodward’s Gardens and the Most Famous Bear in the City
In a far corner of the Mission, there used to stand Woodward’s Gardens. The huge pre-earthquake complex featured an amusement park, a zoo, an aquarium, a museum, and whatever else eccentric owner Robert Woodward wanted. (You’ll find a plaque recalling its crazy splendor on the hunt.) The Gardens’ most famous resident: Monarch, the grizzly bear that would later grace the state flag of California. Incidentally, Monarch, now a piece of taxidermy, is on view at the California Academy of Sciences.
4. Borderlands Books
The spot for all things sci-fi and fantasy, Borderlands Books has toughed it out in the heart of a changing Mission District since 2001. An adjoining café, two hairless cats roaming the stacks, and a fan base that includes the likes of Margaret Atwood make this spot at once quintessentially San Franciscan and totally otherworldly.