A Look Through San Francisco’s Mission District Alley Murals

Mission Murals
Mission Murals | © Jay Galvin / Flickr
Deanna Morgado

The streets and alleyways running through San Francisco’s Mission District are an outdoor art gallery covered in vibrant murals. In the 1970s, local artists took to the streets, coating walls and fences down with works of art. That tradition of covering the Mission District with murals continues on to this day.

Although San Francisco has over 1,000 murals painted throughout the city, the Mission District boasts the largest concentration and the most varietal murals, ranging from social movement depictions, mosaics, artistic renditions, political statement interpretations, and even through to pieces with 3D elements. Mission District’s murals are a pillar of San Francisco’s art culture and community.

The best place to start navigating through Mission District’s murals is outside Precita Eyes Muralists. Beginning along 24th Street, the thoroughfare makes for an easy stroll past skillfully-painted spots throughout the neighborhood.

Precita Eyes Muralists

Art Gallery, Building, Museum

© Jay Galvin / Flickr

Precita Eyes Muralists is the place to dive into the stories behind Mission District’s murals. The community-run, non-profit works with local artists that wish to showcase their murals and creative contributions to the city’s street art. Precita Eyes Muralists offer guided and self-guided tours that speak on the place murals have in the community and their history. For about four decades, this art center’s commitment to collaborating with the artistic people of the neighborhood grants people of the Mission District exposure to culture, history, and unity.

Carnaval Mural

By following 24th Street, you’ll arrive at South Van Ness Avenue, to a mural that’s enriched the lives of longtime locals for an entire generation. The painting of the Carnaval Mural took place in 1983, in honor of the very first San Francisco Carnaval festival in 1979. After 300 colorfully-dressed drummers and dancers wound their way down Van Ness Avenue—around Precita Park in the Mission District—it became an honored parade and event.

That first Carnaval led to it being one of the biggest and most diverse carnival parades in the country. Muralist Daniel Galvez joined local artists Dan Fontes, Keith Sklar, Jaime Morgan, Eduardo Pineda and Jean Shield in 1983 to recreate the unforgettable energy and capture the diverse spirit of the first event. Referred to as the “Golden Dreams of the Mission,” the 24-foot-high, 75-foot-wide mural is located just above the House of Brakes.

“Carnaval” murals, SF Mission Murals

Balmy Alley

Staying on 24th Street through 25th and between various Treat and Harrison Street locations is Balmy Alley. Painted walls and murals started popping up along Balmy Alley in the mid-80s when civil rights and other political turmoil plagued the streets all over America. This alley’s political art theme carried on through the decades and now, mural themes cover issues like gentrification, human rights, and Hurricane Katrina. Much of Balmy Alley’s art takes on heavy South American and Latino influence and style. New details to original pieces or entirely new murals are constantly added to the Balmy Alley collection.

Balmy Alley mural

Clarion Alley

A few blocks north of Balmy, between Mission and Valencia Street, Clarion Alley marks the next stop on a Mission mural exploration. This art-drenched side-street is the inspired result of Balmy Alley. After paintings and works of social injustices in Balmy were taken notice of by the community, local businesses started asking around for street artists to paint their exterior walls. Many of the murals are the result of the Clarion Alley Mural Project. Established in 1992, The Project is responsible for 150 murals in Clarion Alley. The Project throws an annual Block Party to premiere fresh additions, play live music, and showcase new films. A similar theme of politics and government issues line Clarion Alley, just as it does Balmy, although each one possesses a distinct style of its own. Today the Mission District strives to support and continue to produce engaging and innovative public art in the community.

Clarion Alley, Mission District, San Francisco

The Women’s Building MaestraPeace Mural

Art Gallery, Building, Museum

© solyanka / Flickr

The Women’s Building’s MaestraPeace Mural is recognized around the world. Painted in 1994 on the outside of this women-led arts and education community center, this mural made a statement against gender inequality and social injustice through art expression. The vibrant and bold painting spans two walls of the buildings, created by a collaboration of seven female artists of different ages and backgrounds—Edythe Boone, Miranda Bergman, Yvonne Littleton, Meera Desai, Juana Alicia, Susan Kelk Cervantes, and Irene Perez. The piece, titled “Women’s Wisdom Through Time,” is of women in history that have contributed to human rights in some way or another. It is a piece that’s been honored for nearly 25 years by Mission District natives, San Francisco locals, and international visitors.

Together, the Mission District has around 600 murals in the neighborhood. One of the best ways to see these murals is on foot. Not having to bother with San Francisco traffic means being able to fully appreciate the work. These murals have graced the city streets for years, allowing people to discover all of the social statements and artistic narratives this colorful district has to express.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.