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Friday, July 31, 2015

Steps of San Francisco

Leaving the Golden Gate area was tough.  
We were excited to see more of San Francisco, but I was just so happy to have my feet in the sand, staring at this iconic bridge in this beautiful bay.  It seems like the kind of place you can visit time and time again and still be stunned by it's beauty.  I hadn't sunk my feet in a (real) sandy beach in far too long, and there is something about the water that is so calming, and makes me so happy. 

Nevertheless, we grabbed the sandy dog and continued our drive through San Francisco - we had some stairs to climb and a city to see.

Leaving the Golden Gate area, we stopped at a stoplight, looked around for half a second and realized we must be in San Fran's Chinatown.  Oh how I wish we had time to stop and peek around.  But like I said, we had stairs to conquer. 

When it comes to the Stairs of San Francisco (yup that is a thing) you have many options.
This post by Sister Betty goes into some detail on the steps on San Fran. 

Basically, you have: 
Greenwich Steps 
Peter Macchiarini Steps 
Filbert Steps 
Calhoun Terrace 
Reno Street 
Green Street Stairs 
Vallejo Street Stairway

Its a little confusing because there are several sets of stairs.  This site does a great job of explaining the steps.  Filbert and Greenwich are the most popular staircases.  

To be honest, I thought I was on Greenwich steps, turns out we were on Filbert! Turns out Greenwich Steps are one block north of Filbert.  We definitely saw both sets but I didn't put two and two together.  This city has more than one set of famous stairs? Damnit San Fran, one upping other cities again. 

Either way, despite what stairs you chose, you get to see Levi's Plaza, wild parrots, gorgeous houses and neighborhoods among the stairs.  
This is really a charming area. 

To find the entrance of the stairways, you need to head to the Levis Plaza area and look for Sansome Street or Battery Street (map at the end of the post).  You want Filbert Street but basically, Filbert Street  gets so steep it turns right into stairs.  Filbert Street is just south of Greenwich Street.  We just parked our car close by and walked. I learned my first San Fran tip that day, apparently parking fees are negotiable.  When I refused to pay the high price to park in one lot and said we were leaving, ten bucks came off the price -  keep that in mind! 

The stairs eventually lead up to Coit's tower after passing some pretty beautiful and iconic points.  You can take a bus, or drive right up to Coit's Tower, but I was more interested in the stairs than the tower.  Its the journey for this site, not the destination.  Plus, we had Olive, so I knew the tower was off limit, but the stairs were fair game.  And the extra workout on vacation never hurts. (Read: more steps to cancel out beer and fried food). 

A lot of the houses are only accessible by these famous steps.  Could you imagine climbing these beautiful steps, passing these luscious gardens to get to your beautiful house every day?  And living among the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill (yep they got their own documentary).  I certainly could. 

I mean, these people even have their own lime plants growing along the stairs!  Margaritas all day every day on Filbert street.   As you make your way up the Filbert Street steps you will reach adorable Napier Lane, a wooden plank sidewalk lined with private dwellings that date from the 1870s and 1880s.

House for sale through Sotheby's?
 Sign me up.
I would love to assign the Filbert Stairs as my address.

The stairs stop at a few cross street and then continue up again.  Make sure you stop and look around.  These little side streets have some gorgeous views, beautiful architecture, and lovely colors.  

I mean, what do I have to do to have one of those decks?  My deck here in Salt Lake City overlooks the deck of an overweight guy who likes to talk on his phone shirtless on his deck.  I would really prefer a view of the Bay Bridge.  Realllly prefer.  

Finally, you will reach Pioneer Park and Coit Memorial Tower. Like I said, you can drive here but if you are able bodies, take the stairs!  "Dedicated in 1933, the 210-foot tower honors Lillie Hitchcock Coit, an eccentric San Francisco philanthropist. Inside you'll see a series of colorful murals painted in 1934 by local artists under the Public Works Art Project".

For an even better view of San Fran, climb the tower to the top, but be warned, this is a large tourist attraction and had about an hour wait to get to the top when we were there.

Map: Telegraph Hill

National Geographic Traveler has a great walking tour guide which details the iconic spots for you.  (I am all about free fun).  Click Here to see all the details for the numbers on the walking tour.  

Leave it to San Francisco to have stairs as a major attraction.  
Stairs!  And they were so deserving of all of the must see lists of San Francisco.  I don't know where else you can find neighborhoods only accessible by beautiful wooden stairs on the steep hills of a city - that lead to panoramic views of the city.

If you find San Francisco on your itinerary, block some time to see the beautiful streets of San Francisco.  And let me know if you hear the famous wild parrots.  

If you have enough time, go check out the mosaic steps of San Francisco.  Well Traveled Wife posted these and they were high on my list of Must Sees, we just ran out of time and I had to be choosy about my stairs.  


  1. Man, I was on half of these steps and didn't even know they were famous! What a cool thing. I also love that your shared the free walking tour, I am all about that free fun.

    If you ever go back to SF and Chinatown, you MUST try Dim Sum there. I had such an awesome experience there. I'm actually writing a post about it coming up. Friday night date night tonight in Philly is dim sum in the hopes that it is half as good!

    1. I have so much regret now. You are telling me I drove through some of the best Dim Sum and didn't have any. This is tragic. I can't wait to read your post on it!

  2. Ugh, you really make me miss California so much. I didn't go to these steps but hey there's always a next time

    x- Naomi in Wonderland

    1. They are so beautiful and offer great views of SF! Also close to Pier 39 and other fun stuff to see :)

  3. I've been to San Francisco Many Time, but never thought to do a stair tour. The gardens near those stairs looks so lush, it really looks amazing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. What is your favorite part about SF! This was my first time. Definitely check out this area next time for sure!

  4. Haha, stair tourism, I didn't know this was a thing! I'd love to go parrot-spotting in SF, I'm bookmarking this for when I make it there! :)

    1. It seems totaly bizarre to put "stairs" on your must see list, but you really should! The views are incredible, and the journey up the stairs through these neighborhoods is so unique ! And Parrot spotting does sound fun :)

  5. The steps of San Francisco are just as beautiful as what's at the top of the steps! San Francisco is a beautiful city, and your photos and experience showcase how lovely it is. I thought your comment about your view from Salt Lake City compared to San Francisco to be very funny!

    1. It is hard to beat the views of San Fran! Such a lovely city I hope I get to visit again soon! Thank you for stopping by!

  6. I am living in San Francisco from last 4 years and it's the most beautiful destination I have ever seen. SF offers many beautiful destinations to it's visitors. Biking on Golden Gate Bridge is my favorite thing to do on weekends.

    1. How lucky you get to live in this beautiful area! I am green with envy. I would love to come back and bike over the bridge. Thanks for sharing!


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