Anywhere else in the world, a round up of notable streets might seem a touch ‘meh’. In San Francisco, the streets are famous. Which immediately replaces ‘meh’ with must–see. As soon as you set foot on these stars of the big screen, you feel at home. Not least because they’ve been beamed into your retinas countless times before. Exploring them is as close as you’ll get to stepping inside your favourite movies. Expect winding hairpins, steepness to challenge the fittest of explorers and perhaps even a street party or two…
Googling only gets you so far in a travel sitch. Pop Lombard Street in your browser and you’ll be told it’s the most crooked street in the world. Far from a cause for alarm, it merely means you need to expect to negotiate a number of hairpin turns. Eight bends get visitors whipped up into a frenzy. So much so that millions of them pitch up each year to test their Achilles tendons on this steep San Francisco street. So where has Google failed us? Let us count the ways.
It’s crowded for a start – but here comes the killer blow, it’s not even San Francisco’s crookedest street. For that, head to Potrero Hill and Vermont Street. The bends are best between 20th and 22nd Street. That said, Lombard Street does a nice line in manicured gardens and mansions. Tick it off, by all means, but stunning San Francisco streets are not in short supply…
Orbzii tip: Consider packing your crampons to schlep to the very top of Lombard Street for the views out over the bay. For even better views, nearby Coit Tower delivers a travel essential – panoramic views over sea and city.
Mark this street as a must–do. Whether it’s part of a LA to San Francisco trip itinerary – or a two-week jaunt in the city, do drop by. One of the longest streets in San Francisco, California Street serves as a route into Chinatown, Nob Hill and Laurel Heights. It also ferries you from the Lincoln Park steps on the west coast, right over almost to the ferry terminal on the east coast.
A two-hour walk that showcases all the San Fran classics. Skyscrapers, the historic cable cars, big brand stores and detours to Union Square and Bay Bridge. Head over the bridge and you’ll find yourself in the Bay area. Which, being San Fran’s wine country, is as good a place as any to end a day’s urban exploring.
The clue is very much in the title for this famous street in San Francisco. Market Street is home to some of the city’s finest malls. Shopping isn’t the only order of the day though. Start in the south and you can take a gander at the famous Twin Peaks. Essentially, a couple of grassy hills, but they do give an insight into San Francisco’s look – pre the urban makeover.
Head north – take a trolley ride to save your shoe leather – and you’re looking at a leisurely glide through diverse districts. The contrast between the flashy financial towers and the considerably less well-to-do SoMa and Tenderloin put San Fran in perspective. Like most, this street stretches on and will see you back at that ferry terminal. Ideal for further exploring.
Orbzii Tip: Parts of Tenderloin and SoMa may be down at heel, but you’ll also find some of the best coffee in San Francisco served here. Hop off the trolley if you’re feeling thirsty, the baristas in this neck of the woods take their beans seriously.
Before you hop on that ferry, we’ve got an alternative for you to check out. So far, things have been pretty urban, hilly and very city-themed. If you’re looking to stray from San Fran just a smidge, head north on Jones Street to Fisherman’s Wharf. Here a ferry will whisk you on a 6-mile overwater jaunt to Sausalito. Eyes left for a water-based gawp at the Golden Gate Bridge and, before you know it, you’re not in San Francisco any more.
So what’s it doing here. Well, the boat trip’s a nice change from the cramped cable cars – and – the views back over the city are the star. But once in Sausalito, you’re in bistros, bays and boutique territory. Just the ticket for when city life is starting to look a bit ‘samey’.
If you find yourself back at Fishermans’ Wharf and happen to be at a loose end, we can heartily recommend the Marina District. Fillmore Street, in particular, does a rather nice line in festive vibes. Long hot summers see impromptu block parties popping up. And, if you’re more at home at a well-organised do with entertainment, food and facilities, you’ll do well to pick up a ticket for any number of the festivals you’ll find here.