1. Lombard Street 

San Francisco’s hills have presented several fascinating architectural challenges. While the majority of developers chose to build modest roadways, others selected a different path. 

The architect of Lombard Street was faced with the task of designing a route that was not excessively steep for most automobiles. The outcome has earned the moniker of the city’s “most crooked street.” 

Lombard Street is open to vehicular traffic, but only in one direction: downhill. Drivers must be cautious as they navigate the sharp turns. The speed limit is a mere five miles per hour. The street’s design was so successful that it has been copied in several other cities, including St. Louis, Missouri, and Dunedin, New Zealand.

This place has become a renowned tourist destination because of its unique structural response to the challenge of driving downwards.  The eight tight switchbacks that cover one block have been paved with brick to add a touch of luxury. There are several ways to experience this historic place, whether you want to take a drive down Lombard Street or simply take a photograph of it.

2. The Painted Ladies 

The Painted Ladies are a group of six beautifully decorated Victorian-style houses, often considered one of the best examples of painted lady architecture in the United States. These homes, built between 1892 and 1896, are all still standing and have been well-preserved.

Credit: Unsplash

They gained international fame in the late 1960s when they were featured in the opening credits of the American sitcom “Full House.” The Painted Ladies have been featured in several other movies and television shows over the years.

If you’re looking for a unique photo opportunity, make sure to visit Alamo Square Park, which offers a stunning view of the cityscape with the Painted Ladies in the foreground. You can also get a great view of the houses from Twin Peaks.

These historic homes are definitely worth a visit, whether you’re a fan of “Full House” or not.

3. Dolores Park

When the weather is nice and Karl the Fog isn’t there, there’s one gorgeous area where you can be sure people will come to soak in the sun and clear views: Mission Dolores Park

Its beautiful and vast park is further off the main path from the usual tourist traps, making it well worth a visit to get a genuine feel for the city with this well-known community focal point.

Once you enter the park, there’s a huge grassy area with a playground and a basketball court. From here, you can get an incredible view of the entire city. The surrounding Mission District is also full of great food and interesting shops, so be sure to explore before or after your time in the park!

4. Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts is a free museum with a stunning dome and curving columns. It’s located in the Marina District, a vibrant park on San Francisco’s northern outskirts. It’s one of my favorite spots for unwinding, relaxing, and taking in the sights of the city. 

Photo credit: Palace of Fine Arts Official website

It is one of just a few structures from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition that have survived. It is the largest surviving building and attracts hundreds of people every day. It was intended to be demolished after the exhibition because it was created as a temporary building. Visitors and residents alike fell in love with it, so the city of San Francisco chose to maintain it.

A theater is also located within the structure. Throughout the year, they put on a range of programs ranging from drama to comedy. Each Christmas season, you’ll also discover some fantastic entertainment. 

5. San Francisco Botanical Garden 

The San Francisco Botanical Garden is a living museum within Golden Gate Park. It’s one of the most diverse gardens in the world, with over 50,000 different plants. The garden includes a number of specialty gardens, such as the Redwood Grove, which is home to some of the tallest trees on Earth. 

The garden is free to enter, and there are a number of different ways to explore it. You can take a self-guided tour, join a ranger-led program, or simply wander around on your own.

If you’re interested in learning more about the plants in the garden, make sure to visit the library, which has an extensive collection of books and articles on botany. The grounds are extremely well-designed, with enough signage to help you navigate.

6. City Lights Bookstore 

City Lights is a world-famous independent bookstore located in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. The store is best known for its Beat Generation roots and as the publisher of Howl by Allen Ginsberg.

The store was opened in 1953 by Peter D. Martin and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It quickly became a gathering place for beatniks, bohemians, and artists. In the 1960s, it became a center for the counterculture movement.

Today, City Lights is still an important cultural institution in San Francisco. It hosts readings, book signings, and other events. The store also sells a wide range of books on politics, poetry, philosophy, and more.

Featured Image: Photo by Jack Nagz on Unsplash