San Francisco is known as one of the more walkable cities in the US. Where ever your shoes take you there is bound to be natural beauty in all directions. Having spent a lot of time walking in The City by the Bay over the years, below are ten ideas for taking San Francisco by foot.
Walk the Golden Gate Bridge. Gravitate to where ten million other walkers, runners, tourists and cyclists go every year and head out onto the open International Orange painted bridge. Foggy or sunny, dawn or dusk, the half-plus mile journey one-way will be a bucket list type experience. If you are there on a sunny day, breathtaking San Francisco skyline and bay views await.
Just beyond the Golden Gate, walk Marin Headlands.. I know technically it’s not San Francisco, but the views of the city and beyond make this a journey worth taking up in the hills. Walk from vista point to vista point. On the nearby trail within the headlands, head out onto the open, steep path towards the still active lighthouse, where the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean come together. Wild landscape awaits.
Walk an off-the-beaten path neighborhood. Tourists flock to Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown, but places like Inner Sunset continue to be off the radar for non-locals. While roaming head into places like the 22nd & Irving produce and vegetable market. You’ll get a feel for what real life is like in the city and off the tourist track.
Walk up-and-down the Tiled Steps. Continuing on in the Inner Sunset neighborhood and visit the hidden gem, The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project. Walk up and down the 163-step staircase, where each step is mosaic masterpiece created by locals. Grand View Park sits up-top and views of the Sunset District and straight out to the Pacific are in view as you head down. If you’re a runner it’s a great place to test your endurance, as many people will probably go flying up-and-down the stairs as you’re visiting.
Walk through and around the Ferry Building. Head to the plaza in the back to check out the bay, watch ferries come-and-go and if you like to people watch. Locals use the ferries to get to-and-from work at rush hour times. Inside shop the marketplace. After walking for a while dine at the numerous cafes and restaurants. Recommended stops are Blue Bottle, Pepples Donuts and Far West Fungi. Three days a week your feet can take you through a local farmers market.
Walk up to the top of Telegraph Hill via the Filbert and Greenwich Steps. Checkout the homes, gardens and greenery as you’re moving along. Once up-top head to the top of Coit Tower to get panoramic, 360 degree views of the city. Rest up and hang out on the grass just behind the tower.
Walk/hike the California Coastal Trail.. Looking for a longer, half-day adventure? Start out anywhere along Ocean Beach with the Pacific Ocean in full view. Walk/hike the 8+ mile trails passing by Point Lobos, Baker Beach and countless park benches and vista points. Lots of stairs, landmarks, hidden gems and the Golden Gate Bridge at the end of your journey awaits. Lands End is a recommended spot to relax and soak in all the views.
Walk Lombard Street, don’t drive down the famous curved road. As you’re heading down or climbing up the famous red bricked road, closely check out the colorful Victoria mansions that line the street. Also capture the beautiful flowers all around and the skyline opportunities that await around the middle. As with most things on this list and in travel, you gain a greater appreciation and see a place more in-depth on foot then you could ever do so in the car.
Walk the Hayes Valley neighborhood with a coffee in hand.. Of course I’m going to work coffee into the list. 🙂 Within Hayes Valley, grab a shot of espresso at the outside Blue Bottle Kiosk and/or a pour over at the Ritual Coffee shipping container and walk the boutique style, tree-lined neighborhood streets. You’re bound to get lost in the moment, getting the feeling of being in a completely different town.
Walk into The Buena Vista. After all that walking outside, walk into the home of the original Irish coffee to unwind. Make sure to grab a seat at the bar so you can see the magic happen. Watch the white-coated bartender’s line up glasses on the bar and make what it seems like dozens of Irish coffees at once. There is latte art, and then there is the art of an Irish coffee!
What other places and neighborhoods in San Francisco would you recommend checking out on foot?