10 Iconic San Francisco Sites to Tour on Foot

September 23, 2020

There’s something about the simplicity of walking: it’s free, essentially effortless and good for mental and physical wellbeing. Whether walking without distraction or pairing your stroll with an audiobook, playlist or call to a loved one, there are plenty of iconic areas to explore on foot in San Francisco. 

1. Twin Peaks 

Almost in the center of the city stands a pair of 922-foot-high hills, aptly named Twin Peaks. Drive up and walk around the 64-acre hilltop park or get your exercise in walking up to the top of the hill. Either way, you’re getting beautiful, expansive views of the city.

2. Lands End

Put on your hiking shoes for a walk along the winding Lands End trails at the northwestern corner of San Francisco. Try a walking meditation around the Lands End Labyrinth, a winding path with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco coastline. 

3. Golden Gate Bridge

Walking within view of the bridge or across it are both iconic ways to experience this world-famous landmark. The bridge is 1.7 miles across, so it should take just over an hour to get across and back, depending on how fast you walk. Prefer similar views via a different route? Take a stroll around Fort Point, Baker Beach, or Crissy Field.

4. Lombard Street

While technically not the steepest or most crooked street in the city, Lombard Street is definitely the most iconic. The street boasts a 27 percent grade slope, so your calves will get a nice workout walking up and/or down.

5. Golden Gate Park

With 1,017 acres to explore, a walk at Golden Gate Park could be different every time you visit. Take a short walk to find a place to picnic or set out on a path and keep walking to your heart’s content. 

6. San Francisco Botanical Garden

Within Golden Gate Park, you’ll find a botanical garden filled with nearly 9,000 different types of plants from all around the world. Peruse the plant arbor on weekends and pick up a new plant to bring a little life into your home.

7. Coit Tower

It’ll be more of an urban hike than a casual walk up the Greenwich Steps to Coit Tower. On the way up, you’ll see historic homes, gardens, and art. Once there, it’s worth staying a while to take in the views of the city and bay.

8. The Palace of Fine Arts

Originally constructed in 1915 for the Panama–Pacific International Exposition (an extravagant world fair), The Palace of Fine Arts definitely stands out in a city known for breaking norms. Take a walk along the small lake adjacent to the iconic dome. 

9. Painted Ladies + Haight-Ashbury

The birthplace of 1960s hippie counterculture and the “Summer of Love”, the Haight-Ashbury district is worth a walkthrough, if just to get a feel for its rich and wild history. We recommend stopping to admire the infamous Painted Ladies (AKA “”Postcard Row”) houses at 710–720 Steiner Street from a seat on the lawn at Alamo Square.

10. Chinatown 

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. Within its 24 blocks lies so much culture and history. Take in the unique architecture, and be sure to grab some takeout from Dim Sum Bistro or Sam Wo Restaurant while you’re there.  

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