We are fortunate to live in a city of beautiful views and beautiful architecture. Take a stroll and soak in the decorative houses, lush city gardens, and spectacular vistas. Here are five walks we recommend for taking in flora, architecture, and fauna.
Take a walk through the streets of Alamo Square Park, a picturesque neighbourhood overlooking downtown San Francisco. Because of its unique Victorian architecture and history, Alamo Square has been featured in several Hollywood productions. San Francisco’s “Painted Ladies,” a row of Victorian-style pastel houses with the modern skyline behind them, is the perfect spot for a photo op or a picnic! You can find the Painted Ladies on Steiner Street between Hayes and Grove, a few blocks south of Geary.
Once you’ve finished taking in the Victorian architecture, explore the many gems hidden in the park grounds. You can lounge under the cypress trees, take the kiddos to the playground, and even enjoy a game of tennis. Also, rumor has it that there is a “shoe garden” somewhere in the park. It’s something quite magical to stumble upon a variety of shoes, tucked in corners and filled with flowers!
The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps was a neighborhood project inspired by the Santa Teresa Steps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It may be easier to walk down steps, but this beautiful mosaic staircase is certainly the exception and we recommend walking up. A swell of colours depicting a gorgeous sun and moon mosaic transforms a casual walk into an artistic experience.
One of the true highlights of this walk are the ocean and Golden Gate Bridge views. If you’re looking for something more grand, head up the hill to the Grand View Park and experience one of the best sunset views in San Francisco. You can start this whole trip at 16th Avenue and Moraga Avenue.
Berkeley Rose Garden
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city! Take a stroll through the Berkeley Rose Garden which features hundreds of well-kept rose bushes, wide stone terraces, benches, and stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. The garden was designed to look like an amphitheater and is a dream for photographers when the roses are in bloom.
After you’ve had a few Instagram moments with your friends or a romantic lunch with a date, you can continue your trip through Rose Walk. A collection of Henry Gutterson English-style cottages accent the path’s curving double stairway, “elephant pink” stucco, and charming flower beds. This is no secret garden – you can find the Berkeley Rose Garden at Euclid Avenue between Bay View Place & Eunice Street.
Japantown Peace Pagoda
Get in touch with your spiritual side and experience the magnificent Japanese architecture that San Francisco has to offer. The Peace Pagoda is a five-tier Buddhist stupa, a monument to unite people and inspire world peace. The Peace Pagoda can be found between Post and Geary Streets at Buchanan in San Francisco’s Japantown. After getting inspired by the Peace Pagoda, treat yourself by visiting the nearby Japan Center Mall. There you can enjoy a unique shopping experience or have fun with Pika-Pika, a Japanese photo sticker booth.
If you’re visiting Japantown between the months of February and May, you’ll also be treated to pink blossoms from the plum and cherry trees. During the fall, you’ll spot Japanese maples with their bright orange and red foliage.
The Ferry Building is a terminal for ferries that travel across the San Francisco Bay, located on the Embarcadero. You can start this walk from Market Street and appreciate why it has left a lasting impression on the San Francisco landscape. The 245-foot tall clock tower can be seen from afar, but it’s a whole different experience up close. The Ferry Building originally opened in 1898 but was renovated and reopened in 2003. This designated San Francisco landmark is inspired by Spanish architecture, specifically the 12th century Giralda Bell Tower.
The ground floor of the Ferry Building boasts an impressive marketplace where you can stay and enjoy some of the best food in San Francisco. Palm trees line the street in front, and there’s also a small park that boasts waterfalls in the spring and summer and a skating rink in the winter months. Or why not start another journey and take a ferry to Marin County!
Indulging in one of these architectural walks will give you a newfound appreciation of why these landmarks have left a lasting impression on the San Francisco landscape. With so many styles and influences, San Francisco architecture continues to reflect its diverse culture.