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The Tailor-Made Guide to the Colourful Steps of San Francisco

Updated: Jun 8


**Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Regardless of this, please be advised that all opinions expressed in this blog post are genuine and authentically my own.**

Author: Barry Pickard

San Francisco is known for its vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods, each with its own unique charm and character. One of the city's hidden gems is its tiled and painted steps, which can be found in various locations throughout the city.


These steps, which are essential for accessing the steep inclines of the city, have been transformed into stunning works of art by the community. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most beautiful and iconic tiled and painted steps in San Francisco and learn about the history and significance behind these hidden treasures.



Don’t forget that Tailor-Made Itineraries delights in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these colourful steps appeals to you, reach out to me by email. I would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the colourful steps of San Francisco, or indeed, a general tour of this amazing city.



16 Avenue Tiled Steps


The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps project has been a neighbourhood collaboration to create a sea to stars themed mosaic flowing up a 163-step stairway located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Heights Neighbourhood. The neighbours chose artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher to collaborate in the creation of the design and then sponsored the handmade named tiles which were in the shapes of animals, fish, and shells.


Tailor-Made Top Tip: When you get to the top of the stairs, carry on up to the top of Grandview Park for a spectacular view of the city.


16 Avenue Tiled Steps, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
16 Avenue Tiled Steps
16 Avenue Tiled Steps, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
16 Avenue Tiled Steps




16 Avenue Tiled Steps, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
16 Avenue Tiled Steps


Hidden Garden Steps


A visit to San Francisco's Hidden Garden Steps is a must for any visitor to the city. Located in the Inner Sunset neighbourhood, the steps are a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of art, nature, and community spirit. The steps have been transformed into a stunning mosaic of tiles and murals by members of the community. The result is a colourful and whimsical oasis that offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.




Tailor-Made Top Tip: The Hidden Garden Steps are only a five-minute walk from the 16 Avenue Tiled Steps, so it is a good idea to combine a trip to them both.


Hidden Garden Steps, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
Hidden Garden Steps


Hidden Garden Steps, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
Hidden Garden Steps


Hidden Garden Steps, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
Hidden Garden Steps

Miraloma Steps - Dragon Tale Staircase


The Miraloma Steps originate from the minds of mosaic artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher, famed for the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, the once dilapidated stairs are now a public art piece meant to educate and intrigue. The Dragon’s Tale begins at the tip of the dragon’s tail and moves up into claws and body, circling to the mouth, breathing out fire and smoke, and then reaching all the way up to the stars and planets.


Tailor-Made Top Tip: The steps are at the eastern slope of Mount Davidson, which makes a trip to San Francisco’s highest peak and the steps an ideal combination to make.


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Miraloma Steps - Dragon Tale Staircase, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
Miraloma Steps - Dragon Tale Staircase


Miraloma Steps - Dragon Tale Staircase, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
Miraloma Steps - Dragon Tale Staircase


Lincoln Park Steps


The Lincoln Park Steps sit at the edge of Lincoln Park on the Western end of California Street and date back to the early 1900’s. In 2007, Friends of Lincoln Park founders, Anna Yatroussis and Meg Autry, had the vision for a complete design and structural renovation of the Lincoln Park steps, an iconic staircase that had seen decades of neglect and decay. Their efforts are truly remarkable and uplifting


Tailor-Made Top Tip: Just around the corner from the steps is The Art Bistro, which make the best filled croissants in the city. Grab some and have a picnic at the top of the steps.


Lincoln Park Steps, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
Lincoln Park Steps


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts


Visitors to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts are drawn to this gallery for its interesting and attention-grabbing exhibitions, but make sure to spot the colourful steps in the main entrance hall. The steps make a great addition to the center, which takes pride in fostering the city’s vibrant arts scene.




Tailor-Made Top Tip: The Center is ideally located for visits to SFMoMA, the Museum of the African Diaspora, The Contemporary Jewish Museum and the California Historical Society.


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts


Grace Cathedral


A relatively new addition to the city’s colourful steps, those in front of Grace Cathedral give this beautiful edifice a fresh, contemporary look. Combined with the cathedral’s stunning and intricate Ghiberti Doors, also called the "Gates of Paradise," and its eye-catching stained glass and indoor labyrinth, the steps are just one more reason to visit Grace Cathedral.


Grace Cathedral, the Colourful Steps of San Francisco
Grace Cathedral


Where to Stay in San Francisco


As befits a world-famous destination, San Francisco has a wide range of hotels to cater for all tastes and needs. Travellers should note, however, that hotels here tend to be more expensive than other US cities. There are some budget hotels in the Tenderloin area, but I would advise against staying there.


Luxury Icons: For travellers seeking opulence, there are plenty of grand establishments that blend historic charm with modern amenities. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to stay the night, I enjoyed a lovely lunch Fairmont San Francisco and a drink in their iconic Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar.



Other excellent hotel options would be Hotel Adagio, Autograph Collection and the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown SOMA.


Boutique Gems: San Francisco boasts a variety of boutique hotels, such as the historic Victorian charm of Queen Anne, or the modern quirkiness of the Staypineapple.


Family Fun: As for families, they are also well catered for, especially around Fisherman’s Wharf, with the likes of the Hotel Zephyr and the Argonaut.



Conclusion


San Francisco's tiled and painted steps are a hidden gem that offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors to the city. And there are other tiled steps throughout the city (on the bucket list for our next trip to San Francisco!), such as the Tomkins Stairs, Athens-Avalon Greenspace Steps, Kenny Alley Steps, Unity Plaza and Quesada Gardens Tiled Steps. These stunning works of art are a must for anyone looking to discover the city's hidden treasures and learn more about its rich history and vibrant culture.


Related Blog Posts

If you are interested in finding out more about San Francisco, please view the Tailor-Made Itineraries posts below:


Comment below and let us know what your favourite San Francisco steps were.



Don’t forget that Tailor-Made Itineraries delights in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these colourful steps appeals to you, reach out to me by email. I would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the colourful steps of San Francisco, or indeed, a general tour of this amazing city.


Join me next time when I discover the delights of Sweden's capital, Stockholm. Tailor-Made Itineraries posts every two weeks, and you can subscribe to the latest blog and newsletter here. Until then, happy reading and safe travels.

Barry

Tailor-Made Itineraries creates one-of-a-kind bespoke self-guided travel itineraries for adventurous and curious travellers.

These self-guided tours deliver a personalised and exciting holiday experience that takes the effort out of trip planning.





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