These Russian Hill walking tours will show you some of the most interesting aspects of this delightful neighborhood. Also see the Russian Hill map of best things to do and the Russian Hill neighborhood page for a neighborhood overview.
You can drive this tour if you are in a rush or out of shape; the hills are steep. By the way, parking spots are hard to find on Russian Hill so if you see one grab it.
Russian Hill Walking Tour #1
- Start at the intersection of Union St/Hyde St. Enjoy the neighborhood ambiance. Also enjoy an excellent ice cream cone at Swenson’s Ice Cream on the NW corner.
- Walk north one block to Hyde/Filbert.
- Go east down Filbert St, the “steepest” street, to Leavenworth St. You’ll find it’s easier to walk the steps down than it would have been to walk up :).
- Turn north on Leavenworth St and go one block north to Lombard St. Look west up Lombard St to see SF’s “crookedest” street. This is an excellent vantage spot and you won’t have to wait in a long line to drive down Lombard St from the west like most tourists do. You can sometimes find parking on Leavenworth as well.
- Side trip: Walk part of the way west up Lombard so that you can get your picture taken using the crookedest street as background.
- Side trip: To see more of the area walk a little over half of the way west up Lombard St. Turn north at Montclair Terrace and walk north to the end then down the stairs to Chestnut St. Turn east at Chestnut St and walk east one half block to Leavenworth St where you will be at the next stage of this tour (i.e., see Leavenworth/Chestnut below)
- Continue north on Leavenworth St one block to Leavenworth/Chestnut St.
- Side trip: From Leavenworth/Chestnut take a half block side trip east down Chestnut to the front door of the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St. Go inside to see the Diego Rivera room on the left. Proceed down the hall east until you get to the veranda overlooking North Beach. Enjoy the sights and check out the student cafeteria if it is open.
- Continue north on Leavenworth St. On the west (left) side you will see a small unmarked street climbing up parallel to Leavenworth. Take it. It will turn into Francisco St.
- Walk west one block on Francisco St enjoying this beautiful residential street of larger homes.
- Stop at the corner of Francisco/Hyde to look north down steep Hyde St at the cable cars and SF Bay view. This is good location for taking pictures.
- Side trip: At the N/E corner of Francisco/Hyde is the Norwegian Seaman’s Church. It has great views from the balconies plus a reading room, café, and little shop.
- Side trip: Rather than finish by climbing up Hyde St you may prefer to walk down the hill 3 blocks north to Hyde/Beach. Then you will be at the nice end of Fisherman’s Wharf. On the SW corner of Hyde/Beach at the Buena Vista Cafe is a good place to meet up if someone needs to go after the car.
- Optional starting point: If you are serious hill climbers then start and end this Russian Hill tour at Hyde/Beach. Just head up the hill going south on Hyde 3 blocks to the corner of Francisco/Hyde. Then proceed via the next segment to Union/Hyde.
- Climb south, 5 blocks up Hyde St, to return to the starting part. Stay on the east side of the street and stop to look down Lombard, the crookedest street, as you walk.
- End up where you started at Swenson’s Ice Cream, Union/Hyde.
Russian Hill Walking Tour #2
- Start at Union/Hyde.
- S one block on Hyde past Frascati restaurant to Leavenworth St.
- W one block on Green to the corner of Green/Leavenworth. Mayor Newsom lived here in the Bellaire Tower, 1101 Green St, until he got married. Peer in the front door at the butler then continue on since this building is not too interesting at ground level.
- Continue west on Green one block to Green/Jones.
- Turn south on Jones and go one block to Jones/Vallejo St.
- Turn east on Vallejo and go one block to the nifty little grassy spot at the end of Vallejo. Sit on the banister or grass and enjoy the atmosphere.
- Climb east down the steps to Ina Coolbrith Park at Vallejo and Taylor St. This is a very nice city park. Side trip: See 26 historic buildings built 1853-1941 in the Russian Hill-Vallejo Street Crest Historic District by walking the square bounded by Jones, Vallejo, Taylor, and Broadway. The best part we recommend is the Vallejo St section and its immediate side streets. If you are into history take a longer walk from Vallejo/Taylor south to Taylor/Broadway east to Broadway/Jones, and north back to Jones/Vallejo.
- Retrace your steps back to Union/Hyde the way you came. Wander around a bit as you go.
- Alternative return route: from Vallejo/Taylor go N on Taylor 2 blocks to Union/Taylor and west on Union 3 blocks to the starting point at Union/Hyde. Not too exciting.
- Side trip: Continue walking east down the Vallejo steps to North Beach. A main intersection there, at Vallejo/Columbus Ave is only four blocks away. It will feel like a long climb back up though.
Alternative starting point for Russian Hill walking tour #2:
Start in North Beach at Vallejo/Columbus Ave. Go west up Vallejo 4 blocks to Ina Coolbrith Park at Vallejo/Taylor. You will notice that this is a rather steep climb :). Then take walking tour #2 described above (in reverse order) to Union/Hyde.
These Russian Hill walking tours are a good way to see one of SF’s finest residential neighborhoods. Because of the many steep hills you will get in a lot of exercise too!