Friday, February 28, 2014

Adventuring // 16th Street Stairs & Grand View Park in San Francisco

16th Street Stairs- View From the Top 
^ view from the top of the 16th Street Stairs ^
16th Street Stairs- Looking Down16th Street Stairs- Looking to the Right 
^ if you have vertigo, hang on tight. these stairs be steep. ^
16th Street Stairs- Looking Out at San Francisco
16th Street Stairs- Sidewalk16th Street Stairs- Heart Graffiti 
^ someone left their heart in San Francisco. heh heh. ^
Grand View Park- Monterey Cypress Trees
^ Monterey cypress trees! love these. ^
Grand View Park- Winding Wooden Stairs
^ not for the faint of heart, though it's really not as bad as it looks. ^
Grand View Park- Green Benches
^ this one had to take a break halfway up to "fix her sock." riiight. O.o ^
Grand View Park- View to the LeftGrand View Park- Cathedral
Grand View Park- View of Downtown
Grand View Park- View of Golden Gate BridgeGrand View Park- Close Up of Downtown and Transamerica Building 
^ the Golden Gate Bridge (L) & the Transamerica Building (R) downtown. they aren't next to each other at all, but somehow I lined up those hills perfectly, eh? ^
Grand View Park- Sutro Tower to the Right 
Grand View Park- View of San Francisco Residential
16th Street Stairs- View From the Bottom
^ 16th Street Stairs from the bottom. my fave. ^
16th Street Stairs- Succulents
^ fan of succulents? this is for you. ^
16th Street Stairs- Looking Straight Up16th Street Stairs- Sun and Moon

Exploring hidden gems of San Francisco // short hikes.


Who: Mom & I
Where: 16th Street Stairs & Grand View Park in San Francisco's Inner Sunset District
When: Monday at 2:30 PM

The Place: Hidden amidst the older residential neighborhoods of San Francisco, there lies a stairway to the heavens, from the depths of the ocean straight up into the sky. Wow, that sounds dramatic. But really, the 16th Street Stairs are a thing of beauty, a giant mosaic with hundreds of thousands of tiny multi-colored tiles pieced together to create an awesome work of art.

The view of San Francisco once you reach the top is just as impressive, and if you'd like to see 360-degrees of the city below, you need only walk up a little farther to the aptly-named Grand View Park.

There are two routes up the hill to the lookout; this time around, my mother and I took the winding wooden staircase. For those of you intimidated by the number of stairs, never fear! There are frequent platform landings and a few of them have wooden green benches so weary climbers can rest.

Once you've reached the pinnacle {which makes this sound like a really tall mountainous climb, but it's not. by San Francisco standards, this is just a small hill}, you can see pretty much the entire city, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to your left and the Bay to your right.
The Appeal: These places are worth your time and effort because...

+ Truly excellent views. Rather awe-inspiring and very photogenic. While there weren't any fog or clouds the day we were there, I'd imagine you'd be above them when they blanket the city. Or you could see the fog rolling in from the ocean. That's pretty cool.

+ Exercise! A few times up and down these hills and you're set for the week. (:

+ If you're visiting from out of town and want to see something a little more hush-hush and out-of-the-way {read: less tourist-trappy, more local}, this is one of those places. It's quiet. Like, really quiet. There are benches to just sit and take in the scenery. I'd say we only passed by about twelve to fifteen people the entire time we were there {almost an hour}, so you don't have to worry about screaming kids or people getting in your picture.

Tips: A few things to keep in mind when you visit...

+ There is no designated parking lot for either of these locations {at least that I know of}, but there should be plenty of street parking if you're visiting during the day, since many of the locals are at work. I'm not sure why you'd come here at night; the views would still be great, but you'd be climbing those stairs in the dark-- I didn't see any lampposts. So.

+ I'm one of those strange people who have no qualms about going up long flights of stairs, but when I try to head back down, my knees get all wobbly for fear of missing a step and plummeting to my demise {or just looking silly tripping down stairs, but you know}. If you have the same problem, know that the views from the top are so worth the amount of time it takes to slowly and cautiously pick your way down the hill.

+ If you can, try to come with a native San Franciscan. Because you can see most of the city from Grand View Park, it's fun to have a guide who can point out different landmarks down below and give you little tidbits about the history or some anecdote they have from their time here. Both my parents grew up in San Francisco, so we could have stood here all day, but our previously-scheduled appointment was calling. Next time, next time.

+ The top of Grand View Park isn't paved, so be forewarned that it's rather rocky and uneven up there. Not crazily so, but it's definitely not flat.

+ It wasn't very windy at either of these places when we went. I'm not sure if that just happened to be the weather that day or if it's because we were just on the non-windy side of the hill. Just an observation.

Conclusion: This really is one of my favorite spots in the city. Granted, I haven't done that much exploring around here; as a kid of two San Francisco natives, I tend to only come into the city when visiting relatives at family get-togethers {it's that weird thing where you don't go to touristy places when you've lived there forever}.

But still, it's so awesome to be driving around a completely residential neighborhood {my uncle lives nearby}, turn a corner, and BAM. Gorgeous tiled staircase going straight up a giant hill. It catches you off-guard. "Unexpected" would be my first description of the place. It's a spot that you stumble across while lost and go, "Whoaaa. This. This is just..."

Come visit! And then you can feel all San Francisco-y for knowing about something few others do.


16th Street Stairs 
1700 16th Ave {between Noriega St & Moraga St}
San Francisco, California 94122 

Grand View Park 
Moraga St & 14th Ave
San Francisco, California 94122

{none of these pictures were edited in any way. these places are just that amazing}.

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