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Lombard Street: The World’s Most Topsy Turvy Street!

Lombard Street: The World’s Most Topsy Turvy Street!

San Francisco is known for its steep hills, earthquakes, and trolleys, among other things. But it’s known for having the world’s most twisty, curvy streets and home to some of the country’s most expensive real estate!

Other famous roads in San Francisco include Market Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, and Van Ness Avenue, located in the Civic Center district.

Lombard Street, however, is a well-known San Francisco attraction. The street is a 1/2 mile-long street that winds through the Russian Hill neighborhood. Lombard Street is known for its many tight turns and curves, earning it the nickname “the world’s most curvy street.”

Want to see what it’s like driving on this historic street? Check out our video below for a first-hand POV perspective of driving Lombard Street.

The History of Lombard Street

Lombard Street is one of the oldest streets in San Francisco. The history of the street dates back to the Gold Rush days of the mid-19th century.

The cury road was built in 1853 and named after Lombard Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It originally served as a connection between the city’s Russian Hill neighborhood and downtown San Francisco. In the early 20th century, Lombard Street began to experience a decline.

The street was damaged in the 1906 earthquake and became increasingly congested as the city’s population grew. At some time, the road was the “most crooked street in America.” Lombard Street was built on a steep hill. This made it difficult for horses and wagons to travel up and down the street.

How Lombard Street Became Crooked

In 1922, the city installed a series of 8 hairpin turns on the curvy road in San Francisco, which reduced the grade of the hill by about 27%. At the time, the street was owned by Carl Henry, who decided to revamp its design.

This change made it easier for vehicles to travel up and down the street and made the street more scenic. Lombard Street is quite long, running from Presidio Boulevard to the Embarcadero, but the famous segment is just a block long, between Broderick Street and Van Ness Avenue. Paved with red bricks, the zig-zag street in San Francisco is about 600 feet long. 

Drivers make their way through the switchbacks that span the 400-foot length of the hill at a speed of just five miles an hour. Lombard Street’s fame has resulted in sky-high real estate prices on this winding section of San Francisco street.

It’s even been home to some famous residents, including Impressionist painter Rowena Meeks Abdy and the cast of MTV’s The Real World San Francisco. The twisty section of this curved street in San Francisco has also been featured in lots of films and video games.

One thing is certain: Lombard Street has become a San Francisco icon and a must-see (or rather, must-drive) destination for fans of the world’s most crooked street!

Lombard Street Today

Today, Lombard Street is a popular tourist destination. Visitors come from all over the world to see the street’s tight turns and to take photos of the stunning views of the city.

San Francisco natives formed a Crooked Street Task Force in 1999 to address the traffic problems from the super windy road. They proposed a tour bus service to drive tourists down San Francisco’s most crooked street, but the idea never caught on.

The Task Force considered closing Lombard Street to cars entirely, but ultimately, this suggestion was shot down. So they implemented more modest restrictions, like a summer parking ban, higher parking fines, and a ban on traffic on major holidays to give Lombard Street’s residents a break from the constant stream of sightseers.

How to get to Lombard Crooked Street

Lombard Street is located in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood. The windy road in San Francisco can be accessed from Presidio Boulevard or the Embarcadero. There are several ways to get to Lombard Street, including by cable car, car, bike, or on foot.

Cable car

Lombard Street Cable Car Ride
image by David Ohmer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you’re looking to experience Lombard Street in all its glory, the best way to do so is by cable car. Cable cars are one of San Francisco’s most iconic attractions, and they offer a unique (and fun!) way to get around the city.

Several cable car lines operate in San Francisco, and the most popular one for tourists is the Powell-Hyde line. This line will take you from Union Square in downtown San Francisco to Lombard Street. The Hyde Street cable car will also drop you off at the top of the curvy part of the street.

By Car

Cars Driving at Lombard Street

The easiest way to get there is to take Highway 101 and the Lombard Street exit. Once on Lombard Street, you’ll need to drive slowly and carefully, as there are many twists and turns. Parking near Lombard Street can be a challenge, as limited street parking is available.

If you can find a spot, it will likely cost you a few dollars an hour. There are also several parking garages in the area, which can be pricey but may be worth it if you’re on foot or by bike.

By Bike

Locked Bicycles in San Francisco

Several bike trails wind through San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood, including the Wiggle, a popular cyclist route. Biking Lombard Street can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a little dangerous. You’ll have to be careful to watch out for cars, and you’ll also have to make sure that your bike slowly and carefully twists and turns.

If you’re looking to bike around Lombard Street, there are a few places to hire a bike. One option is the Bike Hut, located at the beginning of Lombard Street. They have bikes available for rent, including tandems, mountain bikes, and kids’ bikes.

See Related: Northern California vs Southern California

On Foot

Walking at Lombard Street

If you’re visiting San Francisco, chances are you’ll do a lot of walking! The best way to experience Lombard Street is by foot. This way, you can take in the views and soak up the atmosphere of this famous street. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, and take your time walking up and down the street.

Bus

Dark Bus Interior and Golden Gate Bridge

A few different bus routes will take you to Lombard Street. The 30, 39, and 45 buses all stop near Lombard Street, and the Powell-Hyde cable car also stops nearby.

The best option is the #39 bus. The #39 bus operates between Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf, making several stops along Lombard Street.

See Related: Most Beautiful Cities in the World

Lombard Street vs Vermont Street

Lombard Street is a famous street in San Francisco that is known for its many twists and turns. Vermont Street is also a famous street in San Francisco, but it is known for being much straighter than Lombard Street.

If you want to experience the excitement of driving on a curvy road, then Lombard Street is the place for you. If you want to experience the tranquility of driving on a straight road, then Vermont Street is the place for you.

Both streets are worth visiting, but they offer different experiences. If you have the time, we suggest exploring both!

Things to explore along Lombard Streed

Lombard St at Night
Photo: David Yu

There are several things to explore along Lombard Street, including the views of San Francisco Bay, the architecture, and the local businesses.

Buildings you should visit on Lombard Street

Several buildings on Lombard Street are worth visiting, including the following:

  • The Flood Mansion is a historic building that is located on Lombard Street. The mansion was built in 1884 by William A. Flood, and it is currently owned by the Sisters of Mercy. The mansion is open to the public, and visitors can explore the beautiful architecture and gardens.
  • The Octagon House is another historic building that is located on Lombard Street. The house was built in 1853 by Amos D. Lawrence, and it is one of the oldest houses in San Francisco. The house is open to the public, and visitors can explore the beautiful architecture and gardens.
  • The Bay City Building is a historic building that is located on Lombard Street. The building was built in 1907 by Willis Polk, and it is one of the oldest buildings in San Francisco. The building is open to the public, and visitors can explore the beautiful architecture and gardens.
  • The Crocker Mansion is a historic building that is located on Lombard Street. The mansion was built in 1883 by Charles Crocker, and it is currently owned by the Sisters of Mercy. The mansion is open to the public, and visitors can explore the beautiful architecture and gardens.
  • The Russian Hill Library is a San Francisco Public Library branch on Lombard Street. The library offers various services, including free Wi-Fi, computer access, and a community meeting room.
  • The Hyde Street Cable Car Barn is a historic building that was built in 1892. The cable car barn is home to trolley cars that are used on the Powell-Hyde cable car line
  • The San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) is a private, non-profit art school in San Francisco, California. The school was founded in 1871, and it is one of the oldest art schools in the United States. The school has a beautiful campus that overlooks the city, and it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area. 

Other San Francisco attractions nearby

There are several attractions near Lombard Street that are worth exploring. Some of the most popular attractions include the following:

  • The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge connecting San Francisco and Marin County. The bridge was completed in 1937, and it is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States.
  • Alcatraz Island is known as a former prison, but it is now a national park that offers visitors an interesting history and stunning views of San Francisco.
  • The Ferry Building is a historic building that was completed in 1898. The ferry building is now home to a variety of businesses, including restaurants, shops, and offices.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf is a great neighborhood close to Lombard Street

See Related: Best Walking Tours in San Francisco

Best Places to Eat Near Lombard Street

There are many excellent restaurants located on Lombard Street. Some of the most popular restaurants include the following:

  • The Cliff House is a historic restaurant serving San Francisco since 1858. The restaurant offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands.
  • The Fog Harbor Fish House is known for its fresh seafood. Fog Harbor Fish House is a popular restaurant located on Lombard Street. The restaurant offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands.
  • The Codfather: This seafood restaurant is a San Francisco favorite, and for good reason. The Codfather has an extensive menu with something for everyone, from codfish to calamari.
  • Tadich Grill: This historic San Francisco restaurant is known for its fresh seafood and traditional California cuisine. If you’re looking for a delicious seafood dinner, Tadich Grill is the place to go.
  • La Boulange: This French bakery is a must-stop for anyone visiting Lombard Street. The bread and pastries are made fresh daily, and the coffee is excellent.
  • Ristorante Avanti: This Italian restaurant offers a stunning view of Lombard Street from its outdoor patio. The food is delicious, and the service is top-notch.

Best Places to Stay at Lombard Street

If you’re looking for accommodation near Lombard Street, you’ll be spoiled for choice! There are plenty of great hotels and B&Bs in the area, and most are within walking distance of the famous street.

Our Best Pick

Chic Hotel Room

One of the best options is the Argonaut Hotel. This four-star hotel is just a few minutes from Lombard Street and offers beautiful views of the Bay Bridge and Alcatraz Island. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and the staff is friendly and helpful.

Best Budget-Friendly Hotel Near Lombard Street

Empty Hotel Lobby

If you’re on a budget, then the Best Western Hotel is a great option. It’s located just a few blocks from Lombard Street and offers free Wi-Fi and breakfast. The rooms are small but clean and comfortable, and the staff is helpful and welcoming.

Best Luxury Hotel Near Lombard Street

Single Bedroom

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, then the Fairmont San Francisco is a great choice. This five-star hotel is located right on Nob Hill, and it offers stunning views of the city. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, and the staff is attentive and helpful.

Best Romantic Hotel Near Lombard Street

Fairmont San Francisco Building Front  Building Front

If you want to be right in the heart of the action, there are plenty of great hotels on Lombard Street.

The Union Street Inn is a great choice if you’re looking for something romantic and intimate. The Inn is in a beautiful Victorian building, offering stunning city views. The rooms are small but cozy, and the staff is amiable and helpful.

So, there you have it! These are just some great hotels near Lombard Street in San Francisco. Whether you’re looking for something luxurious or budget-friendly, there’s sure to be a suitable hotel.

Tips for Visiting Lombard Street

If you’re looking to visit Lombard Street in San Francisco, California, here are a few tips to make the most of your experience!

  • Park in the neighborhood and walk to the street – This will allow you to see all the beautiful homes and gardens in the area.
  • Go on a weekday morning – the street is much less crowded, and you can enjoy the views without worrying about people pushing past you.
  • Dress warmly – even in the summer, it can be chilly on Lombard Street, thanks to the wind that whips through the canyon.
  • Bring a camera! – This one is pretty obvious, but if you’re looking to get some nice photos, prepare early so you don’t forget your tools.

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