Lombard Street has achieved both fame and notoriety by being referenced in popular films, and those who decide to hike up or down the street will find it familiar from watching Hitchcock's "Vertigo" - which was the first film to star this singular street - and Clint Eastward's "Magnum Force". The street has also turned up in such pop-culture places as an episode of "The Simpsons" and the video games "Driver: San Francisco" and "San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing".
The area around Lombard Street is called Russian Hill, and anyone taking the time to visit Lombard Street's insane curves should put a few minutes aside to explore the adjacent blocks. Attractions in the area include the Cable Car Museum, the Shakris Fine Art Gallery, which specializes in Oriental art, and the magnificent Grace Cathedral, which bears a striking resemblance to Notre Dame. If they can find the time, visitors can also catch an independent film at the Lumiere Theater.
Art lovers will be interested to know that famous American artist Rowena Meeks Abdy once lived on the exaggerated curves of Lombard Street, and they may even want to make a pilgrimage to her house. Abdy lived on Lombard Street from at least 1926 until her death in 1945, and, today, her works have found homes at such illustrious places as the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.
Lombard Street also has its share of ghostly visitors, and those who'd welcome things that go bump in the night should visit the Montandon House. The mid-60s saw popular socialite Pat Montandon hold a party during which she, and the house, was cursed by an irate fortune teller as she had forgotten to bring him his drink. Ghostly occurrences have happened at the house ever since, and three of Montandon's friends have died there. The pro-paranormal set should therefore find this house a welcome addition to their Lombard Street itinerary.
Aquarium of the Bay
Right on the waterfront beside Fisherman's Wharf, this small aquarium features two huge tanks filled with sea creatures found in the waters of the bay. The fish are colorful. Visitors should have their cameras in hand. Tours take about 30 minutes. A section for touching the marine life is fun for young and old.
This little park on Nob Hill is right off Lombard Street on Leavenworth Street. The park is charmingly landscaped with walkways, roses, and two Victorian-style white gazebos. A nice place for pedestrians to browse or bring a picnic lunch, people often book the park for outdoor weddings.
One of the city's best-loved attractions, Fisherman's Wharf is located at the water's edge on Jefferson Street about 5 blocks up from Lombard Street. Street performers, sea lions to watch and many restaurants and shops are found at this famous place. Although in need of a face-lift, the area is a place to walk, see the sites of interest, and view the Bay.
Fort Mason Center
This former post of the United States Army is now a venue for special events, weekly small theatre performances and other activities related to the arts. The waterfront property and historic campus provides excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge. About 3 or 4 blocks from Lombard Street, currently Fort Mason is connected to the Golden Gate Recreation Area. A wonderful gift shop on the property is the perfect place to get a wide variety of souvenirs of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
On the corner of Gough and Union Streets, this small and attractive historic house is a museum featuring some fascinating Early American documents and artifacts. Friendly volunteers who love the history of America and of this house give guided tours. While donations are welcomed, admission is free.
San Francisco Art Institute
On Chestnut Street and Russian Hill, the San Francisco Art Institutes is only a block from Lombard Street. This small art college is the oldest art institute on the West Coast of the United States. Set in an old Spanish Mission-style house, the school has a gallery with a stunning mural by Diego Rivera. An ever-changing student art gallery is always an interesting place to visit to browse the new artists' works.
Hop on the Powell-Hyde cable car for a ride in the city. You will find yourself at the top of the eight switchback curves you will find on Lombard Street. The cable car will stop briefly to allow passengers to leave the cable car and take pictures of the lovely landscaping you will find in front of all the mansions. If you decide to linger, you can always catch the next car to come along.
The city bus will allow you to reach Lombard Street from the bottom or the top. City buses run on a regular schedule and can be taken to most other popular tourist sites in the city. The street with eight switchback turns does not have room for a bus to travel this one short block.
Riding a bicycle down this steep and crooked street would be a real challenge! You may choose to ride your bike to the top or the bottom and do what many in San Francisco do and walk it!
When driving to Lombard Street, you should remember it is a one-way street going to the East towards the Bay. The speed limit is 5 miles per hour so it will take you a while to get through all the switchback curves. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of the street. The lawns and spaces between the mansions are decked out with flowers and each house is a different color and has its own unique face. There are always cars going down Lombard Street and it is open 24 hours a day. If you are driving, please be considerate to the residents who live on this marvelous street.
Walking Lombard Street
If you want to truly enjoy this unique street, take the steps at the bottom of the street and start climbing up. Take the time to admire the flower gardens, look at the architecture of the beautiful homes, and listen to the sounds of this beautiful area. The steps are steep and even the most experienced, in shape walker may need to pause on the way up to catch their breath. Once you reach the top, take pictures of the beautiful city and Bay. You will have a wonderful view of Coit Tower also. When you have recovered your energy and breath, take the steps down again and enjoy the charm of this lovely street.
If you enjoy unique shopping environments, take a look at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. Located just a few blocks from Lombard Street, the Square is a very popular destination for travelers and locals alike. Ghirardelli Square was originally the location of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory and soon developed into an entire shopping complex with specialty stores and restaurants. If you like chocolate, this is the place for you.
When you want to go shopping in an authentic San Francisco shopping destination, check out Nob Hill. This intimate area of the city includes many specialty shops and quaint cafes that are just a few minutes from Lombard Street. Nob Hill is one of the original neighborhoods of San Francisco and you can find everything from arts and crafts galleries to spice shops, vintage clothing stores and much more for you to explore.
If you want a real San Francisco shopping experience, check out Fisherman's Wharf. Just a few blocks northeast of Lombard Street, Fisherman's Wharf is one of the first shopping areas in town. Local fisherman use to sell their catch right from the wharf to the citizens. Today Fisherman's wharf is filled with a number of markets, shops, cafes and entertainment venues that can provide you with plenty of things to do. You will find many boutiques, antique shops, bookstores, and more on Fisherman's Wharf.
When you want to explore a shopping venue from a different culture, check out the Chinatown district in San Francisco. Just a few blocks south of Lombard Street, Chinatown San Francisco has the largest Chinese population as well as the oldest Chinese district in the United States. The area boasts many unique stores with authentic Chinese merchandise ranging from crafts and artworks to clothing, Chinese foods and more. You will enjoy your day shopping among all the amazing shops and outdoor markets in Chinatown.
When you want to explore a shopping venue with a truly Italian flavor, come visit North Beach in San Francisco. North Beach is the original location for many shops and markets in San Francisco and now features everything from delicatessens and coffee shops to clubs, music stores and of course specialty shops. Whether you are looking for vintage clothing or a special gift item, you will find it here on North Beach. You can also find some genuine Italian pizza when you get hungry.
Bay to Breakers Run
If you enjoy running in marathons, then take a look at the Bay to Breakers Run in San Francisco. The race began in 1912 and has become one of the most popular footraces in the country. It started as a way of helping to lift the spirits of San Francisco citizens after the devastating earthquake in 1906 and has gained more attention with each year.
San Francisco Waterfront Festival
Held on Pier 39 each year, this event is how San Francisco celebrates America's Independence Day. The festival includes live music, great food, crafts, and art exhibits and much more. The event is capped off with a grand fireworks display over the San Francisco Bay that has to be seen to be believed. If you enjoy festivals and meeting fun people, this is the time to explore Pier 39.
Fillmore Street Jazz Festival
When you want to hear real Jazz music, check out the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival. Taking place each summer, the Jazz Festival has included past artists like Billie Holliday, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker. Today the Jazz Festival take place along eight blocks of Fillmore Street with arts and craft displays as well as food vendors that prepare everything from Asian to Cajun foods and more. This one festival you do not want to miss.
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival
Experience the plays of Shakespeare performed in the beautiful Golden Gate Park when you attend the annual San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. The festival is free to attend and has included plays such as "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Henry V" and many more. The festival is supported by donations from the community and provides educational opportunities for kids to learn about the performing arts. The Shakespeare Festival is a definite must for families who want to come out and enjoy a great time in Golden Gate Park while taking part in an exciting festival atmosphere.
Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival
If you love chocolate then the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival is the place for you. This annual event highlights the many forms and styles that chocolate can be created in as well as giving you the opportunity to sample a wide variety of chocolate delicacies. The event is held in Ghirardelli Square and includes demonstrations by chocolate confectioners, an ice cream eating contest, live music and much more. You can also learn how to make some of these exciting chocolate treats.