San Francisco is a hilly city and you can find stairs all over the place. But this series of staircases are special. These tiled mosaic stairs in SF are brightening up neighborhoods all over the city. The projects were instigated by neighborhood associations who were motivated to take drab stairs on weedy hillsides and turn them into living works of art.
And they are indeed that. So make a day of it and use our guide to visit four lovely locations for mosaic steps in San Francisco.
16th Street Stairs (AKA the Moraga Street Stairs)
This long, lovely set of mosaic steps were the brainchild of the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association. They partnered with corporate sponsors, SF city beautification programs, labor unions and architects to design and execute these flowing tiled stairs. The tiles have a very organic and oceanic feel as they cascade down the staircase.
Where to find the 16th Street Tiled Steps
They are in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood, which is in the western part of the city near Highway 1 (19th street) and 5 blocks south of Golden Gate Park. The stairs start where 16th St. meets Moraga and they go all the way up to Grandview park.
How to Get to The 16th Street Tiled Steps
All of San Francisco’s mosaic stairs are more quickly reached by car than public transportation, but there are busses that will get you there. By car, there is pretty good street parking along 16th St. and Moraga. By bus/Muni take the Judah line to 16th street.
Hidden Garden Mosaic Stairs in SF
The Hidden Garden steps were also developed as part of the Golden Gate Heights project. The aesthetic of these steps is more leafy, with green and orange tones that seem to mimic the park above.
Where to Find the Hidden Garden Steps
These steps are also in Golden Gate Heights. They run between Kirkham and where 16th St. turns into Lawton.
How to Get to the Hidden Garden Steps
You can do both the 16th St. steps and the Hidden Garden steps in one visit. Park once…do both. The parking is a bit easier near the bottom of the 16th St. steps. To get there on publish transportation, take the Judah Muni line.
As a side note, there is also a nice set of non-mosaic steps on 15th street just north of Hidden Garden. The steps aren’t fancy, but there are nice plantings along it and the views are great from the top.
Lincoln Street Mosaic Stairs
This iconic staircase had seen decades of neglect until the Friends of the Lincoln Park decided to make an art project out of its refurbishment. In 2007 they partnered with the San Francisco Parks Alliance and some pro bono architects to design and execute the mosaics on both the steps and the nearby bench. The lovely beaux arts-inspired orange and green tile design was done by Aileen Barr.
Where to Find the Lincoln Park Stairs
You can find the steps where California St. dead ends at Lincoln Park, one block west of 32nd Ave. The park at the top includes the Lincoln Park golf course and it’s also near the start point for the Lands End trail and the Palace of the Legion of Honor art museum.
How to Get to the Lincoln Park Stairs
There is limited street parking right at the bottom of the stairs and more street parking in the neighborhood further east. By bus, you can take the 38 Geary (getting off at 33rd Ave.) or the 1 California St. bus (getting off at 32nd Ave.)
The Thompkins Street Tiled Steps
The Thompkins stairway and garden were also part of a community effort to transform what had been a garbage covered hillside into a lovely garden. The work began in 2018 and the grand opening occurred in 6/19.
Where to Find the Thompkins Stairway
These stairs are tucked way in a residential neighborhood in Bernal Heights. They run between Nevada and Putnam streets on a segment of Thompkins St. that’s too steep for cars.
How to Get to the Thompkins Stairway
The streets are steep and parking is tight in this neighborhood. Your best bet for parking is on Nevada between Thompkins and Cortland to the north. By bus, take the 8 (getting off at Bayshore/Cortland), or the 23 (getting off at Folsom/Thompkins).
More Instagrammable Spots in San Francisco
San Francisco mosaic steps are very Instagrammable, but they aren’t the only place to snag a cute selfie. Here are a few other spots for selfies and photography in SF:
- This list has 16 great photography spots across SF (along with some suggestions for cool photography galleries).
- Get epic views of the Golden Gate bridge using this guide which features 14 different spots for shooting the bridge.
Plan Your Trip to SF
Save time planning your trip to SF with these insanely useful links:
- Find the best areas to stay in SF.
- Figure out how to get from SFO airport to downtown SF.
- Or, if you are driving, score a deal on a car rental.
- Go beyond the obvious tourist sites by purchasing one of our recommended San Francisco guidebooks. They cover urban hikes, foodie spots, self-guided walking tours and even an urban atlas.
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