Posted by: charityliz | November 11, 2011

Urban Adventure #2: Telegraph Hill


What San Francisco landmark sits upon Telegraph Hill?

A. Grace Cathedral

B. Starlight Lounge

C. Mission Dolores

D. Coit Tower

I  knew I needed to continue my Urban Adventure series (i.e. monthly intentional experiential education in San Francisco) when I realized that I had no idea that Coit Tower sits on Telegraph Hill, until I was literally starting to walk up Telegraph Hill and found myself starring straight up at Coit Tower, wondering, huh? Why the heck does Coit Tower seem so close? Is there another big hill around here?

Luckily I was joined by my friend, Jessica—also a recent transplant to SF—who wasn’t aware of the Coit Tower/Telegraph Hill relationship either.  So that made me feel a little better.

Beyond that, this Telegraph Hill Urban Adventure unveiled some other, perhaps less known details of the city.  This particular path is made mostly of wooden steps, lined with beautiful gardens, quiet homes and peak-a-boo views of the city. It was truly beautiful, and while the views consistently reminded me that we were surrounded by urban city, our immediate surroundings felt more like a quaint little mountain community in Oregon.  Even the sounds of the city seemed to be silenced on this hill; it’s truly a natural refuge buried in the middle of the city.

At the summit, we enjoyed some grand views of the city skyline during a spectacular sunset.  It was cool to see Coit Tower from the outside, but to be honest, we had no desire to go inside and pay for a view from the top of the tower.

The only downside of this whole adventure was that we didn’t see the infamous Parrots of Telegraph Hill, which we had read about in advance.

We grabbed dinner after our “hike”, and decided upon mainstay for locals and tourists, Fog City Diner.  This is definitely not your everyday diner experience… other than sitting in a booth, the atmosphere seemed more like a “nice restaurant” and the menu was definitely more schwanky than your average all-american diner.  It was delicious!  The most memorable and surprisingly tasty dish was crispy curried cauliflower, with spicy thai basil aioli.  Yum!

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DIY tips:

* Allow for about 1.5 hours to climb the hill, take in the views, and descend.

* Park anywhere by Levi Plaza; good amount of metered parking was available after work.

* There are two sets of steps.  I recommend taking the Filbert Steps up (starting at Filbert St. & Sansome St.) And the Greenwich Steps down.  See map below

* It’s a cool day, grab a hot drink (i.e. hand warmer) at Starbucks at the base of the hill, on the outer parameter of Levi’s Plaza on the corner of Greenwich and Sansome.

* Fog City Diner is within walking distance at 1300 Battery St.

* This adventure would be great with friends or anyone who enjoys the outdoors and/or cities. I think it would also be a fun activity for a date, as long as you can climb stairs for awhile without becoming completely exhausted. 🙂




  1. I feel like I have my own personal SF tourguide! The photos were great! And, I hope that will be one of our stops next time I trek up to the Bay (of course, that’s after I get to see my longed-for Charlie Brown museum!)

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