Urban Staircase Tour, San Francisco

If you’ve seen my Instagram, you’ll see I went on a mega trip by myself (that’s another one off the 101 in 1001 days list!). I had the pleasure of exploring some familiar cities and some new ones with friends and by myself. To say I learned a good bit would be underestimating my experience greatly. I got so much more from it than I imagined.

My first stop was, of course, San Francisco.

San Francisco has always been a deeply personal place for me. It was the backdrop of many films and books that I grew up with, it was the first stop on my first ever American tour, it’s where I lived and worked for three months, it’s where I laughed, cried, grieved, stressed and made many fantastic friends.

I think Herb Caen put it best:

If I do go to heaven, I’m going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to heaven. He looks around and says, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.‘”

–  (USA Today, February 16, 2001)

I’ll be doing a few posts on different parts of not just San Francisco but my full two week trip across the U.S. and Canada. Disclaimer (!!): these posts will be photo heavy but worth it.

SO, let’s get started.

One of the highlights of my trip happened on my first full day in SF.

The ‘Hidden Stairways of SF Urban Hike‘, one of the highest rated Airbnb Experiences (and led by an Irish ex-pat, Greg) was phenomenal. The hike brought us through the quiet, leafy neighbourhoods of Forest Hill and Golden Gate Heights – areas that you probably wouldn’t explore unless you knew about them. What looks like regular suburban neighbourhoods were actually treasure troves of exotic plants, hidden gems and vibrant, colourful characters.  I was in awe of the sights I saw and it was a real comfort to have true Irish hospitality in a gorgeous North Californian setting.

But the best part were the hidden staircases!

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Greg was incredibly informative, no questions we could ask could faze him, and the “hike” was more like having a nice morning stroll with your friends.


The stairways are actually a continuation of avenues that run perpendicular to the Golden Gate Park. So this is (technically) 16th Avenue but better known as the Hidden Garden Steps

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The steps here have names of the residents living nearby who contributed to its creation but you only notice them if you look closely enough.


I loved the whimsical and individualistic gardens that you can really only see in San Francisco.


Not to mention the insane exotic plants that you may only see again on the other side of the border.


What was nicest to see was how welcoming the residents of the areas we walked through were. The woman who owned this house let us take all the photos we liked.


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The houses are so individualistic that you’d be hard pressed to mix up where anyone lived.

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The only downside was that the weather wasn’t too kind so visibility on higher ground was poor (trust me, those photos don’t look half as impressive) but you know what, it didn’t matter. The tour was fantastic anyway.

If you’re in the area and are interested in taking this perfect Sunday (or any day you like, really!) morning hike, just click here. You’re in safe hands.

For more photos of this tour, photos of this tour from other people, or more photos from my trip, check out my Instagram!




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