If there’s one thing I’m particularly good at, it’s being a tourist (just ask my wife!). And not just any old tourist either. It’s the big DSLR tourist camera, the rucksack full of snacks for the day, the constant checking of Google Maps and of course creating an itinerary that heads to all of the stereotypical destinations in any given location.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the trend amongst travellers to find the “hidden” side of a city but let’s be honest, the reason places become popular tourist traps is because they tend to be the best places to visit. My view is to get the common “must see” destinations out of the way and then move on to the discovery phase of everything else that a location has to offer.
One of the strangest “destinations” that I’ve been to in recent years has to be the winding road that is Lombard Street in San Francisco.
A weird destination indeed considering it is quite literally a road that is famous for appearing in a few movies over the years. Can you name any? My personal favourite that I grew up with is of course the film, Herbie, which features the car twisting its way down the windy street.
So what is it that makes Lombard Street so special? Well, not a lot in all honesty! It’s a single block that is incredibly steep and features 8 hairpin turns. This gives it, I’m sure to the locals at least, the title of “the crookedest street in the world”, which I’m sure leaves other cities around the world envious of this incredible status!
It is said that 17,000 people per day visit Lombard Street on summer weekends and 2 million per year (it’s Wikipedia, make your own mind up on the stats!) which does make it incredibly popular and busy. If you are heading here by car you can of course drive down the one way street but you’ll need to be mindful of not crushing the hoards of Japanese tourists that stand in the road here.
If you are heading here on foot you can simply walk along the footpath that runs down the side of the street. Just be prepared for the steep descent, a good workout on the calves!
I found my visit to Lombard Street truly fascinating in so much as there are actually people who live on this road. During my visit there were people everywhere, walking up and down the street and a constant stream of cars and bikes looking to drive down it. Living on a road like this must be an absolute nightmare but for those that do live here there must be something keeping them present amongst the tourists. Perhaps they like the attention and views? One thing is for sure however, they are incredibly proud of where they live as everything is maintained impeccably. The flower boxes were blooming, trees and hedges trimmed and not a piece of litter in sight.
If you are heading to San Francisco then I would absolutely recommend going to take a look at Lombard Street. It’s easily accessible, definitely a destination on the city and will, like me, leave you scratching your head that a road could ever become so popular!
Just remember to walk from the top of the hill to the bottom. The hills in San Francisco are brutal in places but this one really takes the biscuit!
Are you heading to San Francisco this year and planning a visit to Lombard Street? Let us know in the comments!