You've seen its wonky ways in numerous photos and postcards of San Francisco, and there's no doubt the decidedly quirky and picturesque thoroughfare of Lombard Street is a popular destination for visitors. Located in the San Francisco residential neighbourhood of Russian Hill, a meander down this famous street is a must-do experience.
Before the advent of the automobile, it's said that San Francisco's famously crooked Lombard Street was straight up and down. Sharp curves were added to the steep, hilly street to allow cars to switchback along the one-way route and avoid accidents. Lombard Street contains eight hairpin turns between the block from Leavenworth Street at the bottom to Hyde Street at the top to reduce this natural steepness. The paved street itself is stunning to behold lined with stunning Victorian mansions and landscaped flowerbeds which bloom in spring and summer.
A popular memento is to take a shot of Lombard Street winding upwards from Leavenworth Street to give an indication of its crookedness. You can attempt to join the long queue of cars waiting to drive down the hill, or simply wander around and take in the views of North Beach at the base and Coit Tower at the top of Telegraph Hill. You may even spy Telegraph Hill's famed feral parrots fly by the area. While the temptation to skateboard down the hilly incline may be hard to resist, it's not looked on favourably by the street's residents or the local police so stick to driving or walking to see the sights.
Many tours add the crooked street of Lombard Street to their itineraries but if you're keen to go by yourself, and don't want to attempt the drive, the best and most scenic way to get there is by cable car. The Powell-Hyde line from Fisherman's Wharf stops at the top of the crooked section of Lombard Street at Hyde Street.