Driving the Crookedest Street in the World

Driving the Crookedest Street in the World

For one block, San Francisco’s Lombard Street is the crookedest street in the world.  You may have seen that one block in photographs, movies, or on television, but the full length of the street is much more than just that one block.

The street runs east and west, and starts at The Presidio, runs through Cow Hollow, Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, and finally ends at The Embarcadero.  For much of that distance, it’s a pleasant, but relatively boring street.  That one crooked block between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets (on Russian Hill), however, is what’s made Lombard Street famous.

Lombard Street in San Francisco

The crooked block is paved in brick, and has eight S-turns, in a switchback design, and was originally designed to ease the natural grade of the street.  Houses and townhouses line both sides of the street, and despite the incredible driving and pedestrian traffic, this is some pretty pricey real estate!

If you’re going to drive the crooked section, it’s one-way heading down the hill, and has a speed limit on only 5 mph.  It may be a touristy thing to do, but driving down the hill through the switchbacks is a heap of fun, and there are always some good photo opportunities.

Driving during the day will give you a beautiful look at the home and flower boxes, filled flowers appropriate for the season.  But it’s a real treat to drive down the street at night — with the lights and wonderful view of San Francisco.  Note of caution:  With less pedestrians on the street at night, it seems that drivers seem to forget the slow speed limit.  A little extra caution is advised.

Once you’ve driven Lombard, I suggest you give it a go on foot.  You can get there via the Powell-Hyde cable car line, and then take the stairs along the street.  If you’re looking for a good workout, a couple trips up and down the 40-grade slope should provide it.  Be sure to bring your camera — you can always say you’re stopping to snap some photos.

Lombard Street is also on most city tours,.  Large buses cannot make it driving down the street, so if you want that experience you’ll need to do it yourself.

NOTE:  This post is sponsored by car rentals, a comparison website that will sleuth out the perfect rental car for you, whether you’re searching by location, features and/or price.  The experience and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Photo credits:  Wikimedia Commons

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

2 Responses to “Driving the Crookedest Street in the World”

  1. March 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    I’ve driven down this street, and half the battle is avoiding the tourists who are stopping & getting out ot take pictures!

    • March 12, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

      It’s crazy, isn’t it?

      Still, no matter how many times I’ve done it, if I’m driving in the city I want to drive down it again.

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