San Francisco’s Secret Staircases


One of the many things I find captivating about San Francisco are the large, winding, exuberant hills that seem to reach up to the sky, and then fall back down again into the ocean. There are so many wonders to explore within these hills; things not exactly seen if just passing by. I have not even begun to scratch the surface exploring these neighborhoods and winding streets (as let’s be honest: it ain’t easy with a toddler, folks.) One day…one day he will grow a little older, learn patience, and yet will hopefully be as curious as ever. Then we’ll head out and find the concrete slides, hanging swings, small works of art, and little parks hidden within this big city.

My mom, who had never visited the city prior to us living here, reminded me that I should seek out the hidden staircase that she had bookmarked from an article about a year prior. And so my MIL, son, and I did just that while visiting. I even skyped with my Mom while we were there, so she could see the beauty and splendor of these thoughtfully designed stairs. Once we moved to California, my mom had the chance to see in person.

The 16th Avenue Staircase is 163 steps of mosaic tiles, located in the San Francisco Sunset District. A few blocks away, and certainly the lesser known of the two, are the Hidden Garden Steps.



You can visit both websites (listed below) to learn more about the history of each staircase project; however, they are essentially neighborhood collaborations. They provide a colorful, fun way to get from one block to the next. They unite a neighborhood, and also remember individuals and families who have donated each tile. Creating individual tiles to cover an entire staircase is not an easy feat; yet these artists have managed to create beautiful works of art that draw locals and visitors alike. It’s a small piece of heaven within our grand world.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps, Located on Moraga St. between 15th and 16th Ave., San Francisco CA –

Hidden Garden Steps, Located on Kirkham St, entrance on Kirkham and 16th Avenue, San Francisco, CA –

What other secret or off the beaten path gems have you found in the bay area? Please share in the comments! 


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