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The Famous Streets in San Francisco Every Visitor Should See

The Famous Streets in San Francisco Every Visitor Should See

Make your way to these famous streets in San Francisco—we guarantee they’ll leave a lasting impression on you.


5 min read

March 26, 2024

San Francisco is as iconic as it gets. The Golden Gate Bridge is its heart, the Ferry Building is its lungs, and the streets are its veins. You can definitely feel the city’s vibrancy coursing through your body like a powerful electric current when you’re walking here, whether you’re discovering the city’s hidden gems or strolling through the coveted S.F. neighborhoods.

Visitors often rush to the famous landmarks yet often forget that the street they’re walking on is just as iconic. The streets in San Francisco define its character, offer a glimpse of its history, and reveal its true colors. So, forget about road rage and walk over to these famous streets in San Francisco—we guarantee they’ll leave a lasting impression on you.  

The Most Famous Roads In San Francisco

Head to the City by the Bay and do things the right way. Meander along Castro Street in the Castro District and feel the welcoming vibes.

Castro Street

Castro Street, named after California politician José Castro, traverses through the heart of the Castro District—the first openly gay neighborhood in the U.S. This popular street in San Francisco is painted with the colors of the pride flag; you’ll see rainbow banners and flags adorning almost all of the buildings on this street. S.F.’s historic movie palace, the Castro Theatre, is also located here. 

What makes this iconic street in San Francisco so admirable is the Rainbow Honor Walk. The Walk of Fame installation on Castro Street honors notable LGBTQ+ figures who have left a lasting mark on society and made significant contributions in their fields. Josephine Baker, Allen Ginsberg, Freddie Mercury, Frida Kahlo, and Harvey Milk are among the many honorees. Castro Street is undoubtedly one of the most historically significant places in the world where everyone is more than encouraged to be themselves.

Spanning three miles, Market Street leads past many of San Francisco's famed neighborhoods and attractions.

Market Street

This famous road in San Francisco offers a front-row seat to the hustle and bustle of the city: Market Street stretches from the Ferry Building towards the Twin Peaks neighborhood. As a major transit artery, Market Street extends for three miles and is regarded as the lifeblood of S.F. 

Drive along San Francisco’s popular street and you’ll pass by prized neighborhoods such as the Financial District and South of Market (SoMa), one of the best neighborhoods for young professionals in the city. The famous street in San Fran is commonly used to host parades, festivals, and other events since it’s a major thoroughfare.

Walking down San Francisco's most crooked street is a must-have on any California bucket list.

San Francisco's Crookedest Street: Lombard Street

Lombard Street holds the title of San Francisco's most iconic thoroughfare, often referred to as the "Crookedest Street in the World." Stretching from the Presidio all the way to the Embarcadero, it's particularly famous for a steep, one-block section in the Russian Hill neighborhood, characterized by its eight sharp, hairpin turns. This unique design has turned Lombard Street into a must-see for tourists, drawing approximately 2 million visitors each year.

Navigating the serpentine route of Lombard Street offers a glimpse into both historic and affluent areas of the city, adorned with vibrant floral displays. Named by Jasper O’Farrell, a key figure in San Francisco's early development, after a street in Philadelphia, this winding road provides a thrilling challenge for drivers looking to experience its famous zig-zag path firsthand.

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Vermont Street

While Lombard Street often steals the spotlight as San Francisco's most renowned winding road, Vermont Street in the Potrero Hill district presents its own unique twists and turns. Starting near the SoMa area and extending south toward Cesar Chavez Street, Vermont Street boasts seven sharp curves, just one shy of Lombard's eight. However, Vermont sets itself apart with a steeper incline and concrete paving, as opposed to Lombard's red brick.

The ongoing debate over which street is truly the most sinuous has sparked a light-hearted rivalry. Despite Lombard's fame as the crookedest street, various analyses have suggested that Vermont Street may actually surpass it in terms of twistiness. This was supported by members of San Francisco’s Department of Public Works during an appearance on the public TV program "California’s Gold." While Lombard continues to be the more celebrated of the two, Vermont Street claims the title of the steepest street in San Francisco, adding another dimension to the city's rich tapestry of unique urban landscapes.

Stroll along the Embarcadero and admire the magnificence of the San Francisco Bay.

The Embarcadero 

There isn’t a single person in the world who wouldn’t recognize the Embarcadero as one of the most famous streets in San Francisco, California. The Embarcadero is the eastern waterfront and roadway of the Port of San Francisco. Extending from Pier 39 to the Ferry Terminal and beyond, this three-mile-wide boulevard is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is very popular with tourists, thanks to the area’s many hotels. Locals, on the other hand, are mostly seen visiting the farmers markets here on the weekends. Alcatraz Island peeks at you as you drive along the road. 

Looking to get a glimpse into the Summer of Love phenomenon? Head to San Francisco's lively Haight Street for a taste of history.

Haight Street

The grooviest road in the City by the Bay is Haight Street. This famous hippie street in San Francisco is a paradise for the free-spirited bohemians and flower children seeking refuge. It goes without saying that this street was populated by Summer of Love hippies back in the 60s. As the main street of the Haight-Ashbury district, it stretches from Market Street all the way to Golden Gate Park. Due to its elevation, the street is also known as the Upper Haight.

As you stroll down Haight Street, you’ll realize the hippie vibes are still very much alive. Thrift stores, dance clubs, vintage rock posters, and people wearing tie-dye clothing make sure that the swinging 60s tendencies don’t fade away. After all, it’s where the Summer of Love began. 

Famous Streets in Chinatown, San Francisco

It's all about exploration when in San Francisco. Live it up and wander Chinatown's Stockton Street.

Stockton Street

Stockton Street is the most famous street in Chinatown, San Francisco. As the neighborhood’s main shopping and business street, Stockton is where people go to purchase fresh and affordable products such as dried herbs, meat, and live seafood. Every year during the Stockton Street Market (held during normal circumstances), vendors set up outdoor stalls and stands here—the event falls two weeks before the Chinese New Year.

Chinatown’s Stockton Street is regarded as an example of true urbanization and successful preservation of cultural heritage and urban form. Many buildings here are three to four stories high—shops and eateries on the ground floor, while residential apartments are located upstairs.

Marvel at the historical significance of the iconic Dragon Gate welcoming visitors to Chinatown.

Grant Avenue

One of the oldest and most famous streets in Chinatown, San Francisco is Grant Avenue. The iconic Dragon Gate at the entrance to Chinatown is found at the intersection of Grant Avenue and Bush Street. Running in a north-south direction, the street was originally called Dupont Street in honor of a naval admiral from the USS Portsmouth. After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Dupont Street was reconstructed and renamed Grant Avenue after President Ulysses S. Grant. However, the street is written and said in Chinese as “Dupont Gai”—there was once a restaurant on Grant Avenue named “Dupont Thai.”

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