San Francisco Urban Walk: Mosaic Stairs to Grandview Park
During this short, 1-mile walk you’ll climb up two mosaic staircases and you’ll be treated with stunning 360-degree views of San Francisco from the top of Grandview Park. This walk is short enough to do after work, and it would make a romantic date for an active couple. With unobstructed ocean views, the top of Grandview Park is a great place to watch the sunset.
San Francisco’s mosaic stairs are tucked away in a residential neighborhood in the Sunset District. If you look down at these stairs they look like a normal staircase- the beauty of the mosaic stairs only reveals itself if you look up the staircase. This walk is one of San Francisco’s hidden gems.
San Francisco’s Mosaic Stairs
San Francisco has over 900 public staircases, but as of January 2023 only 15 of these staircases are mosaic staircases. See this blog post for a list of all the mosaic stairs in San Francisco. And if you want a map of all the staircases in San Francisco, check out the Stairway Project and follow Alexandra Kenin as she maps every staircase in San Francisco.
Best Time to Walk the Mosaic Stairs
These stairs are often crowded on the weekends. If you’re looking for solitude check out these stairs in the middle of the day on a weekday.
The stairs are beautiful in any weather, but if you want to take advantage of the views from Grandview Park try to visit on a clear day, otherwise a blanket of fog will obstruct any views.
Walking Directions for Mosaic Stairs and Grandview Park
Begin your walk at the corner of Kirkham and 16th Avenue. Take a moment to admire the stairs from the bottom of the staircase on Kirkham. Walk up the Hidden Garden steps to Lawton Street.
Hidden Garden Steps
The Hidden Garden steps are on 16th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton Streets. These lovely mosaic steps were created by the same artists who designed the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps. The garden theme is apparent as you climb the 148 stairs. Looking up at the curved staircase from Kirkham Street, the stairs appear much shorter, but the full design slowly reveals itself as you climb the stairs. Walkers are treated to large mosaic garden creatures like lizards, butterflies, and snails, and beautiful flowers like bright orange poppies and purple lilies.
Walking Directions: At the top of the staircase make a right and walk along Lawton Street. As you walk through this quiet neighborhood of pastel-colored single family homes Lawton turns into 16th Avenue. Stay straight until you see the next set of mosaic stairs on your left. Walk up the 16th Avenue tiled steps.
16th Avenue Tiled Steps
Located on Moraga Street between 15th and 16th Avenues, the 16th Avenue stairs were the first mosaic steps in San Francisco. Colette Crutcher and Aileen Barr are the artists behind this beautiful art installations, and their design has graced these stairs since 2005. The hillside next to the stairs is planted with California native plants and a butterfly garden to support the endangered Green Hairstreak butterfly.
The 16th Avenue tiled steps have a sea to stars themed mosaic flowing up the 163-step staircase. Walkers start their journey among glittering tiles of shells, starfish, and swirling schools of fish. As you climb the stairs you move from the sea to the garden and the fish are slowly replaced with flowers and dragonflies before moving into the sky zone with stars and birds. The top of the stairs is my favorite part. The last few sections of stairs are decorated with a mirror mosaic of a giant swirling moon, and the last section of stairs showcases the sun rising in brilliant orange and yellow.
Walking Directions: When you reach the top of the staircase you’ll be on the lower half of 15th Avenue. Make a right onto 15th and take the short cement stairs on your left. At the top of the stairs cross the upper half of 15th Avenue and look to your right for the next staircase. Take the long wooden plank stairs up to the top of Grandview Park.
Grandview Park has one of San Francisco’s best views. The top of the park is a small rock outcropping with Cypress trees and a single bench.
The one-acre peak is one of the best places to watch the sunset in the city. Bring your sweetie for a romantic date, but get there early to try to snag one of the benches along the lower trail for the best view of the sunset.
In addition to the peak, there is a lower trail that circumnavigates the park. If the summit is crowded, you can usually find a spot of solitude on the lower trail.
Walking Directions: Descend the cement staircase on the east side of the park. Take the Moraga stairs all the way down to Funston Avenue. Make a left on Funston and walk for one block before making another left onto Aloha Avenue. Stay straight as Aloha Avenue becomes 15th Avenue. Make a left onto Lawton and take the 15th Avenue steps back down to your starting point on Kirkham.
15th Avenue Steps Park
To call this a park is a bit of a stretch. There’s nowhere to sit as you enjoy the view of the Inner Sunset neighborhood and Golden Gate Park from the top of the stairs, but this staircase is owned by San Francisco Parks and Recreation department so I guess that’s why it is called a park. The 15th Avenue Steps are surrounded on either side by wild patches of berry bushes and native Oak trees. It is a great spot for bird watching. This staircase isn’t decorated with any mosaics, but it is the longest stairway on the walk.
Walking Directions: When you reach the bottom of the staircase you’ll be one block away from the starting point of the walk. Make a left to return back to the base of the Hidden Garden Steps. Or, if you want to explore more of the area you can walk down the hill and make a left onto Irving and walk towards 19th Avenue to explore the shops and restaurants in the Sunset.
Know Before You Go
The stairs are a community-funded art project, please be respectful of their beauty. These stairs are located in a residential area with limited parking. There are no bathrooms or public facilities at the park or anywhere along this walking route.
Parking: If you drive, please be mindful not to block driveways. Better yet, take public transportation. There is a 2-hour parking limit Monday through Friday.
Public Transportation: The N-Judah stops at 16th Avenue and Judah, one block from the start of the walk. MUNI bus 66 stops at 16th and Moraga.
Begin at the corner of Kirkham and 16th Avenue
See route guidance above.
There are no bathrooms or public facilities at the park or anywhere along this walking route. If you drive, please be mindful not to block driveways. Better yet, take public transportation. There is a 2-hour parking limit Monday through Friday.
Like the article?
Don't forget to pin it.Pin It!
Don't forget to share it.