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The famous ZIG ZAG ROAD in SAN FRANCISCO – 8 ways to experience Lombard Street

The famous ZIG ZAG ROAD in SAN FRANCISCO – 8 ways to experience Lombard Street

Zig Zag Road in San Francisco is a must-see for visitors, which is why we share this guide to visiting Lombard Street in San Francisco.

When we headed to San Francisco, a top place on our list of San Francisco attractions, had to be Lombard Street – also known as the famous Zig Zag Road in San Francisco. Starting at Hyde Street, this zig zag road can be driven and walked down.

Now that we live in the US, we love exploring the cities and San Francisco was top of our list to return to. It is a vibrant, diverse city and the famous zigzag street is a must for first-time visitors!

Driving down the Zig Zag road in San Francisco

Planning a trip to San Francisco

We hopped on a sightseeing bus at Union Square and took the bus route to Larkin Street. From here, we walked up the steep street to the top of Lombard Street; Zig Zag Road in San Francisco.

Many photographs later, we found ourselves in a cute cafe a few blocks from the bottom of the famous Zig Zag Road in San Francisco.

Caffe Sapore offers fresh bakery items and very tasty bagels! This was a cafe for locals but everyone was very welcoming even if we did stick out as tourists!

How did Lombard Street become the famous Zig Zag Road in San Francisco?

City planners and San Francisco residents struggled with the steep hills of the city. Lombard Street was one of the many hills that horse-drawn wagons struggled with.

So, in 1922, the homeowners on the street decided that their road was too steep and created a plan to include a series of sharp turns to make the road more manageable. 

Because of this decision, the road now sees around one million cars driving down it each year, and become the famous Zig Zag Road in San Francisco.

San Francisco Cable Cars traveling to Lombard Street

How to visit the Zig Zag Road in San Francisco?

There are a few ways you can get to this famous road in San Francisco, located between Leavenworth and hyde Street.

  • Sightseeing bus– As we mentioned above, we had a sightseeing pass for the few days we were in the city. We found this was the most convenient way for us to explore the city whilst we were short on time. To get to Zig Zag Lombard Street, take the red route which will take you to the street – it will be the stop after Marina/Cow Hollow. If you only have a weekend in San Francisco, the sightseeing bus is perfect; you can see all the sights and attractions in a short space of time whilst saving money on transport.
  • The cable car – The Powell-Mason cable car route will take you to the top of Lombard Street, ready for you to take a descent down the famous crooked street. The Hyde Street cable car will drop you off at the top of this famous road in San Francisco.
  • Drive it – Many people choose to drive down Zig Zag Road in San Francisco – it can see up to 350 cars an hour during the summer months! If you want to join that statistic, set your Sat Nav to 1099 Lombard Street – the top of this one-way street. Just keep an eye out for tourists – they will be in your way as you reach the bottom! It is also worth noting, that you can only drive east, down the curvy road, so you will want to come to this street from Van Ness Ave.
  • Bus – The city bus 19 runs from Beach Street near Fisherman’s Wharf to Lombard Street. You can use 511 SF Bay to find bus routes and schedules. There are also bus routes like bus line 30, which runs from Union Square. Jump off at Columbus Av. near Lombard St and then walk uphill west to get to Jones. St, the bottom of the famous windy road in San Francisco.
  • Walking – if you don’t mind walking, the Zig Zag road is 5 blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf, taking around 20 – 25 minutes to walk. Take Leavenworth Street to avoid the very steep hills, which will take you to the bottom of the curvy area of Lombard Street. 
driving down Zig Zag road in San Francisco

How to drive down the Zig Zag Road in San Francisco?

We enjoyed a leisurely walk down the Zig Zag Lombard Street but we did notice a few fun alternatives that we will have to try when we are next in San Francisco!

  • Segway – YES! You can get a segway down the Zig Zag road in San Francisco and it looked like great fun; just make sure you take it slow! This is also a very fun way to get around San Francisco too!
  • GoCar – Rent a GoCar to tour San Francisco in style… well, kinda. We saw a few of these cars zipping around the curved Lombard Street and you can rent one for the whole day; make sure you drive across Golden Gate Bridge too!
walking down the Zig Zag road in San Francisco

How to walk down San Francisco’s curvy road?

There are stairs down both sides of Lombard Street so the walk is easy. It is roughly a block down so we recommend starting at the top. 

Before walking down, appreciate the view from the top, it is a great place to take some photographs. 

Do not worry, the stairs down are straight, and you do not zig-zag with the road. 

Tip: Where comfortable shoes and avoid the weekend if you want a quieter experience heading down the street.

Is it better to walk or drive down Lombard Street?

If you are short on time in San Francisco, walking down the street is the easiest option. You can take in the picturesque road before moving on to your next attraction. 

However, driving down is a cool experience and an unusual thing to do in San Francisco. It is a slow drive – around 5 miles an hour, mainly due to traffic. The turns are tight and the drive is a unique experience. If you aren’t renting a car in San Francisco, there are many daily tours in go-karts, which include a drive down Zig Zag Street in San Francisco. 

Driving tip: If you are looking to drive down the crooked street in San Francisco, you will need to approach the road from Lombard. You can not join and queue from Hyde because queues interfere with the cable car (and queues are common during the summer months and weekends). 

If you do decide to rent a car in San Francisco, you can also take the opportunity to explore more of California, with the drive from San Francisco to San Diego being a popular route.

Directions to Lombard Street

If you are driving to the famous road in San Francisco, you will need to enter the address 1099 Lombard Street into your satnav. This address will take you to the top of the zigzag road, so that you can then drive down.

As we mentioned above, you can catch the public bus to Columbus Avenue or take a tram to a nearby spot as well.

Lombard Street in San Francisco from above

Can I park near Lombard Street?

There are parking spots near the famous Lombard Street but be aware that there have been lots of break-ins and it is a huge problem. Do not leave valuables and avoid leaving any possessions visible in the car.

The best time to visit Zig Zag Street in San Francisco

If you are walking down, any time is fine but you will get better views on a sunny clear day. We recommend you aim for April to September and visit before 5 pm; San Francisco can get misty in the late afternoon. 

For driving, avoid weekends and Summer months; especially on a sunny day.

The best time of day to visit this famous road in San Francisco is in the morning when the sun is shining down on the crooked part and there are fewer tourists about. 

San Diego to San Francisco sightseeing bus

Need to know:

Lombard Street is one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco but make sure you remember a few things:

  1. Lombard Street is FREE and is open 24 hours a day. It can get busy during the holidays, especially if you wish to drive down the road. Cost of living in San Francisco and the cost of visiting the city can be high but this free attraction means you can visit the popular site, even on a budget.
  2. This famous Zig Zag road is still a residential area. Be respectful when visiting; especially at night.
  3. Avoid rush hour – those living on this famous street will also likely need to get to and from work. They won’t appreciate tourists standing on their driveway as they head off to work in the morning.
  4. Stick to the sidewalk – as I’ve mentioned, many, many tourists will drive down this road. It can get chaotic and busy, plus drivers are likely to be unsure of road rules themselves (for foreign tourists). Make sure you stick to the sidewalk and be extra cautious when crossing the street.
Zig Zag road in San Francisco

Famous buildings on the windiest road in San Francisco

The Haunted Montandon House – One of San Francisco’s famous haunted houses is right on the curve of Lombard Street. The apartment building at 1000 Lombard belonged to a known socialite Pat Montandon, who was well-known for his famous parties and local talk show in the 1960s.

The rumor is, a tarot card reader cursed the house during one of these parties, leading to the home being notoriously involved in a series of tragic deaths; all said to be linked to the supernatural.

The apartment is now unlivable and it is said a ghosting woman appears inside the house when some took photographs.

Real World San Francisco – The reality TV show used house at 949 on Lombard Street (filmed in 1994). 

The House in Hitchock’s Vertigo – Scottie’s home in the Alfred Hitchcock movie ‘Vertigo’, was filmed on Lombard Street. 900 Lombard was used for both interior and exterior shots. However, the current owners built a wall around the front of their home to avoid tourists. 

Is Lombard Street the Crookedest street in the world?

No, Zig Zag Road in San Francisco is perhaps the most famous but the most crooked street is Vermont Street in the Potrero Hill Neighbourhood on the other side of San Francisco.

View point from the Zig Zag Street in San Francisco

Other Famous Roads in San Francisco

Lombard Street is known for being the famous Zig Zag Road in San Francisco but there are many other well-known roads in the city, worth visiting.

Filbert Street and 22nd Street – These were once the steepest streets in San Francisco, both have a grade of 31.5%. Both streets are one-way; down only. 

Bradford Street – With a grade of 41%, this street in the Bernal Heights neighborhood is actually the steepest urban street in the world.

Market Street – As you head towards the Ferry Building, you will find the eye-catching Market Street. Covered in cable wires and flagged with tall buildings, this is an iconic area in San Francisco. 

Casto Street – This street is one of the first openly gay neighborhoods in America so it is a historic and popular place for tourists to visit. 

Valencia Street – Full of quirky restaurants, bars, and stores, this is a hop-and-cool neighborhood in San Francisco. Head to Valencia Street for fun and interactive storefronts. 

Haight Street – Stretching from Market Street to Stanyan Street, this is a popular hippie destination in San Fran. 

Where is Lombard Street?

Lombard Street Address: Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

Zig Zag road in San Francisco

San Francisco Windy Road FAQ

What is the grade of Lombard Street in San Francisco?

The street is naturally graded 27% but was slightly levied to 16% in 1922 when the city used cobblestones when paving the street. 

What is Lombard Street Famous for?

Lombard Street is famous for being a crooked, steep street in San Francisco. It has become a popular landmark that sees over a million drivers each year.

Can you still drive down Lombard Street in San Francisco?

You can drive down Lombard Street but expect the drive to be around 5 miles an hour and do not approach from Hyde Street. Also, avoid the weekends and summer months. 

What is the famous street in San Francisco?

Lombard Street is a one-way block with eight sharp turns, making it one of the most crooked streets in the world. 

Where is the famous street in San Francisco?

Lombard Street is on Russian Hill; an east-west street in San Francisco. It is located between Jones Street and Hyde Street. 

Do you have to pay to go down Lombard Street?

You do not need to pay to go down Lombard Street but this may change. The council plan to impose a $5 car fee but this has not been approved as of yet. 

How much does it cost to live on Lombard Street?

Lombard Street is found in a wealthy neighborhood with very expensive homes. A two-bed, two-bath home on the street was sold in 2002 for just over $1 million. However, home prices have risen significantly since then so homes would likely now sell for a lot more. 

Do cable cars go down Lombard Street?

Cable cars do not go down Lombard Street but you can take the Powell/Hyde line to the street. The cable car drops you at the top of Hyde Street, ready for you to walk down San Francisco’s windy road. The line runs from the corner of Powell and Market Street to the end of Hyde at the Waterfront. 

What other famous things are there to do in San Francisco?

Whilst in San Francisco, we also recommend you visit Alcatraz; a world-famous prison. You should also try to find time to visit Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.

Things to know before you go to San Francisco

Things to do near Lombard Street

  • Visit Ina Coolbirth Park for awesome views of Coit Tower
  • Browse the bookstores and boutiques on Pol Street
  • Check out City Lights Bookstore nearby
  • Pick up lunch from Cheese Plus
  • Finish off your meal with a visit to the original location of Swenson’s Ice Cream shop in Russian Hill.

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