Want to discover San Francisco’s unique history and have a wonderful day shopping, iconic views, and natural spaces? Pencil in a visit to Russian Hill. This central San Francisco neighborhood is packed with green spaces, classic attractions, and an intriguing history waiting to be discovered.
In the Russian Hill neighborhood, you’ll spot famous points of interest like Lombard Street, ride the historic San Francisco cable cars, and roam through beautifully preserved green spaces like Francisco Park and George Stirling Park. Spend the day roaming this historic area and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city.
Ready to plan your visit to this iconic Golden City neighborhood? Dive into Russian Hill, San Francisco, with this handy guide, including what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay!
What to see & do in San Francisco’s Russian Hill
Pay a visit to what’s affectionately known as the most crooked street in the world. Lombard Street isn’t just the most famous street in Russian Hill but in San Francisco. This winding, hilly street comprises eight hairpin turns that cars must navigate as they descend from Hyde Street to Leavenworth Street.
Lombard Street can get busy during peak hours in the summer. Skip the crowds by visiting early in the morning or later at night, and see the street in a unique light that many other visitors to San Francisco miss!
Marvel at the cars navigating this street before trekking to the top yourself. It’s definitely a challenge, especially in warm weather, but you’ll enjoy a spectacular view from the top.
If you’re renting a car driving down the crooked street amongst the budding hydrangeas can be a fun San Francisco bucket list adventure!
While visiting Russian Hill, be sure to stop by Francisco Park. This quaint little green space is a wonderful place to take a break and relax during a day of exploring San Francisco. The park features a playground, green space, a dog park, and a beautiful city view.
Francisco Park had a historic start as a reservoir that brought water to the booming Russian Hill neighborhood during the California Gold Rush in 1859. After over 67 years of back and forth with developers, the park was finally completed in 2022. Today, it serves as a much-needed green space for the community and visitors.
During the day, you can people-watch or set the kids loose to play on the playground modeled after Lombard Street. In the summertime, catch an impromptu game of frisbee or a music class. Francisco Park is also the perfect place to unpack your picnic blanket and stop for lunch or an evening snack.
Whatever time of year you travel to San Francisco, try to visit Francisco Park in the evening to catch a beautiful sunset and feel the fresh breeze sweep off the bay.
George Stirling Park
Just up the street from Francisco Park lies George Stirling Park. When the original reservoir closed in the 1940s, the city moved it uphill, and this beautiful park now covers it. Perched at the top of Lombard Street, this popular green space is a great place to relax after climbing the hilly avenue, offering sweeping views of the city and San Francisco Bay.
Tennis fans will love the park’s pristine tennis courts, scattered with benches to relax after a heart-pumping game. Like Francisco Park to the north, George Stirling Park is one of the most popular places to go in San Francisco to catch a sunset in the evening with a bird’s-eye view over the city. On a clear evening, the sunset will illuminate the sky with crimson, orange, and yellow hues.
Russian Hill-Macondray Lane Historic District
Down the hill and around the corner from Lombard Street, you’ll find Russian Hill-Macondray Lane. This laneway was registered as a historic district in 1988 to help preserve the area’s distinctive architecture.
Step off the busy city streets of Downtown San Francisco into this quiet and peaceful garden oasis. Walk through Russian Hill-Macondray Lane to come face to face with classic San Francisco architecture and stunning greenery.
The area’s trees, plants, and shrubs create a tiny jungle in the heart of San Francisco. Some residents have even decorated their homes with flowers and fairy lights, adding to the relaxing atmosphere and ambiance.
Keep in mind that Russian Hill-Macondray Lane Historic District is a residential area; try to keep the noise down to respect the locals.
On the border between Russian Hill and North Beach, you’ll find historic Washington Square. Established in 1847, Washington Square Park was one of the first parks in San Francisco and remains a favorite of the locals and visitors. Throughout the week, you can catch events in this historic park or sit and people-watch on the green.
After a day of exploring the stairs and hills in Russian Hill, grab a bite to eat from a local restaurant or cafe and enjoy an impromptu picnic in Washington Square. Be sure to bring along your camera to capture beautiful photos of the city from the well-manicured lawn, with the Saints Peter and Paul Church standing sentry.
San Francisco Cable Car Museum
Looking to learn more about San Francisco’s iconic cable cars? Tack a San Francisco Cable Car Museum visit onto your Russian Hill sightseeing itinerary. Established in 1974 and free to the public, the museum was created to help preserve San Francisco’s cable car history to share with future generations. Today, it’s one of San Francisco’s top tourist attractions and a must-see for visitors.
Wander through the museum to discover three antique cable cars from the 1870s and the only surviving cable car from the first-ever cable car company to run in San Francisco. The San Francisco Cable Car Museum is also full of antiques, parts, books, clothing, and cable cars from the era, all beautifully preserved.
Where to eat & drink
There’s hardly a better place to start a San Francisco culinary adventure than Russian Hill. The neighborhood is home to several delicious, worldly restaurants that’ll surprise and delight foodies.
If you’re looking for farm-to-table delights, treat your tastebuds at Seven Hills. Chef Tony creates superb dishes using only fresh, local ingredients. Diners rave about the grilled Llano Seco Pork Chop and the Ramini Jersey Stracciatella.
What better place to try sushi outside of Japan than just across the pond? Elephant Sushi is the place to grab fresh and fast sushi in Russian Hill. Dig into the negitoro roll, or indulge in all your favorite sushi a la carte. You won’t be disappointed!
Or savor more locally-inspired flavors at Turntable at Lord Stanley, an upscale Californian restaurant serving elegant American-European fusion. With its monthly rotating menu, you’ll always find new elevated dishes at this Michelin-starred restaurant, from Louisiana shrimp vol-au-vent to lobster baked in brioche.
For a sophisticated tipple, check out Macondray, an upscale cocktail bar serving unique hand-crafted drinks in a nature-inspired elegant environment. Enjoy a refreshing cocktail like the Huckleberry Mule with fresh berries or a herby concoction like The Paisley.
Fill up your belly with authentic Oaxacan Mexican fare washed down with an ice-cold margarita at Mezcalito. This lively and casual venue is a great spot to sit and relax after a day of exploring Russian Hill. Order a shot of premium mezcal that won’t make you cringe or stick to a classic seasonal cocktail.
Enjoy a fresh glass of wine at Union Larder. This stylish wine bar is the perfect setting to enjoy a glass of local California wine or spring for an international bottle. The bar has over 56 bottles to choose from, with many more wines served by the glass. The cozy industrial atmosphere is the perfect place to sip back and relax.
Where to stay
As it’s mostly a residential neighborhood, there’s a limited selection of accommodations in Russian Hill. If you run out of options, expand your lodgings search to other popular neighborhoods to stay in San Francisco nearby, including Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, and Nob Hill.
Stay close to all the action at the Columbus Motor Inn in Russian Hill. This inn is a comfortable and cozy home away from home and a perfect home base for exploring central San Francisco’s neighborhoods. The 24-hour desk is always available to help with anything you need during your stay.
Enjoy a pleasant and quiet stay in Russian Hill without breaking the bank at the Castle Inn. The cozy rooms are the perfect place to relax after a day on the town or before a night out. If you’re driving in San Francisco, their underground parking offers a safe place to park your car overnight. The friendly staff will help you with recommendations or anything you need for your vacation.
Samesun San Francisco offers refreshing, colorful modern rooms without the sky-high prices the city’s known for. The bright colors and unique furniture really pop as you walk through the foyer to your room. Pick a room with a pink bathroom or a suite with a balcony and city views.