An impromptu walking tour in San Francisco

 Achy feet. Time to sit down and rest. Sean had been waiting for me in this quaint coffee shop in the Mission District while I visited Mission Dolores. We had a window seat and I people-watched while eating my slice of delicious vegan lemon and poppy seed pound cake. Although I’m not a vegan, it seemed appropriate that I eat that while in San Francisco.

The Mission was the morning’s walk final destination. We had a big breakfast at Sears Fine Food on Powell Street and set off down Sutter. We hadn’t realised we were in the Theater District until we saw the signs. There didn’t seem to be too many theatres in the area to warrant the name. However, the whole area had a neighbourhood feel to it, very relaxed and welcoming.

An old-fashioned cafe in the Theater District

We turned left at Laguna Street in the heart of Japantown, the first Japanese American community in the country. The architectural style of some buildings, the signs in Japanese characters and the pagoda definitely sets the neighbourhood apart. It seemed like the right place to go for sushi.


We pushed on uphill towards Alamo Square. Beautiful Victorian homes (whether genuine or inspired by that style, I don’t know) line the streets of this area, The Fillmore. The most famous ones are the Painted Ladies, a row of cheerful Victorian houses opposite Alamo Square on Steiner Street.

They are so famous that tour buses stop here for tourists to take photos. I’m sure the people who there aren’t amused. There was an episode of House Hunters set in San Francisco in which the potential buyers were looking at an apartment across the street from the Painted Ladies. If I remember correctly, one of the things that put them off was the noise from the tour buses.

We stopped for a breather at Alamo Square. It is such a beautiful park; and as it sits on top of a hill, the 360 ̊views of San Francisco are amazing. At that point, I regretted my choice of footwear. My boots were stylish but were not made for walkin’. Comfort trumps fashion sometimes.

I look stylish but at what price? Oh, yes, and those are the Painted Ladies in the background

We shuffled uphill towards 16th Street in the Mission District. This is where Sean and I parted ways. I was intent on visiting Misión San Francisco de Asís, also known as Mission Dolores. Sean wanted to sit down, read his book and drink coffee.

Dating from 1776, the mission is the oldest intact building in San Francisco.  The original church feels cosy and welcoming and the gilded altar is gorgeous; whereas the Dolores Basilica next door seems grand and overpowering in comparison. I struck up a conversation with another visitor, who turned out to be a Californian history buff. The information he shared with me about the mission gave the visit a different perspective.

San Francisco
Mission Dolores


11 thoughts on “An impromptu walking tour in San Francisco

  1. Lovely walk, Ana. I’d love to see San Francisco some day. In fact, it’s one of my childhood’s dreams – ever since Hotel with (I then thought, but hey, I must’ve been 15. 16?) gorgeous-looking James Brolin 🙂 The church looks lovely. The style is very similar to Jesuit churches you can see in Córdoba, the first ones, that is, because in the later years they became a lot more ornamented and heavily baroque.


  2. Looks like you had beautiful weather. Still haven’t been, but San Fransisco is high on my list 🙂 Lemon and poppy seed? Sounds delicious!


  3. “I people-watched while eating my slice of delicious vegan lemon and poppy seed pound cake. Although I’m not a vegan, it seemed appropriate that I eat that while in San Francisco.”

    Those two lines cracked me up.

    I agree that sensible shoes and stretchy pants are a must! I loved San Francisco, but I didn’t find it to be a very walkable city (and not just because of the hills).


    1. I wanted to blend in 🙂
      How interesting to see different people’s reactions to the same city. I loved walking in SFO, probably because nothing is within walking distance here in Dallas. It was a nice change not to have to drive everywhere.


  4. I think SF is the “wildest” city on the north pacific. A good friend living there told me: “Never go out with just shorts and a T-shirt in SF. Pack always something else!”. If you want to pump your cardio, climb Russian Hill from the port! (on foot!, not on the tram).


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