Rising to a height of 87m, Telegraph Hill is one of San Francisco's most picturesque neighbourhoods and one of the most arduous to climb. The locality boasts beautiful homes, lush gardens and amazing panoramic views over the city and bay areas. The iconic Coit Tower sits atop the steep hill and tackling the slope will yield hidden gems with every step.
Named for the city's first Morse code signal station in 1853 (radio telegraph inventor Gugliemo Marconi is honoured with a bench in the area as well), Telegraph Hill's biggest drawcard is the Coit Tower which can be seen from all over San Francisco. Built in 1933, the 64m white Art-Deco tower is decorated with 19 idealist Depression-era murals by local artists, which were controversial at the time for their commentary about the exploitation of workers. There's a stairway to the open top, or you can pay for an elevator ride up (US$7 for adults, US$5 for kids aged 12 to 17, US$2 for ages five to 11 and under-fours free). The views from Coit Tower are simply magnificent: to the north you can see across the bay and to Alcatraz, southeast over the Embarcadero and Bay Bridge, northeast over the Golden gate Bridge and the bay and also over the downtown skyline. Pioneer Park is around the base of the tower and also offers great 360-degree vistas.
Coit Tower has a small and very busy carpark, but the best way to explore Telegraph Hill is to take the scenic route and climb. Start at the base near Levi Plaza and Sansome Street and walk up either Greenwich or Filbert Streets. When the going gets tough, these streets convert into narrow staircases leading up the hills. On the way up Greenwich or Filbert Steps you will spy flowing public gardens, stylish private residences and even a flock of wild parrots descended from escaped pets that have made the area their home. There's a few different ways to ascend Telegraph Hill so swap your route on the way down for a different look at the city.
To get to Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, the 39 Coit Muni bus travels from Fisherman's Wharf to Coit Tower via Telegraph Hill Boulevard.