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    Painted Ladies: discovering San Francisco's colorful Victorian houses

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    Martí Micolau

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    It rarely happens that private houses become a tourist attraction, it can happen with the homes of VIPs (do you know the villas in Beverly Hills or the villas in Bel Air?), But this is not the case; to make the Painted Ladies di San Francisco it is none other than their particular appearance!

    These Victorian style houses, placed next to each other, on the corner of Alamo Square, they strike for the variety of colors and refined elegance, it is really difficult for your eye not to dwell on the seven sisters ("7 sisters"), another recurring nickname with which they are often addressed, and it is no coincidence that, together with “iconic” attractions such as Lombard Street and Golden Gate, they are one of the most photographed subjects in all of San Francisco.

    Are you ready to take your shot then? Here's how to get to San Francisco's famous colorful houses.


    • Where are the Painted Ladies located?
    • How to photograph them?
    • More Victorian houses… more Painted Ladies!
      • Victorian houses around Alamo Square
      • The Victorian houses of Haight-Ashbury
    • Where to sleep in the area

    Where are the Painted Ladies located?

    The Painted Ladies are located in Steiner Street, the street that overlooks the park of Alamo Square. To get to the exact spot you can take bus 21, it will drop you off at the intersection of Hayes and Steiner Street and the colorful houses are just a stone's throw away. Alternatively, there are also guided tours but remember that the houses are owned by private citizens and cannot be visited inside.

    How to photograph them?

    Great photos can be taken from the side of the park that overlooks Hayes Street. Being the raised park, going up a little you will have the opportunity to take pictures of the famous Victorian houses with the skyline in the background, one of the most used panoramic views for postcards of the city (see photo below). As an ideal time, some suggest opting for noon, it seems the light is better.

    More Victorian houses… more Painted Ladies!

    The ones I've told you about so far are the most famous Ladies, but actually any Victorian house with 3 or more colors is considered Painted Lady and San Francisco is full of these fine examples of Victorian architecture. If you are curious, you can go yourself in search of other homes that deserve a shot.

    Victorian houses around Alamo Square

    In addition to the Painted Ladies of Steiner Street, you can find other interesting houses near Alamo Square: from Steiner Street continue north (leaving the Ladies on your right) along the park, turn left into Fulton St, and then right into Pierce Street. Arrived at the intersection with McAllister St. you will find yourself on the right of the elegant houses with the pointed roof, take the usual photos and leave again.

    Now go back on Fulton Street, turn left along the park again, you will notice on the corner on your right a villa of the past, the William Westerfeld House, and on the opposite corner, on Scott St. another series of pretty colorful Victorian houses.

    William Westerfeld House
    Scott St.

    A little further away (half an hour on foot) but easily reachable in a few minutes by bus (line 22) is there casa di Mrs Doubtfire (2640 Steiner), if you are a fan of the film it will have a certain effect ...

    The Victorian houses of Haight-Ashbury

    One of the most interesting neighborhoods to go in search of Painted Ladies is definitely Haight-ashbury, the district of the Summer of love, where, in addition to making a real indigestion of Victorian houses of the most varied colors, you can also breathe the hippie atmosphere of the 60s, still alive here.

    To see the most interesting houses from the Alamo Square area you will have to walk a good 20 minutes, but luckily there are many bus stops at the intersection. Madison Ave e Haight Street (6, 7, 37 and 43), the real hub of the neighborhood and an excellent starting point for exploring the surroundings.

    Here are the houses that you must not miss, to be seen strictly one after the other:

    • Painted Houses: after the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square these are certainly the most immortalized by photographers, to find them you will have to head to 144-146 Central Ave
    • Four Seasons Houses: at the intersection of Waller Street and Masonic Ave (address 1303 Waller St.) you will find another very famous complex of Painted Ladies, renamed "Houses of the 4 seasons".
    • Grateful Dead House: head to Ashbury Street, you will find a parade of colorful houses waiting for you. At 727, the one of the Grateful Dead, a symbolic band of the Summer of Love, awaits you. If like me you are particularly sensitive to the subject, walk the stretch of Haight Street that goes from Madison Ave to (at least) Cole Street, you will be assaulted by a 60s hippie atmosphere particularly suited to nostalgics.

    Below is a map with the route to follow to see the Painted Houses of Haight-Ashbury.

    Obviously in San Francisco there are many others and if you are passionate about Victorian houses I recommend that you continue your search not only in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood but also in Nob Hill, another area with a high concentration of Victorian houses, too. if, in my opinion, a little less interesting from the point of view of the variety of colors. Have a good search!

    Where to sleep in the area

    Sleeping near the Painted Ladies may be recommended for those looking for a "local" type of overnight stay experience, with the desire to feel like a San Francisco resident for a few days, however the accommodation available near Alamo Square is scarce, while the situation slightly improves in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

    To find accommodation in the Alamo Square area I recommend these 2 links:

    • Structures available on Booking
    • Facilities available on HotelsCombined

    To search the Summer of Love district, I refer you to my tips on housing in Haight-Ashbury

    However, it is likely that you will not be able to find many rooms available so I also recommend our overview of the best neighborhoods to find accommodation in San Francisco.

    Our tips on where to sleep in San Francisco


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