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San Francisco's Top 10 : Scenic Drives - Top 10 Hair-raising Hills

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  1. 49-Mile Drive

    This all-in-one driving tour is marked with blue-and-white seagull markers, and winds its way through the most picturesque parts of the city. It can be challenging to follow, keeping an eye out for the markers and the traffic at the same time, but you can get a map of the route from the Visitor Information Center .

    49-Mile Drive marker
  2. Mount Tamalpais

    The road that leads up to the top of “Mount Tam” is appropriately called Panoramic Highway. All the way along, it provides you with dramatic views of the Marin Headlands, both on the Bay and ocean sides, and as you approach the summit, far-reaching views of the Bay Area.

  3. Conzelman Road

    This road hugs the bluffs, high above the waves, on the southern edge of the Marin Headlands. It affords some of the most famously beautiful views of the north tower of Golden Gate Bridge, looking back at the city in the distance. The way is punctuated with old military bunkers, since this entire area was once given over to the army to guard the western shores.

    • Marin County

  4. Twin Peaks

    More famous panoramas await you here, as you wind your way up the two mountains. You can get 360-degree views of the city to the east, the ocean to the west, the Bay to the north, and the valleys to the south .

    Twin Peaks
  5. The Great Highway

    Broad and straight, this coast highway begins at Cliff House at the northern end and eventually meets the famous Highway 1, which takes you, via dramatic cliffs, down to Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur – and eventually, to Mexico.

    Highway 1, from The Great Highway
  6. Divisadero

    This street cuts a great swathe through the city centre. It starts in the south at Duboce Street, then rises to glorious mansions and Bay vistas after Geary Expressway.

    Divisadero
  7. Berkeley & Oakland Hills

    Blending gently with the Berkeley Hills, the Oakland Hills offer some beautiful parks, such as Redwood Regional Park. Skyline Boulevard provides access to most of this ridge area, with many picnic groves and hiking options along the winding way.

    • Hwy 24

  8. Skyline Drive

    Pick up this bucolic road (Highway 35) at Lake Merced, and it will take you all the way down the woody spine of the Peninsula to Santa Cruz. It’s a total immersion in nature, just minutes from the populated areas around the Bay.

  9. La Honda & Old La Honda Roads

    Behind Stanford University is the quiet town of Portola Valley. From here, these picturesque switchback roads ascend to meet Skyline Drive. They are very narrow in places, and you can’t go more than 10 mph (16 kmph), but the timeless beauty of the Bay Area forests makes it worthwhile.

  10. Highway 9 and Big Basin State Park

    This gently mountainous region is almost entirely undeveloped. The main town, Boulder Creek, is like a small frontier settlement, where craftspeople sell their wares, and country stores cater mostly to locals. This is an area that time happily forgot.

Top 10 Hair-raising Hills

  1. Lombard Street

    Called “The Crookedest Street in the World,” it isn’t too hair-raising, but the views of North Beach as you descend are charming.

  2. Top of Divisadero

    The most dramatic section of Divisadero is the highest point in Pacific Heights.

  3. Twin Peaks

    The view from these peaks seems like one from a helicopter, hovering over the city.

  4. Gough between Jackson and Washington

    A hair-raising ascent, especially if your car isn’t automatic – it’s very steep.

  5. Sacramento up Nob Hill

    Take the bus up and hear the engine churning on its painfully slow ascent.

  6. Noe at 21st Street

    At the heights bordering the Castro, Noe Valley, and the Mission, this impossibly steep street will also give you a few chills.

  7. Potrero Hill

    Try Wisconsin Street at 20th for an experience that feels like freefall .

  8. Corona Heights Park

    Hiking trails and some spectacular views.

  9. Russian Hill

    One of the best drives in town, with great views of Fisherman’s Wharf.

  10. Filbert Street

    There’s a sense of flying off into space as you dive over the brink of Hyde and Leavenworth.

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