Russian Hill

Russian Hill is all about the fantastic views of the San Francisco skyline and bay. The neighborhood’s interesting name comes from the gold rushers who, when arriving in the area, found a handful of gravestones with Cyrillic writing on the top of the hill. They assumed they were Russians and, as the tombs were at the top of a hill, the name stuck.

When not awestruck by the views, the Russian Hill neighborhood is full of surprising restaurants, fun boutiques and trendy night spots. There’s even a small ‘French Quarter’ that hosts excellent bistros, French antique stores and Parisian styled bakeries.

Where it’s At

The heart of the Russian Hill neighborhood is clustered on Hyde Street between Jackson and Union Streets and includes Polk and Green Streets. It can be reached via the Hyde-Powell cable car and the 41 and 45 bus routes.

What to See

Although there is no shortage of sights in the neighborhood, one attraction takes the cake: Lombard Street. Known as the world’s most crooked street, this zigzag of a street is lined by classic San Francisco houses on the one side and lush flowers and plants on the other. From the top of Lombard you can take in some of the city’s best views of the Bay, North Beach, the Financial District and the Bay Bridge.

Another top neighborhood attraction is the Spanish-styled San Francisco Art Institute (800 Chestnut St). Originally designed by the same architects who built the City Hall, this building dates to the 1920s and is easily recognized by its bell tower. It is also home to an enormous mural by Diego Rivera. The school is open to the public and its café is a relaxing place to grab a coffee and a fresh-backed chocolate chip cookie while taking in the Bay view.

Where to Eat

Nick’s Crispy Tacos has many personalities – during the day it’s a relaxing taqueria, by night it’s a thumping night club. But regardless of which Nick you meet, you can always enjoy one of its deep fried and full of flavor tacos. (1500 Broadway) For the sweet tooth, get your ice cream fix at Swenson’s (Corner of Union and Hyde).