163 Steps to Wow

In the tourism trade my back yard is known as a Destination. Folks save their money and time away from work to visit the beautiful Bay Area of California. I work at not forgetting just how lucky I am to be here. One of the things I like to do is explore like a tourist. Yep, grab the map, a camera, some good walking shoes and GO.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently had an article about staircases worth seeking out that spurred just such action.  Destination: the 16th Avenue steps in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. There are actually quite a few staircases you can climb on 16th Avenue — the one to seek out is at the intersection of 16th & Moraga.

The weather during the summer can be cool and overcast, even foggy. But those conditions cannot dampen the incredible beauty of what awaits. Here are 163 steps that say, “Wow!” from below and above.


This plaque says it all. Can you imagine the fun this committed group of 300+ neighbors had banding together to create such a gift?

Each step reveals a new wonder, a new creature or flower.  I stopped along the climb to snap the segments of stairs. Here is the first set.

And up through the swirling waters

and schools of fish

and starfish, sea turtles, shells and more!

Here flowers begin to intersect with the sea.

And up. . .

and up some more. . .

Not there yet. . .

and the scene moves above the sea and land to the sky

and up we continue. Here van Gogh shows his influence.

And on we go to the final section of stairs.

At the top we turn to look toward Ocean Beach. The fog hides the sand, but it is a spectacular view anyway.

Only by completing the entire climb can you appreciate the rich beauty of each section of the staircase. It was completely dazzling.

What beauty can you find in your neighborhood?

29 replies
    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      Hey, no self-criticism allowed here…. You’re right, I Iive in Oakland, just across the Bay from San Francisco. I think of the entire Bay Area as my ‘back yard.’

  1. jennyklyon
    jennyklyon says:

    What a beauty and a mini adventure! I marvel almost daily that I live here (Sacramento area). I love NorCal!

    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      Yep, we loved the whole thing. The article I reference had information on several other stairs worth the trip, though the rest are not tiled. Will check those out later.

  2. Sherry Boram
    Sherry Boram says:

    What do I think??? I think you live in one of the most beautiful places there is, and I think you had a good idea to visit this stellar stairs. I love that you appreciate your local beauty. Thanks for sharing your shots, Franki!!

  3. Suzanne Kistler
    Suzanne Kistler says:

    I LOVE mosaic work. It’s next on my list for art to tackle. I had no idea this was in SF. Lovely! As to my neighborhood? ummm…I’ve seen a stray dog every day for the past week. No collar, and it runs away when you whistle…

    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      There is quite a bit of mosaic work being done in my area. I see it at schools and just this week a project was begun at a neighborhood shopping area I’m in often. People seem to be hunkering down and deciding to improve the looks of where they are right now. It’s very fun.

  4. slbentonSharon
    slbentonSharon says:

    WOW indeed! Thank you for a beautiful treat to start my day. Makes me wonder what discoveries await me in my neck of the woods? I love every inch of that staircase – and I think it’s kind of cool it’s only visible from the bottom. If you were walking by the top, enjoying the view, you could totally miss “the other view”!

    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      You will love it Denise! The over-all image is wonderful, but only up close do you appreciate all the detail and love in this gift to the community.

  5. maureenc
    maureenc says:

    Thanks for sharing Franki! I don’t know that I’d be “up” to climbing all the risers, but descending them seems a great option. Over in my neck of the woods, there are a few pathways laid out with historical reference like Mathew Flinders exploration of DECEPTION BAY over 200 years back. I must remember to photo/blog the details……….sometime!

    • Franki Kohler
      Franki Kohler says:

      Another nice feature of those stairs: unless you are into training, the only way to appreciate them is slowly, one group at a time. No pain at all!

  6. Barb
    Barb says:

    My goodness these are beautiful stairs. Thanks so much for sharing Franki. You have so much going on and are so generous about sharing the detes. Jenny and I will go see these stairs and get some inspiration for our next mosaic project.

  7. 379christy
    379christy says:

    This was such a fun thing to do. Thank you so much for being a wonderful tour guide and enthusiastic participant. I’m looking forward to next adventure already.

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