A Walk through Nob Hill and Russian Hill

Start a tour of Nob Hill and Russian Hill with a cable-car ride up to California and Powell Streets on Nob Hill (all lines go here). Walking two blocks east you can pass all the Big Four mansions-cum-hotels on the hill. Peek at the Keith Haring triptych in impressive Grace Cathedral; grab a Peet's coffee in the basement café if you need a lift. Next, head down to the Cable Car Museum to see the machinery in action. Then make your way to Russian Hill—a cable car is a fine way to reach the peak—to visit some of the city's loveliest hidden lanes and stairways. At Mason and Vallejo Streets, head up the Vallejo Steps, passing contemplative, terraced Ina Coolbrith Park and beautifully tended private gardens. Take in the sweeping city and bay view from the top of the hill, then head right on Jones Street and duck right under the trellis to wooded and shady Macondray Lane. From here it's a six-block hike to crooked Lombard Street. If you've still got some steam, be sure to go another block to see Diego Rivera's mural and the surprise panoramic view from the San Francisco Art Institute.

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