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One of the best ways to explore San Francisco doesn’t cost a thing and is a great way…

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One of the best ways to explore San Francisco doesn’t cost a thing and is a great way to show off our wonderful city to out-of-towners. Exploring San Francisco’s Barbary Coast Trail is like being Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and following the Yellow Brick Road, only the yellow bricks have been replaced by bronze medallions embedded in sidewalks that lead to historic sites. The route depicts the city’s exciting, tumultuous, and scandalous past. To do a short section of it (2-miles, round-trip) that packs in good views and interesting trivia, start in North Beach at Vesuvio Café and travel to Coit Tower and Jack Early Park. Feel the beat of the (in)famous Beat generation as you make your way past Washington Square Park and up through a quiet street leading to a stairway that ascends to the top of Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower. The view from here is one of the city’s best, spanning the Golden Gate and Alcatraz to the city below and the Bay Bridge beyond. At no cost you can go into the tower and explore the impressive murals covering over 3,500 square feet. As the first public works of art funded under the New Deal during the Great Depression, the murals—created by artists from very different backgrounds—depict the economic and social challenges of the time mixed in with optimism for the future. Afterwards, find the hidden steps leading up to tiny Jack Early Park, a balcony vantage with a lone bench and more beautiful views of the Bay. The rest is history!

MAKE IT HAPPEN: Get an official Barbary Coast Trail Map for the full overview, plus find other ways to get the most out of your Barbary Coast Tour (including audio tours and guided tours).

Follow the bronze medallions from Vesuvio Café on Columbus Ave. going northwest. Go through Washington Square Park and up to Grant Ave. Take a detour to Coit Tower, then come back to Grant Ave. Jack Early Park, the turnaround on this recommended route, is on Grant Ave. between Chestnut St. and Francisco St. Dog-friendly!

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