Urban Hike San Francisco – 11 Miles, 3 Espressos

From 2008-2013 I did a few posts mapping my urban hiking adventures in Seattle. Now that I am temporarily in the San Francisco area, I thought I’d post one for this city. I’ve done many already. I’d say I’ve urban hiked over 100 miles in the city since my July arrival. Probably closer to 200 miles.

Today I paid attention to the streets I was taking, so I could put together this map. Usually I don’t pay attention and just move north, south, east and west, until I get to my target location. Today’s espressos were Pinhole, Coffee Cultures and Contraband. All were excellent. If you are interested in the SF Bay Area coffee scene, you can follow along on my adventures via a Google Spreadsheet at tinyurl.com/sf-espresso.

san francisco


dolores heights


11.6905 miles

If you want to urban hike San Francisco, but like me don’t want to pay for parking, start your adventures in Noe Valley, Castro, South Haight, Cow Hollow, Alamo Square or Bernal Heights. Monday through Friday is tougher, because even if you find free parking, you might be limited to two hours. Saturday and especially Sunday are easier, but get there in the morning. You want to be parked by 10 AM. By Noon the freeways are full of people coming into the city and parking will be much tougher. And to get around, I used to use GPS, but I ditched the battery draining technology for a good map. I’m learning the city a lot better with the Streetwise map.

Streetwise San Francisco Map - Laminated City Center Street Map of San Francisco, California - Folding pocket size travel map with BART map, MUNI lines, bus routes
Streetwise San Francisco Map – Laminated City Center Street Map of San Francisco, California – Folding pocket size travel map with BART map, MUNI lines, bus routes by Streetwise Maps


Odd Endorsements

There are two signs in my Seattle neighborhood of Ballard that are puzzling to me.

#1 Bop Street Records

This record store proudly displays a sign in the front window stating “One of the five best music stores in America” as proclaimed by The Wall Street Journal. The WSJ? What does the Wall Street Journal know about music? It is is business newspaper. If the WSJ ranked municipal bond debt offerings, that would make sense. But music stores?

And aren’t record stores suppose to be cool and hip? Is there anything less cool that saying Rupert Murdoch likes us a lot?


#2 Red Mill Totem House

For what seems like forever the Red Mill has proudly been displaying the endorsement they got from GQ magazine that they were voted Best Onion Rings. What is GQ doing reviewing onion rings? It is a fashion magazine.

I haven’t ate an onion ring since the 1990s, but I don’t recall much difference between the ones I did try. You slice onions into rings and then deep fry them in toxic vegetable oil. If you eat them too fast, you burn the hell out of your mouth. If you let them cool too much, they taste gross. Stupid food if you ask me.

This sign isn’t as bad as the record store endorsement, because it is at least advertising a menu item.  But why is a local fast food place advertising GQ magazine on their signage? They aren’t GQ customers. A better sign would simply read: OUR ONION RINGS ARE AWESOME!!! Do you think a single person would question that? “I don’t know, they say their onion rings are awesome, but I’m skeptical. What does GQ Magazine think?”



4th and Madison Rooftop Garden – Seattle

My last post was about an amazing 17th floor view from the Russell Investments building in the heart of Seattle. This view isn’t as high up, but is still an impressive find. During weekday business hours, go to the 4th & Madison building. You’ll actually enter the building from 3rd Avenue. When you go in veer to the right, walk down that hall and take the elevator to the 7th floor. When you exit the elevator open the door on your right. This rooftop garden wraps around the building on 3 sides. According to the Wikipedia it is considered a privately owned public space.

seattle-view-3 seattle-view-2 seattle-view-1

Photo Gallery for 4th & Madison Rooftop Garden

3rd Ave between Madison Street and Marion Street on the East side of the street.

If you live in Seattle and have another free and legal rooftop view suggestion, leave a comment.


The View Almost No One in Seattle Knows About

Ever since I arrived in Seattle in 2007, I have been an exploring machine. I’ve seen more of this city than many people who have been here since birth. But until one evening this summer I had no idea about this killer view overlooking downtown Seattle. Back in 2006 when Washington Mutual was busy printing money writing bad mortgages they built a 43 story building in downtown Seattle. On the west side of the building at the 17th floor they constructed a 20,000 square foot garden for their employees.

Times were good for WaMu. Who could have seen they were doomed for failure? Actually, me. I predicted WaMu would fail on this blog in June 2008. In September they were placed in receivership with the FDIC. After their failure, their brand new Seattle building was purchased by Russell Investments.

If you are standing in the Pike Market area look up to the southeast. You will see a 43 story building with a 17 story back facing west. This is where the view is at. According to the Wikipedia this garden is private. According to a friend of mine that works in the building, it is public, but they just don’t tell anyone. I’ve been up there four times now. Each time I’ve walked right past security and went to the left elevators and got out on the 17th floor. Once you step off the elevators you will see a set of doors leading out onto the rooftop garden.

The building is closed on weekends and I believe access to the rooftop is restricted after 6:30 PM. Please leave a comment if you know the exact hours.

Anyway, here are some photos I took over two dates. The reason I say very few people know about this is because for months I’ve been asking people if they were aware and nobody knows about it. This is a well kept secret. The Space Needle will cost you $19, unless you can time $1 day. This costs nothing.





1301 2nd Ave, Seattle WA 98101

More Photos by Me

And a photo from the Wikipedia showing the view from the 43rd story looking down to the 17th story garden

UPDATE: Another Seattle rooftop garden at Madison & 4th.