The Painted Ladies is a fantastic group of Victorian-style houses in San Francisco that reflects an essential part of the area’s history. There are painted ladies in other American cities, including  St. Louis, Baltimore, and Cincinnati, but the San Francisco stretch is the most famous as a tourist attraction. The California Gold Rush saw many people become rich with the economic boom, and these individuals built these fancy houses as a mark of their newfound status.

It's a lovely tourist attraction not just for the beauty and rich architectural structures, but also because it depicts an integral part of American history. This is one of the few places in the country where you can see true Victorian houses still standing. People who visit the Painted Ladies come from all walks of life to admire the beautiful and unique homes. The Painted Ladies also offer a small museum where tourists can find more historical information and background on the construction and legacy of the houses.

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco - one of the highlights of 12 Best Things to Do in San Francisco and 11 Best Free Things to Do in San Francisco (Read all about San Francisco here)

Painted Ladies highlights

The colorful Painted Ladies have become rather iconic in pop culture, as  about 70 films have been shot using this location. The row is a lovely place to take pictures as a memento of your trip. The houses are a visual treat, even for those not interested in architecture, and a trip to San Francisco is not complete without seeing these ladies. The grassy square is a cool place to spend your day, and there are various breakfast inns around the area.

All the Painted Ladies have similar features that are hard to miss. The buildings are about 2 or 3 stories tall, and they all have multiple balconies, overhanging eaves, detailed brackets, gingerbread-style gables, cutaway bay windows, stained-glass paneling, and large porches. You can spend the whole day admiring the picturesque houses and their many intricate construction details.

History of the Painted Ladies

The Painted Ladies have been known by different names in history, with the latest name coined by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in 1978. The term first appeared in their book “Painted Ladies: San Francisco's Resplendent Victorians.” These houses have a rich history. The California Gold Rush and the economic boom that followed led to the creation of these houses, as the population increased from 800 to 25,000 in less than a year. Unfortunately, a terrible earthquake in 1906 destroyed many of the houses. 

The houses were initially painted chalky white, but in 1963, the colorist movement began. San Francisco artist Butch Kardum started experimenting with lime, vermilion, gold, and turquoise colors. In a short while, the houses were repainted in these vivid colors. Other names for the Painted Ladies are Postcard Row and the Seven Sisters.

Good to know when visiting the Painted Ladies

The best time to visit the Painted Ladies is just before sunset. Enjoy the view as the setting sun glows on the houses and makes them even more impressive. The site is easily reached by bus or other public transportation.

Other nearby attractions to see include The Church of 8 Wheels, Toronado, Archbishop's Mansion, San Francisco Symphony, and Japantown. You can get delicious cuisine nearby at the Osha Thai Noodle Cafe, Emilio of The Art of Hospitality, and the Alamo Square Seafood Grill.

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco

Location: Steiner St & Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA

Open: Daily from 5 am to midnight

Phone: +1 415-218-0259