The Complete Guide to Postcard Row in San Francisco

If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco, chances are you’ll find yourself at Postcard Row. Also known as the Painted Ladies, Postcard Row is a street of beautiful Victorian houses in the Alamo Square neighborhood.

Learn all about its history, how to get there, what to do nearby, and more with this complete guide to Postcard Row in San Francisco!

A Brief History of Postcard Row

The houses on Postcard Row were built in the Victorian style by Matthew Kavanaugh in the 1890’s. He also lived in one of the Painted Ladies after it was completed.

In the ’60s, a San Francisco artist named Butch Kardum began to transform the dreary gray homes that dominated the city after World War II. He painted his own Victorian home in bright colors and others in the city followed suit – thus, the “colorist movement” was born.

Although the Painted Ladies are one of the most famous examples of colorful, Victorian homes in San Francisco, you can find many more scattered throughout the city as well.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Postcard Row?

The Painted Ladies a perfect tourist destination for budget-minded travelers in San Francisco. Alamo Square Park is free and has a beautiful view of the Painted Ladies and the San Francisco Skyline.

You can’t go inside the houses on Postcard Row (although you can take a virtual tour here), so no entrance fee is required. Pack a lunch for a picnic and you can easily enjoy a half-day outing without blowing your budget.

How to Visit Postcard Row

The Painted Ladies are located in the Alamo Square neighborhood next to Alamo Square Park. You can find the famous homes on Steiner Street between Grove and Hayes streets. There are four different ways to get to Postcard Row and the best one for you will depend on your budget and itinerary.

  • By foot – The Painted Ladies are within walking distance of some other popular sites in San Francisco like Japantown, Market Street, and the Asian Art Museum.
  • By car – If you’re driving in San Francisco, visiting the Painted Ladies by car is easy. Alamo Square is a residential neighborhood but be warned that parking can sometimes be difficult to find. Go early in the morning for a better chance to snag a spot or opt to travel with Uber or public transport instead.
  • With public transport – Alamo Square Park is served by the MUNI metro. Click here to see lines and routes. Tickets cost $2.25 for adults while children and seniors get discounted tickets for $1.00.
  • With a tour – Self-guided GPS GoCar tours are a fantastic way to see the famous Postcard Row. The flexible tours have options for every itinerary, from one-hour tours to full-day excursions.

What to Do at Postcard Row

The most popular activity is taking photos of the Painted Ladies. The iconic houses are painted in every shade of the rainbow and are particularly photogenic at sunset.

Alamo Square Park is located on a hilltop, so you can also capture the San Francisco skyline behind them to complete the picture. Beyond snapping that perfect photo for your Instagram, Alamo Square Park is a great place to enjoy a picnic, a walk, or just to toss a frisbee back and forth.

What Else Can You See Around Postcard Row?

The central location of Postcard Row makes it easy to fit into a packed San Francisco itinerary. Within walking distance you’ll also find:

While here, snap a picture in the colorful themed photo booths at Pika Pika, stop by the Peace Pagoda, and browse the shelves at Kinokuniya Book Store.

Fillmore District
Fillmore Street is packed with bars, clubs, restaurants, and everything you need for a vibrant night out in San Francisco. Enjoy live music at The Fillmore, a 100-year-old club, or one of the many nearby venues and go shopping at the boutiques and antique stores that the district is known for.

San Francisco City Hall
The government seat for both the city of San Francisco is just as beautiful on the inside as it is outside. If you’re into politics or architecture, don’t miss a quick detour from the Painted Ladies to visit San Francisco City Hall. It’s open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm.

Asian Art Museum
The Asian Art Museum has more than 18,000 works of art representing the entire continent of Asia. Admission costs $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 13 to 17. Children 12 and under are free. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Though these are some of the highlights, there’s plenty more to see nearby. 

More Interesting Facts About Postcard Row

Ready to wow your friends and family with some insider knowledge when you visit the Painted Ladies? Keep reading to discover four more interesting facts about the famous site.

Postcard Row was well-known even before Full House.
The opening credits of the ’90s sitcom made the Painted Ladies synonymous with San Francisco, but the street was well-known even before the show aired. They were written about in a book called Painted Ladies – San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorians in 1978 and have been featured in more than 70 TV shows, movies, and ads.

These aren’t the only Painted Ladies in the US.
The Bold Italic states that “Despite popular belief, the term “Painted Ladies” actually refers to any Victorian or Edwardian-styled building painted with three or more colors to enhance its architectural and angular details.”

While Postcard Row in San Francisco might feature some of the most famous Painted Ladies in the US you can also find similar streets in cities around the country, like Charles Village in Baltimore and Columbia Tusculum in Cincinnati.

The houses on Postcard Row are worth millions.
In 2014, the largest of the houses was sold for 3.1 million dollars. In 1994 a smaller house on Postcard Row (belonging to Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple) sold for 1.2 million.

Postcard Row is one of the most popular places to snap a picture of San Francisco.
NBC Bay Area reports that it’s “one of San Francisco’s most photographed streets.” If you’re looking for more top photo spots in the city, stop by the Golden Gate Bridge, Corona Heights, and the Fisherman’s Wharf.

Visit Postcard Row With GoCar Tours

GoCar is the world’s first GPS-guided storytelling car. The karts are loaded with more than 500 attractions that you can explore at your own pace. See the most famous sites on a one-hour tour or rent it for the whole day and enjoy a 49-mile scenic drive!

GoCar has San Francisco tours to suit any travel taste and style, just click here to explore your options today!