Combining three of my favorite things, street art, fitness and exploring, my most recent adventure took place in Silver Lake, one of LA’s most unique, and hip neighborhoods. Upon first glance, it may appear a bit on the gritty side, but a little dirt never hurt anyone, and if you dig just a little you’ll find a treasure trove of one of a kind shops, restaurants and hidden gems just waiting for you to come and discover them.
Speaking of Hidden Gems
LA wasn’t always the car town it is now, and at one time public transportation was the primary mode of travel. People used an extensive network of Staircases to get from their hillside homes to their transit stops. Many of these historic staircases are still in existence though these days they’re used more for fitness and #selfies than anything else. The challenge is finding them
Because these staircases are steep, narrow, and located within residential neighborhoods, they are often hidden from view. However, once you do locate them, they are available for public use, and many of them have been painted with bright colors and fun designs, adding an extra element of fun.
Always up for a challenge and enamored with all the local street art in the area it was my mission to explore these stairways and add them to my LA “collection.”
It’s easy to stay on the path if you create it yourself!
I had some very specific spots in mind, so created my own route through the hills. I admit to some initial trial and error, but in the end I came up with a route, which combines art, fitness and coffee! However, if you prefer it the other way around, you can always start with coffee…
This just over 2 mile walk will take you up and down just over 1000 steep stairs. Proper shoes and attire are recommended.
Step by Step Directions:
1. But First, Coffee. Alfred Coffee 3337 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Alfred Coffee’s motto is particularly relevant because you’ll be starting your adventure here! Incase, you need something to work towards, you’ll also be ending here.
Direction: Coffee, or not, you decide, and then head to your first stop which is across the street.
2. Micheltorena Stairs 3400 Sunset Boulevard (Up 205 Steps)
When you see the cheerful rainbow stripes and hearts painted by artist Corrine Carrey, you’ll know you’re in the right place. Before you begin the walk take a moment to snap a few pics! #staircandy anyone!
Direction: You’ll be crossing at the corner of Sunset and Micheltorena and as soon as you cross head left walk a few steps and you’ll come to the Micheltorena staircase. Go up…
3. Descanso Stairs (Down 139 steps)
4. Music Box Steps (Down 133 steps)
This next staircase isn’t painted but it is famous! It was named after the 1932 Academy Award winning short film, which was filmed here, The Music Box, in which Laurel and Hardy attempt to move a piano up a large flight of steps. These very steps!
Direction: At the bottom of the Music Box Steps take a right onto N. Vendome Street and walk towards Sunset Boulevard. Turn left on Sunset Boulevard and cross the street using the crosswalk at Descanso Drive.
5. Stair Tempo Staircase 3229 Sunset Boulevard (Up 90 steps)
Also painted by artist Corrine Carrey, these fun piano key steps add a much needed element of whimsy to this otherwise mundane passageway. It looks like they could use a bit of sprucing up, but that didn’t take away from the fun.
Direction: Walk along Sunset until you come to 3229 Sunset and head up the stairs towards Hamilton Way. Go right at the top of Stair Tempo and your next set of stairs (up 102 steps) will be on your left. Take them up to Elevado Street and go left. Go left again onto Westerly Terrace.
6.The Swan Stairs, Parts 1, 2 & 3
Named for their location, the Swan Stairs were painted in 2015 by The Painted Line Mural Co. and are separated into three different flights totaling 287 steps. Each flight of stairs is unique with shapes and colors in different colors. My favorite, the final flight, showcases a quote from the band the Decembrists: “Los Angeles, I’m Yours.”
Part 1 – Swan Place 2958 Swan Place (Up 77 steps)
Direction: You’ll find Part one of the Swan Stairs at the intersection of Westerly Terrance and Swan Place. Go up… At the top veer left and you’ll find part two is just across the street at 1802 Redesdale Avenue. Go up again… At the top veer left and you’ll find part three is just across the street at 1784 Rotary Drive. Go up, yet again…
Part 2 – 1802 Redesdale Avenue (Up 110 steps)
Part 3 – 1784 Rotary Drive (Up 100 steps)
7. Its Time to Head back…
Once you’ve conquered the Swan Stairs you’ll be working your way back through the hills towards Alfred Coffee.
- Don’t go back down the stairs tho! continue forward by taking a left onto Webster Ave,
- left on Dillon Street,
- right on Effie Street and,
- left on Cicero Drive.
- walk to the end of the cul-de-sac and you’ll find a staircase on your right (down 90 steps),
- At the bottom of the stairs go left onto Redcliff Street,
- right onto Murray Drive,
- right onto Berkeley Avenue and,
- finally a left back onto Micheltorena Street. You’ll find Alfred Coffee at the corner of Micheltorena Street and Sunset Boulevard.
There are many other hidden and painted stairways throughout Silver Lake and the greater Los Angeles area just waiting to be collected, and once I do, I’ll be sure to update with photos and locations!
Pin for later:
Take me with you!
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This looks awesome. I’m putting it on my list for when I arrive
funky steps #citytripping
Love these staircases! I definitely want to see the ones in SF! These are also cute! #CityTripping
I didn’t know there were hidden staircases in SF… I’ll have to check that out next time I’m up north!
Love the colours, and it sounds like Fitbit heaven!
I can’t believe we have missed the stairs!! We had lunch in Silverlake and a short walk (weather wasn’t great) but we haven’t seen that many stairs.. but incredible buildings on “feet”
You’ll just have to come back!
What a fabulous day out. If I ever make it to LA this will definitely be on my list.
If you do make it here! I’d be happy to be your guide!
Thank you Hilary – hope I can take you up on that sometime!!
Love how colorful the stairs are! I just saw really cheap tickets to LA from Houston, I need to jump on that! #farawayfiles
What a fun self guided walking tour! You had me at coffee but all that colourful street art put a smile on my face. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles
These are fabulous – I came across something similar in San Francisco with the mosaic steps, but had no idea there was anything like this in LA. So much quirkier and more individual than I’d often associate with the city as well – street art, exploring and coffee sounds like a very good combination as well. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
Funny what you can find when you dig! I lived in the Bay Area for 8 years and hardly explored SF. I’m doing my best not to make that mistake her in SoCal! I’ve discovered that there are literally stairs everywhere here, there are even books about them!
I love the colorful art work on the staircases, so pretty! There are some cool staircase in SF too if you make it up there!
I keep hearing that! I need to check them out next time I’m up north!
I love the colorful artwork on the staircase! So pretty! There are some pretty rad stairs in SF too if you are ever there
Hmmm, how come I haven’t heard of this although I live in this area? You make me feel ashamed, Hilary. I should probably become a tourist in my own town.#TheWeeklyPostcard
ha ha! Don’t be ashamed, there is SO much to discover in the LA area, there’s no way anyone person can do it all, though I’m doing be best to try! I’ve become a #professionaltourist
Pinned! Thanks for showing us a different side to LA what a great way of exploring the neighbourhood and I love the painted staircases. But first coffee is my motto! I hear ya! #TheWeeklyPostcard
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Everything is better with coffee!
Anisa & Katherine (@2travelingtxns)
I love this! Pinning because I definitely want to do this walk myself next time I am in LA. I love that it will be a great workout with such nice scenery. Will of course have to stop for photos. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
Thank you! It was definitely a workout, but disguised with fun things to look at along the way!
I absolutely love this, Hilary. What a brilliant idea and a great way to combine lots of my own loves too – coffee is essential before beginning any exploring. I guess you wouldn’t have been able to run the route with your camera in hand but I’d like to try running up a few of those steps too. Fantastic guide for #FarawayFiles
No, running this trip, but it’s a definite possibility! In fitness crazy LA, People do it ALL day long… Conveniently there are staircases like this all overtown, and I happen to live near to a few different flights! Lucky me! 😉
Ok. How long ago are we talking that LA wasn’t a car city? That SNL skit about taking the 405 to I5 to La Cienaga to get everywhere is only funny because it’s soooo true! I love these murals. Yes. Coffee. Always first. You need to do a street art tour Hilary! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin
ha ha! It has probably been a “little” while since it wasn’t a car city… 😉 I try to stay far away from the 405 whenever possible it’s literally a parking lot! Did you see LaLa Land’s opening number?!
Ha! My most recent post is all about street art in DTLA! You’ll most likely see it tomorrow… Cheers!
Enjoyed reading this. Haha I super love the “But first, coffee”.
Awesome guide! Will definitly use it next time I’m in LA!
Thanks! Silver Lake is a really fun area to explore!