Skip to content Skip to navigation

Walking Tours

San Francisco is one of the best walking cities in the U.S., and these exclusive walking tours visit some of the most historic, famous, and popular neighborhoods of the city. Enrich your San Francisco experience by taking one or more of these informative and affordable walking tours. (Read about BUS TOURS at https://www.socialstudies.org/conference/bus_tours).

Thursday, November 16

Barbary Coast Walking Tour-Part 1: Market Street, Union Square, and Chinatown

9:30 am to 12:00 pm

From devastation to dynamic rebirth, this tour showcases San Francisco's "rising" after the 1906 earthquake and fire. You'll learn about Union Square, which evolved from a remote sand dune to the commercial center of San Francisco; stroll down Maiden Lane; and explore the narrow streets and alleyways of the oldest Chinatown in the United States.

Fee: $15.  Attendees are on their own to reach the starting point of this walking tour.


Chinatown Workshop and Walking Tour

1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

The oldest Chinatown in the U.S. is San Francisco's, created shortly after the Gold Rush. Likewise, the oldest institution in the U.S. dedicated to the interpretation, promotion, and preservation of the Chinese American experience also resides in this historical neighborhood. The Chinese Historical Society of America hosts this tour and workshop for participants to explore this living, breathing, and ever evolving community. The theme will revolve around the idea of identity. Participants will examine why Chinatown was initially created and examine how this unique community shifted over the years by observing various locations of historic, social, and cultural significance. Participants will take photos of Chinatown in which the idea of identity is present, then share those photos in the workshop that follows. The tour and workshop should give participants a better understanding of the historical development of Chinatown, how the community functions presently, how the arts can be used to explore the Chinese American experience, and how different methods can be used to create a participatory and inclusive learning space.

Fee: $40.  Attendees are on their own to reach the start of this workshop at the Chinese Historical Society, 965 Clay St.


Dynasty to Democracy Chinatown Walking Tour

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Experience the struggle. Discover the dream. Dive deep into Chinatown history and culture on this walking tour conducted by the Chinese Culture Center. Experience the struggle of this significant community to create an American dream of opportunity, equality and justice for all.

Find out:

Can you change history by doing laundry?
Why is there a bank inside a temple?
Who are original Californians?

Visit the "Living Room" of Chinatown, Buddhist temples, herb shops, a fortune cookie factory, and more!

Fee: SOLD OUT.  Attendees are on their own to reach the starting point, at 750 Kearny St., 3rd floor, inside the Hilton San Francisco.


The Historical Castro Walking Tour

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Discover how San Francisco's Gold Rush in 1849 created the city's first gay community and how World War II, the Summer of Love, civil rights leader Harvey Milk and the AIDS epidemic created the heart and soul of the Castro's LGBT community. Learn how Harvey Milk's arrival in the 1970s led to the creation of the rainbow flag and how the Castro became known as the "Gay Mecca" of the world. Walk along today's amazing Rainbow Honor Walk, bronze sidewalk plaques honoring famous LGBT people who have made significant contributions in history. Come cruise the Castro and journey into this incredible community.

Fee:  $20.  Attendees are on their own to reach the starting point, at the corner of Castro and Market Streets, at the rainbow flag pole.


American Bookbinders Museum Tour

2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

The only museum of its kind in North America, the American Bookbinders Museum, in the SOMA district of San Francisco, celebrates and explores the culture and tools of bookbinding, from its earliest forms to the changes and innovations of the industrial revolution. In addition to the craft and artistry of binding, the museum also focuses on the stories of the men, women, and children who worked in binderies. The ABM's collection of working 19th century bookbinding equipment is only accessible on this docent-led tour.

Fee:  $8.  Attendees are on their own to reach the American Bookbinders Museum, which is at 355 Clementina Street, two blocks from Moscone West.


Alcatraz

1:35 pm

Alcatraz Island offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse and U.S. built fort on the West Coast, the infamous federal penitentiary long off-limits to the public, and the history-making, 18-month occupation by Indians of All Tribes. Rich in history, there is also a natural side to the Rock--gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and bay views beyond compare. NOTE: Attendees are on their own to reach Pier 33 to catch the ferry, and on own to tour the island. Your ticket includes an audio tour of the cellhouse. The National Park Service also conducts special programs daily. For more information, go to www.nps.gov/alca/index.htm

SOLD OUT


Friday, November 17

Barbary Coast Walking Tour-Part 2: Portsmouth Square, Jackson Square, and the Barbary Coast

9:30 am to 12:00 pm

From the birthplace of the Gold Rush and the village of Yerba Buena, walk Commercial Street to the original shoreline, the Pony Express headquarters site, the grave of a Gold Rush-era ship, and the Jackson Square historic district where Gold Rush and Barbary Coast-era buildings remain. Finally, visit the notorious Barbary Coast, home to shanghaiers, vigilantes, and "Terrific" Street.

Fee:  $15.  Attendees are on their own to reach the starting point of this walking tour.


Barbary Coast Walking Tour-Part 3: North Beach, Washington Square, and Telegraph Hill

9:30 am to 12:00 pm

Explore the artistic and cultural traditions of North Beach, from Italian immigrants to free-spirited Beats. Visit Washington Square in the heart of North Beach, and Coit Tower, where historic Depression-era murals picture San Francisco's tumultuous past.

Fee:  $15.  Attendees are on their own to reach the starting point of this walking tour.


Barbary Coast Walking Tour-Part 4: Northern Waterfront, Fisherman's Wharf, and Aquatic Park

9:30 am to 12:00 pm

Explore San Francisco's past as a port city and cover the waterfront from the days of sail to the era of the longshoreman. Follow the Great Seawall, San Francisco's largest public works project, to Fisherman's Wharf, past two WWII vessels and the Hyde Street Pier, boasting the largest collection of historic ships in the United States. The tour ends at the Streamline Moderne Aquatic Park bathhouse, home to the San Francisco Maritime Museum.

Fee: $15.  Attendees are on their own to reach the starting point of this walking tour.


Chinatown Workshop and Walking Tour

12:00 pm to 3:00 pm

The oldest Chinatown in the U.S. is San Francisco's, created shortly after the Gold Rush. Likewise, the oldest institution in the U.S. dedicated to the interpretation, promotion, and preservation of the Chinese American experience also resides in this historical neighborhood. The Chinese Historical Society of America hosts this tour and workshop for participants to explore this living, breathing, and ever evolving community. The theme will revolve around the idea of identity. Participants will examine why Chinatown was initially created and examine how this unique community shifted over the years by observing various locations of historic, social, and cultural significance. Participants will take photos of Chinatown in which the idea of identity is present, then share those photos in the workshop that follows. The tour and workshop should give participants a better understanding of the historical development of Chinatown, how the community functions presently, how the arts can be used to explore the Chinese American experience, and how different methods can be used to create a participatory and inclusive learning space.

Fee:  $40. Attendees are on their own to reach the start of this workshop at the Chinese Historical Society, 965 Clay St.


Classic Mission District Mural Walk

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

​Explore the history and context of Mission District muralism. The tour begins with a slide presentation covering a brief introduction to the history of muralism as well as a broad look at contemporary murals and the artists who create them, including spray can murals. After the presentation, your guide will take you on a six-block walk through Balmy Alley and along 24th Street, including St. Peter's Church and the digital murals at Galeria de la Raza.

Fee: $12. Attendees are on their own to reach the start of this tour, at Precita Eyes Arts & Visitors Center, 2981 24th Street.


Saturday, November 18

Barbary Coast Walking Tour-Part 1: Market Street, Union Square, and Chinatown

10:00 am to 12:30 pm

From devastation to dynamic rebirth, this tour showcases San Francisco's "rising" after the 1906 earthquake and fire. You'll learn about Union Square, which evolved from a remote sand dune to the commercial center of San Francisco; stroll down Maiden Lane; and explore the narrow streets and alleyways of the oldest Chinatown in the United States.

Fee: $15.  Attendees are on their own to reach the starting point of this walking tour.


Barbary Coast Walking Tour-Part 3: North Beach, Washington Square, and Telegraph Hill

10:00 am to 12:30 pm

Explore the artistic and cultural traditions of North Beach, from Italian immigrants to free-spirited Beats. Visit Washington Square in the heart of North Beach, and Coit Tower, where historic Depression-era murals picture San Francisco's tumultuous past.

Fee:  $15. Attendees are on their own to reach the starting point of this walking tour.


Dynasty to Democracy Chinatown Walking Tour

10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Experience the struggle. Discover the dream. Dive deep into Chinatown history and culture on this walking tour conducted by the Chinese Culture Center. Experience the struggle of this significant community to create an American dream of opportunity, equality and justice for all.

Find out:

Can you change history by doing laundry?
Why is there a bank inside a temple?
Who are original Californians?

Visit the "Living Room" of Chinatown, Buddhist temples, herb shops, a fortune cookie factory, and more!

Fee: $30.  Attendees are on their own to reach the starting point, at 750 Kearny St., 3rd floor, inside the Hilton San Francisco.


Chinatown Workshop and Walking Tour

1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

The oldest Chinatown in the U.S. is San Francisco's, created shortly after the Gold Rush. Likewise, the oldest institution in the U.S. dedicated to the interpretation, promotion, and preservation of the Chinese American experience also resides in this historical neighborhood. The Chinese Historical Society of America hosts this tour and workshop for participants to explore this living, breathing, and ever evolving community. The theme will revolve around the idea of identity. Participants will examine why Chinatown was initially created and examine how this unique community shifted over the years by observing various locations of historic, social, and cultural significance. Participants will take photos of Chinatown in which the idea of identity is present, then share those photos in the workshop that follows. The tour and workshop should give participants a better understanding of the historical development of Chinatown, how the community functions presently, how the arts can be used to explore the Chinese American experience, and how different methods can be used to create a participatory and inclusive learning space. NOTE: Participants are on their own to reach the start of this workshop at the Chinese Historical Society, 965 Clay St.

The Historical Castro Walking Tour

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Discover how San Francisco's Gold Rush in 1849 created the city's first gay community and how World War II, the Summer of Love, civil rights leader Harvey Milk and the AIDS epidemic created the heart and soul of the Castro's LGBT community. Learn how Harvey Milk's arrival in the 1970s led to the creation of the rainbow flag and how the Castro became known as the "Gay Mecca" of the world. Walk along today's amazing Rainbow Honor Walk, bronze sidewalk plaques honoring famous LGBT people who have made significant contributions in history. Come cruise the Castro and journey into this incredible community.

Fee: $20.  Attendees are on their own to reach the starting point, at the corner of Castro and Market Streets, at the rainbow flag pole.


Haight Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour

2:00 pm to 4:30 pm

The Haight Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour is a backstage pass to the coolest area in the universe! Strolling through the cosmic history of it all, from rock 'n roll to art, fashion and architecture, this walking adventure gives you real insight into the cosmic draw of the Haight-Ashbury. The tour is approximately 60% hippy history and 40% general neighborhood history and architecture, but it is always 100% far-out fun. Saunter along the same streets that Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell and countless others etched their marks into the collective alternative culture and creativity of the 20th century.

Fee:  $20.  Attendees are on their own to reach the meeting point for this walking tour, at the corner of Stanyan & Waller Streets.