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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.

Thursday, November 16

Exploring the Spanish Colonial Legacy in Modern San Francisco

9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Nearly fifty years of Spanish control (1776-1821) created a legacy in San Francisco that endures in many buildings and architectural styles still today. The NCSS Geography Community encourages you to join them on this bus tour of the Spanish colonial legacy in San Francisco. The tour first visits Mission San Francisco de Asis, or "Mission Dolores," the oldest intact building in San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 established under the direction of Father Junipero Serra. The Mission has been a steadfast witness to the span of San Francisco's history, including the Gold Rush and the 1906 earthquake. The bus then travels to the Presidio of San Francisco, where Spain established a military fort beginning in 1776, and the tour features an archaeologist-led tour of an archaeological dig and lab, as well as a tour of other sites within the park.

Fee: $70


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.


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.


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.


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.


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: $30.  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.


Ferry Building Food Tour

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Dating back to 1898, San Francisco's iconic Ferry Building is not just a transportation hub, but also a landmark location for the Bay Area's best food artisans, boasting dozens of nationally acclaimed vendors and restaurants. Sample award-winning Mt. Tam cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, paired with sweet and sour loaves from Berkeley's Acme Bread, with a food industry professional as your guide. House-cured fennel salumi and freshly made mortadella in Boccalone's "meat cone" are an instant hit. You'll also taste handmade chocolate confections from Recchiuti and French macarons from Miette, named as one of the top ten pastry shops in the world. Additional stops may also be included.

Fee:  $100.  Attendees are on their own to reach this tour at the Ferry Building, at the foot of Market Street.


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.


AT&T Park Tour

3:00 pm to 4:30 pm

Go behind the scenes of the home of the San Francisco Giants. It's a ballpark where home runs can be "splash hits" and the breathtaking Bay view rivals the action on the field. It's where one of baseball's most hallowed franchises plays inside an architectural landmark. Get a player's-eye view from the dugout, the visitor's batting cage and/or clubhouse, and the Giants Press Conference Room. Tour stops may also include the Bob Stevens Press Box, a luxury suite, and the Giants memorabilia display, including the 2010, 2012, and 2014 World Series trophies. Dodger fans are welcome.

Fee:  $20.  Attendees are on their own to reach the start of this tour, inside the Giants Dugout Store on 3rd Street.


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.


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.


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.


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.