Best San Francisco City Tour – Fully Guided | Add Alcatraz tickets
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Guided City Tour of San Francisco

Guided City Tour of San Francisco

City Insider’s Tour of San Francisco

  • What’s included?

    • Commentary by local guide
    • Transportation in a luxury van or coach
    • Onboard Wi-Fi
    • All tolls and fees
  • What’s excluded?

    • Guide gratuity
    • Hotel
    • Meals or snacks

     

  • What causes earthquakes in San Francisco?

    The San Francisco Bay Area rests on the tectonic plates that have existed for 200 million years. During the last 28 million years, the Pacific Ocean crust and the North American tectonic plate are sliding past each other on the San Andreas Fault zone, triggering earthquakes.

  • What birds might be spotted in San Francisco?

    You may see Canadian geese, mallards, quails, pelicans, egrets, herons, hawks, kestrels, gulls, woodpeckers, swallows, Steller’s jays, starlings, chickadees, meadowlarks, sparrows, blackbirds, robins, crows, mockingbirds, goldfinches, robins, and even the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (actually red-masked parakeets native to Peru.)

  • What kinds of animals can be seen in San Francisco?

    The San Francisco Bay Area is blessed with a plethora of unique wildlife species – mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects. White sharks, sea lions, bat rays, river otters, tule elks, garter snakes, kingsnakes, newts, and salamanders can be seen.

     

  • What plants are common in San Francisco?

    You may see colorful flowers such as poppy, wallflower, pansy, iris, orchid, parsnip, star lily, crimson columbine and soap plant. The trees flower too, including the California Buckeye, Black elderberry, Pacific Madrone and Coast live oak.

  • Why was San Francisco named San Francisco?

    San Francisco’s original name was Yerba Buena (good herb). San Francisco was re-named after Saint Francis in 1847. We like the saintly name.

  • When was San Francisco founded?

    June 29, 1776.

  • Who were the first inhabitants of San Francisco?

    The first inhabitants of the San Francisco Bay Area arrived around 3000 B.C. The area was inhabited by the Ohlone-speaking Yelamu tribe when the first Europeans arrived.

  • Who were the first Westerners to arrive in San Francisco?

    The first westerners to see the Bay Area were members of the 1769 Portola expedition when the Spanish began colonizing Alta California.  The Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza marched north from San Diego to establish a Spanish presidio and a mission. 

  • When did the U.S. first arrive in San Francisco?

    In 1846, the warship U.S.S. Portsmouth landed at what is now the southeast corner of Montgomery Street and Clay Street. Capt. John B. Montgomery rowed ashore and hoisted the American flag in the community’s plaza.

  • What is the oldest bar in San Francisco?

    In the mood to raise a glass to your wonderful visit? Try The Saloon, San Francisco’s oldest existing bar, which opened in 1861 approximately one block north of Broadway at what is now 1232 Grant Ave.

  • What was the California Gold Rush?

    The California Gold Rush brought renewed activity to San Francisco.  Between January 1848 and December 1849, the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000.

  • What is the weather like in San Francisco?

    The climate is warm and temperate. Average high temperature in summer – 66F; in winter – 57F; average low in summer - 54F; in winter – 46F. January is the rainiest month of a year.

  • Who invented cable cars in San Francisco?

    Andrew Hallidie invented the first cable car system in San Francisco, which he successfully tested near the top of Nob Hill at Clay and Jones streets on Aug. 2, 1873.

  • How many major earthquakes have been in San Francisco?

    The most devastating ones were in 1906 and in 1989. The 1906 San Andreas Fault generated a 7.7 magnitude earthquake. The 1989 quake registered magnitude 6.9.

  • When was Bay Bridge built?

    The Bay Bridge opened for traffic on Nov.12, 1936. It was replaced by a new one in 2013.

  • When was the Golden Gate Bridge built?

    The Golden Gate Bridge’s opening ceremony was on May 27, 1937. Until 1964 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

  • What local cuisine must be tried?

    Among the unique or regionally typical foods to be sampled in San Francisco are abalone, Dungeness crab, sand dabs, bay shrimp and crusty sourdough French bread.

  • What is Joe’s Special?

    This dish originated in 1932 at New Joe’s when the chef told a local bandleader after a late show that there was nothing left but spinach, onions, mushrooms, ground beef and eggs. “Mix ‘em together,” said the bandleader and Joe’s Special has been a local favorite ever since.

  • What is Hangtown Fry?

    This Gold Rush favorite combines scrambled eggs, oysters and bacon. The concoction originated in Placerville, known then as Hangtown. Sources credit the name to either a lucky miner’s idea of a luxurious treat or a condemned man’s request for a hard-to-assemble last meal.

  • What is the average water temperature in San Francisco Bay?

    The ocean off San Francisco is at its warmest from mid-August to late September when the temperature averages 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius).

  • How many sunny days are there in San Francisco?

    On average, there are 259 sunny days per year in San Francisco.

  • What is the population of San Francisco?

    The current population is a bit over 900,000. San Francisco is one of the 20 fastest growing cities in the United States. The average age is 38.5 years old, and San Francisco has a smaller percentage of children than any other major metropolitan area in the United States.

  • Where are the best photo spots in San Francisco?

    1. Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands
    2. Golden Gate Bridge from the Battery Godfrey
    3. The sea lions at Pier 39
    4. The Grateful Dead house in Haight-Ashbury
    5. The city from the de Young Museum Tower
    6. Stockton Street in Chinatown
    7. City panorama from the summit at Twin Peaks
    8. The Labyrinth at Lands End
    9. The Palace of Fine Arts fountain
    10. The Balmy Alley murals in the Mission

     

City Insider’s Guided San Francisco Tour

See more, do more on this fully guided tour of San Francisco attractions. Your Expedition Leader is a true “city insider” ready to take you behind the scenes to experience all the famous (and not so famous) sightseeing places in San Francisco. This is the most comprehensive city tour available.

Among other San Francisco attractions, you’ll see the Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Victorian homes of Haight-Ashbury, China Town streets, the Pacific Ocean and Sutro Baths at Lands End, mansions on Nob Hill, North Beach and its Coit Tower.

 


 

Super-combo: City Insider's Tour + San Francisco Bay Cruise

Upgrade your City Insiders tour with a combination of experiences that will make your stay in San Francisco Extranomically special. The package includes: 

  • San Francisco fully guided City tour
  • San Francisco bay cruise

We know you’ll be mesmerized by San Francisco’s rich history, vibrant cultural heritage and unforgettable natural beauty with our guided tour of the City by the Bay.

Finish off the day (or the next day) in style, as you board a Blue and Gold ship for an afternoon cruise on the bay (this can be done on another day). You’ll return amazed and refreshed to explore the restaurants of North Beach. 

 


 

Super-combo: City  Tour plus Alcatraz Island Tour

Our most premier San Francisco package adds a visit to the infamous Alcatraz Island (you don’t want to stay!). This package, includes: 

  • Hotel pick up and coffee break at the Ferry Building
  • Alcatraz Island tour ferry and entry ticket
  • City Insiders fully guided tour

After a convenient hotel pickup in the morning, we start this 1-day San Francisco Alcatraz day tour by exploring the city’s legendary waterfront, learning the stories of the Embarcadero, Levi’s Plaza and Fisherman's Wharf. We’ll even take a brief coffee break at the Ferry Building. 

Then we make our way to Pier 33 where you’ll board the ferry to infamous Alcatraz Island where Al Capone, The Birdman and others called “home” when it operated as the most secure of American prisons. We know it as “The Rock”. Listen to a in-depth  audio presentation featuring actual recordings of inmates and guards that worked and inhabited the island! Our San Francisco Alcatraz day tours give the flexibility to enjoy some time to roam and explore this historic spot.

After 2-3 hours on “The Rock”, you’ll take one of the late-morning ferries to San Francisco so you can join the afternoon City Insider’s tour.

Alcatraz tickets frequently sell out. Don’t wait until the last minute. Book your City Insiders with Alcatraz Island guided tour now.

 


 

Detailed Description: City Tour of San Francisco

Act 1

This San Francisco guided tour will begin by putting you in a front row seat for views of San Francisco’s waterfront. Your Expedition Leader will keep you on the edge of that seat as you learn the remarkable history of the City by the Bay. You’ll want to return to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 to spend more time at its many attractions. 

The first stop on your San Francisco guided tour will be the Palace of Fine Arts, an historic attraction since the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition. It is one of the few surviving structures from the Exposition. After seeing it, you’ll understand why it is a favorite spot for wedding photographs. 

After a stream of selfies, we’ll jump back on our vehicle for a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge – a Bay Area icon since 1937. You’ll travel the 1.7 miles across this historic suspension bridge in our comfortable coach, taking in the breathtaking views more than 200 feet above the chilly waters of the Golden Gate Strait. 

For a unique view, you’ll soon arrive at a spectacular vista in the Presidio where the memorable views of the city, the bridge and the bay will be with you forever.

Act 2

Make sure your camera or cell phone is all charged up for the selfies to come as we arrive at Lands End! No San Francisco guided tour is complete without a stop to enjoy the stunning scenery at Lands End and walk along its blustery trails at the westernmost point of San Francisco.

Set your camera on its “panorama mode” for photos of Sutro Baths, Ocean Beach, the Cliff House, the Labrynth and the Pacific coastline. After you return home, you’ll reflect on your guided tour and your photos, and will be taken back in time to the distinctive sights and sea-breeze smells of your Pacific experience.

Act 3

Get ready for an eyeful as you explore more things to do in Golden Gate Park. We’ll introduce you to the de Young Museum, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Buffalo Paddock and more. 

Act 4

Then your San Francisco tour guide will help you learn cool and interesting facts about the Haight-Ashbury, Mission and Castro districts both their history and what they are today! 

Listen to tons of district stories that will make you laugh out loud at the surprising, sometimes crazy, things that have made San Francisco one of the world’s most beloved cities.

You’ll also have the chance to see first-hand the living urban culture of Chinatown. Get some great photos as you marvel at skyscrapers in the Financial District and Nob Hill. 

We’ll conclude your San Francisco guided tour with a visit to the Italian neighborhood and the historic cornerstone of North Beach. Stay here for dinner or let us return you to your hotel. It’s your choice!

 

Behind the scenes

In a bit more detail, here is more about the places we will stop to explore on your city tour of San Francisco.

Palace of Fine Arts

What you’ll see: It is neither a palace or a museum of fine arts… There are no “residents” of the Palace (unless you count the swans!). With locals, it is a favorite spot for wedding photographs.

The Palace of Fine Arts was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in order to exhibit works of art presented there. It is one of only a few surviving structures from the Exposition.

The Palace is in the city’s Marina neighborhood, which was originally its beach. But the area was used as a landfill 150 years ago and the beach was buried under a mountain of unstable trash, leaving the area susceptible to earthquake damage.

When the exposition ended, the Palace was so beloved that a Palace Preservation League was formed. But preservation was challenging because the plaster and burlap structure was built to only stand for the duration of the Exposition. 

Originally intended to only stand for a year during the Exposition, the colonnade and rotunda were not built of durable materials, and thus framed in wood and then covered with staff, a mixture of plaster and burlap-type fiber. As a result of the construction and vandalism, by the 1950s the simulated ruin was in fact a crumbling ruin.

In 1964, the buildings were reconstructed in permanent, light-weight, poured-in-place concrete, and steel I-beams were hoisted into place for the dome of the rotunda.

Ft. Baker View of Golden Gate Bridge

What you'll see:  Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, Fort Baker is a 335-acre former U.S. Army post located immediately north of the Golden Gate Bridge. This hidden gem has historic buildings and gun emplacements, a sheltered harbor and forested areas climbing gently up from San Francisco Bay.

There are easy walks along the waterfront and along the bluffs-all with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Pay attention and you spot an endangered Mission Blue butterfly and its host plant, the silver lupine. Don’t worry your guide will point them out!

Lands End

What you will see: As you walk along the breezy trail on the western edge of the city, you’ll stop a lot to snap memorable photos of the majestic cliffs and, after a short trail hike, the jaw-dropping view of the Golden Gate and its famous bridge. 

Adolph Sutro designed the elegant Sutro Baths for the public. At the end of the 19th century, the glass-enclosed bathhouse contained seven swimming pools to accommodate up to 10,000 guests. Besides diving platforms and water slides, guest enjoyed orchestras, restaurants, a theater, museum, classical Greek and Roman statutes, gigantic stuffed animals, rare plants and Egyptian artifacts. Destroyed by fire in 1966, today the site is in ruins, but it provides a fascinating glimpse of Gilded Age luxury.

From this western perch you will also see the Cliff House, white sands of Ocean Beach, Labyrinth, and white-capped waves around the Red Triangle. 

 

Related Blogs

San Francisco City Insider's 
Afternoon Tour - Times Approximate

Tour Length - 4 hours approximately

1:40 PMMeet your Expedition Leader at Fisherman’s Wharf. Prepare yourself to explore all the best San Francisco attractions.
2:15 PMLearn about things to do in Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and the neighborly Marina District. Take some time to walk and explore the other-worldly and picturesque Palace of Fine Arts.
2:45 PMLearn its history as you cruise across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. From a spectacular vista, snap Instagram-worthy pics of this favorite San Francisco attraction.
3:30 PMArrive at the city’s Pacific Ocean shoreline—Lands End. Capture panoramic views of Sutro Baths, Ocean Beach, Cliff House, Labyrinth and the Pacific coastline.
4:00 PMSee many great places to return and visit in Golden Gate Park, including the de Young Museum, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Botanical Gardens, Buffalo Paddock and more.
4:45 PMCruise through and learn the history of San Francisco’s neighborhoods– Haight-Ashbury, the Castro, and more on your way to San Francisco’s Civic Center.
5:15 PMEnjoy the big finish to your San Francisco city tour as we cruise slowly through Chinatown, Nob Hill, Financial District and North Beach (home to Coit Tower and crooked Lombard Street).
5:45 PMTime to say goodbye to your Expedition Leader and reflect on your day tour to San Francisco’s top attractions.

Customer Reviews

Guided City Tour of San Francisco
– Heather K. on 02/05/2018

Kimberly was a wonderful bright bubbly person with an amazing wealth of knowledge. As much as I enjoyed the afternoon this is not the tour for you if you are hoping to stop at ALL the famous tourist spots. Our tour was booked by our travel agent and I was under the impression that we would see all the sights like Alamo Park (painted ladies) and Lombard St. On this 4 hour tour we got to stop at Palace of fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge, Lands End and Clarion Alley for approx 15-20 minutes at each stop. As I said I really enjoyed the afternoon and Kimberly was amazing, but next time maybe I need to do a bit more research before booking a tour.
– Pam U. on 12/01/2017

Enjoyed the tour Enjoyed the tour. Kimberly was excellent. Loved going through the different areas of town.
– Cassandra B. on 10/21/2016

Constantine was very knowledgeable and gave many great insights and anecdotes about the city of san francisco! My sister and I really enjoyed this trip and really got to see the wonders of San Francisco!
– Jeff M. on 10/05/2016

Good afternoon touring around the City. Ross was very informative.... I think a trip across the Golden Gate would have been good.
– Timothy D. on 08/05/2016

The San Francisco City Tour was amazing. Our tour guide Phil was fantastic. His customer service was wonderful and he went out of his way to make everyone feel comfortable. I would recommend Phil and Extranomical Tours to everyone.
– Gary S. on 06/18/2016

Very friendly informative guide and good driver
– marina D. on 03/15/2016

Out tour guide was very personable, knowledgeable and entertaining. Exceptional tour
– Cornelius M. on 03/13/2016

Awesome tour
– Beverley A. on 03/01/2016

Thoroughly enjoyable Alcatraz Tour in the morning and City sights tour in the afternoon. Long day but with the short time we had in San Fran it was a great all over tour!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Most comprehensive San Francisco tour
  • Live narration by S.F.’s highest rated tour guides
  • Stop and explore: The Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge, and Lands End.
  • Stay connected with free on-board Wi-Fi
  • Daily departures for San Francisco attractions
  • Friendly, in-market guest services assistance
  • Super combos: add Alcatraz tickets or Bay Cruise
  • Satisfaction Guarantee

San Francisco City Tour
Precios del Tour*Adultos (12+)Niños
Precio Regular:$79$71
Especial de Internet:$59$51
AHORRE EN LÍNEA$20$20

City Tour PM with Bay Cruise AM
Precios del Tour*Adultos (12+)Niños
Precio Regular:$111$96
Especial de Internet:$79$71
AHORRE EN LÍNEA$32$25

City Tour with Alcatraz
Precios del Tour*Adultos (12+)Niños
Precio Regular:$155$134
Especial de Internet:$147$128
AHORRE EN LÍNEA$8$6
Book a PRIVATE tour!
Satisfaction Guaranteed