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Your Local Insider
I was born, raised and have lived in and loved San Francisco all my life. That’s why being a tour guide here is the dream life for me. I get to show guests from all over the world my beautiful hometown and wonderful surrounding areas. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in geography (I’ve always been interested in places) I worked in both local and national radio for a number of years and had my own mobile DJ business too. All the while I also volunteered on a regular basis as a San Francisco area tour leader for various organizations, making good use of my interest in San Francisco’s history, architecture and characters. Of course when not working or volunteering I would be off to travel somewhere, meeting family in Italy, driving Route 66 here in the States, visiting friends in Mexico, etc. Finally I decided to put my work and hobbies together and become a professional tour guide on a permanent basis. With Extranomical Adventures I meet people from everywhere and feel like I’m traveling even when I’m at home. I share my love and knowledge of the place I was lucky enough to be born in and see it fresh from our guests’ eyes and perspective. And usually I get to play a fun song or two also. I hope to see you soon on one of Extranomical’s great tours!
Trips Guided by Don
- 1) Clam up at Boudin - it's home of San Francisco’s best sourdough bread. Take a Boudin bakery tour to learn why SF sourdough tastes better than anywhere else. Outside, watch through big plate glass windows as bakers create sourdough turtles, crabs and teddy bears. At their sidewalk café or upstairs bistro have a Fisherman’s Wharf specialty, clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl Eat your chowder, then eat your bowl!.
- 2) Experience Italy in San Francisco - it's at North Beach’s majestic centerpiece, Sts. Peter and Paul Church. Situated next to Washington Square Park and surrounded by shops and restaurants, it’s as though you’ve stepped into a bustling Italian piazza. View the beautiful neo-Italian Renaissance architecture inside the church or take your picture on the steps outside in the same spot where Joe Di Maggio and Marilyn Monroe had wedding pictures taken.
- 3) Say hello to Pier 39’s sea lions - entertaining with barking and antics as they jostle each other for position on old boat slips, they are as much fun to watch as the jugglers, musicians, and magicians that perform for free at the Pier’s outdoor stages. On Jefferson Street at the eastern border of the Wharf.
- 4) Remember when at Musee Mechanique! - located at Pier 45 in the heart of the Warf, this is an amazing collection of working vintage arcade games, coin-operated musical instruments and memories of San Francisco’s one-time ocean-side amusement park, Playland at the Beach. Great place to bring kids and kids-at-heart.
- 5) Be a Beat at Café Trieste - San Francisco’s first espresso coffee house still roasts its own beans and serves powerful cups of espresso drinks along with tasty pastries and sandwiches. One of the few remaining original ‘beat’ or ‘beatnik’ locations of the 1950s, when North Beach was home to the avant-guarde ‘beat-literature generation’, the café still serves up its specialties to writers, musicians and artists who share table space with other San Franciscans and visitors alike. Every Saturday afternoon the café hosts a fun music concert with friends and family of the café’s staff as performers.
- 6) Become a choc-o-holic at Ghiradelli Square - former site of the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory, the Square is now home to restaurants, boutiques, wine-tasting rooms, and best of all, the Ghiradelli Café. Devour an amazing Hot Fudge Sundae or other delicious goodies at the café and follow with a visit to the Ghiradelli Gift Shop where you’ll be greeted with a free chocolate sample.
- 7) Alioto-Lazio Fish Company - a family wholesale fresh fish company and the only women-owned one at the Wharf. Get up close (but not too close!) with live Dungeness Crabs that fill two large water-filled tanks. Browse their shop or try a crab shot, a delicious Dungeness Crab sample.
- 8) Pick up a slice of freshly baked Focaccia - treat yourself just like San Franciscans have done for over a hundred years by picking up a slice of freshly baked focaccia at Liguria Bakery. Owned and operated by the same family since 1911, they only make focaccia, an Italian flat bread which you can get with various toppings from the pizza-styled classic to raisin to jalapeno. Just remember to get there early because when they sell out for the day, usually around noon, they close up.
- 9) Visit the San Francisco Art Institute at 800 Chestnut Street - houses the first of three murals painted in San Francisco by the famous and influential 20th century Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Painted in 1931 at the Institute, this mural within a mural depicts the painting of a fresco about the building of a city. An historic work of political symbolism, it is located in the Institute’s Diego Rivera Gallery which also contains exhibits by current students at the prestigious institute. Open daily for viewing from 9am to 7pm.
- 10) Stroll Fort Mason’s scenic bayside path - bordering the east side of the Warf. Former Army base and embarkation point for military bound for the Pacific, it’s now headquarters of the world’s largest National Park, The Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Explore historic bay defense installations, see the only original portion of San Francisco Bay shoreline, visit the Italian Museum, or just have a relaxing picnic on the center’s vast lawn.