A Guide to San Francisco Walking Tours

Posted on January 2, 2019 |

San Francisco walking tours are a great way of getting a closer look at unique neighborhoods. Let’s take a look at the different types of walking tours in San Francisco and what you should bring on them.

Bike tours and bus tours of San Francisco are great ways of seeing as much of the city as possible in one day. Once you’ve gotten an overview of the city, you’ll likely have a few neighborhoods in mind that you’d like to explore more intimately.

That’s when you’ll want to find a fun San Francisco walking tour.

There are generally two types of San Francisco walking tours; the historical kind and the eating or drinking variety.

We’re going to take a look at the best of both. But first, you’ll need to know what to bring with you while on some of the best San Francisco walking tours.


WHAT TO WEAR ON SAN FRANCISCO WALKING TOURS


Bring a jacket or hoodie

If you don’t pack a sweater with you for your trip to San Francisco, we can almost guarantee you will buy one on your first day in the city.

Don’t believe us? UNIQLO runs a successful vending machine at SFO that sells vests.

Just vests.

Most tourists end up with a fleece sweater from Fisherman’s Wharf emblazoned with a mini Golden Gate Bridge.

Instead, plan ahead with a nice pull-over sweater.

Most SF locals go for a hoodie with the classic “The City” logo from the old Warriors logo. But a zip-up hoodie like this one silk screened with a vintage Golden Gate Bridge drawing, might be easier to take on and off during a walking tour.

Wear comfortable walking shoes

If there’s one thing that San Francisco is known for, it’s hills.

Most San Francisco walking tours will try to avoid as many of these hills on their routes as possible. But it’s still wise to wear sneakers or boots that will be comfortable for you.

We’re fans of simple lightweight walking shoes for women and similar lightweight sneakers for men. Don’t forget some novelty socks for your San Francisco walking tour!

It won’t hurt to bring a beanie too

Unless you’re taking a San Francisco night tour, you don’t really *need* to bring a hat with you.

But, since the Pacific Ocean sits to the west of San Francisco, the Westerlies can pick up a bone chilling wind.

So it wouldn’t hurt to bring a beanie with you on your San Francisco walking tour.

Take a reusable water bottle with you

This city might only be 7×7 square miles — but that doesn’t stop walking tours of San Francisco from covering a lot of ground on their routes!

Reusable water bottles, like these recycled aluminium water bottles,   are easy to refill around the city and is a great way to try San Francisco’s fresh tap water all the way from the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park!


BEST FOOD & DRINK SAN FRANCISCO WALKING TOURS


HAIGHT-ASHBURY BEER TOUR

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Discover San Francisco’s notorious hippie hangout on a craft beer walking tour of the Haight-Ashbury

San Francisco is not a typical city and SF on Tap is not your typical walking tour.

This beer-centric San Francisco walking tour is centered around a neighborhood well known for imbibing on alcohol (and other illict substances during the Summer of Love in 1967).

Trying to get sold out tickets to Alcatraz? SF on Tap offers one of the best Alcatraz tours by bundling Alcatraz tickets with their craft beer walking tours!


FERRY BUILDING FOOD TOUR

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San Francisco’s Ferry Building is much more than a transportation hub — it’s an active Farmer’s Market

The recently renovated Ferry Building is easily accessible from ferry boats (obviously), historic streetcars, Muni & BART trains, by bike and above ground buses.More than a transportation hub, the Ferry Building is home to dozens of local vendors, farmers and restaurants and great place for a self guided walking tour of San Francisco.

Edible Excursions leads small group San Francisco walking tours through the Ferry Building sampling and tasting things throughout the market.

Get tickets to Alcatraz and a San Francisco walking tour with their special combo tour. Since Pier 33 aka Alcatraz Landing is so close to the Ferry Building, this is one of of the best combo Alcatraz tours for a San Francisco one day tour.


NORTH BEACH FOOD TOUR

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Eat your way through San Francisco’s Little Italy with a four course walking tour

Imagine a pub crawl, but with food.

San Francisco food tours with Avital Tours begins their first stop with an appetizer. Over three hours your walking food tour of San Francisco will visit a new restaurant, gastropub or cafe for each course of the meal. Meeting with owners, chefs and restaurateurs to help tell the story behind the food of San Francisco’s Little Italy.

This tour isn’t just an amazing San Francisco walk, their secret Alcatraz and San Francisco tour package is a great way of getting to Alcatraz Island. You can also arrange for a San Francisco private tour for the perfect team building experience with Avital Tours.


BEST HISTORICAL SAN FRANCISCO WALKING TOURS


TIME TRAVELING WALKING TOUR WITH EMPEROR NORTON

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Use promo code “Dylan” for 20% off this unique San Francisco walking tour

 San Francisco is a city known for oddball characters. Emperor Norton I, just might very well have been the first of many unique personalities in San Francisco.

Joshua Abraham Norton was one of many to come to San Francisco during the Gold Rush only to find themselves penniless years later. What made Norton different, was that he considered himself the First Emperor on the United States and Protector of Mexico.

The best part? Emperor Norton I leads not just an amazing immersive unique San Francisco walking tour on Emperor Norton’s Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine — he leads one of the 25 best San Francisco tours!


GHOST TOUR OF DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO

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Join San Francisco guided tours at night Wild SF Walking Tours

There are not many San Francisco night tours (aside from the run-of-the-mill San Francisco hop on hop off tour at night).

But, Wild SF Walking Tours offers a Haunted San Francisco Ghost Tour that explores the creepy history behind three Union Square hotspots.

We’re also big fans of their FREE walking tour of San Francisco in the Haight-Ashbury. What’s better than free tours in San Francisco?


HISTORICAL WALKING TOUR OF THE CASTRO

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Discover San Francisco’s rich LGBT history with the original walking tour of the Castro District

Cruisin’ the Castro offers the longest running San Francisco walking tour of the Castro District. Home to the first gay bar in America with full-length open windows, Twin Peaks, and much of the city’s history in the fight for LGBT rights and equality.

The Castro is a small micro-neighborhood nestled between the Mission District and Market Street but is where you’ll find San Francisco’s iconic gayborhood. The Castro is dotted with iconic Painted Lady Victorian homes, and you can’t help but appreciate San Francisco architecture on this tour.


Check out other fun ideas to help plan your next San Francisco adventure

The Best San Francisco Bike Tours

A Guide to Bike Rentals in San Francisco

Best Alcatraz Tours: How to get sold out tickets to Alcatraz

A guide to beer tasting San Francisco: 30 San Francisco Breweries & Beer Halls You Have to Visit

If you want even more recommendations for the best walking tours in San Francisco click here.

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