San Francisco’s group tours offer just about everything

Inspired by the endless stream of guided tours I’ve seen around our downtown S.F. offices, here are a few suggestions for guided group tours in the ‘City by the Bay.’ Whether you’re seeking to explore the city’s ‘summer of love’ days or just its eclectic architecture, there really is a tour for just about everyone’s tastes these days.

Sitting on the Rock of the Bay

There’s only one way to actually get onto Alcatraz these days, and it’s no longer by robbing a bank. Alcatraz Cruises (www.alcatrazcruises.com) leads regular jaunts from Pier 33 every day starting at 9am, and while this is certainly a magnet for tourists it’s also a quintessentially San Francisco experience. I will personally never forget the dramatic slamming shut of the cell-block doors, visiting as a 12-year-old tourist. 

Tasty Tours

The Local Tastes of the City Tour (www.sffoodtour.com) were actually named best city tour by local weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian, and take groups to dining spots, cafés and other eateries all over the city—with Chinatown and North Beach always highlights. Groups looking to feed a sweet tooth might prefer The San Francisco Gourmet Chocolate Tour (www.gourmetwalks.com), which mainly explores the area in and around Ghirardelli Square.

Smooth Segways

I always have two thoughts when I see a dozen people riding around the city on a Segway tour: ‘Wow that looks like fun’; and ‘Whoa, that really looks like an accident waiting to happen.’ For those wanting to give it a try, Segway Tours (www.sfelectrictour.com) leads five different departures each day that include training—and have also added an electric bike tour that takes your group across the Golden Gate.

Painted Ladies

Architecture buffs, particularly those intrigued by San Francisco’s countless ‘painted ladies’ (the nickname given the colorful Victorian homes), will make a beeline for the Victorian Home Walks (www.victorianwalk.com) exploring Pacific Heights each day. Tours start daily at 11am at the corner of Powell & Post.

Trippy Tours

The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is perhaps the city’s most unique sector, and harkens back to San Francisco’s wild and crazy late 60s era. An excellent way to fully immerse your group in ‘the Haight’ is through a Haight-Ashbury Flower  Power Walking Tour (www.haightashburytour.com) , which explores the music, art and culture of the neighborhood’s past. And when you’re done, Golden Gate Park and its many treasures are a stone’s throw away.

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