Top Walking Tours of San Francisco
All About Chinatown. On a delightful two-hour, behind-the-scenes look at the neighborhood, owner Linda Lee and her guides explore historic buildings and new murals, stroll through a food market, and stop at a Buddhist temple. At herbal markets, you'll learn the therapeutic benefits of ginseng, geckos and more. A dim sum lunch is an added option. San Francisco, California. 415/982–8839; allaboutchinatown.com. From $55, $85 with lunch.
Chinatown Alleyway Tours. To learn about the modern Chinatown community, join up with one of the young guides at this youth-led nonprofit. Tour leaders, who all grew up here, discuss Chinatown's history and current social issues. San Francisco, California. 415/984–1478; www.chinatownalleywaytours.org. From $23.
Don Herron's Dashiell Hammett Tour. Brush up on your noir slang and join trench-coated guide Herron for a walk by the mystery writer's haunts and the locations from some of Hammett's novels. At four hours for $20, it's one of the best deals going. See the website for tours or arrange one of your own. Civic Center, San Francisco, California. www.donherron.com. $20.
Foot! Fun Walking Tours. You'll likely find yourself breathless with laughter, not just gasping after a steep hill. The tour leaders are all entertainers and history buffs; they've got offerings like the Nob Hill tour "Hobnobbing with Gobs of Snobs." 415/793–5378; www.foottours.com. From $30.
Local Tastes of the City Tours. If you want to snack your way through a neighborhood as you walk it, consider hanging with cookbook author Tom Medin or one of his local guides. You'll learn why certain things just taste better in San Francisco—like coffee and anything baked with sourdough. You'll also gorge yourself into oblivion: the North Beach tour, for instance, might include multiple stops for coffee and baked goods. San Francisco, California. 415/665–0480; www.sffoodtour.com. From $69.
Precita Eyes Mural Walks. For an insider's look at the Mission District's vibrant murals, contact this place for the latest information on tours. The nonprofit organization has nurtured this local art form since 1977. Walks are on weekends, but you can arrange private tours at other times. Muralists lead the tours. San Francisco, California. 415/285–2287; www.precitaeyes.org. From $20.
San Francisco City Guides. An outstanding free service supported by the San Francisco Public Library since 1978, these walking tours have themes that range from individual neighborhoods to local history (the gold rush, the 1906 quake, ghost walks) to architecture. Although the tours are free and the knowledgeable guides are volunteers, it's appropriate to make a donation for these nonprofit programs. San Francisco, California. 415/557–4266; www.sfcityguides.org. Free; $15 donation suggested.
Wok Wiz Chinatown Tour. The late cookbook author and Chinatown booster Shirley Fong-Torres founded Wok Wiz, and her team continues to lead these walks. Conversation topics include folklore and, of course, food. The tour called "I Can't Believe I Ate My Way Through Chinatown!" includes breakfast and lunch. California. 415/795--8303; www.wokwiz.com. From $35.