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We can pick you up anywhere within 90 minutes’ drive of San Francisco—at your home, hotel, ship's terminal, or the airport!

San Francisco: half- or full-Day Tour?


How do we decide...whether a half (usually 4 hours), or a full-day (approx. 8 hours) Itinerary will work best for us?

Also useful for deciding priorities for your tour.

    We begin each San Francisco tour by discussing your priorities as we cannot even drive by everything listed. Consider the following sites and how much time it takes on average to enjoy them. Keep in mind that there's travel time between sites, that you may need a personal pit stop or two, that you may want to take or be in photos. When you add it all up, see if your sum is closer to 4, or to 8 hours. If closer to 8, including travel time between stops and time for photos, pit stops...lunch, then that's a full-day tour.

    Why not just be spontaneous and add time as we go? Because sometimes A Friend in Town will have another tour scheduled for the same day, or your guide will have other plans. (We also offer an option for the unfortunate visitor who has only an evening-- say after a business meeting or a long lay-over between flights: our After Dark tour.)

    FYI many tour companies love to advertise long lists of attractions, many of which they point to as they drive by or mention in their commentary, but you don't get any meaningful time at these sites. For example, big buses are prohibited in the narrow, crowded streets of Chinatown, but their ads will list "Chinatown" among the attractions they imply that they visit--what they do is talk about it as they pass by. The "Crookedest Street" is also forbidden to most vehicles, but they'll point to it from several blocks away.

Lunch and,or Dinner [relevant only to our full-day tour]

___quick like sandwiches or pizza (40 min) or leisurely at a restaurant with a view (90 min). You can end a half-day tour being dropped off at a restaurant (in San Francisco or Sausalito), or begin one (not later than 2 p.m.) after lunch.

Famous Attractions

__Golden Gate Bridge: as seen from below (20 min) or as seen from above (more panoramic) (30 min)

__Chinatown: drive through its two main thoroughfares (20 min) or walk into live-animal markets, the fortune cookie factory, a Taoist temple, bazaars (one hour)

__drive down "The Crookedest Street" (15 min)…plus photo op (20 min)

__The Haight (-Ashbury) neighborhood, its one-of-a-kind shops, excellent bookstore, tattoo parlors, thousand colorful Victorians, great people-watching (20-50 min)

__The Castro neighborhood, a Gay mecca & setting for the Oscar-winning film "Milk": where civil rights leader Harvey Milk lived and worked, great movie palace, GLBT history museum, its street activity (more fabulous on weekends)  (10-40 min)

Worthwhile but Less Well Known

__North Beach neighborhood, "Little Italy," home to the Beatniks, lively Washington Square Park: drive through (20 min) or walk around (50 min)…with time to visit the new Porzuincola Chapel of St. Francis, the city's patron saint (add 20 min)

__Civic Center: its gigantic neoclassical City Hall & Opera House, modern Symphony Hall, Main Library, Asian Art Museum...drive around (10 min)

__Mission Dolores church (the city's oldest building, completed in 1791 while we were part of New Spain) including its historic cemetery (30 min)

__Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill, its un-usual stained-glass windows (including Einstein, Thurgood Marshall, John Glenn), its Chapel to the memory of the thousands lost to AIDS, "Gates of Paradise" bronze doors (30-40 min)

__Palace of Fine Arts, a very picturesque Roman-style rotunda & colonnade next to a lagoon (10-15 min)

__Pacific Heights neighborhood: multi-million-dollar mansions of some very fortunate residents, the "Mrs. Doubtfire" house, a grand staircase w/panoramic views

(20 min)

__The Presidio: more than 230 years of military history in a man-made forest, panoramic vistas, a Disney museum, surprises from "Star Wars," much more (20-30 min)

__If you're an avid "Star Wars" fan, you may want to plan your visit around Rancho Obi-Wan, 40 minutes north of San Francisco in the charming town of Petaluma. We can get you there, but you'll have to arrange a tour with them directly--several weeks in advance is recommended. Plan for the tour there plus travel there and back to take 4 hours.

__Murals (hundreds!, both political and purely artistic) of the Mission District neighborhood (20-40 min)

___Other unique attractions we'll not reveal to our competitors...a view near Twin Peaks without crowds, internationally famous mosaic stairways, the City's best hiking trails, an Eastern Orthodox cathedral, historic synagogues, a haunted columbarium...

and more

Muir Woods & Sausalito

__drive along Sausalito's picturesque waterfront (10 min), sample its shops (add 20)...view some of its over 500 'floating homes' (add another 15)

__a walk creek-side in an ancient and rare redwood forest...ride to and from (90 min or more)

__see a little publicized part of our wild coastline (20 min)

__view the City, Bay & Bridges from the Marin Headlands (20 min) or Cavallo Point or Fort Point

__visit an unique marine mammal hospital…if there are "patients" (usually sea lions, harbor seals) on view (30 min)

Famous Vistas

__famous "Painted Ladies"/“Full House” Victorian houses: drive by (10 min)…close-up (15-20 min)

__Twin Peaks: panoramic view of the City & Bay (25 min)

__panoramic view of the City from below Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill (20 min)

__Treasure Island, looking towards the San Francisco skyline and the newly iconic Bay Bridge...spectacular during the day but even more at night...plus a giant Burning Man sculpture (30 min)

By the Ocean

__Golden Gate Park, an urban forest larger than NYC's Central Park: drive through (20 min)…with visit to Japanese Tea Garden or Conservatory of Flowers, etc. (one hour)

__stop at site popular with hang-gliders, if the wind's right, and City's most popular off-leash dog run (30-40 min)

Worthwhile but best experienced On Your Own--unless you have limited mobility

__Alcatraz prison tour & ferry ride (2½-3 hours): make reservation weeks in advance for 'tourist season' (major holidays + Apr-Dec)

__ride on a cable car (40 min. to an hour, including wait in line)

__Fisherman's Wharf incl. sea lion colony at Pier 39 (2-3 hours)

__Art Exhibits at Museums: DeYoung, Asian, African Diaspora, Modern Art, Contemporary Jewish, Cartoon Art, the New Deal era murals inside Coit Tower [See them with San Francisco City Guides]

__the Walt Disney Museum, a masterfully executed tribute to the animation pioneer (90 min plus)

__The Exploratorium especially its Tactile Dome, the California Academy of Sciences (3-4+ hours each), the Musee Mechanique featuring coin-operated entertainment from generations ago (40 min)

__tres elegant Garden Court dining room in the historic Palace Hotel (15 min)… [Tour with San Francisco City Guides (2 hours)]

__Cable Car Museum (30 min)

__the Tonga Room (a perfectly preserved tiki bar) or the "Top of the Mark"--both famous watering holes with unique decor/views--the memorabilia & cuisine of the Big Four restaurant…all on Nob Hill

__Japantown: historical museum, shops, restaurants (2-3 hours)

__AT&T Park (home to champion San Francisco Giants) offering a guided tour year-round...except on game days

Tours are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis, and for our high season (April–October) often fill quickly. CALL Us at 800-960-8099 (US & Canada), 510-619-3619 (Overseas), or E-MAIL Us Now.

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