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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!


Frequently Asked Questions

  1.   In what type of vehicle do we travel?

With 6 or fewer people, we travel in our Toyota Sienna LXE minivan — a great way to see the sights as its windows are designed so that you see more completely than in a limo or sedan and its seats (with 5 or fewer passengers) more comfortable than those in first-class on most airlines. Our clients often comment spontaneously on its comfort — leather seats, 2nd-row windows that roll down, and doors that open and close with the push of a button. With 7 or more  passengers we usually travel in a minibus which also offers large windows and wide fabric seats.  If a child under 8 years old or less than 4’ 9” tall will be accompanying you, California law requires that a car/booster seat be provided for riding in any vehicle (other than a taxi or BART); unfortunately, neither we nor your concierge can provide a seat for you since by law it must not be generic and instead fit your child’s size/height/weight. You may bring an appropriate carseat or booster with you or drop by Target (or similar) in downtown San Francisco to purchase one.

  2.   Why do your tours cost more than some 'regularly scheduled' companies like Tower Tours or Super Sightseeing?

We are a very different kind of sightseeing service. Among our many unique features… We pick you up at your home or hotel. We are flexible: for example, you stay as long as you want at the Aquarium or take the weekend cooking lesson at the Culinary Institute instead of a third winery tour. If you need frequent pit stops or smoking breaks, you simply request them. You can ask questions (about history, architecture…) of your educated guide—and get accurate answers. You can request special destinations on many tours, like that little-known winery in the backroads of Sonoma Valley or Frank Lloyd Wright's great Civic Center. You choose where we go for lunch (and it's not in a box). A comparable tour with a limo driver costs at least twice as much. And with a rental car, you trade valuable time for apparent savings…while you consult your maps and look for parking, you enjoy half of what's possible with an expertly crafted itinerary and seasoned guide. Given such features, we're a bargain! (See our Why Tour with Us? section.)

  3.   Why aren't San Francisco's famous cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf or a tour of Alcatraz Island featured on your San Francisco tours?

These are all excellent attractions, readily accessible by public transit—but, in our opinion, best experienced on your own. They would be difficult to accommodate in a one-day tour without sacrificing other worthy sites. The wait in line to board a cable car (at the most popular turnarounds and times of day) can take 90+ minutes—the ride itself an additional 20-30 minutes. To tour the former prison and other sites on Alcatraz you must take a ferry, which in turn requires tickets, that on holiday weekends or in peak season you need to order up to two weeks in advance. (See our Planning Ahead section.) Fisherman's Wharf, the chocolate factory at Ghirardelli Square, and Pier 39 with its colony of sea lions, et. al. appeal to a range of interests and ages, and are best enjoyed at leisure. Nevertheless, if on your one day in San Francisco you must ride a cable car or tour Alcatraz, we can certainly accommodate you.

A Friend in Town's tours are designed to optimize your experiences at a brisk yet pleasant pace, given limited time. We're always happy to recommend activities and events best enjoyed on your own, as a complement to our scheduled outings.

  4.   What if we're a large group?

Currently our primary van (a 2005 Toyota Sienna XLE Limited minivan with four leather Captain's chairs and bench seat in the rear) will comfortably accommodate 5-6 adults, in addition to the driver/guide. Given this number, the tours can be much more personal, flexible, and interactive. However, if you happen to be traveling in a group of 7 to 26 persons (our usual upper limit) —with at least three weeks' notice, we work with our charter bus partner to achieve optimal results. Of course, it may be feasible to run the same tour on two different days, to work with a slightly larger group, or to facilitate other options.

  5.   What if I tire easily, or have other mobility limitations?

Certain features on some tours may have to be omitted (for example, strolling the crowded streets of Chinatown). However, anyone (except an unaccompanied child) is always welcome to pass on any tour option, by resting in the van or bus. If we're not filled to capacity, you may choose to lie down for a while in the rear bench seat; all the Captain's seats fully recline; and with our "privacy glass," passersby cannot see into the van. Unfortunately, until we're able to expand our fleet, we do require that all guests are able—with or without assistance—to get into and out of our van or mini-bus, whose thresholds are about 8 inches from most curbs and a foot from ground level.

  6.  We're shop-aholics. Can you take us to the very best places to shop?

Generally, no. We suggest that you take a taxi or rent a car, as employing A Friend in Town primarily for a shopping tour would not be the best use of your money. However, if you can specify the shopping areas that meet your needs, we can take you there—for the same fees as apply to the narrated tours to those destinations.

  7.   I want to spend a couple of hours (at least) at the Intel Museum, but my spouse and the kids think they want to tour the Winchester Mystery House. Can we do both — simultaneously?

Since these attractions are relatively close to one another, it's do-able. We ask only that you consistently meet the guide at the precise time and place agreed on. A second option would be to experience these attractions sequentially, thus abbreviating our lunch stop or skipping an afternoon activity. In general, however, a personalized tour service like ours is always open to accommodating special requests.

  8.   We've heard about great French restaurants in Yountville (in Napa Valley "wine country"). We'd like to conclude our Wine Country Tour with a special dinner, but we want to avoid the hassle of looking for overnight accommodations.

Dining in the Napa and Sonoma Valley regions can be a multi-layered delight. Yet there are no convenient or inexpensive ways to return to San Francisco or to the East Bay after dark. To compensate for our time, we add a $90 fee (not per-person, but for the entire party) whenever we've worked out, in advance, that our day will include a dinner stop.

  9.   For me the fee's no problem and I really want to see Yosemite.

Our fee for the two-day Yosemite Tour is structured to accommodate just such a request: it's $1,680 regardless of whether we are taking one person or any number up to 5…(with luggage, etc. 6 would be crowded). You must do two things, however, to prepare for Yosemite: a) confirm your dates with us;  b) arrange for lodging within 10 miles of the western entrances to the park…we are happy to help with this. (If you've not camped out in a while and don't have easy access to equipment, it is best that you plan to stay in a hotel or lodge.) Also, your current fitness level (actual not desired) should guide your decision regarding what you do (hike, bike, rent a rubber raft for a cruise down the Merced River, take a photo safari, or explore the art gallery, bookstore and Miwok 'village') during your 8-10 hours of free time in the Park.

10.   Can you accommodate guests who'd prefer a tour in their own language?

For most international languages: with adequate notice, and for a significant additional fee, yes. Alternatively, if a bi-lingual person in your party is willing to act as translator, that person's fee is waived.

11.   What if we have less than a full day, perhaps just a few hours, for a tour?

If you have only a few hours (3-5), we can adjust the itinerary for some of our tours to accommodate that. Propose something, and let us go to work on it.

12.   What are some of the un-usual destinations we may consider?

In the past, we've gone to the "Peanuts" Museum in Santa Rosa (a great stop for older kids and the young-at-heart), the wild tule elk herd in Point Reyes, and the world-class Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Maybe you want just a variation on one of our signature tours. Suggest it, and we'll research its feasibility, at a fee that makes sense.

Call: 510-619-3619Reserve Your Tour