Sightsee780139

TripAdvisor

Such an interesting deep dive into the Castro and Mission neighborhoods, for which we had an incredibly sunny warm summer day. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, having grown up in the area, and pointed out not only historical places, but beautiful murals, homes and fun nooks and crannies (like hidden stairways to streets) that we never would have seen on our own. We definitely came away with much more of an appreciation for Castro and the Mission (love Dolores Park!) and will seek out other neighborhoods on our next trip!

Gillian_D

Viator

I had the most amazing time, as a solo traveller doing a small group tour is perfect. My tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. He gave us lots of fun facts along the way and the whole experience was very interesting. Bring your walking shoes we started at 10 am and finished at 6 pm, I highly recommend you do this tour. We went to places tourist didn’t go.

Jamie Sarkozi

Google

My Boyfriend and I booked an all Day SF tour with Christofer and had an amazing time! He knew a ton of history which we loved and we were able to see a ton. We loved it as it had been our first time visiting. Would highly recommend to anyone wanting to be shown around the city.

Edgar Wallace

Google

Did a wonderful tour with these guys while I was in San Francisco on business. I’d also done a tour with the sister company in Los Angeles several years ago. Kevin, who was the guide, was great and it was so nice to be outside. We learnt tons about SF. Definitely recommended!

juju1961

TripAdvisor

Our guide Damien was so very knowledgeable about the area and history of SF. We experienced different methods of transport (avoiding those big hills!) and areas we would not otherwise have known about.

Margie S

Viator

Damien was the best! Friendly & very informative. He took into consideration our interests & made it very enjoyable. Great exercise- best way to see SF. Liked Haight Ashbury the most.

San Francisco Waterfront Tour

San Francisco Waterfront tour
San Francisco Waterfront Tour

PRICE

Free/Zilch/Nada
Just like the best things in life

WALKING OR CYCLING

4.5 miles
An easy cycling distance
A moderate walking distance

TIME

Do it when it suits you
Take as long as you like

Begin your self-guided San Francisco Waterfront Tour on San Francisco's famous Embarcadero (or you can shorten it by starting at Fisherman's Wharf) and take in the picturesque waterfront, Bay Bridge and Treasure Island.

After that go through vibrant Fisherman's Wharf, pass Fort Mason and the Palace of Fine Arts, before enjoying some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, in Crissy Field.

Finally, finish the self-guided San Francisco Waterfront tour at the beautiful, historic, San Francisco Presidio (ideally with an ice-cream).

You can also cycle this route very easily as there are many bike rental shops in the area.

Ferry Building, San Francisco

FERRY BUILDING

Opening in 1898, at the head of one of San Francisco's main thoroughfares, Market Street, the Ferry Building was the largest structure in the city at the time.

The clock tower was inspired by the twelfth century minaret in Sevilla, Spain, which is known as La Giralda, and the building was the second busiest transit terminal in the world until the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges were completed in the 1930's.

It's a great spot to visit, because it's full of bars, cafes, restaurants and shops now, so why not have breakfast or a drink while preparing for your self-guided San Francisco Waterfront tour.

COIT TOWER

An icon of San Francisco, Coit Tower looks down over the bay, North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf, from the lofty peak of Telegraph Hill.

Designed in the Art Deco style, the tower opened in 1933 and was a gift from a wealthy widow, Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who was a benefactor of the city's firefighters.

The tower has some spectacular murals on the ground floor and an observation deck at the top with fantastic views of the city and Bay, so it's well worth visiting if you have the time (and the energy to climb the Filbert Street Steps).

Coit Tower
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FISHERMAN'S WHARF

During the mid to late nineteenth century Italian immigrants settled in the North Beach area and used the wharf for their fishing boats.

By the 1920's many fishing boat operators had started their own restaurants on the pier and were selling the produce to hungry diners themselves. By then Fisherman's Wharf was already becoming a tourist attraction.

In spite of the neighborhood's redevelopment in the 1970's and 80's to create a tourist destination, several fishing fleets still operate from here and some of the local restaurants have been owned by the same family for up to three generations.

There are a ton of things to do here and it's a great spot to pause your self-guided San Francisco Waterfront tour for lunch.

GHIRARDELLI SQUARE

In 1893, only a year before he died, Domenico Ghirardelli bought a whole city block next to Fisherman's Wharf to build a headquarters for his chocolate empire.

Domenico had arrived in San Francisco in 1852, drawn by the Gold Rush, and in 1865 his company more or less invented the modern method of making chocolate here.

If you have time get a hot chocolate in the cafe in the basement, it's delicious. The old equipment is still used and you can see the whole process of making the chocolate as you enjoy it.

Ghirardelli Square
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FORT MASON

Originally owned by John Frémont, prime mover behind the U.S. capture of California from Mexico, Fort Mason was later seized by the government and converted to military use.

Over two-thirds of all troops serving in the Pacific theatre during the Second World War embarked here, but now it's home to several educational institutions, some restaurants and a youth hostel.

Check the website when you're visiting to see the event calendar, as the Center has an interesting program of art fairs, food festivals and other cool events.

MARINA DISTRICT & PALACE OF FINE ARTS

This very attractive neighborhood was originally similar to Crissy Field, before developing into an industrial and port area in the late nineteenth century.

In 1915 it was chosen as the site for the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, for which the Palace of Fine Arts, now a convention centre, was built. The exposition was a big deal for San Francisco at the time, becoming a symbol of its final recovery from the 1906 earthquake and the Great Fire.

Now the Marina District is highly regarded for its many fine restaurants.

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
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SAN FRANCISCO PRESIDIO & CRISSY FIELD

The Presidio has been a fortified location since 1776, when it was established by the Spanish, to aid them in their conquest of Alta California.

Its use as a military installation ended only in 1994, but there's still a beautiful cemetery, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. An aerodrome was constructed at Crissy Field in the early twentieth century, but now it's a beautiful urban park.

You can still see the old 1920's hangars on the side of the old landing strip.

GOLDEN GATE BRIDDGE

Finish your self-guided San Francisco Waterfont Tour by enjoying unrivaled views of this San Francisco icon.

Long dreamed of by local boosters, the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 with a week-long party, at the end of which 200,000 people crossed, on foot or roller-skates.

The most surprising fact to know about the bridge? It opened ahead of schedule and under budget!

If you can, cross over to the west-side of the bridge and look out over the Pacific, where there are also some great angles for taking photos of San Francisco's most famous structure.

Golden Gate Bridge

We hope you enjoyed this free self-guided San Francisco Waterfront tour.

For more information on things to do in San Francisco and how to navigate the city take a look at S.F. Info and Inside SF, and check in with us on social media to see what else we're doing.

This map is interactive. To open in Google Maps click the icon in the top right corner.