The best walking San Francisco city tour!

As I arrived in San Francisco for the first time, I looked up walking tours, and found the San Francisco in One Day walking tour, to which I registered. It required an upfront payment of US$7 which would cover the ticket to the famous cable car, as a ride on the car is included in the tour.

San Francisco city guides walking tours

As I arrived in San Francisco for the first time, I looked up walking tours, and found the San Francisco in One Day walking tour, to which I registered. It required an upfront payment of US$7 which would cover the ticket to the famous cable car, as a ride on the car is included in the tour.

They offer other walking tours, and actually, after having attended that one, I directly booked another one for the next day.

See below where to walk in San Francisco, and join one the best San Francisco guided tours for free with FreeToursByFoot.

San Francisco in One Day walking tour
Guided San Francisco tours for free - name your own price

Guided San Francisco tour in old SF

San Francisco: Find local activities

Starting by going to the meeting point of the San Francisco city walking tours, I was a bit in advance, and had time to wander in the streets of SF, where I could have a first glance at their famous cable cars.

I then went to the  walking tour   meeting point, and was one of the first to arrive. Our city guide for the  walking tour   is Britt, a native from San Francisco, very friendly and knowledgeable. I'd learn later that he used to be a congressman, and he is now design and running amazing walking tours, I highly encourage you to join one of them if you ever visit San Francisco.

We met under the Transamerica Pyramid tower, a huge skyscrapper in the middle of the business district, very easy to find.

Once the group was complete, we started walking around, and going into smaller streets.

Going into smaller streets, we suddenly stopped in one of them, and Britt started to show us an old map of the town, when San Francisco wasn't more than a big harbour. He went on with lot of explanations on the city history, all very interesting!

So we happened to be walking in some of the oldest streets of the city... and we had no idea! We wouldn't even find it if it wasn't for the tour.

We kept walking around, and saw the old ship saloon, a bar thatused to be a bar inside a ship that was abandoned by immigrants in San Francisco - the standard building at that time, that burned down during one of the many fires.

Of course, now these wooden structures don't exist anymore, and have been replaced by more modern brick and mortar buildings.

Old Ship Saloon

We went on to cross a very nice park, right in the middle of the city, amongst the skyscrappers, and stopped for a little while there, and Britt kept on telling us more about the city history.

Before continuing the tour, some of us used the opportunity to take some pictures of the beautiful flowering trees.

For the following part of the tour, we went back in direction of the skyscrappers, getting a better look at the SalesForce tower, a huge multinational company originating from San Francisco. The Customer Success Platform To Grow Your business
SalesForce guides and explanations - International consulting

Getting into the business district, we nevertheless found the opportunity to cross a lot of green areas.

We then got closer to the bay and the piers, where we would go to find the first stop of the cable car ride.

San Francisco cable car

To find the first stop of the cable car, at the bottom of the famous hill, close to the piers, we followed the direction of the SalesForce tower.

We then found the first stop of the cable car, and started waiting in line for the next one to come.

As the ticket was included in the tour and prepaid, all we had to do was to board the cable car, Britt was taking car of the rest.

The ride went so fast! In only a few minutes, and barely enough time to take pictures, we reached the top of the hill.

Grace cathedral and top of the hill

Once at the top of the hill, we exited the cable car, and were next to Grace cathedral, the biggest one in town.

We stopped for a while in front of the cathedral, and had a look at its beautiful door, while Britt was giving us more explanations about its origins.

Grace Cathedral: Homepage

We all went for a while inside the cathedral, and kept going with our San Francisco city tour afterwards, going around the nearby park.

The next point of interest was the Fairmont hotel, which has a high historical importance for the world: the United Nations were actually founded right there, the hotel hosted the founding members in 1945 and some important talks happened in this building!

History of The UN Charter 1944-1945: Dumbarton Oaks and Yalta
Fairmont San Francisco: United Nations
Fairmont San Francisco - San Francisco (California)
Best rates Fairmont San Francisco

As we were on top of Nob Hill, the only way from there was going down. We had a great point of view on the San Francisco bay, as well as the San Francisco cable car rails.

It was the right time to take some pictures, but the task was complicated, as there was a heavy traffic and the traffic lights only gave us a few seconds to stop on the street.

Chinatown walking tour and lunch

After having walked down Nob Hill, we reached Chinatown, one of the most famous district of San Francisco, which has some of the best and cheapest food in SF.

We stopped at a corner, and Britt gave us some indications for best lunch in San Francisco Chinatown restaurants, and set up a meeting time one hour from the lunch break start.

Chinatown San Francisco - The largest chinatown outside of Asia

We decided to go for a Vietnamese restaurant, which happened to be one of the best lunch in San Francisco Chinatown with some of the cheapest food.

Best lunch in San Francisco
Golden Star Vietnamese Restaurant - Menu & Reviews - Chinatown

Having finished with our lunch, we went back to the meeting point for the next part of the best San Francisco city  walking tour   with our local city guide, Britt.

We had a nice tour of Chinatown, getting to know more of its history, and stopping at some landmarks where we got deeper explanations on why it is there, such as some wall decorations.

Arriving at a very popular square in the heart of Chinatown, we couldn't hear each other due to some bands playing live music, while people around, mostly of Chinese origins, were enjoying the beautiful day.

However, the place was great to take some pictures of the buildings around.

Getting deeper in Chinatown streets, the low traffic let us take some pictures in the middle of the Chinese like buildings and street decoration.

Suddenly getting into a very small street, we got more details from our local guide on the illegal casinos that used to be common in Chinatown.

On our way out of Chinatown, we passed by the very popular shops - most people in Chinatown are sharing very small and cheap places to live, and don't have place to cook or store goods, therefore they have to go everyday to buy groceries, leading to many shops selling single usage food.

Walking in the Italian part of SF

We then reached the Italian part of San Francisco, in which the buildings types and colors starting the change radically from what we had seen just before.

At a corner, we got to see a very famous cafe: it is the place where Francis Ford Coppola was actually coming for coffees while he was writing screenplay for his masterpiece, the movie The Godfather!

Caffe Trieste – Over 50 years Serving Espresso in San Francisco
The Godfather (1972) - IMDb
Francis Ford Coppola - Wikipedia

But we didn't have time to stop for a coffee, and kept going with our tour. Getting down on the street, we had a very good view at the Pyramid tower.

We passed near beautiful paintings on the buildings, and stopped to get more historical fun facts on city's history.

Stopping to look on the floor, many words were written at one corner, and our guide Britt told us all about it - join his amazing San Francisco free  walking tour   to know it all!

We finished the tour by going in direction of the Pyramid tower, which was our starting point and would be also our end point.

But, before getting there, we passed next to another famous building... in the middle of the street, the place where a famous carpenter used to stay before he became a famous actor... Harrison Ford was actually discovered right there! | The Official Star Wars Website

After the tour ended, we all thanked Britt for his amazing work, and that free  walking tour   of San Francisco city was amazing.

We all gave him a tip, as it is how he can keep his tour going. With some of the tour guests, we went on to have a few drinks at a nearby bar, in direction of the piers.

Where to walk in San Francisco

  • Start with Central Business District,
  • Go to Old San Francisco,
  • Take the cable car to the top of Nob Hill,
  • Visit the Grace cathedral,
  • Walk down Nob Hill to Chinatown,
  • Go around Chinatown,
  • Visit the Italian district,
  • Walk along the piers.
San Francisco in one day walking city tour

Michel Pinson
About the author - Michel Pinson
Michel Pinson is a Travel enthusiast and Content Creator. Merging passion for education and exploration, he iscommitted to sharing knowledge and inspiring others through captivating educational content. Bringing the world closer together by empowering individuals with global expertise and a sense of wanderlust.

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