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San Francisco Bay

The awe-inspiring backdrop to the sights and sounds of San Francisco.

TravelCurious Tip

The idyllic Tilden Regional Park is a hidden gem just off the SF bay. It’s just a couple of miles from the city, but can feel a world away

San Francisco Bay is an estuary that drains water from approximately 40% of California. That includes water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, as well as from the Sierra Nevada mountains. All this water converges in the San Francisco Bay, and where it breaks into the Pacific Ocean is the Golden Gate Strait.


Orange County

The famous Golden Gate Bridge spans that strait, which is no mean feat: for a time, it was the largest single-suspension bridge in the world. Even though it has lost that accolade, it is still a marvel to behold. Some tourists feel quite betrayed to find the bridge is in fact no actually gold but orange — consider yourself warned. However, set against the cool blue-grey of sky and sea, the orange is iconic.


A World Apart

Isolated in the centre of the bay stands Alcatraz. Since the Second World War this island has been home to prisons of one form or another, a symbolic penitentiary set apart from the good citizens of San Francisco. Alcatraz has only ever been able to hold about 260 prisoners, but at times the roster has read like a true who’s who of American organised crime. Al Capone called it home for a while. Nowadays, it is no longer a prison but a rather fascinating tourist sight and occasionally the location for excellent films.


The Wind Rises

Consistent strong winds mean that the San Francisco Bay is ideal for sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, while its layout means it offers protection from large open ocean swells. So it’s a great place for learners and experts alike. Cycling paths also ring the bay, as do various refuges and parks, so it’s a great place to be outdoors, whatever your favoured activity.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in San Francisco
Dearborn Community Garden
Covering less than a quarter of a block and easily missed, the Dearborn community garden is so popular that the seven year waiting list has been closed entirely.
Clarion Alley
The alley has had over 700 murals painted on it in its century spent exclusively devoted to supporting street artists, and receives over 200,000 visitors annually.
Valencia Street
Home to hipster eateries, lined with street art and bars filled with the newest craft cocktail, Valencia Street is the main drag for foodies and people looking for a local experience.
Women's Building
An institution in the Mission District, the Women's Building proudly features the MaestraPeace, one of San Francisco's largest and best known murals.
Tasting at a Taquería
The mission district offers several tantalizing locations from which to taste mouth-watering local fare - quesadillas, burritos, tacos, and taquitos to name a few.
Mexican sweet bread
The 24th street corridor offers the most beautiful examples of local Chicano public art, import stores, and authentic panaderías (Mexican bakeries), where you will have the chance to taste Mexican sweet bread.

Related Tours

Private Full Day Highlights, with Alcatraz Island
Immerse yourself in the highlights of San Francisco, and discover the infamous history of Alcatraz. On your private tour of San Francisco, you will:

  • Soak up the San Francisco skyline from the top of iconic Nob Hill 
  • Explore Union Square, San Francisco's bustling shopping area
  • Immerse yourself in the customs, cuisine and curiosities of Chinatown 
  • Snap panoramic pictures from statuesque Colt Tower 
  • Venture through North Beach to absorb the community’s Italian heritage 
  • Enjoy striking views of the Golden Gate Bridge from atmospheric Fisherman's Wharf 
  • Dig into some of San Francisco's famous seafood - like clam chowder soup in a sourdough bread bowl (price not included)
  • Visit the world’s most notorious island penitentiary, Alcatraz.
On this Private Half Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights, you will learn about the city’s founding in 1776, when Spanish colonists settled the area during gold-rush fever. See first-hand San Francisco’s colorful mix of quaint buildings and modern architecture in a stunning ocean-facing city that is more than just flower power and social consciousness. 

Your Private Half Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights will take you through an urban landscape, set on the northern tip of a peninsula, shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and the Pacific’s rolling waves. At the top of Nob Hill, soak up an extraordinary cityscape at cable car height. Iconic landmarks, such as Golden Gate Bridge, Japantown, the Colt Tower and the oldest Chinatown in North America. Set on San Francisco's picturesque steep slopes, enjoy a stunning skyline across streets criss-crossed by street cars, yellow taxis and jogging trails. 

Wander through some world-class shopping centered on Union Square, where big-name brands and local stores nestle amongst chic boutiques. At beautiful North Beach, known colloquially as Little Italy, soak up the ambience of the city’s lively historic Italian-American community. Lastly, Fisherman’s Wharf, lined with seafood cafes, is home to basking sea lions, jugglers and mime artists and enjoys striking views across the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island. At the ‘dress to character’ ferry, your guide will leave the tour so that you can explore the world’s most infamous island prison - Alcatraz. 

Your guide will leave you at the dock for Alcatraz, once you are in line. Then, take an audio tour at a leisurely pace to hear tales of notorious felons such as Al-Capone and Robert Franklin Stroud in this former fort, military prison and maximum security federal penitentiary.  

Please note: Alcatraz tickets are in high demand during the summer and tickets cannot be guaranteed at the time of booking. We will contact you soonest should we be unable to obtain tickets.
Private Half Day Highlights of San Francisco
Dating back to 1776, the city was founded by Spanish colonists, and grew rapidly during the gold rush of the 1840s.  Through the centuries the city has become the centre of several industries - especially banking and high-tech, and is one of the most beloved cities for people on the West Coast. On your private half day tour of San Francisco, you will: 

  • Learn the history of its famous neighbourhoods, including Downtown, the Financial District, Nob Hill, Chinatown, and Little Italy. 
  • Take a cable car to the top of Nob Hill  for spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline.
  • Explore Union Square, San Francisco's bustling shopping area
  • Immerse yourself in the customs, cuisine, and curiosities of Chinatown 
  • Snap panoramic pictures from statuesque Colt Tower 
  • Venture through North Beach to absorb the community’s Italian heritage 
  • Enjoy striking views of the Golden Gate Bridge from atmospheric Fisherman's Wharf 
Considered by many as the USA’s most beautiful city, San Francisco - a.k.a The City by the Bay - is a seductive mix of exotic cultures renowned world-wide for its liberal free-thinking ideals. A vibrant arts, music and festival scene continues to echo San Francisco’s long-standing progressive stance on activism: the city is credited with trailblazing the so-called “Flower Power” peace movement, pioneering the sexual revolution, and powering the gay rights movement to one of the largest and most prominent LGBT communities in the world. Deeply-embedded Mexican cultures stem from San Francisco’s strong historical bonds with Spanish America and Mexico with today’s buzzing Hispanic population fully immersed in the city’s art scene, both in galleries and studios as well as urban murals. 

On this Private Half Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights, you will learn about the city’s founding in 1776, when Spanish colonists settled the area during gold-rush fever. See first-hand San Francisco’s colourful mix of quaint buildings and modern architecture in a stunning ocean-facing city that is more than just flower power and social consciousness. Your Private Half Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights will take you through an urban landscape, set on the northern tip of a peninsula, shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and the Pacific’s rolling waves. At the top of Nob Hill, soak up an extraordinary cityscape at cable car height. Iconic landmarks, such as Golden Gate Bridge, Japantown, the Colt Tower and the oldest Chinatown in North America. Set on San Francisco's picturesque steep slopes, enjoy a stunning skyline across streets criss-crossed by street cars, yellow taxis and jogging trails. Wander through some world-class shopping centred on Union Square, where big-name brands and local stores nestle amongst chic boutiques. At beautiful North Beach, known colloquially as Little Italy, soak up the ambience of the city’s lively historic Italian-American community. Lastly, Fisherman’s Wharf, lined with seafood cafes, is home to basking sea lions, jugglers and mime artists and enjoys striking views across the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island. 

Please note: Historic cable cars cannot run in adverse weather conditions, so on days with inclement weather you will take an uber or taxi to the top of Nob Hill. 
Build your own Tour in San Francisco
What better way to explore the magnificent city of San Francisco than with your very own personal tour guide?  Plan your day with an expert, visit the places that excite you most and spot the hidden gems you might have otherwise missed along your way.

  • Plan your day with an expert, and experience an off the beaten track tour.
  • Our guides tailor the tour directly to your interests to make sure you get the most out of your time in each point visited.
  • Discover the San Francisco you want to see, at the pace you want to see it.
Our professional, hand-picked guides are experts at designing tours around you.  Meet your guide at your hotel, talk through San Francisco’s spectacular sights and hear about all the great possibilities for the day ahead.  The choice is up to you.  Have you always wanted to stand on the Golden Gate Bridge and look out into San Francisco Bay?  Just say the word and you’ll be swept off to the best viewpoints.  Or maybe you’re looking for a tour of something a little more off the beaten track?  That’s fine too - perhaps you'll take a trip to the legendary Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood where the hippie movement started in the early 60s.  Either way, our guides tailor the tour directly to your interests to make sure you get the most out of your time in San Fran.

Ultimately, you’ll discover the San Francisco you want to see, at the pace you want to see it, all with the knowledge and expertise of a local friendly guide.

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