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San Francisco's Best Walking Tours

History and food combine on these urban journeys.

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  • Wild SF Walking Tour guide, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Simon Thollot
    Photo caption
    Wild SF Walking Tours guide J. Jo plays a Carlos Santana tune during a tour of the Mission District.
  • San Francisco Mission District flowers and mural, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Courtesy of Foodie Adventures
    Photo caption
    Tours of San Francisco's Mission District take in colorful flowers and murals.
  • La Gallinita San Francisco Mission restaurant chicharrones, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Courtesy of Foodie Adventures
    Photo caption
    Foodie Adventures tours take a close look at restaurant specialties such as frying chicharrones at La Gallinita in the Mission District.
  • Emperor Norton San Francisco tour guide, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Emperor Norton’s Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine
    Photo caption
    Emperor Norton leads visitors through the history of downtown San Francisco.

Think you know San Francisco? Even longtime locals may be surprised by what they learn—and, in many cases, taste—on these top-notch walking tours. So don a comfortable pair of walking shoes, fire up your sense of adventure, and start exploring. Area code 415 unless noted.

Foodie Adventures
Sixth-generation San Franciscan Chris Milano leads groups on culinary rambles along 24th Street in the Mission District, the hub of the city’s Latino culture. Over three hours, guests visit seven little-known stops to sample everything from deep-fried chicharrones to pupusas stuffed with pork belly and cheese. Come hungry and book early, as both this and the North Beach—Chinatown tour sell out quickly. (888) 498-2008, foodieadventures.com.

Emperor Norton’s Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine
Guide Joseph Amster adopts the persona of Norton, a revered local eccentric who declared himself the ruler of the United States and whose death in 1880 made national news. Playing his character down to the feather-topped hat and regal walking stick, Amster leads visitors on a journey through the city’s downtown as well as back in time to its days as a lawless frontier settlement. Ideal for families, the tour stops at Lotta’s Fountain, a gathering spot for survivors of the 1906 earthquake, and looks in on a portion of a Barbary Coast tunnel tucked into the basement of an art supply store. 644-8513, emperornortontour.com.

Wild SF Walking Tours
Smartly dressed, energetic guides lead groups through several distinct neighborhoods, spotlighting local history and social movements. In the back alleys of Chinatown, guests dig in to the Gold Rush. A wander through the Mission traces the district’s do-it-yourself spirit back to the Great Earthquake; the gay rights revolution comes to life in the Castro. New tours this summer include a crawl of historic pubs and an exploration of the Haight-Ashbury. 580-1849, wildsftours.com.

This article was first published in May 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.