With so many bucket-list attractions in San Francisco, a visit to the city can be overwhelming, so a guided tour can help you make the most of your experience. And there are so many adventures to choose from! Day trips to boutique wineries, food tours in multicultural neighborhoods, scenic boat cruises in the Bay Area, you name it.
So no matter what your interest is, or whatever part of San Francisco you want to uncover, there’s a world-class too for you.
To help you take your pick, we’ve narrowed down the 8 best tours and excursions in San Francisco. Whether you’re seeking to discover hidden gems or marvel at the city’s well-known landmarks, you’ll definitely find something on this list. Have a look below to learn more!
The 8 Best Tours & Excursions in San Francisco, CA
Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay Cruise
One of the best ways of experiencing the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge is by taking a boat tour of San Francisco Bay. From the water, you’ll be able to get a unique view of this majestic bridge, which is often regarded as one of the top attractions in San Francisco.
Aside from marveling at Golden Gate’s sweeping architecture, you’ll also get the chance to spot a variety of San Francisco’s landmarks, including Alcatraz Island, Angel Island State Park, Sausalito, Marin Headlands, and the bustling North Beach neighborhood. At times, you may even see seagulls, pelicans, sea lions, and whales!
The San Francisco boat tours usually depart from Pier 43½, in the vibrant Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood.
Muir Woods National Monument Guided Tour
Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge, on Mount Tamalpais on the Marin Peninsula, Muir Woods is a sprawling park that protects 554 acres of old-growth redwood forest, which is California’s oldest and tallest natural wonder.
To experience the immense natural beauty of Muir Woods, be sure to take a half-day tour of the park. In the company of a local guide, you’ll get the chance to learn about the park’s 1,000-year-old trees, which stand 260 feet tall. You’ll also have the chance to get face to face with over 50 species of birds, including spotted owls, as well as coyotes, butterflies, and the Pacific banana slug, the largest land slug in North America!
A great idea is to combine to Muir Woods tour with a tour of Sausalito, a history-filled city known for its Richardson Bay houseboat enclaves, built by artist squatters after WWII, and scenic waterfront walkways.
Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
If you want to explore Francisco’s key attractions, but are short on time, a Hop-On Hop-Off Official City Tour will come in handy. Jump aboard the Day Tour/ Red Route, in Downtown San Francisco, for top-deck views of major landmarks such as the Palace of Fine Arts, Painted Ladies, Coit Tower, and Golden Gate Bridge.
The routes cover the best of San Francisco, and there are over 20 conveniently located hop-on hop-off stops across the city, making it easy to reach the attractions you’re dreaming of discovering.
California Wine Country Tour
Dreaming of trying some of the best wines in the United States? Then a tour of the Northern California wine country is the right match for you.
Wine Country tours from San Francisco will take you to explore the famous Napa Valley, known for its sunk-kissed vineyards and legendary wineries, which are considered the best in the country. Boasting more than 400 wineries, the region is famous for its prized Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tours usually include a trip to the lesser-known Sonoma Valley, aka the birthplace of wine in California. This 17-mile-long valley encompasses a dazzling variety of landscapes and microclimates, from flat meadows to rolling hills, and from cool wind to hot sunshine. With over 100 wineries Sonoma Valley offers a unique wine tasting experience for everyone.
San Francisco Food Tour
When it comes to food, San Francisco does not fool around. The city’s world-renowned cuisine scene spans from impeccable Michelin restaurants to laidback eateries, which makes this destination veritable foodie heaven.
Food tours are a great way to learn about San Francisco’s iconic neighborhoods. In North Beach, which is home to a large community of people from Northern Italy, you’ll be able to try authentic focaccia at the Liguria Bakery. The historic Mission District plays host to a vibrant Latin community, and it’s filled with lip-smacking Mexican restaurants such as Taqueria San Francisco. In Chinatown, you’ll feast on Asian dishes like the delicate dumplings served at the Dim Sum Bistro, and China Live’s signature Peking buck chopped salad.
The variety of food tours available in San Francisco is mind-blowing. Other options include a tour of the Ferry Building, which is home to a famous food market, and a happy-hour tour of Downtown San Francisco to sample enticing high-end and off-menu cocktails.
Recommended Read: The 20 Best Restaurants In San Francisco
Yosemite National Park Tour
Need a restoring escape from San Francisco’s bustling streets? Then go on a 1-day tour to the Yosemite National Park. Nestled in magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite is a bucket list day trip for nature lovers thanks to its 750 miles of nature trails, towering mountains, forested valleys, majestic sequoia trees, and roaring waterfalls.
Yosemite is often considered one of the best national parks in the USA and can be explored either on a multi-day or a one-day tour. Our one-day tours, although short, can cover most of the points of interest of the park, including Half-Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. If you opt for a multi-day tour, you’ll also get the chance to see the park’s giant sequoia groves.
Recommended Read: The 8 Best Day Trips From San Francisco
Alcatraz Island Tour
Located in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island is one of the top historical attractions in San Francisco. The site was used as a fort, a military prison, and a maximum-security federal penitentiary that was home to some of the US’s most dangerous criminals, including Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelley, and Robert “The Birdman”
After taking a ferry and cruise on San Francisco Bay, you’ll arrive at Alcatraz, where the tour will begin. There, you’ll get the chance to visit the prison cell house and listen to actual interviews of former guards and inmates.
After touring “The Rock”, the abandoned prison, make sure to visit the Alcatraz Island Lighthouse and walk around the island to explore its lush gardens and have close encounters with several migrating seabirds who visit the place.
San Francisco Grand City Tour
To experience San Francisco’s enticing atmosphere, a grand tour around the city is a must. After hopping aboard a motor coach, you’ll be taken to see big-name attractions including North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square, Palace of Fine Arts, Nob Hill, and Twin Peaks.
These tours are a great option as they cover more ground than walking, and you’ll also get the chance to stop for photo ops at the Golden Gate Bridge and other landmarks.
Want to level up your San Francisco City Tour? Then opt for upgrades such as a scenic cruise on San Francisco Bay, a half-day bike rental to tour around the city at your own pace, or admission to the Aquarium of the Bay.
What are the best San Francisco tours?
The best tours in San Francisco:
- Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay Cruise;
- Muir Woods National Monument Guided Tour;
- Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour;
- California Wine Country Tour;
- San Francisco Food Tour;
- Yosemite National Park;
- Alcatraz Island;
- San Francisco Grand City Tour.
What you should not miss in San Francisco?
When traveling to San Francisco, make sure you visit the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Union Square, and Fisherman’s Wharf.
What is the best way to explore San Francisco?
Guided tours and excursions are a great way to explore San Francisco and discover both the city’s top landmarks and the local hidden gems.
How many days do you need in San Francisco?
Three to four days in San Francisco is a good amount of time to get an introduction to the city.
What is the most famous thing about San Francisco?
San Francisco is famous for many things, but mostly for being home to iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and the Victorian houses of Alamo Street. The city is also known for its stellar museums, tempting shopping spots, and multicultural neighborhoods.
What is the best time for visiting San Francisco?
September is the best time to visit San Francisco to San Francisco, as it’s when the city experiences the “Indian Summer” — an unseasonably warm, dry weather that happens during autumn in some places in the northern hemisphere.
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