From an early age, native San Franciscans Cynthia Yee and Korene Tom found themselves fascinated with their native culture and its ties to ancient beliefs and the supernatural. Now, through SF Chinatown Ghost Tours, native guides immerse guests in the mysticism, folklore, and history of the U.S.’s oldest Chinese community during themed walking tours. Wandering down dimly lit streets, patrons see the sites of former gambling dens, riots, and antique shops specializing in Mogwai. A daytime cookie factory tour meanders past historic Chinatown sights including a Taoist temple, food markets, and a fortune cookie factory, letting guests munch on cookies where the renowned biscuit was invented.
The crew members at The Electric Tour Company believe that San Francisco is the most fun town in the world, and that one of the best ways to explore its diverse streets are on unique vehicles such as the Segway and electric bikes. This led them to develop tours—for locals and tourists alike—which have attracted attention and praise from outlets such as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and the Los Angeles Times. Atop the sturdy deck of an i2 Segway, groups wheel past famed sights including Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz prison, and the city’s notoriously hilly streets. Night tours facilitate a deeper exploration of neighborhoods such as Little Italy and Chinatown, and electric-bike tours whizz straight over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Led by local historian Rick Evans, guide of the SF Weekly's Best Walking Tour of 2009, the Chinatown walking tour escorts guests through a complex and densely populated neighborhood with an engaging narrative about its rich history. Urban explorers weave their way down narrow alleys and across plazas, discovering the area's charms and the Chinese community's role in the growth of San Francisco and the state. The seasoned tour guide regales groups of no more than six with insightful tales of the oldest Chinatown in North America bolstered by years of experience and a storytelling degree from the Mother Goose Technical Institute. Highlights of the tour include visits to the Street of Painted Balconies, a colorful, crowded street saturated with international flags and upstairs temples, and a cathedral completed during the Gold Rush in 1854, which was recognized as the first Roman Catholic church on the West Coast. The one-mile trek makes stops at a fortune-cookie factory—to watch cookies cool, harden, and form their all-knowing cores—and the neighborhood's oldest herbal shop, which is stocked with Chinese medicine and tongue depressors.
The many stigmas surrounding the sluggishness and spitball susceptibility of school buses and public transit are rendered inane by the sleek comforts of Blue Groundways' buses. Each Blue Groundways bus is an indulgence-vessel on six wheels, offering the musicality of Sirius satellite radio, the connection of on-board WiFi, five-star service from friendly attendants, beverages to hydrate your journey, and the most recent movie releases played on a slick video system. Scheduled routes include a Friday ride that starts in Santa Rosa and travels along Route 42 to Petaluma and Sacramento before arriving in Lake Tahoe and then later in Reno, returning back home on Sundays. The San Francisco to Reno route leaves on Fridays and Sundays with return trips on Saturdays and Sundays, making stops in both Lake Tahoe and Sacramento. Check out the route map for pick-up locations.
In the past five years, City Sightseeing tour company has shuttled 1.5 million passengers around San Francisco in signature double-decker, open-top tour buses. Within the city itself, four different routes wend through various neighborhoods and past iconic landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Danny Tanner’s favorite grocery store. Outside the city, tours also run to Muir Woods, wine country, the picturesque towns of Monterey and Carmel, and Yosemite National Park.
The staff members at Another Side Of Los Angeles Tours take an unconventional approach to sightseeing. The goal is to fashion an experience that is as much about the sights as it is about the tour itself. Sightseers take to the air during helicopter tours, hot air balloon tours, and biking tours with optional ETs.
The company’s segway tours wheel saunterers through Mission Bay or the Gaslamp Quarter and the Embarcadero at sunset, when San Diego twinkles and teenage werewolves cycle through awkward states of half-transformation. In addition to information and adventure, the company frequently gives tour takers round-trip transportation, waives entrance fees, and serves bites to eat.