Biking up 60-degree hills or jabbing at a spinning globe of San Francisco is a disappointing way of exploring the sights of the city. Today’s Groupon injects wisdom into your local wanderlust with a 2.5-hour tour from GoCars for $50 (a $103 value). GoCars are little, sunshine-yellow storytelling cars, acting as magic transport eggs by safely cradling up to two passengers (ages five and older) through a narrated, GPS-guided tour of Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Gardens, Crissy Field, Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and virtually any part of San Francisco a tourist or explorist might want to see.
GoCars navigate the city terrain, describing the significance of historic sights (Fort Mason, The Painted Ladies of Alamo Square) and cultural landmarks (Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge) as you zoom past (with a zoom limit of 35 mph) with haste or slowly saunter by for photo ops. GoCar lets you explore at your own pace as you choose from three different narrated tour routes:
- Downtown San Francisco: Navigate through North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square, and the Financial District for sights of the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge while humming Petula Clark.
- Urban Parks: A hearty voyage along the coast to the Golden Gate Bridge and back through Golden Gate Park, then past Twin Peaks, Alamo Square, and Baker Beach.
- The Mister SF Tour: See the city from the perspective of one of its gurus, Hank Donat, as you travel through diverse neighborhoods, cultural landmarks, movie locations, and more on this audio tour. This tour is ideal for locals and those looking for a slightly more intimate delving into their hometown.
Multilingual GoCars are fluent in Italian, Spanish, French, German, and English thanks to engineers devising a way to fit five translators into the vehicle’s carburetor. These co-pilot cars invite you to make detours and food stops, giving riders the freedom to shape their own tour according to their camera wants, appetites, and traveling intuition. You must be 21 or older to rent a car, and rental requires a credit card for a security deposit of $300 with insurance or $400 without, which is fully refunded at the end of the tour. Optional insurance for the GoCar is available for an additional $12.
Tours that extend beyond 2.5 hours will be charged extra in 15-minute intervals. Driving a GoCar on bridges or freeways is not permitted.
Time magazine named GoCar one of the coolest inventions of 2004, and it has been reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle and USA Today: > * It is one thing to cruise down the winding part of Lombard Street in a regular car. It is another to take the hairpin turns - paved brick road below, screeching green parrots flying above - in a sporty yellow GoCar, a fiberglass three-wheeler with the engine power of a scooter…As we descended, the GPS guide noted that Lombard is actually not the crookedest street in San Francisco - that distinction goes to Vermont Street in the Potrero neighborhood - but it is the “prettiest windiest street.” – Julian Guthrie, San Francisco Chronicle > * “That was wild,” she declares, whipping off the motorcycle helmet that is mandatory for renters. “I want a franchise.” – Gene Sloan, USA Today
More than 50 Yelpers give GoCar four stars, and TripAdvisors give 3.5 owl eyes: > * Holy Crapitos!!! I want a Go Car of my own! That was the best sight-seeing, tourist activity I have ever experienced. – Amie B., Yelp > * The GPS is fantastic, and we chose to stop off a few times to take photos and have a coffee. All in all, a great way to see the city. – mclachlan4321, TripAdvisor > * We have hundreds of pictures from our drive, and we are still talking about it to others as our most fun day of our week long trip. I recommend doing the Go Car at the beginning of your trip. That way you can see everything around the city and pick spots that you want to return to later in your stay. – luddyhipps, TripAdvisor
Even before you climb inside, the GoCar is clearly a car with a personality. The petite, three-wheeled two-seater has a hood that slightly resembles an eager-to-please smiley face, and an open top that seems custom-made for letting the breeze ruffle your hair. Then the real fun begins: built with the company's own software and a compassion for the voiceless robots of America, a talking GPS system guides two-seater GoCars through the city streets of San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon with cheerful, info-rich narration. Second only to having a knowledgeable local jog alongside your minivan, tours zip along at drivers' own pace and accommodate as many pit stops as time allows.