Walking backward while talking is useful for leading a tour, demonstrating a moonwalk, or retreating from a room full of ominously staring toddlers. See the reverse saunter put to good use with today's Groupon: for $40, your get admission for two to a three-hour walking tour of Chinatown from San Francisco Architecture Tours (an $80 value). Tours run every day of the week at 2 p.m. and meet at the corner of Grant Avenue and Bush Street in front of Starbucks.
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.