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San Francisco RECOMMENDATIONS See all

A Step Back in Time

By Viator, November 2014

4.5 100 Reviews | Add your review

San Francisco may only be 7x7, but its rich history makes it feel like a large and bountiful country! So many cultures have thrived, met and mingled in this land by the Bay and, luckily for you, you can learn about them on a variety of fascinating walking tours.

Custom built for art history and architecture enthusiasts, as well as the discriminating tourist who wants to venture beyond the Wharf and Alcatraz, the Art Deco Walking Tour of San Francisco will appeal to anyone interested in the luxe 1920s and 30s history that overwhelms the city’s Financial District. Locals, this tour is for you too; I bet there are more than a handful of natives who would be astounded to learn about the significant buildings that can be claimed by San Francisco. From one important building to the next, you will leave with a solid appreciation of San Francisco’s premier architects and artists of SF’s Art Deco era, and bonus, no hills to climb!It was clear my guide was going to be an expert when she arrived decked out in head-to-toe authentic 30’s garb. For the next three hours she squired us around the streets of the Financial District, all the while sharing her devotion for this glamorous time in San Francisco’s past. We started in the historic lobby of the Rincon Post Office, carefully preserved and restored to reflect it’s epic grandeur. The typeface on the original signage and the curvy distinctive metal work surrounding the walls lend a real Gotham City feel to the building. I put my art history knowledge to the test as I listened to her explain the controversial-at-the-time murals lining the walls depicting the history of California.

Our next stop was Schroeder’s Restaurant, still serving traditional German fare. Established in 1893, it houses murals by Herman Richter painted in 1935. Not to be outdone, the nearby Tadich Grill can boast itself as California’s oldest restaurant and has remained virtually unchanged from the 1920s-30s. Here you can feast on fresh seafood while being surrounded in true Californian old-timey, white tablecloth dining splendor. (PRO-TIP:  on the walk down California Street to our next stop, my guide pointed out that one can breezily catch a cable car without waiting in the hours-long line you find at Powell. Noted!)

It’s hard to resist See’s Candy and on this tour, you don’t have to since it qualifies as one of the stops as it was established in 1922. Stopping in front of the towering Shell Building, I had to crane my neck all the way back in order to fully appreciate its 29 floors. Egyptian influences set the tone for the lobby’s decor, as King Tut’s tomb was opened in 1922, and the building completed in 1929. Up next was the building that housed the former San Francisco Stock Exchange. This visit was my personal favorite, as the adjoining Stock Exchange Tower (now the City Club of San Francisco) hides one of the city’s best kept secrets: a two-story Diego Rivera mural that provides an impressive backdrop to a gilded ‘n glamorous two-story staircase. My tour group was small, so our guide stealthily snuck us in to see it!

Tours & Tickets

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San Francisco Chinatown Ghost Walking Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 42 Reviews

Are you fascinated by ghosts? Join this evening walking tour and let the local guides bring to life the tales of San Francisco Chinatown's supernatural past ...  Read more

Location: San Francisco, California
Duration: 90 minutes (approx.)

From USD $23.99

The Castro: Historical Walking Tour of San Francisco's Gay & Lesbian District

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 52 Reviews

Step out on a historical walking tour of San Francisco's internationally renowned gay neighborhood, the Castro. While walking you will learn about the history ...  Read more

Location: San Francisco, California
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $30.00

San Francisco Gold Rush Era Walking Tour with Cocktails

Discover historic buildings and saloons on the old San Francisco waterfront, and learn about the city's notorious reputation during and after the Gold Rush ...  Read more

Location: San Francisco, California
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $69.00

Nob Hill Walking Tour in San Francisco with Optional Lunch

For more than a century, San Francisco’s Nob Hill has been associated with the upper crust, the ‘beau monde.’ Take a guided walking tour to admire the ...  Read more

Location: San Francisco, California
Duration: 1.5 or 2.5-hours

From USD $40.00

Art Deco Walking Tour of San Francisco

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 5 Reviews

Step back in time on this Art Deco walking tour in San Francisco. Led by an art historian, this tour takes you to buildings featuring distinctive 1920s and 30s ...  Read more

Location: San Francisco, California
Duration: 2 to 2.5-hours

From USD $40.00

The Beat Museum and Walking Tour

Take a look at the writers, artists and thinkers called the Beats who gathered in San Francisco in the 1950s during this fascinating afternoon walking tour. ...  Read more

Location: San Francisco, California
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $25.00

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