FX Excursions

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San Francisco 3 Ways

by Eugenia Lazaris

Apr 16, 2019

Phitha Tanpairoj | Dreamstime.com


San Francisco is such a fascinating place to explore that simply “seeing the sights” isn’t enough to really get to know the city. The next time you take your family to the City by the Bay, choose one of these three ways to explore, or, if you’ve got the time, try all three to really get a feel for this historic destination.


Stretch Your Legs With a Free Walking Tour

Free Tours By Foot gives the whole family a chance to see the sites while sneaking in some fresh air and exercise — all without breaking the bank. They offer almost a dozen different tours, allowing you to decide which part of the city you want to get more familiar with. The Chinatown tour shows you the iconic sites of this historic neighborhood, but also gives you a glimpse of how the locals really live. The Billionaire’s Square Tour explores the Nob Hill neighborhood and the Castro District Tour showcases the home of America’s gay rights movement.


For a comprehensive tour of the city, take the San Francisco in One Day Tour, which covers many of these areas and more within the course of five hours, including a lunch break. All tours are completely free, but donations based on what you feel the tour is worth are highly encouraged.


Test Your Sea Legs With a Bay Cruise

Throughout the city you can enjoy beautiful views of the bay, but, if you want to see the city from a different angle, hit the water with one of the many cruising tours available, like the Red and White Fleet Bay Cruises, which offer a variety of tours. The Golden Gate Bay Cruise highlights the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. This tour lasts approximately one hour, leaving you with plenty of time to continue exploring the city and runs daily with departures starting at 9:15 a.m. during the summer months. Tours cost $33 for adults and $23 for kids, ages 5–17, and includes an audio tour that gives a detailed history of the city.


The Sunset Cruise is a more romantic version of the Bay Cruise and lasts an extra hour. In addition to the usual city sites, this cruise offers live music, drinks and appetizers while guests enjoy the spectacular sunset. This option runs during the summer months for $70 ($48 for kids) and is replaced by the California Twilight Cruise during winter months.


Seize the Night With an After-Dark Bus Tour

As the day winds down, head to Fisherman’s Wharf to catch the Double Decker Night Tour for a bus tour that explores the city by night. Departing daily at 6:30 p.m. and lasting approximately an hour and a half, this tour lets you see some of the city’s most famous landmarks after hours. Sit back and relax while someone else does the driving while you tour North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square and stop to view the stunning “Bay Lights,” a light sculpture created using the iconic Bay Bridge. Tickets are $35 for adults, $25 for kids and keep in mind that during the summer months when the sun sets later, this tour may be a sunset tour rather than an after-dark tour. Make sure to dress warmly as the city gets pretty chilly after dark, even during the summer months.


No matter which way you choose to explore the city, by the end of your trip you will understand why Rudyard Kipling once said, “San Francisco has only one drawback — ’tis hard to leave.”


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