Walking San Francisco: 35 Savvy Tours Exploring Steep Streets, Grand Hotels, Dive Bars, and Waterfront Parks

Walking San Francisco: 35 Savvy Tours Exploring Steep Streets, Grand Hotels, Dive Bars, and Waterfront Parks

by Kathleen Dodge Doherty, Tom Downs


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Friday, October 29


Get to Know San Francisco’s Most Vibrant and Historic Neighborhoods

Grab your walking shoes and become an urban adventurer. San Francisco is a richly historic city of scenic vistas and diverse neighborhoods. Let Kathleen Dodge Doherty and Tom Downs guide you through 35 unique walking tours that traverse the City by the Bay’s length and breadth. The self-guided tours lead you through the heart of the left coast.

Each featured walk includes full-color photographs and detailed neighborhood maps. The walks’ commentaries touch upon such topics as architecture, culture, trivia, and a local history that includes the Gold Rush, the Summer of Love, and the current tech boom. Route summaries highlight points of interest on each tour, while tips on local cafes, bars, nightlife spots, and five-star dining options help to ensure that you find the “can’t miss” locales.

Walking San Francisco takes you from the Embarcadero to Lands End, from Bernal Heights to Golden Gate Park. It provides the perfect path for a weekend, an after-work ramble, or a sociable pub crawl. Find a route that appeals to you, and walk San Francisco!

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780899979090
Publisher: Wilderness Press
Publication date: 02/12/2019
Series: Walking
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 492,043
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Kathleen Dodge Doherty is a San Francisco–based freelance writer, adventurer, and lover of all things outdoorsy and literary. For more than two decades, Kathleen has been writing, editing, and reading about San Francisco—climbing hills, downing burritos, paying too much for coffee, and ferreting out speakeasies in the name of research. She is the author (with Jordan Summers) of
Day & Section Hikes: John Muir Trail (Menasha Ridge Press) and has also written for Fodor’s, Lonely Planet, Moon Handbooks, Afar Magazine, AAA Via Magazine, and many websites. A one-time researcher, developer, and leader of bicycling and hiking tours worldwide, Kathleen largely runs after her kids and jumps in local puddles these days. A swashbuckler at heart, Kathleen is continually surprised by the never-ending treasures that await in her city by the bay.
Tom Downs grew up in the Santa Clara Valley, south of San Francisco. He has lived in Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland, and Berkeley, as well as in Chinatown and the MissionDistrict in San Francisco. He is a travel writer who has authored books and articles about New Orleans, Hanoi, and the West of Ireland for Lonely Planet, BBC Studios, and a host of magazines, newspapers, and websites. His photography has appeared in publications including National Geographic and The New York Times. In 2007 his post-Katrina Lonely Planet New Orleans was honored with the Lowell Thomas Award, granted by the Society of American Travel Writers, for Best Guidebook.

Read an Excerpt

Fisherman’s Wharf

From Crab Traps to Tourist Traps: Maritime History Along the Waterfront

  • BOUNDARIES: Beach St., Jefferson St., Grant Ave., Aquatic Park
  • DISTANCE: 3 miles
  • PARKING: Off-street parking is available at Anchorage Square, corner of Leavenworth and Beach Sts. Most street parking is metered 7 days a week. On side streets south of Bay St. you might find unmetered street parking, limited to 2 hours for nonresidents (on Sunday you can park for an unlimited time in these zones).
  • PUBLIC TRANSIT: Powell–Mason cable car; F streetcar; 47 Muni bus

Most San Franciscans roll their eyes at the thought of walking through Fisherman’s Wharf, but this is because they equate it with mass-produced T-shirts, overpriced waffle cones, and tacky tourist schlock. And while all of this does exist along the quay, you’ll also find a rich history of Italian and Chinese immigrants, a still-vibrant fishing trade, fascinating museums, and some unexpected surprises lurking beneath the surface. From penny arcades to submarines to barking seals—not to mention the gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz—the area is not without merit if you’re willing to look for the worthwhile sights. Further, to understand San Francisco is to understand how Fisherman’s Wharf came to be in the first place. So while street hawkers pitching soup in a bread bowl and wax museums lend an air of inauthenticity, there’s actually quite a bit of genuine San Francisco hiding in plain sight here.

Walk Description

Start at Longshoremen’s Hall, a homely but historical structure at the corner of Mason and Beach Streets. It houses the headquarters of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union. Bodies outlined on the sidewalk suggest that this corner was a crime scene, but these figures are tributes to the striking longshoremen who were shot by police in the general strike of 1934. The riot and shootings took place not here but at the corner of Mission and Steuart Streets, where the Coast Seamen’s Union kept its offices. A significant historic event did take place in this building in January 1966, when the Trips Festival was held here. The three-day event, organized by Ken Kesey (who penned One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest), rock promoter Bill Graham, and others, ushered in the hippie era. Entertainment was provided by the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, light shows, and a “stroboscopic trampolinist” who hopped up and down while a strobe light flickered on him. The real point of the festival was to drop acid, and some 6,000 people showed up to do just that. Take a look through the plate-glass windows and imagine the place full of wigged-out flower children.

Turn right onto Beach Street, take a left on Stockton Street, and cross the Embarcadero to enter Pier 39. This open-air shopping center is about as touristy as it gets, with businesses obviously preying upon impulsive shoppers. One attraction that is heads above, however, is the Smithsonian affiliate Aquarium of the Bay, which features a walk-through fish tunnel and touch pools. If you’re not checking out marine life, then head straight to the San Francisco Carousel, a handcrafted classic, made in Italy. Horses and chariots rotate around a mechanical organ in the center, while hand-painted San Francisco scenes decorate the top. Rides cost $5. (Interestingly, when Pier 39 first opened, there was a diving pool where the carousel sits, and sometimes it was filled with Jell-O for various games.) When you reach the end of the pier, turn left to pay a visit to K Dock, where a small colony of raucous California sea lions overtook a row of boat docks in 1990. The colony quickly grew, and now as many as 1,000 barking sea lions compete for space on the docks on a winter’s day. In summer, most of them migrate to warmer waters to breed, but a few usually haul out here year-round. They’re rightly the biggest attraction on Pier 39.

Exiting the pier, turn right onto the Embarcadero (which feeds into Jefferson Street), and walk two blocks until you see and smell Boudin Bakery. The modern building is nothing much to look at, but the company has been providing the city with sourdough bread since 1849, and some of its “mother dough” is said to have been carried over from the first batch, surviving in the fog-cooled air.

Veer right onto Pier 45, and allow yourself to be drawn into the magical penny arcade Musée Mécanique, the undeniable hidden gem of Fisherman’s Wharf. For some, it’s the only excuse to venture into this part of town. It’s the private collection of the late Edward Galland Zelinsky, consisting of mechanical amusements and games, mostly from the early 20th century. Risqué mutoscope moving pictures (mostly of women showing their ankles), player pianos, and old-fashioned black-and-white photo booths will easily suck the quarters out of your pockets. Save a few coins for the real showstoppers—automated displays of carnivals and circuses, toothpick Ferris wheels, and even a Chinese opium den with a dragon that peeps out from behind a curtain. Be sure to pump some quarters into Laffin’ Sal to keep her howling. Her belly laughs are infectious or terrifying, depending on your sensibilities. Some of the one-of-a-kind machines here are fine works of folk art.

Exit through the back doors onto the waterfront, where the sight of a submarine and a Liberty-class ship from World War II will tell you you’re on the right track. The submarine is the USS Pampanito, which patrolled the Pacific during the latter half of the war. For 20 smackers, you can board the sub to see how uncomfortable life beneath the waves must have been, and to puzzle over the state-of-the art technology of a bygone era. The Liberty ship is the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a cargo-carrying vessel that delivered supplies to Normandy on D-Day. Fully outfitted and in working order, it was used to shoot scenes from Titanic, among others. For an additional $20, you can climb aboard—we suggest heading straight for the engine room for an astonishing view of the ship’s awesome 2,700-horsepower, triple-expansion steam engine....

Table of Contents


Overview Map

Author’s Note


Walking Tours

  1. Lower Market Street
  2. Embarcadero (North)
  3. Financial District
  4. Union Square and the Theater District
  5. Chinatown
  6. Jackson Square
  7. North Beach
  8. North Beach Bars
  9. Telegraph Hill
  10. Nob Hill
  11. Russian Hill
  12. Civic Center and Hayes Valley
  13. Tenderloin
  14. Fisherman’s Wharf
  15. Marina and Cow Hollow
  16. The Presidio
  17. Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito
  18. Pacific Heights
  19. Embarcadero (South)
  20. SoMa
  21. Dolores Street
  22. The Inner Mission
  23. Mission Bars
  24. Potrero Hill and Dogpatch
  25. Bernal Heights
  26. Glen Park and Glen Canyon
  27. Upper Market and the Castro
  28. Twin Peaks
  29. Westside Cordillera
  30. Haight-Ashbury
  31. Golden Gate Park
  32. Japantown and Fillmore Street
  33. Richmond District
  34. Lands End
  35. Inner Sunset

Appendix: Walks by Theme


About the Authors

Customer Reviews