San Francisco and the Bay Area

San Francisco is one of the greatest travel destinations in the world … and for good reasons. Its unique natural setting at the entrance of the Bay of San Francisco, combined with its fascinating history, immense cultural diversity and vibrant life-style will transform any visit into a true immersive experience. The city in itself is only more of the many reasons to visit the entire region commonly called the “Bay Area”. From the edge of the wine country to the north, to Silicon Valley in the south and the vibrant cities of Berkeley and Oakland on the east, the entire Bay presents infinite opportunities for sightseeing, cultural pursuits, outdoors and nature activities, historic discoveries and just any specific interests and individual inclinations in the world. The locals like to say that this is not just California. This is San Francisco.

Duration
5 to 10 days

Start-end points
San Francisco

Best time to travel
All year-long

Character
Combination urban, culture and nature experience

Suitable for
FIT/SAT. Couples, families and small groups

Intensity level
Easy and relax

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With its immense variety of sites and activities, a visit to San Francisco and the Bay cannot be put in a canned package that fits every traveler. On the contrary, a truly great experience is tailored to the traveler’s own character and interests.

This is our "A la carte" menu where you combine visits of neighborhoods and iconic landmarks in the City, with excursions around the Bay and exciting activities. They are all wheelchair-friendly. Whether you travel independently or require support, contact us and let’s start planning your perfect customized San Francisco experience. 

 

A perfect sample vacation

Imagine yourself exploring the narrow alleys of Chinatown as you learn about the secret Tong societies, dining in the Mission District after a visit of the famed “murals”, walking among the giant sequoia trees in Miur Woods, crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge and returning by ferry from Sausalito, tasting the best wines and cheese of Sonoma and exploring the prison on the Island of Alcatraz, all in one visit: this could be the trip of a lifetime.


A la carte

Select neighborhood visits , landmark visits , excursions and activities from the suggestions below for a perfect customized experience.

Suggested neighborhood visits



The City of San Francisco is a diverse and vibrant mosaic of neighborhoods, each with its rich history and character. On you own or in the company of our expert guides, discover the local sounds, flavors, sights and people of these distinct communities.


Nob Hill • Once a deserted hill in the middle of an expanding city, it caught the eye of the five “robber barons”, also known more gently as the railroad barons. From Nabob Hill to Nob Hill, learn about its colorful history and feuds, how an earthquake and a fire wiped it out, and how it resurrected itself to become a grand setting for a cathedral and a Hitchcock movie. End your visit at the famed “Tonga Room” at the Fairmont Hotel for an exotic happy-hour cocktail around the indoor pool.


Chinatown • To truly understand California and the West Coast, you have to understand Chinatown. Take a leisurely walk through the hidden alleys of Chinatown to learn about the past and current history of the” Benevolent Associations”, the Tongs and the Gangs. Immerse yourself in the sounds, smells and culture of this neighborhood where ancient history and modern politics intertwine. No better way to end your visit than at a local restaurant for dim-sum.


North Beach • The City’s most Italian of neighborhoods, North Beach is also the birthplace of the Beat movement. The rebellious spirit of Kerouac and Ginsberg mingles with the aroma of espresso and the sounds of Bel Canto. From the grand setting of the cathedral to tiny back alleys, discover its colorful characters and local delicacies. Take the time to relax at a one of the many cafés for a drink and the favorite past-time of the locals: talking and people-watching.


Fishermen’s Wharf • Founded by Italian families whose names, like Joe DiMaggio and Alioto, are now part of the City’s folklore, the neighborhood is home to a number of historic buildings and ships. Visit the old bath-house and then climb on the Eureka, the old ferry-boat that connected the two sides of the Gate before the bridge. Go behind the scene of the original fishing port of San Francisco and follow the back-alleys to learn about the colorful history of this neighborhood. After a visit of the unique Musée Mecanique, linger for lunch at one of the steaming crab stands or a favorite fish-and-chips place.


Mission District • One of the oldest neighborhoods of the City, the District has its origins in the Mission Dolores established by the Spanish in 1776. Today, it is not only the center of the Chicano and Latino culture, it is also one of the liveliest and hippest neighborhoods of the City. Art galleries and music venues abound, alongside restaurants serving foods from around the globe. Stay for dinner at a local taqueria for tacos and mariachi music.


The murals of the Mission District • Tracing their rich heritage to muralists Diego Rivera and Los Tres Grandes, deep in the heart of the Mission District the murals of Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley are at the epicenter of an art form that has now spread to the entire neighborhood and beyond to other parts of the City. Walk leisurely among these powerful images to learn about the history, culture, politics and aspirations of the people that make up San Francisco.


Downtown and the Financial District • Relive the transformation from a small trading post to a thriving metropolis started. From the foot of the Transamerica Building, the celebrated “pyramid” of San Francisco, walk through the streets of downtown, retracing the history of the Gold Rush that changed the face of the City, California and the continent. Learn how a neighborhood of bars, warehouses and bordellos became one of the most exclusive in the City. Taste the diversity of the local foods on display at the Ferry Building and, once sated, walk along the Embarcadero to the new Exploratorium.


Haight-Ashbury • Relive the "Summer of Love" as you stroll throughout this charming Victorian neighborhood. The corner of Haight and Ashbury streets still has its tie-dyed roots. Vintage clothing, bookstores and records shops cohabit with high-end hip new boutiques and trendy cafés. Walk along Haight Street toward the Golden Gate Park to experience a neighborhood in transition


Castro • Sweeping views and grand Victorian houses, pride of place and person are the hallmarks of the Castro. Walk along Castro Street and meander in and out of its side streets for an experience of a neighborhood that is not only the “gay capital of the world” but a true charming, vibrant and diverse place for all to enjoy. Nearby Noe Valley, offer village-like amenities like pedestrian-friendly streets, Victorian homes in historic Eureka Valley, an array of trendy stores and outdoor cafes for the “see and scene” crowd.


Golden Gate Park • One of the largest urban parks in the world, Golden Gate Park stretches for three miles on the western edge of San Francisco. There’s not a single “Keep Off the Grass” sign and its 1,017 acres are a tonic for mind and body. Two major museums, splendid gardens and facilities for more than 20 sports confirm that this is a playground in every sense of the word. Among the ever-evolving attractions located in the park are the California Academy of Sciences, the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers and the Koret Children’s Quarter.


Suggested landmark visits



GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE • Spanning the entrance to the Bay of San Francisco, this suspension bridge links the city to Marin County and on to Northern California. Ranking among the top wonders of the modern world, its red color and gracious structure makes it the absolute iconic symbol of San Francisco.


Fort Point • An old civil-war era army fort guarding the entrance to the Bay. To preserve it, the Golden Gate Bridge was built above it. The views looking up to the underbelly of the Bridge are spectacular.


Coit Tower • Gifted by a rich heiress in honor of the firemen that saved the city, the tower sits on Telegraph Hill with commanding views of the City and the Bay. At its base, a series of Art Deco mural paintings depict life in San Francisco in the 1930’s.


Alamo Square • As large as four city blocks on a hill overlooking downtown San Francisco, this beautiful urban green oasis is surrounded by rows of large and architecturally distinctive mansions, collectively known as the “Painted Ladies.”


Crissy Field • From its original use as an Army airfield, Crissy Field is today a vast and gorgeous waterfront park enjoyed by all. With sidewalks, boardwalks and trails connecting the Marina District to Fort Point and the Golden Gate Bridge, its restored marsh also attracts migratory birds.


Palace of Fine Arts • Originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Expo marking the rebirth of San Francisco after the devastating earthquake, this monumental domed structure, its beautiful walkways and lagoon are today more than just one of its most popular attractions . It became an icon of the City-by-the-Bay.


Land’s End • Aptly named, this rocky and windswept shoreline park at the month of the Golden Gate offers many opportunities for hiking above the cliffs and to the ruins of the once grandiose Sutro Baths. The beautiful Visitor Center and lookout offers spectacular views on the meeting of the Ocean and the City.


LOMBARD STREET • This street is best known for its one-way portion on Russian Hill where eight sharp turns are said to make it the most crooked street in the world. Intended to reduce the hill’s hazardous natural steep grade and paved with red bricks, it is ironically today one of the most travelled street in the City.


UNION SQUARE • Located in the heart of Downtown San Francisco and named in honor of the Union Army during the Civil War, this one-block plaza and its surrounding is one of the largest collections of department stores, upscale boutiques, gift shops and art galleries in the US. The area’s grand hotels, boutique inns and numerous theaters contribute to the square’s dynamic character.


TWIN PEAKS • For a spectacular 360 degree view of San Francisco and the Bay, nothing compares to the overlook at Twin Peaks. Located in its geographical center of the City, Eureka Peak and Noe Peak soar above the City. It is also home to many species of birds and butterflies, as well as the Fire Department’s very own water reservoir established after the 1906 earthquake and fire.


Suggested excursions

From a few hours to a full day, choose from these excursions to match your interest for culture, nature and history.


Point Reyes Peninsula • Start the day in the charming village of Point Reyes Station just north of San Francisco. Like the locals, have coffee and locally-baked pastries near the hay barn and then head out to explore the peninsula jutting dramatically into ocean. Choose a nature hike, whale-watching, kayaking, or simply relaxing on the beaches of this unique place. Opportunities for tasting local food abound. The oyster farm across the Bay of Tomales is a favorite spot, as is a picnic basket at the local cheese factory. End a perfect day at the tavern of tiny Nicasio to sample the region's micro-brews and listen to music by local bands.


Marin Headlands and Sausalito • Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and head up to the promontory guarding the entrance to the Bay. From high up, the Headlands offer spectacular views of the Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Visit the lighthouse at Point Bonita, the old bunker fortifications and the underground Nike missile battery for a full sense of the history of the place. Appreciate cutting-edge exhibits at the Headlands Center for the Arts. Tour the Marine Mammal Center above wild Rodeo Beach to experience first-hand caring for local species of seals and sea-lions. Drive back toward the Bay to the picturesque town of Sausalito. Stroll along its scenic waterfront where opportunities for delicious food abound. Visit local galleries or just relax at a café to enjoy the views of Angel Island and the Bay before returning to San Francisco with the ferry service.


Alcatraz • Once Alcatraz was the site of the first lighthouse in the Western United States, it became a federal penitentiary in the 1930’s and the permanent home of famous gangsters such as Al Capone and "Machine Gun" Kelly. Cruise across the Bay with the ferry boat from San Francisco and land at one of the city's most popular attractions. Visit the island and its infamous prison, while experiencing the live of its inmates by listening to the award-winning audio tour.


Año Nuevo • An hour away just south of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast, the Año Nuevo State Natural Reserve is home to Northern elephant seals, California sea lions, sea otters, and other marine mammals who come ashore to rest, mate, and give birth in the sand dunes or on the beaches and offshore islands. Walk on the boardwalks built atop the sandy dunes to the overlooks above the beaches to witness the breeding ritual in their natural habitat of these unique species.


Silicon Valley • Once a fertile valley of orchards and small farms, this region is nowadays home to revolutionary companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook as well as myriads of new enterprises, Stanford University and the highest concentration of venture capital anywhere in the world. Visit the Google campus, tour the Computer History Museum and dine with local entrepreneurs at an Indian buffet for a complete experience of the place.


Muir Woods • Named after John Muir, the famous naturalist who founded the Sierra Club, Muir Woods National Monument is a beautiful forest of untouched giant sequoia redwood trees. Follow the accessible trails meandering among these silent giants, some of them 800 years old and soaring to 250 feet high. For a complete change of scenery, discover Muir Beach nearby and relax with a hot drink at the old-world Pelican Inn.


The East Bay • The East Bay is valued by the locals for its food, art and music culture, often with an experimental edge to it. Travel across the Bay to Berkeley for a visit across the Bay to the island of Alameda for a very unique experience, the visit of a distillery on the grounds of the old US Navy base. Facing San Francisco across the Bay, the distillery is located in one of the gigantic hangars that used to house military aircrafts. Mixing artisanal methods with state-of-the-art technology, this distillery is now renowned for its superior eau de vie, vodka, gin, bourbon and absinthe. We taste them in the company of the spirit-makers, tour the production facility and learn how to mix them to achieve the perfect cocktails.


Wine country • Discover the wines of Sonoma, Alexander Valley and the Russian River. Follow the small country roads to family vineries to taste the best selection of handcraft wines. Have lunch by a vineyard, pairing wines with local delicacies. Learn about wine making, visit the caves, stroll among the vines, play a friendly game of bocce or visit Francis Coppola’ collection of cinema memorabilia. All within a short drive away from San Francisco


Angel Island • Discover the “Jewel of the Bay”. Once an Indian fishing village, then a Union Army base defending the entrance to the gold fields of California, the island became the site of an immigration station, the “Ellis Island of the West” and, more secretly, the location of a Nike missile battery during the Cold War. Embark on the ferry from San Francisco or Tiburon and land at Ayala Cove. Hike or ride the trolley up the hill for breathtaking views of the entire Bay of San Francisco. Visit the Immigration Station and other historical buildings to understand the rich history of the West Coast of the US.


Suggested activities



Boat cruise • A unique and exciting way to experience the Bay of San Francisco: on the water in a speedboat. Ride the open-deck Bay Voyager, a powerful 300 HP, 24 feet vessel under the expert navigation of Captain Charles. The scion of a long line of marine officers, Captain Charles shares his intimate knowledge of the Bay and its history while riding the swell. From secret alcoves around Treasure Island, to circling Alcatraz and zipping under the Golden Gate Bridge, this is an unforgettable experience.


Sailing • The San Francisco Bay is one of the most gorgeous bodies of water in the world. Embark on a beautiful and comfortable 50 feet sailboat and head out across the Bay. Depending on winds, currents and tides of the day, our experienced captain courses a route. It might take you to Angel Island, landing at Ayala Cove for lunch, or across Raccoon Strait to Tiburon for drinks at Sam’s Café, or a grand arch around Alcatraz Island, Treasure Island and the new spectacular Bay Bridge.


Kayaking • A more protected part of the larger San Francisco Bay, Richardson Bay is cherished by the locals for it natural beauty and accessibility. In Sausalito, meet our expert guides. They will gear you up and fit you in kayaks. Launch for a leisurely paddle which, depending on the day's conditions of tides and currents, might take you toward Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate, the houseboats of Sausalito, Tiburon or Belvedere. Whichever direction you take, you will be amazed by the views and the teeming aquatic life. End the day with a delicious meal at a dockside restaurant at the marina.


Go-car tour • An afternoon to discover the City in a unique way: riding in a go-car. These open two-seaters are easy and a pure fun to drive. Start the journey from Fishermen’s Wharf and continue to the Marina District, Crissy Fields, below and above the Golden Gate Bridge, along the ocean to Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. Of course, the tour is not complete without zigzagging down the crooked Lombard Street. This is an experience guaranteed to put a smile on your face.


Cooking • California is famous for its “foody” culture, a healthy mix of careful preparation, the use of natural products, a readiness to experiment and, of course, having fun. Berkeley is at the epicenter of this culture and the celebrated “Gourmet Ghetto” is its birthplace. Learn how tocompose a menu, chop, slice, toss, season, stir and grill in the kitchen of Chef Mike and his cohorts for an exciting, fiery cooking class. And then, sit down to feast on the meal accompanied by selected local wines.


Massage • After a long airplane or car trip, a massage is a great way to relax and to get back in shape. Schedule a session with our wonderful Certified Massage Therapist (CMT) specializes in restorative bodywork for people with disabilities.


Shows, theatre, music and performances• The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most vibrant cultural centers in the world. It is home to the world-class San Francisco Symphony, famed San Francisco Opera, the renowned San Francisco Ballet and the new Jazz Center. All year-long there are dozens of shows and performances to choose from opera to blue grass, classical to country music, modern dance to street performances, first-run plays to experimental art.


Museum, Galleries and art shows • As with the performing arts, the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most vibrant art centers in the world. It is home to world-class institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the De Young, the Legion of Honors, the Berkeley Art Museum and the Oakland Museum of California, as well as myriads of galleries at the cutting-edge of contemporary art. Be it new gallery openings or international art shows, there is always something happening on the art scene of the San Francisco bay Area.


Sports • For sports fans, San Francisco is almost a mythical place. With its famed championship teams in football, baseball and basketball, it is rare when there is not a significant game happening in town. From attending a major game at ATT Park or just a local soccer competition near Dolores Park, there is something for everyone.



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