San Francisco
Culture & History

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Our most recommended San Francisco Culture & History

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

1. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Cruise around the Golden Gate Bay on a boat tour. Enjoy informative commentary, see sights like Alcatraz Island, and purchase food and drink from the onboard bar. Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, this 1-hour cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for over 75 years. With 8-14 departures daily from Fisherman's Wharf, you will sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and close to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's fascinating history, brought to life through audio commentary broadcast in 16 languages via personal headphones. Look out for wildlife along the way, including pelicans, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, and San Francisco Maritime National Park, before heading west towards Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio, before cruising under Golden Gate Bridge. Steam back into the Bay, traveling past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands, and the legendary town of Sausalito, once home to the 1960s’ flower generation. With Angel Island State Park to your left, cruise around infamous Alcatraz. After a full hour of exciting sights, the barking sea lions at Pier 39 welcome you back to Pier 43 1/2. A full bar with drinks, snacks and merchandise, including logo wear, is available at reasonable prices on board the iconic red and blue sea vessels.

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San Francisco Hop-On Hop-Off: Classic, Premium or Deluxe

2. San Francisco Hop-On Hop-Off: Classic, Premium or Deluxe

San Francisco Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Loop: Stop 1: Pier 41 (End of Powell St), Fisherman's Wharf Stop 2: Washington Square – Corner of Columbus and Union StreetsStop 3: Embarcadero Center – Corner of Clay and Battery StreetsStop 4: Ferry Building - 1 Market Street, between Stuart and Spear StreetsStop 5: Union Square South – Geary Street across from Macy’s Entrance Stop 6: Hilton Hotel – Corner of Mason and Ellis Streets Stop 7: Civic Center - Fulton Street between Larkin and HydeStop 8: Alamo Square/Painted Ladies - Corner of Fell and Pierce StreetsStop 9: Haight Ashbury - Corner of Haight and Shrader Streets Stop 10: Golden Gate Park - Music Concourse Drive Golden Gate ParkStop 11: Golden Gate Bridge- North Vista Point Main Parking AreaStop 12: Palace of Fine Arts – Corner of Richardson Ave and Francisco StreetStop 13: Marina Neighborhood - Corner of Lombard and Gough Streets Stop 14: Lombard Street Corridor - Corner of Lombard and Gough StreetsStop 15: Pier 35 Cruise Terminal – The Embarcadero Stop 16: Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf Stop 17: End of Tour - 99 Jefferson Street Hop aboard a sightseeing bus for a tour of the 'City by the Bay' and delve into the fascinating history of San Francisco and its legendary sites, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, and Fisherman's Wharf.  The hop-on-hop-off route stops at key points of interest all around San Francisco. Experience the diverse culture, beautiful parks, stunning architecture, and picturesque views from the top of an open-air sightseeing bus. Hop off and back on at your leisure to create your own customized itinerary around the city. Explore 3 routes depending on your ticket purchase. San Francisco City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Explore San Francisco’s famous landmarks on a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour. Sit back and enjoy the ride as you cruise through the city on an open-top bus and learn about San Francisco's unique history. You have the choice of a personal recorded commentary available in 10 languages. This is the best way to discover all that San Francisco has to offer. This unique city tour has 17 stops for guests to hop on and hop off at. From Fisherman’s Wharf to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, immerse yourself in San Francisco’s diverse culture, beautiful parks, stunning architecture, and picturesque views. Panoramic Night Tour Board the bus at Pier 41 at the end of Powell St in Fisherman's Wharf to explore the dazzling city of San Francisco at night. Climb up the historic Nob Hill for a stunning close-up view of the magnificent Grace Cathedral. Then, make your way across the grand Bay Bridge for picturesque views of the city skyline from Treasure Island, the site of the 1939’s World Fair. Heading back into the city, continue along the Embarcadero to view the glittering lights on the Port of San Francisco.

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San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

3. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

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Aquarium of the Bay: General Admission Tickets

4. Aquarium of the Bay: General Admission Tickets

Explore the beauty and wonder of San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay with this entrance ticket, giving you access to the 3 main exhibit halls. Discover the amazingly diverse marine life that lives beneath the surface of San Francisco Bay and its surrounding waters. Explore the “Discover the Bay” exhibit, highlighting the unique ecosystem that provides home to a diverse selection of marine life. The exhibits feature more than 20,000 aquatic animals. Learn all about this delicate underwater habitat and the need for its conservation. Then, experience the magic of the habitat at “Touch the Bay,” complete with tide pools where you can touch the creatures that patrol San Francisco Bay’s waters. No trip to Aquarium of the Bay would be complete without a visit to the North American River Otter gallery, where frisky river otters romp, swim, sleep and play. Get a scuba diver’s view of San Francisco Bay at the Aquarium of the Bay’s most iconic exhibit, “Under the Bay.” As you walk through the tunnels, you’ll see fascinating jellyfish, watch schools of fish that swim near the shore, see delicate starfish, and view larger fish, such as sharks, rays, and sturgeons, which live in the deeper waters of San Francisco Bay.

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San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

5. San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

See both the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on a single boat tour with personal headphone audio included. Explore San Francisco's famous landmarks, history, natural history, architecture, and Native American culture on board this unique bay cruise. During the 90-minute round trip cruise you'll depart from Fisherman's Wharf, one of the city's busiest tourist attractions. From there, sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate is one of the world's most famous and beautiful bridges, and was at one point the largest suspension bridge in the world. Cruise past Alcatraz Island, once home of one of the world's most infamous prisons, and take the chance to enjoy the stunning San Francisco waterfront. The boat will pass along the harbor before heading under the colossal San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Then it's time to head back to the charming city of San Francisco by the sea.

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San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

6. San Francisco: Waterfront Guided Tour and Alcatraz Ticket

Meet your guide at the north end of Fisherman's Wharf at 9:30 AM and start your experience by taking in the amazing views of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Hear how San Francisco transformed from a sleepy village to a booming port city when gold fever swept the nation in 1849. Learn about the life of the Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli at the famous former chocolate factory in Ghirardelli Square. Stroll along the fog-lined waterfront and drool over the numerous stalls selling crab and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. Walk a portion of the historic Barbary Coast trail while your guide tells you about it's colorful past. You and your group will then make your way to Pier 39 and admire historic ships in the harbor. Witness the colony of sea lions that have taken over many of its docks. Continue along the Embarcadero Promenade and learn about its evolution from a traditional maritime port to a modern urban waterfront filled with trendy restaurants and amusement piers. The walking tour concludes at Pier 33 at 10:45 AM, where you will present your photo ID to receive your 11:00 AM Alcatraz tickets. Board your ferry and enjoy a self-guided tour of Alcatraz upon the island.  Learn about the history of the cell house and its former residents with an award-winning audio tour available in multiple languages. You can expect to be done with the whole experience by around 2:30 PM.

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San Francisco: Half-Day Wine Country Excursion with Tastings

7. San Francisco: Half-Day Wine Country Excursion with Tastings

Discover some of San Francisco's best wines on this half-day outing. Visit 2 wineries and 3 to 5 tastings. Enjoy scenic views from your comfortable coach. Start your day in the afternoon, as you head north to the Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy a scenic drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and marvel at the San Francisco skyline in the distance. Next, drive through the beautiful town of Sausalito, a seaside Mediterranean-like village harbored across the San Francisco Bay and famous for its sweeping views. As the vine-covered hillsides come into view, you will visit 2 favorite wineries of the region for wine tastings and an exclusive estate tour. Experience the inner workings of the wineries and their family history in Napa and Sonoma Valley as an expert wine host walks you through the fermentation process, barrel-aging, bottling, and, of course, tastings of some award-winning varietals. At each winery, enjoy up to 3-5 tastings of their signature blends. Your day concludes with a scenic drive back over the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco as the sun slowly starts to set into the Pacific Ocean.

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San Francisco: Exploratorium Daytime Admission

8. San Francisco: Exploratorium Daytime Admission

Discover a world of adventure with a full-day ticket to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the only place in the city where you can touch, tinker and play with hundreds of interactive exhibits. The museum is conveniently located at Pier 15 between the historic Ferry Building and Pier 39 on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Perhaps the most experimental museum in the world, the Exploratorium explores the world via large-scale art installations, studies of microscopic life, motion, color and light installations, and much more. Spread across six expansive galleries, you can embrace the wild wonders of the world and beyond with exhibits that you can feel, play with, and manipulate. A learning lab for all ages, it’s the best place to immerse yourself in San Francisco’s innovative culture.

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San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

9. San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

Visit the world’s only aquarium-planetarium-rainforest-living museum at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The superb complex incorporates all 4 attractions under one living roof, with exhibits and shows that explain the universe! Don’t miss the African penguins – and 38,000 other live animals – at the California Academy of Sciences in the heart of Golden Gate Park, a must-see attraction in San Francisco. Rocket through the galaxy at the speed of light or journey deep into the oceans of the world as the Academy boldly brings life to life. Come face-to-face with snakes and piranhas, meet Claude the American alligator with albinism, and hang out with Pierre, Howard, Ocio, and the rest of the South African penguin colony. Stroll through the rainforest dome with its free-flying birds and butterflies and become immersed in the rainforests of Borneo, Madagascar, Costa Rica, and the flooded Amazon. Discover Borneo bats, chameleons, poison dart frogs, leaf cutter ants, gliders, snakes, and so much more. Catch the latest amazing digital planetarium show, taking you on a spectacular journey to the far reaches of the universe, held 7-10 times a day. Designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, the museum housed under a living roof will inspire lifelong curiosity for the natural world as you experience the depths of a Philippine coral reef, climb into the canopy of a Costa Rican rainforest, and fly to the outer reaches of the universe. New Exhibit: Sharks, open through to January 23, 2022. Don't miss this traveling exhibition created by Grande Experiences. Learn about one of the most awe-inspiring and misunderstood creatures on the planet and the critical role sharks play in ocean ecosystems around the globe.

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Entry Tickets: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

10. Entry Tickets: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

SFMOMA now expands to 170,000 square feet, featuring outstanding holdings of more than 33,000 modern and contemporary artworks by Alexander Calder, Frida Kahlo, Julie Mehretu, and numerous others, including an entire floor dedicated solely to photography. With six art-filled terraces, a new sculptural staircase and Roman steps where the public can gather, a variety of dining options, and a Museum store offering artful gift options for everyone, SFMOMA is an unforgettable experience and a must-see San Francisco destination.   The museum is committed to exploring the new, the challenging, and the unexpected. From its internationally recognized and rapidly growing collection of more than thirty thousand artworks to its innovative film and performance programs, SFMOMA has continuously advanced the interpretation, presentation, and preservation of modern and contemporary art — embracing its connection to the world around us. Reflecting the Bay Area’s tradition of technological innovation and forward thinking, the museum was one of the first American art museums to recognize photography and film as art forms, and championed architecture, design, and media arts before they were focuses of museum collecting. The museum houses deep holdings of work by individual artists across their careers, particularly within its Painting and Sculpture collection. The museum are also dedicated to supporting and collecting the work of California artists, especially those active in the Bay Area. Artists are at the center of the work on display. Curators and conservators work directly with artists to interpret, present, and care for an artwork across its lifetime, even — as in the case of performance — if it’s only for one night. Located in San Francisco’s bustling SoMA district, SFMOMA is just steps from Yerba Buena Gardens, downtown hotels, the Moscone Center, public transportation (including BART and Muni), and numerous parking garages. SFMOMA's garage on Minna Street is a few steps from the museum's main entrance on Third Street. Plus, parking on-site directly supports the museum. Limited bicycle parking is also available.

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Other Sightseeing Options in San Francisco

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What people are saying about San Francisco

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,873 reviews

Fred, our driver and owner of dingo tours is the best! Highly recommend. He’s very knowledgeable and accommodating. Took us to everything we wanted to see and more! He even stopped for us to get a hot dog. Best 4hours of our entire trip while we were in San Francisco. Worth every penny!! We don’t like crowds and we love being driven around. This was perfect!! Please book with Fred. You won’t regret it. You might think the price is high but the value is worth it. Much better than the big tour bus. Fred is the best!!! We would book him again. Thank you for making our trip memorable!

Our minibus tour was very informative and covered many of the famous landmarks in the Bay area. Would definitely recommend to others and will likely take another tour with Dylan's myself in the future.

Our tour guide John was chatty, informative and a fantastic tour guide. We loved spending time with him Yesterday. From Sally & Sam

Food, food, glorious food. Interesting local insights. Good value.

It was a lot of fun! People were so nice. Highly recommend!