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Best Tours in San Francisco

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Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours takes you on a guided tour of the historic Castro District. This wonderful tour lets you get to know this vibrant district while discovering about Castro's history. Learn about the neighborhood's LGBT community and how the area was central to the LGBT civil rights movement.

Interested in architecture? These tours explore the rich architectural heritage of the Pacific Heights neighborhood. Explore the neighborhood of some of the city's finest "painted ladies", as the polychrome Victorian and Edwardian homes are called. Led by members of the San Francisco Architectural Heritage Foundation, the tours focus on those Victorian and Edwardian houses, though examples of other styles are also noted. The foundation offers a variety of tours at a variety of prices throughout the year.

With over 108,000 barrels of beer sold every year, you may have already sampled the fruit of this company's labor. Anchor Steam, a full-bodied lager, is the brewery's most famous creation, and is popular in San Francisco and around the world. But have you seen it being created? And have you tried it freshly brewed? If not, take the official brewery tour. See the beer being made, sample different brews at the tasting bar, and savor a shot of the famous Potrero malted rye whiskey. Beer and souvenir items are available for purchase. Hour-long tours Monday to Friday can be made by reservation only.

The Adventure Cats one and a half hour catamaran cruise around the San Francisco Bay gives visitors an exceptional view of the skyline that includes going under the Golden Gate Bridge. While sitting on the trampolines, or inside the cabin, visitors enjoy the scenic view while sipping wine or having a soft drink. The Sunset Cruise offers not only wine or a soft drink, but also appetizers for the price of the ticket. You may go home and tell your friends and family that the catamaran cruise was the highlight of your trip to San Francisco.

A mere 1.25 miles (2.01 km) off the coast of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island boasts a fascinating history that extends far beyond its stint as a federal penitentiary from 1934 to 1963; it is also the site of the West Coast's oldest operating lighthouse, the remains of a historic military fortress, and a bird sanctuary. Although within sight of the city, Alcatraz is isolated from the outside world, surrounded by the frigid waters of the bay, the perilous currents making escape virtually impossible. This very fact made Alcatraz an apt choice for a prison meant to house some of the country's most notorious criminals, including the likes of Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud and Alvin Karpis. The year 1969 marked the beginning of another intriguing chapter in the history of Alcatraz when a group of Native American activists occupied the island for 19 months, signs of which are still visible to this day. Amid this turbulent narrative thrives a vibrant habitat for native flora and fauna, creating a miniature world of startling contrasts where the haunting remains of the prison stand amid a striking landscape of rock pools, rugged coasts and lush flora. The isle is now a tourist attraction, one of San Francisco's most popular, with self-guided and guided tours that delve into the past of the island as a whole and the prison in particular.

The official tour operating service of Alcatraz Island, Alcatraz Cruises takes travelers around the entire island. Different programs and events are also arranged by them. Tours are conducted for day and night time. This tour gives one the opportunity to take in the vivid and notorious history of Alcatraz.

This impressive structure crowning Nob Hill was built on the site of the Crocker Mansion after the 1906 earthquake and fire. One of the main attractions of the cathedral are the stained glass windows. These windows showcase over 1000 figures, with some of them dating back as far as the 1930s. The gilded bas-reliefs that adorn the doors of the main entrance are cast from Ghiberti's original molds for the Gates of Paradise that adorn the Baptistery in Florence. The cathedral also boasts two labyrinths. The outdoor one is made of Terrazzo stone and the indoor one from limestone.

The Oceanic Society sponsors great cruises to those rocky islets 27 miles off the coast of the city. The Farallon Islands are a nature preserve, home to sea lions, tufted puffins and the improbably monikered rhinoceros auklets, among others. The surrounding ocean contains dolphins and whales. Biologists serve as tour guides on the cruises and discuss the history, ecology and biology of the islands and the region.

Dazzling waves and soft breezes set the mood for Hornblower’s Champagne Brunch Cruise, a good-morning getaway featuring free-flowing bubbly. The enticing outing includes a buffet stocked with classic breakfast dishes, lunch entrees and desserts. With live music and views of the San Francisco Bay’s renowned sights, it becomes the perfect way to unwind after a hectic week.

Blue & Gold Fleet is one of the most popular ferry services in the Bay Area, serving thousands of tourists and locals each year. Turn to them for a cruise around the San Francisco Bay, a trip to Alcatraz Island, or transportation to an amusement park in Vallejo. Some other tours offered go to attractions like Yosemite, Monterey, Carmel, the wine country, Angel Island, Muir Woods, Tiburon and Sausalito.

This place offers a unique opportunity to see many different species of marine wildlife first hand. On an eight-hour cruise you'll travel to the Farallon Islands, located 25 miles off the coast of San Francisco. The Farallon Islands and its surrounding water is rich with whales, dolphins and porpoises and sea birds. In fact, it is the home of the largest population of breeding seabirds in the contiguous United States. Thanks to an upswelling of nutrient-rich waters, it is a renowned place to view humpback and gray whales in the summer and fall.

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