ALCATRAZ ISLAND TOURS -- On the Island, The National Park Service offers a captioned orientation video with historical footage, self-guided walks, exhibits, and Ranger interpretive talks. Also available is an award-winning audio tour in the prison Cell House with actual interviews of former guards and inmates, available in six languages. There is a steep uphill walk to the Cell House.
"Alcatraz and the American Prison Experience," an exhibit explaining the place of Alcatraz in the evolution of prisons in America from Colonial days to the present.
ANGEL ISLAND STATE PARK -- On the Island there are guided history tours, Tram Tour and nature walks featuring the Quarantine Station, the Immigration Station, Camp Reynolds and Fort McDowell. There are also hiking and biking trails around the island. Tram tours are one-hour, audio-enhanced tours, which cover the island's military history from the Civil War to the Cold War; its past use as an immigration station where 175,000 Chinese, other Asians and Europeans were detained before continuing on into the mainland United States; and its current state park status. Bikes can be rented on the island. Call for ferry schedule.
Prices vary depending on which ferry is used. Bicycle rentals: $10 per hour or $30 all day for basic mountain bicycles and helmets. Daily, 8 a.m.-sunset. (415) 435-1915, www.angelisland.com.<
AQUARIUM OF THE BAY -- This aquarium gives a diver's-eye view of the inhabitants of San Francisco Bay, including fish, sharks, crabs, jellyfish, eels, octopus, and other underwater wildlife swimming freely over and around you as you travel on a moving sidewalk through the aquarium's two-story-tall, 707,000-gallon tanks. A platform beside the sidewalk allows you to step off at any time and take a longer look at the wildlife.
SPECIAL EVENTS --
"Behind-the-Scenes Tours," Take a guided tour with one of the Aquarium naturalists to find out what goes on behind the huge fish tanks. Reservations required. Tour price includes admission. $14-$21.95. (415) 623-5376.
"Mother's Day,'' May 9. Aquarium of the Bay is honoring all human mothers and grandmothers with free admission on Mother's Day, when accompanied by a child or grandchild.
$8-$15.95; free children 2 and under. $39.95 for a family of four. General Summer Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; General Winter Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Check website for current hours as they may change due to special events. East of Pier 39, Beach Street and The Embarcadero, San Francisco. (888) SEA-DIVE, www.aquariumofthebay.com.<
BARBARY COAST TRAIL -- This 3.8-mile, self-guided tour sponsored by the San Francisco Historical Society begins at the Old U.S. Mint at Fifth and Mission streets and stretches to Aquatic Park. It covers 20 historic sites including a 19th century shanghaiing den and the oldest Asian temple in North America. Five local museums dot the trail. Walkers need to buy either the 32-page "Barbary Coast Trail Official Guide'' ($8.95) or the 247-page "Walking San Francisco on the Barbary Coast'' ($15.95). Both are available at bookstores or at the California Historical Society at 678 Mission St.
Free. Daily, sunrise to sunset. Old U.S. Mint, Fifth and Mission streets, San Francisco. (415) 775-1111, (415) 357-1848, www.sfhistory.org.<
BAY AREA RAIL TRAILS -- A network of trails converted from unused railway corridors throughout the Bay Area by the Rails to Trails Conservancy.
BARBARY COAST TRAIL -- A 3-mile, paved trail on an abandoned railroad right of way. The railroad was constructed by the U.S. military in the early 1900s to bring visitors from downtown San Francisco to the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. Runs from the intersection of Jefferson and Hyde streets to Crissy Field in the Presidio. Suitable for hikers and bikers. It is also wheelchair accessible.
LAND'S END TRAIL -- A 2-mile trail of dirt and sand converted from a former urban rail line built by Adolph Sutro in 1884. The trail offers unbeatable views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Difficulty: moderate. Runs from the parking lot north of the Cliff House to El Camino del Mar near 33rd Avenue, San Francisco. Suitable for hiking, running, mountain biking, horseback riding, and fishing. Wheelchair accessible. Difficulty: moderate. The trail includes some steep stairs and uneven trail surfaces.
Free. (415) 397-2220, www.traillink.com.<
BAY AREA RIDGE TRAIL -- The Bay Area Ridge Trail, when completed, will be a 400-mile regional trail system that will form a loop around the entire San Francisco Bay region, linking 75 public parks and open spaces to thousands of people and hundreds of communities. Hikes on portions of the trail are available through the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. Call for meeting sites. Sign up for events online to reserve your spot with hike leaders.
ONGOING EVENT --
SAN FRANCISCO-SAN MATEO COUNTIES -- "Fifield/Cahill Ridge Trail," Guided tours are on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. This is a chance for small groups of hikers, bicyclists or equestrians to trek through the pristine 23,000-acre Crystal Springs Watershed, one of the Bay Area s most treasured and forbidden places. The trail is a gravel service road that travels through old-growth Douglas fir, grasslands and chaparral and along ridges offering sweeping views of the Bay Area. The treks are docent-led and reservations made through the San Francisco Water District are required. Sign on to www.sfwater.org to make a reservation. Free.
SPECIAL EVENTS --
Free unless otherwise noted. (415) 561-2595, www.ridgetrail.org.<
BAY QUACKERS -- Experience San Francisco in a whole new way aboard a DUKW, an original, refurbished amphibious landing craft from the second World War. The "Duck'' will take visitors on an 80-minute drive through many of San Francisco's famous areas, including Fisherman's Wharf, North Beach, South Beach, Union Square, China Basin and more. Then the captain will drive out of the city and into San Francisco Bay for a cruise to Alameda County on the water. Tours operate 365 days a year, rain or shine. The vehicles are covered and heated.
$35 adults; $32 seniors, students and military; $25 children 12 and under; $5 infants 2 and under Daily starting at 10 a.m.; ticket booth open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. The Anchorage Mall, at Fisherman's Wharf, 2800 Leavenworth St., San Francisco. (415) 431-3825, www.bayquackers.com.<
CALIFORNIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY --
HISTORY WALKABOUTS -- A series of monthly walking tours that explore the history, lore and architecture of California with veteran tour guide Gary Holloway. Walks take place rain or shine so dress for the weather. Reservations and prepayment required. Meeting place will be given with confirmation of tour reservation. Tour price includes admission to the Museum.
MUSEUM -- The museum's permanent collection is made up of the Fine Arts Collection, consisting of 5,000 works of art that represent the history of California from pre-Gold Rush days to the early decade of the 20th century; and The Photography Collection, containing nearly a halfmillion images in an array of photographic formats documenting the history of California in both the 19th and 20th centuries. The Library and Research Collection contain material relating to the history of California and the West from early exploration time to the present including texts, maps, and manuscripts.
"Landscape and Vision: Early California Painters from the Collections of the California Historical Society," open-ended. An exhibit of oil paintings including a large number of early landscapes of California, from the museum's collection.
$1-$3; free children under age 5. Wednesday-Saturday, noon-4:30 p.m. 678 Mission St., San Francisco. (415) 357-1848 X229, www.californiahistoricalsociety.org.<
CALIFORNIA OUTDOOR ROLLERSKATING ASSOCIATION --
"The Midnight Rollers' Friday Night Skate,'' The Midnight Rollers meet Friday nights to skate a 12-mile route through San Francisco. The skate begins near the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street, weather permitting.
Free. Friday, 9-11:30 p.m.; skaters gather at 8 p.m. Foot of Market Street across from the Ferry Building, San Francisco. (415) 752-1967, www.cora.org.<
CHINATOWN ALLEYWAY TOURS -- Learn about the significance and secrets of Chinatown's alleyways during a unique two-hour tour that aims to educate people about the history and current issues of the Chinatown community. Look for tour guides with blue sweaters or gray Chinatown Alleyways Tours t-shirts. Payment must be made in cash or check, guides do not carry change, bring exact amount that you will owe for your group.
$5-$18; free children age 5 and under. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Portsmouth Square, Upper Level, Kearny Street and Washington Street, San Francisco. (415) 984-1478, www.chinatownalleywaytours.org.<
CHINATOWN DISCOVERY TOURS -- "All About Chinatown Walking Tours." A comprehensive behind-thescenes walking tour of the real Chinatown. See a private Buddhist temple, fortune cookie factory, tearoom, herb shop, food markets and an historical museum. Some tours include a dim sum luncheon. Walking tour takes about two hours; with luncheon about three hours. Reservations required.
For Tour only: $20-$30; free children under age 6; Tour and Dim Sum Luncheon: $35-$45; free children under age 6. Daily, 10 a.m. Meet at Old St. Mary's Cathedral, 660 California St., San Francisco. (415) 982-8839, www.allaboutchinatown.com.<
CHINATOWN GHOST WALKING TOUR -- San Francisco's Chinatown Ghost Tours bring to life the tales of Chinatown's supernatural past and present as walkers are led on a ghostly tour of its historic and mysterious streets and alleyways. The mystical folklore of this spirited San Francisco enclave will keep guests on edge as they drink in the chilling experiences of the Chinatown inhabitants of both yesterday and today.
Tours start at 7:30 p.m. and run for about an hour-and-a-half. All tours are by reservation only. Meet at Four Seas Restaurant, 731 Grant Ave., San Francisco.
$16-$24. Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (415) 793-1183.<
CHINATOWN WALKING TOURS -- Chinatown Walk Tour with "Wok Wiz'' Shirley Fong-Torres. The 90-minute tour covers the history, people, culture, folklore and food of Chinatown. The tour is a unique slice of life from this neighborhood and may include a visit to, or a discussion of: Chinatown's history, art and architecture, Chinese groceries, herbal pharmacies, pastry shops, produce markets, a tea tasting or tea ceremony, temples and associations. The tour concludes with a traditional Chinese dim-sum lunch that is optional. Reservations required.
SPECIAL TOUR -- Call to confirm tours are departing.
"Daily Tour," Daily, 10 a.m. Learn about the history and culture of Chinatown as you look around a temple, browse the markets, try various teas and enjoy a lunch featuring an array of dim sum as well as some local specialties.
"I Can't Believe I Ate My Way Through Chinatown Tour,'' Saturdays and some Sundays. Call for schedule. Intended for food lovers, this tour, led by chef/owner Shirley Fong-Torres, begins with a Chinese breakfast and continues with some dim sum nibbles on the street, a visit to a wok shop or hardware store as well as to food markets, and ends with a hosted lunch. Reservations required. Times and meeting place will be given with reservation. $90 per person. (415) 981-8989.
Tour only: $25-$35; Tour and Dim Sum Luncheon: $35-$45. Daily, 10 a.m. Wok Wiz Cooking Center, 654 Commercial St., San Francisco. (415) 981-8989, www.wokwiz.com.<
CHINESE CULTURE FOUNDATION -- The Foundation offers two Chinatown tours.
CHINESE HERITAGE WALK -- Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m.; Sunday at noon and 2 p.m. These docent-conducted walks emphasize the cultural achievements, social progress and history of Chinese in San Francisco. The two hour walk begins at the Chinese Culture Center and may include such places of interest as such as a Chinese temple, market, fortune cookie factory and many architectural and historical points of interest. Reservations required 3 days in advance for groups of five of less, there is a minimum charge of $50. Groups of more than five should allowe at least two weeks advance booking. $20-$25, free for children under five. (415) 986-1822 X24.
Holiday Inn, Third Floor, 750 Kearny St., San Francisco. (415) 986-1822, www.c-c-c.org/act/walk.html.<
CITY GUIDES WALKING TOURS OF SAN FRANCISCO -- Discover San Francisco's neighborhoods on foot. Learn about The City's history, architecture, legends and lore on this series of walking tours organized under the auspices of the San Francisco Public Library. Use the library to learn more about the area toured. A suggested reading list is available for every tour topic. At the starting point listed, look for the person with the City Guide badge. Tours are held rain or shine. Meeting places change with each tour.
FRIDAY TOURS -- "Cityscapes and Public Places:" 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Discover hidden gardens, rooftop parks and other surprises plus a bonus of spectacular views. This tour has many stairs. Meet at the Native Sons Monument, Montgomery and Market streets.
"Fisherman's Wharf:'' 11 a.m. See a side of Fisherman's Wharf most never see. Learn about swimmers who survived (or didn't) the treacherous Bay, the baseball great whose dad wanted him to be a fisherman, how Ghirardelli got here from Peru, what is underneath Aquatic Park, and more. Meet at benches in park at foot of Larkin St.
"Fire Department Museum:" 1 p.m. See antique engines and artifacts and learn about the history of firefighting in San Francisco. Meet at the San Francisco Fire Department Museum, Presidio Avenue between Bush and Pine streets.
"1906 -- Presidio and the Earthquake:" First & third Friday, 1 p.m. Walking through the Presidio, explore the role of the Army in this extraordinary time. Learn about the 200,000 San Franciscans left homeless by the earthquake and their struggles to return to a normal life. A 1906 Earthquake Centennial event. Meet at the Officers' Club and Visitor Center. "Gold Rush City:'' 1:30 p.m. Visit Portsmouth and Jackson Squares, the haunts of the original '49ers and relive San Francisco's early history. Learn about the Vigilance Committees, the fleet of abandoned ships, Emperor Norton and why "hoodlum'' is a San Francisco term. Meet at Clay and Montgomery streets, at the corner of the Transamerica Pyramid near the flower stand.
MONDAY TOURS -- "1906 -- Earthquake and Fire:" First and third Mondays, 10 a.m. Imagine awakening in the predawn hours to this massive April 18 earthquake and finding a place to survive. With the city water pipes ripped apart and fire raging at your heels, escape the alleyways south of Market Street to what should be the safety of Union Square. A 1906 Earthquake Centennial event. Meet at the benches between 525 and 555 Market streets.
"Bawdy and Naughty:" 11 a.m. This two block stroll takes a historic look at a "shady profession'' with a sympathetic view for the women who crossed the seas and prairies for a better life. Learn about Belle Cora, Ah Toy, French parlor houses and Barbary Coast dives -- all Gold Rush era entertainment. Meet at the eastern Maiden Lane Gate, off Kearny Street between Post and Geary streets.
"Chinatown:" 1:30 p.m. (and 10 a.m. on second and fourth Mondays). Explore colorful alleys and side streets containing family association offices, sewing shops, community service organizations and churches. See the area's post-fire buildings and browse in specialty shops. Meet at Portsmouth Square, corner of Kearny and Clay streets; Upper Level, near elevator.
"North Beach by Night:" 7 p.m. Food, culture, colorful history, and unexpected views all intersect in an erstwhile Italian "urban village" that was also cradle to San Francisco's bohemia. Meet in front of Specs Cafi, 12 Saroyan Place, just off Columbus, south of Broadway.
SATURDAY TOURS -- "Chinatown:" 10 a.m. Explore the colorful alleys and side streets which are the essence of Chinatown, home of family organizations, sewing shops, community organizations and churches. Meet in Portsmouth Square, upper level, at the end of the pedestrian bridge near the elevator.
"North Beach:" 10 a.m. Learn about the International District, home to Little Italy, Bohemians and Beatniks. Meet on the steps of Sts. Peter and Paul Church, 666 Filbert St. across from Washington Square.
"Sheraton Palace Hotel:" 10 a.m. Tour the elegantly restored 1909 Palace Hotel. A tour of the historic hotel includes its three ballrooms, the Maxfield and Pied Piper Bars, the Palace Court and the hotel meeting rooms. Tours last between an hour and an hour-and-a-half. Enter at 2 New Montgomery St. and met on the left side of the lobby.
"SOMA/Yerba Buena Center:" Second Saturday, 10 a.m. Tour the landscaped gardens and see the unique sculpture throughout. Meet in front of St. Patrick's Church, Mission Street between Third and Fourth streets.
"Coit Tower Murals:" 11 a.m. See Pioneer Park, the City's oldest park, and the controversial 1930s WPA murals at "Firebelle'' Lillie Coit's legacy. Meet at the main entry of Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill.
"Embarcadero South:" Fourth Saturdays, 11 a.m. Discover the changing faces of this once-bustling port and exclusive area. Meet at Mission and Steuart Streets, by Rincon Center.
"Pacific Heights Mansions:" 11 a.m. Walk past palatial homes and consulates in Pacific Heights. Learn of Victorian lifestyles and earthquake refugees. See mansions used as Japanese and German consulates in 1941. Meet at Alta Plaza Park, top of staircase, Pierce and Clay streets.
"Mission Murals:" First and third Saturdays, 11 a.m. See the colorful art of the Mission District, one of San Francisco's largest ethnic communities. Meet at Precita Avenue and Harrison Street, behind Flynn Elementary School. "Landmark Victorians of Alamo Square:'' First and third Saturday, 11 a.m. See some of San Francisco's most opulent and carefully restored "Painted Ladies,'' including the world famous Postcard Row. Includes breathtaking panoramic views from the Alamo Square Historic District. Meet in front of 824 Grove St.
"Inner Sunset:" Second Saturday, 11 a.m. Discover how this charming neighborhood emerged from the windswept dunes deemed hopeless by Frederick Law Olmstead, but coveted by developers and residents of San Francisco. See the neighborhood, view provocative murals and hear about the area's fascinating history and lore. Meet at Arguello Boulevard and Hugo Street.
"Ferry Building:" Noon. At one time, the Ferry Building was the heart of San Francisco and the second busiest terminal in the world. The building of the bridges took its toll on the ferries, misguided alterations ruined the interior of the building, and a freeway cut it off from the rest of the city. Now see the results of the multi-million dollar renovation and the building's new culinary epicenter. This is a 45-minute tour. Meet at the Main Entrance near the stairs.
"Fire Department Museum:" 1 p.m. See antique engines and artifacts and learn about the history of firefighting in San Francisco. Meet at the San Francisco Fire Department Museum, Presidio Avenue between Bush and Pine streets.
"Palace of Fine Arts/Marina:" Third Saturdays, 1 p.m. Hear about the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. Learn about the design and history of the "palace,'' the most loved building at the fair. Walk through the restored Marina District and enjoy its Mediterranean and Art Deco styles and atmosphere. The tour ends with coffee/conversation on Art Deco/Modern Chestnut Street. Meet at the corner of Bay and Lyon streets.
"Telegraph Hill Hike:" 1 p.m. See cliff hangers and pre-1870 homes, plus views, gardens and more. All the unique elements of Telegraph Hill. The hike includes lots of stairs. Meet at the Marconi Monument across from 290 Lombard St. THERE IS NO PARKING IN THIS AREA SO PLAN TO TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.
"1906 -- Phoenix Rising:" First Saturdays, 1 p.m. Find out how a mother cooked breakfast for her family and burned down a neighborhood, how City Hall was destroyed both literally and figuratively, and how the City rushed to rise from its ashes and rebuild better that ever. A 1906 Earthquake Centennial event. Meet at Memorial Court, the small park at Fulton and Franklin streets.
"1906 -- Presidio and The Earthquake:" Second, fourth and fifth Saturday, 1 p.m. Walking through the Presidio, explore the role of the Army in this extraordinary time. Learn about the 200,000 San Franciscans left homeless by the earthquake and their struggles to return to a normal life. A 1906 Earthquake Centennial event. Meet at the Officers' Club and Visitor Center. "Land's End: Sutro Highs and Lows:'' 2 p.m. Recapture the flavor of Mayor Sutro's gift to the public, the park and baths of the late 1800s. Experience dramatic, wind-swept vistas in sunshine or fog with somewhat strenuous walking. Meet at the lion statue at the park entrance, 48th and Pt. Lobos avenues.
"Japantown:" First and third Saturdays, 2 p.m. See historic Victorians, cottage row, a Julia Morgan YMCA, the city's oldest hotel and the creations of Urban Renewal. Meet at Japantown Peace Pagoda, Buchanan Mall at Post Street.
"Embarcadero North-Herb Caen Way:" Second Saturdays, 2 p.m. Tour the waterfront area where much of the city's most dramatic growth occurred. Famed columnist Herb Caen captured San Francisco's colorful history, from shipping to recreation, from shifting sand dunes to skyscrapers, and from vice to vista. Tour meets in front of the Ferry Building under the Clock Tower, Herb Caen Way at the foot of Market Street.
SUNDAY TOURS -- "Cow Hollow:" First and third Sundays, 10 a.m. This tour covers the history of the Hollow, which has grown from truck gardens and dairy farms. Learn about the architecture and the ambiance of this attractive San Francisco neighborhood. Meet at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Van Ness Avenue and Green Street.
"Theatre in San Francisco:" Third Sundays, 10 a.m. Explore current theaters and the history of actors and theaters past. Meet at Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission Street between Third and Fourth Streets, by the outdoor stage.
"Dogpatch and Potrero Point:" First Sundays, 11 a.m. Explore the interesting past of the neighborhood, from historic working class cottages to modern lofts. Meet at 18th and Tennessee Streets. "Haight Ashbury:'' 11 a.m. An exploration of the streets, sidewalks, parks and vistas of this historic area, which was a resort area in the 1890s. Somewhat strenuous. Meet at Park Branch Library, 1833 Page St.
"Golden Gate Bridge:" 11 a.m. Learn about one of the world's most famous bridges, how and by whom it was built and about the "Halfway to Hell Club.'' See the 1984 "bend in the bridge.'' Learn how the bridge cheated the "law'' of concrete and steel. Meet at the Strauss Statue near the San Francisco visitor parking area at the south end of the bridge.
"Art Deco Marina:" Second Sundays, 11 a.m. Admire the stylish and elegant buildings of the Marina while learning to recognize the Art Deco style made popular in the 1930s and '40s. View the shops on Chestnut Street in a new light. Meet in front of the Marina Library, 1890 Chestnut St.
"Rising Steel: Three Centuries of San Francisco Architecture:" Second and fourth Sundays, 11 a.m. Explore downtown architecture from as early as 1891 up to today. Learn about the architectural trends that literally changed the face of America, while seeing world famous buildings, little known treasures and public art. The tour covers 50 buildings in two hours. Meet at Stockton Street and Maiden Lane, just east of Union Square.
"Castro: Tales of the Village:" 11 a.m. A chance to explore a neighborhood that you only thought you knew. Walk through the Castro/Eureka Valley neighborhood that was once dairy Farms and dirt roads and now is one of the City's most vibrant and cohesive communities with popular and stylish shops, restaurants, and bars. Meet at Harvey Milk Plaza at Castro and Market Streets under the large rainbow flag.
"Downtown Deco:" Third Sundays, 11 a.m. Discover downtown's legacy of the Art Deco era. See a variety of the numerous permutations of American Deco/Moderne architecture. Meet in front of the old Pacific Bell Building (not the ball park formerly known as PacBell), 140 New Montgomery.
"Mission Dolores Neighborhood:" Noon. Come explore the streets, sidewalks, parks and vistas that tell the story of this 1890s resort area that was developed by comfortable merchants, whose gingerbread homes still grace its streets. Meet at the corner of 20th and Church streets.
"Murals in the Multi-Ethnic Mission:" Second and fourth Sundays, noon. See a four-story mural at the Women's Building and an eight-story example at Bethany Center. Also visit a multicultural neighborhood of 1880s Victorian homes. Meet at the Women's Building, 3543 18th St. between Guerrero and Valencia streets.
"Fire Department Museum:" 1 p.m. See antique engines and artifacts and learn about the history of firefighting in San Francisco. Meet at the San Francisco Fire Department Museum, Presidio between Bush and Pine streets.
"Nob Hill:" 2 p.m. See the great cathedral, the four prestigious hotels and the exclusive men's club that stands where the rococo palaces of the old railroad and silver kings once stood. Learn some of the history of the hill and see the fabulous views. Meet in front of the Stanford Court Hotel, California Street between Powell and Mason streets.
"Gold Rush City:" 2 p.m. Visit Portsmouth and Jackson squares, the haunts of the original '49ers and relive San Francisco's early history. Learn about the Vigilance Committees, the fleet of abandoned ships, Emperor Norton and why "hoodlum'' is a San Francisco term. Meet at Clay and Montgomery streets, at the corner of the Transamerica Pyramid near the flower stand.
"Victorian San Francisco:" 2 p.m. Walk around Lafayette Square and learn about the beauty of San Francisco Victorian architecture. See mansions of the early 20th century while visiting the city's first suburb, circa 1855. Some steep streets and many fabulous views. Meet at 1801 Bush Street at Octavia Street. "North Beach by Night:'' 7 p.m. Food, culture, colorful history, and unexpected views all intersect in an erstwhile Italian "urban village" that was also cradle to San Francisco's bohemia. Meet in front of Specs Cafi, 12 Saroyan Place, just off Columbus, south of Broadway.
THURSDAY TOURS -- "Civic Center-City Hall:" 11 a.m. See the grand buildings that replaced the ruins of the 1906 earthquake and learn what is new in the Civic Center, including the glorious interior of City Hall, refurbished following the 1998 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Meet next to the Main Library at the Pioneer Monument on Fulton Street between Hyde and Larkin streets.
"Fire Department Museum:" 1 p.m. See antique engines and artifacts and learn about the history of firefighting in San Francisco. Meet at the San Francisco Fire Department Museum, Presidio Avenue between Bush and Pine streets.
"Sheraton Palace Hotel:" 2 p.m. Tour the elegantly restored 1909 Palace Hotel. A tour of the historic hotel includes its three ballrooms, the Maxfield and Pied Piper Bars, the Palace Court and the hotel meeting rooms. Tours last between an hour and an hour-and-a-half. Enter at 2 New Montgomery St. and meet on the left side of the lobby.
"Embarcadero South:" Third Thursdays, 11 a.m. Discover the changing faces of this once-bustling port and exclusive area. Meet at Mission and Steuart Streets, by Rincon Center.
TUESDAY TOURS -- "Sheraton Palace Hotel:" 10 a.m. Tour the elegantly restored 1909 Palace Hotel. A tour of the historic hotel includes its three ballrooms, the Maxfield and Pied Piper Bars, the Palace Court and the hotel meeting rooms. Tours last between an hour and an hour-and-a-half. Enter at 2 New Montgomery St.
"North Beach:" Fourth Tuesdays, 10 a.m. Learn about the International District, home to Little Italy, Bohemians and Beatniks. Meet on the steps of Sts. Peter and Paul Church, 666 Filbert St. across from Washington Square.
"Pacific Heights Mansions:" Third Tuesdays, 11 a.m. Walk past palatial homes and consulates in Pacific Heights. Learn of Victorian lifestyles and earthquake refugees. See mansions used as Japanese and German consulates in 1941. Meet at Alta Plaza, top of staircase above Pierce and Clay streets.
"The Ferry Building:" Noon. Learn the long history of San Francisco's Ferry Building and about its multi-million dollar renovation. See the new culinary epicenter. Meet at the main entrance near the stairs to the second floor, Ferry Building, Embarcadero at Market Street.
"Historic Market Street: Path of Gold:" 1:30 p.m. Learn about the mystery, intrigue and controversy along the Path of Gold from the foot of Market Street to Lotta's Fountain. Along the way see buildings that survived the earthquake and fire of 1906. Meet at One Market Plaza, Market Street between Steuart and Spear streets.
WEDNESDAY TOURS -- "Theater in San Francisco:" Second and third Wednesdays, 10 a.m. Discover 150 years of theater as it evolved in San Francisco from 1849 to the present. Learn about current theaters and those that fell in 1906, prominent actors, and trends that occurred over the years. Meet at Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission between 3rd and 4th streets by the outdoor stage on the southeast corner of the park.
"Landmark Victorians of Alamo Square:" First and third Wednesdays, 11 a.m. See some of San Francisco's most opulent and carefully restored "Painted Ladies,'' including the world famous Postcard Row. Includes breathtaking panoramic views from the Alamo Square Historic District. Meet in front of 824 Grove St.
"Gold Rush City:" 11 a.m. Visit Portsmouth and Jackson Squares, the haunts of the original '49ers, and relive San Francisco's early history. Learn about the Vigilance Committee, the fleet of abandoned ships, Emperor Norton and why "hoodlum'' is a San Francisco term. Meet at Clay and Montgomery streets, at the corner of the Transamerica Pyramid near the flower stand.
"1906 -- Phoenix Rising:" First Wednesdays, noon. Find out how a mother cooked breakfast for her family and burned down a neighborhood, how City Hall was destroyed both literally and figuratively, and how the City rushed to rise from its ashes and rebuild better that ever. A 1906 Earthquake Centennial event. Meet at Memorial Court, the small park at Fulton and Franklin streets.
"Nob Hill:" 2 p.m. Learn about the area where railroad barons and silver kings once had mansions. Meet at the Stanford Court Hotel, on California Street between Powell and Mason.
Free. Times change with each tour. San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco. (415) 557-4266, www.sfcityguides.org.<
CRUISIN' THE CASTRO --
"Historical Tour," Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 noon. Explore the social and political history of San Francisco's Castro district, which many consider to be a home to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender culture. The tours visit places such as the Castro Theatre, Twin Peaks Tavern, Pink Triangle Memorial Park, and the former shop and residence of the late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Tours meet at the Rainbow Flag pole at the corner of Castro and Market streets, above Harvey Milk Plaza. Reservations are required. $25-$35, free for children under five.
"Harvey Milk Tour," Wednesday, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The tour honors the late Harvey Milk, who became the first openly gay politician in the state of California when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Sites visited along the tour include Harvey Milk Plaza, the Civil Rights Academy, and City Hall, where Milk worked and was ultimately assasinated on November 27, 1978. Tour meets at the Rainbow Flag pole at the corner of Castro and Market streets, above Harvey Milk Plaza. Reservations are required. $35-$45, free for children under five.
San Francisco. (415) 255-1821, www.cruisinthecastro.com/.<
EMBARCADERO CENTER SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR -- The multi-building complex making up the Embarcadero Center is rich with public art. Pick up a self-guided tour program at one of the kiosks or security desks in the complex and see artwork by international artists. The tour begins at Le Meridien San Francisco on Battery Street and continues through the Embarcadero Center buildings, Justin Herman Plaza, the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, and ends on the Street Level of Four Embarcadero Center.
Free. Daily, 24 hours. Le Meridien San Francisco, Battery and Clay Streets, San Francisco. (415) 296-2900, www.embarcaderocenter.com.<
FIESTA TOURS -- Call for schedule information. "The Summer of Love Continues..'' Take a two-hour walking tour of San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district and see the site of the Straight Theatre where Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix performed; the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic, the house where the Grateful Dead lived, coffeehouses, boutiques and psychedelic smoke shops and murals portraying the area during the "Summer of Love.'' Tour includes a stop at a local cafe, a chance to do some shopping along the way, and a stop at the Historic Red Victorian Bed and Breakfast Hotel. Tours are led by a former Hippie who brings you up to date on today's Haight. Advance Reservations required. Meeting place and time will be given with confirmation of reservation.
$15 per person. Given with confirmation of reservation. San Francisco. (415) 775-6773.<
FOREIGN LANGUAGE DOCENT TOURS AT THE FINE ARTS MUSEUMS OF SAN FRANCISCO -- Visitors will find major European works by Old Masters, including medieval sculpture, religious art and tapestries and 17th-century Dutch, English and French paintings as well as a great American art collection, antique furniture, and a superb textile collection. Tours are in Spanish, French, Russian, and Italian with special request tours available in Cantonese and German for groups of 10 or more. Docent-guided tours are available in several languages. Call to make arrangements for tours in a variety of languages including French, Italian, Spanish, and Russian.
Tours are available at The Legion of Honor Museum, Lincoln Park, 34th Avenue and Clement Street, San Francisco, and at The de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco.
Free with regular admission of $6-$10; free children under age 12; free to all on the first Tuesday of the month. (415) 750-3638, www.thinker.org.<
FORTUNE COOKIE BAKERY TOUR -- See how fortune cookies, invented in San Francisco, are made and how the tiny fortune messages are inserted. Call to set up an appointment for a tour.
Free. Mee Mee Bakery, 1328 Stockton St., San Francisco. (415) 362-3204, www.meemeebakery.com.<
GOLDEN GATE MODEL RAILROADERS INC. -- The club's HO-scale layout shows in miniature the engineering and geographical features of California railroads, past and present. Various types of bridges span canyons and dry washes. In addition there is a narrowgauge railroad line that winds through the mountains. The layout is in a room measuring 57 feet long and 38 feet wide. The mainline is about 600 feet long, nearly 10 scale miles, with an additional 200 feet or so of sidings and passing tracks. The members run the trains informally for fun on Saturdays.
GOLDEN GATE PARK HISTORICAL WALKING TOURS -- Presented by Friends of Recreation and Parks.
"Historical Walking Tours of Golden Gate Park." Trained volunteer guides describe how sand dunes on the "outside lands'' of San Francisco were developed into this beloved woodland park. There are several different tours:
"McLaren's Walk,'' "Music Concourse,'' "Strawberry Hill,'' "Lloyd Lake,'' "Windmill to Beach Chalet'' and "Statue Walk.'' Call for current schedule.
"Japanese Tea Garden." On this 45-minute tour, see the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States and the most popular exhibit of the 1894 Midwinter International Exhibition. Meet inside the main gate after admission of $3.50 general and $1.25 seniors and children is paid. Yearround: Sunday and Wednesday, 1 p.m. (415) 752-1171 or (415) 752-4227.
"Stroller Walks," First and third Wednesdays of the month. These walks are designed for parents pushing strollers. Enjoy fresh air, meet other parents, and learn a little history about the park. The walks begin at 10 a.m. and last approximately one hour.
Free unless otherwise noted. Times change with individual tours. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. (415) 750-5105, (415) 263-0991, www.sfpt.org.<
GULF OF THE FARALLONES NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY --
"Whale Watching Trips," 8 a.m.; Saturdays and Sundays through October 31, 2010. Join FMSA and San Francisco Whale Tours on a day-long whale watching trip in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Humpback whales, the occasional blue whale, as well as porpoises, sea lions, or any of many other species of marine mammals found in Sanctuary waters may be encountered. Departs from Pier 39 in San Francisco. Call or check website for reservations. Trip last six hours. $74.45.
Free. Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sanctuary Visitor Center, Building 991, West Crissy Field Beach, The Presidio, San Francisco. (415) 561-6625, www.farallones.org or.<
HAAS-LILIENTHAL HOUSE -- This historic Queen Anne is distinguished as the only intact private home of the period that is open regularly as a museum, complete with authentic furniture and artifacts. The House has elaborate wooden gables, a circular corner tower and luxuriant ornamentation. Volunteer docents lead tours through the House and explain the Victorian architecture of the exterior. A display of photographs in the downstairs supper-room describes the history of the home and the family that lived here until 1972.
Tours are offered regularly on Sundays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Noon-3 p.m. Special group tours are also available.
$5-$8. 2007 Franklin St., San Francisco. (415) 441-3000, www.sfheritage.org.<
HAIGHT-ASHBURY FLOWER POWER WALKING TOUR -- A guided walking tour of San Francisco's 1960s hippie neighborhood that includes the area's earlier history as a Victorian neighborhood and weekend resort. The tour begins opposite the Stanyan Park Hotel, just beyond the McDonald's parking lot. Reservations are recommended.
$20; free children age 9 and under. Tuesday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m.; Thursday, 2 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. Stanyan and Waller Streets, San Francisco. (415) 863-1621, (800) 979-3370, www.haightashburytour.com.<
HAUNTED HAIGHT WALKING TOUR -- An evening adventure through the Haight-Ashbury to learn about the macabre history of "The Haight.'' Hear real ghost stories and see where the famous and infamous lived. Not suitable for children under age 13. Wear warm clothing as the San Francisco evenings are notoriously cool to cold. Reservations required.
$20 (includes guidebook and map). 7 p.m.; check website for specific dates. Meet at Coffee to the People, 1206 Masonic Ave., San Francisco. www.hauntedhaight.com.<
HELEN'S GRAND WALK TOUR -- Helen Rendon gives a personalized introduction to San Francisco. Beginning at Union Square, the downtown hub dominated by elegant department stores and richly appointed shops catering to every taste, the tour covers three famous areas of the city: Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach. Highlights include historic landmarks, art galleries and stories from the past. The tour lasts three hours. Reservations required.
$40-$50. Call for times and meeting location. San Francisco. (510) 524-4544, (888) 808-6505, www.helenswalktour.com.<
HOBNOB TOURS OF SAN FRANCISCO -- Take a tour of Nob Hill, sometimes called Fern Hill or the Hill of Palaces. Learn about the railroad barons and Silver King who built palatial mansions on the top of the hill overlooking the Financial District. The tour includes the Flood Mansion, Huntington Park, the Wells Fargo Museum, the Merchant Exchange Building and the Fairmont Hotel. Buffet breakfast at the Terrace Room in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, lunch at the Big Four Restaurant in the Huntington Hotel; or High Tea in the lobby of the Renaissance Stanford Court Hotel are offered for an additional charge. Walking shoes recommended. Reservations required. Look for the guide sporting a dazzling 10-carat diamond pin.
$30 per person for tour plus additional charge for breakfast, lunch or high tea. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; Weekends and private tours by request. Fairmont Hotel, Mason and California Streets, San Francisco. (650) 814-6303, (866) 851-1123, www.hobnobtours.com.<
JAVAWALK -- This two-hour walk in the city center covers San Francisco's coffee roots (more significant than Seattle's) and coffeehouse culture (think beatnik). Along the way learn some of San Francisco's history and hear some arcane trivia and stories the Java girl has collected from many years of living in the city. Java walk also makes a couple of stops at North Beach cafes for a quick java jolt. Reservations required. Directions will be given when tickets are purchased online.
$10-$25. Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. San Francisco. (415) 673-WALK, www.javawalk.com.<
LOCAL TASTES OF THE CITY TOURS -- Follow local tour guides through a neighborhood of your choice, sampling some of the finest food that San Francisco has to offer, and meeting the local artisans that prepare the culinary delights. Pick from Chinatown, North Beach, or night tours.
$15-$59. Daily: Daytime tour; 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; night tour: 6 p.m. 2179 12th Ave., San Francisco. (415) 665-0480, www.localtastesofthecitytours.com.<
MISSION DOLORES -- Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Take a selfguided tour of the historic mission. Originally titled Mission San Francisco de Assisi, Mission Dolores is one of a chain of missions in California begun by Father Junipero Serra in 1776. The mission chain, a day's walk apart, stretches from San Diego to San Rafael. Mission Dolores was built in 1776.
$2-$3; $5 additional for Audio Tour. Daily, May 1-Oct. 31: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; November 1-April 30: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Good Friday: 9 a.m.-12noon, Easter Sunday: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. 3321 16th St., San Francisco. (415) 621-8203, www.missiondolores.org.<
MR. TOAD'S TOURS -- San Francisco Antique Car Tours with Mr. Toad
Experience the adventure of touring around the world's most popular city in a vintage 11-passenger vehicle. The tour features custom built, pre-1930's cars that offer unparalleled views of the beauty and history of San Francisco.
Tours depart from 2698 Mason Street, San Francisco.
"Hop Around The City Tour," 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. This 90-minute tour will cover Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, Pacific Heights, Presidio, The Golden Gate Bridge, and much more. $18-$34.
"Postcard San Francisco Tour," Departs at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. This three hour tour stops at scenic locations perfect for taking photos and making your own set of "postcards.'' Stops include Union Square, City Hall, Alamo Square, Haight-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, and Fort Point. $28-$48.
"San Francisco by Night Tour," This 90 minute tour stops at Coit Tower, Chinatown, North Beach, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Embarcadero. Check website for availability. $28-$40.
(650) 401-7708, www.mrtoadstours.com.<
NATIONAL AIDS MEMORIAL GROVE --
Tours of the Grove, An informal guided tour of the grove covers approximately 7.5 acres in the eastern end of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The Grove, an area dedicated to those affected by HIV/AIDS, changes with each season and even the daily play of light and shadow makes each visit a new experience. Tours begin and end at the Main Portal and are approximately 20 minutes long. Call to schedule an individual or group tour.
Free. March through October: Third Saturday of the month, 9 a.m.-noon. Golden Gate Park, near the corner of Middle East and Bowling drives, San Francisco. (415) 750-8340, www.aidsmemorial.org.<
NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM LIBRARY (THE J. PORTER SHAW MARITIME LIBRARY) -- Closed on federal holidays. The library, part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, focuses on sail and steam ships on the West Coast and the Pacific Basin from 1520 to the present. The museum library holdings include a premiere collection of maritime history: books, magazines, oral histories, ships' plans and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park's 250,000 photographs.
Free. By appointment only, Monday-Friday, 1-4 p.m., and the third Saturday of each month. Fort Mason Center, Building E, Third Floor, Buchanan Street and Marina Boulevard, San Francisco. (415) 560-7080, (415) 560-7030, www.nps.gov/safr/local/lib/libtop.html.<
PIER 39 -- A pier filled with shops, restaurants, theaters and entertainment of all sorts from sea lions to street performers.
Free. 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; certain attractions and shops have differing hours. The Embarcadero and Beach Street, San Francisco. (415) 623-5300, (800) SEADIVE, www.pier39.com.<
PRECITA EYES MURAL ARTS AND VISITORS CENTER -- "The Mission Trail: A Self-Guided Walking Tour." The tour, designed to make people more familiar with the Mission District, begins at Valencia and 24th streets and features historical locations, local businesses, cultural and community organizations and murals. Included are Galeria de la Raza, St. Francis Fountain and Candy Store, St. Peter's Church, Brava!, Women in the Arts Theatre, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts and the Balmy Alley murals. A chain of footprints indicates the Trail and Aztec calendar day symbols mark each important location. Pick up a map at the Center. Free."
Mission Trail Mural Walks,'' Saturday and Sunday, 1;30 p.m. See the famous murals of San Francisco's Historic Mission District in the company of a professional muralist. Participants view 75 murals over a six-block area preceded by a brief slide show on the history and process of mural art. The tour is approximately two hours long. No reservations needed. Meet at the Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center, 2981 24th St. $2-$12.
Mission District Mural Walks, Saturday, 11 a.m. A public mural walk with an introductory slide/talk by a muralist from Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center. Some of the murals included are those in Balmy Alley, 24th Street minipark, Flynn School (Precita Avenue and Harrison Street), China Books (24th and Harrison streets), Garfield Pool (25th and Harrison streets) and Cesar Chavez School (Shotwell and 23rd streets). Meet at Cafi Venice, 3325 24th St., near the 24th and Mission streets BART Station. $2-$10.
Murals of Precita Park, Sunday, 11 a.m. See 50 murals in an eight-block walk. See where community mural art started at the historic studio and neighborhood of Precita Eyes Muralists and learn about the monumental murals of Precita Park. Tour includes murals at Balmy Alley, Flynn School (Precita Avenue and Harrison Street), The Precita Valley Community Center, and Garfield Park (25th and Harrison streets). Tours leave from the Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center, 2981 24th St. $2-$10.
2981 24th St., San Francisco. (415) 285-2287, www.precitaeyes.org.<
RENDEZVOUS CHARTERS -- A nautical adventure aboard the Brigantine "Rendezvous'' or the "Bay Lady'' for brunch, a sunset cruise or a Sunday afternoon cruise. Plan to wear tennis or deck shoes, dress warmly and arrive 30 minutes before scheduled departure time. Reservations required. Cruises depend on the weather during the winter so call ahead for trip confirmation the day of the sail to see if weather permits the trip.
Pier 40, South Beach Harbor, south of the Bay Bridge, Embarcadero at Townsend Street, San Francisco. (415) 543-7333, www.rendezvouscharters. com.<
SAN FRANCISCO ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE -- NO TOURS ON HOLIDAYS.
"Pacific Heights Walking Tour," A two-hour, guided walking tour of surviving Victorian and pre-World-War-I mansions, elaborate family homes and smaller row houses. The tour discusses the architecture that borrowed styles from Europe and the East Coast and used them in unique ways. Expect breathtaking views as well as stories of earthquakes, fortunes and fame. Begins at Haas-Lilienthal House. Reservations not required. Sunday, 12:30 p.m.
"Haas-Lilienthal House Tours," This Queen Anne historic house museum, with its original fittings and furnishings, stands as a monument to life in San Francisco in the late 19th century. The house tour takes approximately one hour. Call to confirm tours are being given. Wednesday and Saturday, noon to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO SATURDAY WALKING TOURS -- Four walking tours are being offered. Each tour covers 15 to 20 blocks and takes about two hours. The tours are given on a rotating basis every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. All tours except the one on the first Saturday begin at the Haas-Lilienthal House. Wear layered clothing and comfortable walking shoes. Water will be provided. Reservations suggested. (415) 441-3000 X11.
"City Beautiful to City Center," This walk is the flattest of the four and is a comprehensive exploration of the Civic Center Historic District including the area's Beaux Arts architecture and public art. First Saturday of the month. Meeting place will be given with reservations. NOTE: THIS TOUR DOES NOT START AT THE HAAS-LILIENTHAL HOUSE.
"A Walk Along Broadway," This walk explores the area north and west of the Haas-Lilienthal House. Included are a number of Victorian houses along Broadway including the one used for the film "Mrs. Doubtfire,'' numerous Classical Revival buildings, and two former mansions of Silver King James Flood. The second Saturday of the month.
"Beyond Union Street: A Walk Through Cow Hollow," Learn about the early years of Cow Hollow through the distinctive architecture of the neighborhood, including early dairy farms, roadway inns, converted stables and barns, Victorian houses and mansions, and the grand art deco apartment buildings that replaced them. This tour's time period ranges from the 1850s to the 1920s. The third Saturday of the month.
"Walk the Fire Line: Van Ness Avenue," On this walk along Van Ness Avenue, learn about the earthquake and subsequent fire and the effect these disasters had on this street which changed from being a grand residential boulevard to a high style commercial row created to showcase the latest in modern conveniences, the automobile. See some post-1906 architecture as well as a few pre-quake survivors. The fourth Saturday of the month.
$5-$8. Meet in the Ballroom of the Haas-Lilienthal House, 2007 Franklin St., San Francisco. (415) 441-3000, www.sfheritage.com.<
SAN FRANCISCO CABLE CAR MUSEUM -- The museum is located in the historic Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse. Visitors can see the actual cable winding machinery, grips, track, cable and brakes, as well as three historic cable cars, photo displays and mechanical artifacts. The best way to get to this museum is by cable car; street parking is practically non-existent.
Free. October 1-March 31: Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; April 1-September 3-: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Closed on New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 1201 Mason St., San Francisco. (415) 474-1887, www.cablecarmuseum.com.<
SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL DOCENT TOURS -- Docent-led tours of the refurbished City Hall. Highlights of all tours consist of descriptions of the building's history, architectural elements and recent seismic upgrading as well as visits to the Mayor's Office and the Board of Supervisors Chamber. Some docent tours include the art exhibitions and permanent collection of art by contemporary local artists on display. All tours run 45 minutes to an hour.
Free. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Meet at the City Hall Docent Tour Kiosk on the main floor on the Van Ness Avenue side of City Hall by the elevators, Van Ness Avenue between Grove and McAllister Streets, San Francisco. (415) 554-6139, www.sfgov.org.<
SAN FRANCISCO COLUMBARIUM TOURS -- The public can visit this beautiful landmark building that has been renovated by the Neptune Society of Northern California. Storyteller Emmitt Watson leads tours of this 100-year-old neo-classic building, the home of urns of some of San Francisco's famous pioneering families. Reservations required.
Free. Monday-Friday, by reservation. 1 Loraine Court, San Francisco. (415) 771-0717.<
SAN FRANCISCO FEDERAL RESERVE BANK -- The San Francisco Fed offers one of the world's foremost collections of historic United States currency, as well as a look at cash and check processing.
The Fed Center: Exploring our Nation's Central Bank, a permanent installation at the San Francisco Fed, is designed to teach the public about the functions of the U.S. central bank through a series of guided hands-on and visually engaging experiences. Whimsical and thought-provoking elements in the exhibit include giant iconic representations of financial concepts, such as a free-floating sphere, a suspended safe, and a 14-foot tilting chair. Also featured is a newly designed Currency Collection. Schedule a group tour now or drop in any Friday at noon.
Prearranged tours are available to groups of students (high school and college), teachers, bankers, and community and business organizations, with a minimum of 8 persons (10 persons for San Francisco only) and a maximum of 30. Sixty-minute public tours of the Fed Center exhibit are available on a walk-in basis Fridays at noon. A minimum of two weeks advance notice as well as a list of tour participants submitted to the tour coordinators two weeks prior to the scheduled visit is required.
Free. Group tours by appointment only, Monday-Thursday at 9:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m.; Sixty-minute public tours available on Fridays at noon, on a drop-in basis. 101 Market St., San Francisco. (415) 974-3252, www.frbsf.org/federalreserve/tours.html.<
SAN FRANCISCO FIRE ENGINE TOURS AND ADVENTURES -- "Golden Gate/Presidio/Sausalito Tour." Take a unique tour in the back of a bright-red 1955 Mack fire engine. The tour goes through the Presidio, to Fort Point, over the Golden Gate Bridge, into Sausalito and to a photo stop at Fort Baker; then back across the bridge, through the Union Street neighborhood and ends at The Cannery. Reservations strongly recommended.
$30-$50. Monday and Wednesday-Sunday, 1 p.m.; additional tours given at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on certain days. Meet at The Cannery, Columbus Avenue between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, San Francisco. (415) 333-7077, www.fireenginetours.com.<
SAN FRANCISCO GHOST HUNT -- Walk to some of San Francisco's most notorious haunted places and meet the enchanting ghosts that call them home. Hear ghost stories based on serious documented research, see and touch eerie haunted artifacts, and learn how to catch a ghost. Along the way, learn the wild and romantic history of San Francisco's beautiful Pacific Heights district where these ghosts haunt today. Dress warmly as San Francisco nights are cold even in the summer. The tour is primarily outdoors and includes an hour inside one haunted building. The walk is easy with an easy pace but there is one moderate hill. Not recommended for children under age 8 because of the length of the tour and late evening ending. Reservations are not required, but do call to confirm tour. The walk is about a mile long and takes place rain or shine.
$10-$20. Daily, 7 p.m. (except Tuesdays); Closed July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. Queen Anne Hotel, 1590 Sutter St., San Francisco. (415) 922-5590, www.sfghosthunt.com.<
SAN FRANCISCO GRAY LINE -- This touring company offers a number of different tours of San Francisco, some including a Bay cruise.
Daily unless otherwise noted. Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco. (888) 428-6937, www.grayline.com.<
SAN FRANCISCO MOVIE TOURS -- From the inception of film to present day big-screen productions, the San Francisco Bay Area has always been a magnet for scouts seeking dramatic movie locations. The unmatched beauty of San Francisco combined with its riches of instantly recognizable structures and locales has attracted filmmakers from around the world. San Francisco Movie Tours offers the opportunity to visit these life-sized movie sets. Discover the unique sensation that is sweeping San Francisco. Watch real movie clips aboard a luxury "theater on wheels'' -- designed to provide the ultimate movie tour experience -- while passing by the actual location. Learn behind-the-scenes information and trivia about films, directors, and actors.
The tour starts and finishes in Fisherman's Wharf at Pier 43 =. Pick-up and drop-off provided at various main tourists locales (contact for details). Tour is 3 hours long. There will be 2 stops along the way for rest and photography.
$37-$47. Free for children 5 and under. Daily; departs at 10:30 a.m. (877) 258-2587, www.sanfranciscomovietours.com/tour.html.<
SAN FRANCISCO PERFORMING ARTS CENTER TOURS -- Tours of Davies Symphony Hall, the War Memorial Opera House and Herbst Theater. Tours leave from the Grove Street entrance to Davies Symphony Hall.
$3-$5. Monday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., on the hour. Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, Grove Street and Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. (415) 552-8338, www.sfwmpac.org.<
SAN FRANCISCO PRESIDIO -- NOTE: The visitor center is closed on New Year's Day. WILLIAM PENN MOTT JR. VISIT