Inspired by the free tours of Europe, this is a city overview, really fun walking tour, meet-up and trip planning, all in one! The tour starts at Powell and Market (right where the cable car line ends), and ends at the Transamerica Pyramid.
We’ll visit Chinatown, Downtown, Union Square and the Financial District, and give plenty of ideas of other spots to visit while you’re in San Francisco.
Book now to guarantee yourself a spot!
When? Every day at 10 AM
Where? Powell and Market (at the cable cars)
Look for our yellow Wild SF flag!
More than a city tour, this is a chance to get to know the real San Francisco with a guide who’s like a local friend. Starting from the cable car stop on Market Street, we’ll head up Powell Street, learning about those who have inhabited this land, from the indigenous Native Americans to Spanish colonizers, Mexican rule, and finally the Gold Rush settlers who helped turn this into “America.”
In Union Square, hear how this busy shopping district once stood against slavery and helped win the Civil War, and see the monument whose model coined the term “sugar daddy.” Down Maiden Lane, visit San Francisco’s former Red Light District and hear about early women’s history in Gold Rush-era San Francisco, and how women-owned brothels were a respectable source of employment for single women.
Visit Lotta’s Fountain on Market Street, one of the most significant sites following the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, where famed opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini gave an inspiring performance that marked the triumphant rebirth of San Francisco.
We’ll stop to talk about one of the city’s most important and sensitive topics today, which is homelessness. We are one of the only tour companies in town who take time to address to this nuanced issue, sharing statistics and policy initiatives that illuminate causes of chronic houselessness, what the city is doing, and how we can best help.
Next is Chinatown, where we travel down the neighborhood’s principle street, Grant Avenue. You’ll be transported to a district seemingly out of time and place. See the neighborhood’s defining architecture, a thoroughly inauthentic Chinese style that was fabricated by quick-thinking community leaders as a response to the city’s racist plans to relocate Chinatown after the Great Earthquake.
See Portsmouth Square, known today as “Chinatown’s living room,” where elderly residents gather for card games, music and community.
Finally, we’ll end underneath the Transamerica Pyramid, which was built atop old buried ships, redwoods and mud pushed in after the Gold Rush. This iconic skyscraper was initially hated by residents (sort of like the Eiffel Tower was), prompting protests and anti-development legislation. It’s aged well, and is now our beloved high-rise that sits at the foot of North Beach, our Little Italy.
Designed with backpackers and solo travelers in mind, we promise you’ll make new friends and see some of our favorite secret spots in of San Francisco.
In 2012, our founders Wes and J. Jo were backpacking in Europe and Mexico. They got bored of tours that were just dry history lessons, and came back to San Francisco determined to start the city’s first alternative free tour company (like the ones in Europe, and now across the world!). They did, and it became an overnight success, eventually peaking as the #1 attraction in San Francisco on TripAdvisor. That was a stressful time.
Today, every tour guide at Wild SF Tours is an artist and creative: we’re all young musicians, filmmakers, actors, drag queens, stand-up comics and costumers who are chasing our dreams.
On our tours, we talk about architecture, underground history, heroes and villains, city development, plus forgotten pioneers, groundbreaking policies, and practical advice like how to use public transit and ride the cable cars, where to find cool bars and cheap restaurants, and so much more.
This model was pioneered by Sandeman’s New Europe tours. (If you haven’t taken their tours, do it! They’re in most major European cities now.) The idea is that everyone deserves to see San Francisco, and to have an amazing experience learning why we love this place so much.
So, the tour is “pay-what-you-wish,” and you just tip your guide whatever the tour was worth to you.
If you didn’t like the tour at all, you can walk away!
Buuuuuut, we’re pretty sure you’ll have a great time, make new friends, connect with your guide, and fall in love with San Francisco too 😉Book Now
A screenwriter, director and educator, Andrew “Fischer” Wong’s craft has taken him far–including Cannes Film Festival, where he premiered one of his short films. He studied film and cinematography at SF State, leads filmmaking workshops for youth, and has his own production company called ReTold Productions. When not educating or directing, Fischer is a foodie with a knack for groan-inducing puns.
Artist and actress Mina can usually be found with a coffee in one hand and a drawing utensil in the other. With a passion for creating, she found her niche in technical theatre and moved to SF to study costume design. When she’s not creating costumes or building sets for the stage, she turns her focus to playwriting and improv to bring characters to life.
“Wild” Wes Leslie is a songwriter, tropical bartender, and almost-local, with a long family history in the Bay. He writes “bedroom soul” music under his name Wes Leslie which you can find on Spotify and his website. He has spent time backpacking through much of the world, including a year living in Madrid, Spain, where he dreamt up this walking tour company. Follow him on IG @wes.leslie
As a fourth generation San Franciscan, Leong is proud of where her roots grow, and won’t ever miss an opportunity to talk about the City. In her free time, she is an avid traveler, stargazer, and collector of bones and rarities. On a sunny day, you can find her in the park, with her face buried in a book about history, mythology or the counterculture. Ask her about her time in Claude Monet’s garden!