The organizations below provide guided walking tours for those who are interested in learning about the history of particular neighborhoods and landmarks in San Francisco. There are also self-guided walking tour books available. Lastly, there are photography organizations that host city photo galleries and offer instruction and camera outings.
“City Guides, founded in 1978, is a non-profit organization with more than 200 trained volunteers who lead FREE history and architectural walking tours in San Francisco. We are sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library and are a San Francisco Parks Alliance Partner. Join us for a walk along the streets, sidewalks, and byways of America’s most beautiful – and fascinating – city!” - From website.
"Pay-what-you-like San Francisco walking tours. Suited for any budget, our tours provide an opportunity for visitors and natives alike to get onto the streets of San Francisco and explore eclectic neighborhoods, uncover hidden stories and taste world-renowned cuisine." - From website
"Social, historical, and critical [walking] tours through San Francisco; Cycles of History: our social, historical, and critical tours through San Francisco by bicycle." - From website
"Not your average sightseeing tours…each tour is an alternative, off-the-beaten path experience. We lead journeys through San Francisco’s history, presented as the residents of these neighborhoods would tell it. Working with independent shops, restaurants and institutions, we show travelers how we really live." - From website.
"As seen on the television show American Canvas, we are a group of local storytellers sharing the city’s best kept secrets through food, drink and other unique experiences." - From website
"The Barbary Coast Trail® is a San Francisco walking tour that connects the City’s most important historic sites, drawing you into a world of gold seekers & railroad barons, writers & visionaries, shanghiers & silver kings." - From website.
"How did SF become what it is now? What was here before and how did it determine the city's development? What about the floods of newcomers that inevitably accompany economic booms? How did their dreams and delusions change the place? Speaking of floods, where were historic creeks? Bring your group on a Thinkwalk!" - From website.
Walking Tour Guides
Christina Henry de Tessan, Chronicle Books, 2004. "This revised and updated edition of the classic guide featuring new walks, neighborhoods, restaurants and shops, reveals San Francisco's greatest treasures and best-kept secrets with each card detailing a full-color map on one side and comprehensive walking directions and highlighted stopping points on the other." - From website.
"You’ll walk in other people’s shoes, travel through time and find unexpected joy and intrigue in even the most common or mundane places. Your phone does the work while you become entranced by the world around you." - From website
Lisa Legarde, New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1993. "This book contains tour guides for those interested in seeing the places where history was made in San Francisco. You will find detailed guides to visit Union Square, Nob Hill, Telegraph Hill, North Beach, The Mission District, Golden Gate Park, Japantown, and many other places." - From website.
Rand Richards, Great West Books, 2001. "This book provides 18 mapped walks through different neighborhoods in San Francisco, focusing on the history of the city, with detailed stories about the sites and buildings along the way and anecdotes about the colorful characters associated with them." - From website.
David Cole and Mary Lee Trees Cole, Montreal, Quebec: Lobster Press, 2001. "Whether you’re a parent, an educator or a tourist, if you’re caring for children between the ages of 1 and 12, this book is the perfect answer to that all-too-common question: “What’s there to do today?” This guide has more than 150 suggestions for fun-filled family activities in the Bay Area." - From website.
Adah Bakalinsky, Wilderness Press, 2010. "Adah Bakalinsky’s updated Stairway Walks in San Francisco explores clandestine corridors from Lands End to Bernal Heights with a great deal of color commentary tending to focus on eccentric details of the local architecture and flora for each walk lending a whimsical quality to the whole experience." - From website.
For many, illumination of the heart, character, and beauty of a city is best brought to light through the lens of a camera. Here are organizations who take the photographic medium in, and of, San Francisco very seriously.
“RayKo’s galleries are dedicated to advancing the appreciation of photography and creating opportunities for artists to display and sell their work. The main gallery presents 8-10 exhibitions each year, from solo shows to thematic group exhibits, from local to international artists. In addition to hosting exhibits created by other venues, RayKo’s gallery director curates exhibitions from artists’ proposals and calls for entry. The side gallery showcases work that is available for purchase in our Photographer’s Marketplace or images that have been crafted at RayKo by our customers and Artists-in-Residence. The main gallery alone offers over 1600 square feet of exhibition space.” - From website.
“Pier 24 Photography is an exhibition space devoted to photography, which hosts rotating exhibitions and houses The Pilara Foundation Collection. Visitors experience an environment in which to view and quietly contemplate photography. By collaborating with photographers, educators, collectors and curators, we are able to share diverse ideas with the public. Through our partnerships with local institutions, we also work to advance the creation, scholarship and understanding of the photographic medium.” - From website.
“Founded in 1974, SF Camerawork’s mission is to encourage and support emerging artists to explore new directions and ideas in the photographic arts. Through exhibitions, publications and educational programs, we strive to create an engaging platform for artistic exploration as well as community involvement & inquiry.” - From website.
“Youth Art Exchange sparks a shared creative practice between professional artists and public high school students, propelling youth as leaders, thinkers, and artists in San Francisco. To accomplish this, Youth Art Exchange offers citywide arts, high quality education programming, field trips, events, and more including: Our current disciplines include architecture, public art, and black & white photography.” - From website.
A summer led photography class named after the rough square mileage of the San Francisco land mass. Each participant focused on a person, place or issue of San Francisco as a way to learn, understand, and more fully love the city.