Category Archives: Shopping Tour

San Francisco — the Good Stuff!!!



San Francisco History, Photo Archives, Map Archives, Walking Tours, Museums, Online Resources, Running Tours and Historical Organizations

History Resources
  • April 18, 1906“Exploring San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake and fire through the photographic archive” — A new and interesting project, which pulls out individual period photos and digs in deep.
  • Bay Time Reporter
    A series of smart, funny and insightful columns on a staggering array of Bay Area historical (and contemporary) subjects, written by the inimitable Paul Potocky. Highly recommended… the man can write.
  • California Business History
    Don’t be put off by the awkward design; this site is actually packed with timelines, photographs and histories of California (and San Francisco) businesses.
  • California Historical Society
    The grand-daddy of California history in its physical incarnation, the Society’s website features an online guide to over 300 years of California history. This resource includes over 400 images from their fine arts, library, and photography collections.
  • Library of Congress
    The “American Memory Project” — just type “San Francisco” into the search bar and jump back at the flood of photos and historical artifacts… this is the Library of Congress, after all!
  • Market Street Railway
    All things “streetcar”, packed with historical articles and photos — the home of the brand new “San Francisco Railway Museum”
  • Mister SF
    Long time chronicler of the city’s faces and places. This website features countless short takes on aspects of life in our favourite city — local joints, the vanishing of favourite haunts, literary/cinematic history and more.
  • Online Archive of California
    A part of the “Digital Library of California” — over 1,000 texts available. These include transcripts of oral histories, personal narratives, letters, press releases, newspaper articles, and other types of documents.
  • Russian Hill Neighbors
    Small site — couple of nice walking tours and a guide to neighborhood architectural styles, run by a non-profit neighborhood association.
  • San Francisco Genealogy
    An incredibly rich and comprehensive collection of historical sources — always my first stop on quests for information. Many primary sources, maps, and a forum where host Ron Filion helps answer your San Francisco history questions.
  • San Francisco Memories
    A loving tribute to our fair city from a passionate collector of San Francisco ephemera — photo intensive and quite lovely.
  • San Francisco Virtual Museum
    A long running and deep archive dedicated to historical accuracy, curated by the energetic Gladys Hanson. A terrific source for primary texts & photos, currently featuring major exhibits on the Gold Rush, Golden Gate Bridge, and ’06 Quake.
  • The Western Neighborhoods Project
    “Preserving the history of San Francisco’s West side” — An excellent site featuring photos, memories, and passionately in-depth essays documenting the lesser-known half of San Francisco.

Historical Photo & Map Archives

  • America Hurrah!
    A little treasure trove of California historiana with a San Francisco slant — click on a link and a map, reminiscence, or who knows what may result. Good fun…
  • April 18, 1906
    “Exploring San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake and fire through the photographic archive” — A new and interesting project, which pulls out individual period photos and digs in deep.
  • Calisphere – University of California
    A part of the “Digital Library of California” — More than 150,000 digitized items, including photographs, documents, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, advertising, and more…
  • Charles Cushman Photograph Collection
    Charles Cushman, amateur photographer, bequeathed 14,500 Kodachrome color slides to Indiana University. Hundreds are of San Francisco in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s.
  • Old SF
    Interactive map of the SF Public Library’s Historical Photograph Collection, which contains 40,000 digitized images from San Francisco’s past.
  • Online Archive of California
    A part of the “Digital Library of California” — access to tens of thousands of photographs, paintings, graphical materials and other images, which can be organized by topic.
  • Rails Around the Bay
    Frank Caron is an Amtrak engineer and passionate rail buff. His website focuses on railroads operating in and around the greater San Francisco Bay Area, including the history of operations in the area, maps, drawings and historical diagrams.
  • Rumsey Historic Map Collection
    This stunning collection of cartographic ephemera from the 18th and 19th centuries includes atlases, globes, school geographies, books, maritime charts, and more. Insanely cool.
  • SF Images
    Images of the past and present day, people and places, structures and landscapes. Large collection of historical photographs, from pre-Gold Rush times to today, all digitally mastered at high resolution.

San Francisco Walking  and Running Tours

  • Barbary Coast Trail
    The famous self-guided walking tour — follow the bronze medallions in the sidewalk!
  • Oakland Walking Tours
    Free walking tours of historic downtown Oakland — explore the Railroad Era, Chinatown, Art Deco Uptown, the Jack London Waterfront, Preservation Park and so much more. Sponsored by the City of Oakland.
  • San Francisco Tour Guide Guild
    “A professional, non-profit corporation of experienced tour guides and members of the travel industry.” They maintain the prefessionalism of the industry through tour guide certification, but also offer their own tours.
  • Walking in San Francisco for Health and History
    “Meet other locals interested in walking for fitness and in learning about the history of San Francisco. Most Saturdays we go on long walks that have great variety in distance, stair climbing, and amount of history information. Walks are free.”
  • Explore SF
    Explore SF offers unique tours that from a local perspective that for the most part avoid anything touristy. Each tour offers something above and beyond a normal tour, be it  lunch and a spa visit in Japantown,  Wine Country in the City,  1970’s Folsom District Tour, Sin Francisco to the SF Armory or a WIld Parrot Safari, “These tours are not to be missed.”

  • SF Scenic Running ToursThe newest trend in staying in shape and meeting new people. Running
    tours led by professional trainers and experienced guides, all of whom are
    locals, and they take you on the most beautiful runs through the most
    breathtaking city in the world. We challenge you to find a more positive way to see San Francisco. If you can find one, we’ll pay your way…

San Francisco Museums and Archives

  • Bancroft Library
    California’s memory bank on the UC Berkeley campus, one of the largest special collections in the U.S. Includes the Mark Twain Papers, Regional Oral History Office, UC Archives, History of Science & Technology Program, & Pictorial Collection.
  • San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum
    Documenting and preserving the Bay Area’s rich performing arts heritage from the Gold Rush to today – and making it available to us! Programs, events, exhibitions, and the fabulous library. Based on dancer Russell Hartley’s private collection, ca 1947.
  • Treasure Island Museum
    Once upon a time there was a museum on Treasure Island. Someday it may return, but ’til then, enjoy the museum’s website, featuring a “Memory Book” message board, info about the collections in storage, and “Treasures”, an illustrated history of the Fair.
  • Wells Fargo History MuseumThis colorful museum features a beautiful stagecoach, piles of real gold, and many other exhibits focusing on San Francisco’s Gold Rush history. Even cooler, it’s located on the very spot in which Wells Fargo opened for business in 1852!

Contemporary Online San Francisco

  • FunCheap SF
    “Finding fun and cheap stuff to do San Francisco and around the Bay Area.” Yahoo group dedicated to having fun in the Bay Area on the cheap. Good stuff!
  • San Francisco Virtual Tour
    “An interactive photo documentary Walking Virtual Tour” — and that’s just what we have here, a staggering amount of work. Kudos!
  • SF Journey (German language)
    A German-language travel guide to San Francisco and the West Coast: “Ihrem Reiseführer nach San Francisco an der Westküste der USA”
  • Wells Fargo History Museum
    This colorful museum features a beautiful stagecoach, piles of real gold, and many other exhibits focusing on San Francisco’s Gold Rush history. Even cooler, it’s located on the very spot in which Wells Fargo opened for business in 1852!

San Francisco History Organizations

  • San Francisco History Association
    A group “Dedicated to Remembering San Francisco’s Past” — they sponsor regular talks, slide shows, and guest speakers on a fantastically diverse array of subjects.
  • San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Historical Society
    Often referred to as San Francisco’s “queer Smithsonian,” the GLBT Historical Society houses one of the world’s largest collections of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender historical materials. The society’s GLBT History Museum is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States.
  • San Francisco History Museum and Historical Society
    The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society is dedicated to preserving, interpreting and presenting the historical heritage of San Francisco.

  • Treasure Island Museum
    Once upon a time there was a museum on Treasure Island. Someday it may return, but ’til then, enjoy the museum’s website, featuring a “Memory Book” message board, info about the collections in storage, and “Treasures”, an illustrated history of the Fair.
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Armory Tours

In January, 2007 Armory Studios, LLC announced that it had acquired the San Francisco National Guard Armory and Arsenal located at the corner of 14th and Mission Street.For some in the neighborhood this was contreversial. But for Armory Studios,LLC and most citizens of progressive San Francisco this was and is the perfect home for…

This behemoth San Francisco landmark completed in 1914 is a 200,000 square foot reproduction of a Moorish Castle and was used by the National Guard until 1976. It sat vacant and deserted for almost 40 years, imposing and foreboding, it’s identity was a mystery to most neighborhood residents. Upon closer inspection the beauty of this building becomes more apparent. It retains original period details including wainscoting, stone staircases,  sweeping corridors, beneath the main floors is the cavernous access to Mission Creek. It served as both a barricade and safety point for officers during the violent rioting in San Francisco in 1934. George Lucas used this place for filming during the production of the first Star Wars movie. This impressive structure is the home of, an adult entertainment company and SF original. If you have ever wondered what an adult entertainment studio might be like this is your chance to see.

We are proud to be working with The Armory to bring you tours of this historic gem as a destination along with our historic neghborhood tours. We currently have two Explore SF tours that include a look around this fascinating facility. We are the only outside tour company offering Armory tours as part of our regular line up. Come see this incredible San Francisco landmark and tour the building and studio sets within. This is a unique chance to see a working adult entertainment production facility for yourself. You will actually see the sets and production areas in which adult entertainment is created. This is not the kind of tour that any of your friends have likely been on and this is one of the most unique experiences that anyone will likely have on any trip, ever.


Both of these tours are for adults only

The Folsom District to The Armory

This historic walking tour will take you through the legendary Folsom District of Leather Bars,Gay Bathouses, huge dance clubs,and sex clubs. This area was once a vibrant neighborhood and was the front lines for gay identity and sexual liberation. Mostly wiped from the maps by zealous developers and corrupt politicians this area was also home to thousands of residents who were replaced with big box stores, office towers and condos. More


Mission Dolores to The Armory

Missión San Francisco de Asís was originally built close to the banks of a creek that the Spanish called, Arroyo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, meaning “Our Lady of Sorrows Creek. The original Mission was moved a few blocks to where it is now and later the creek was buried underneath city streets. Today, the creek flows throught the basement of The Armory. Our tour begins at the Basilica at the Mission, now commonly called Mission Dolores and ends at the Armory. We could have call this the Mission Creek Tour but From the Pope to Porn has more panache, either way this is a fascinating journey. More


    Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs)

Reservations Online:

More Information: 415.793.1104


                                 The Folsom District to The Armory| Mission Dolores to The Armory

via Armory Tours.


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Recent Pics

Here is the Facebook album:

Explore San Francisco











Explore San Francisco.


This tour is very social, we have fun and friendships are made. Maybe its because it’s the wine or exotic teas, the good food, the company or the vibrant area, but if you are looking for a relaxed and interesting evening with delicious food, you cannot go wrong with this fun event. The air scented with incense and spice invites us as we begin the evening with gourmet tea in Chinatown. We may sample Dim Sum, or other Cantonese, Sichuanese, Hunanese, but primarily it will be Americanized Hong Kong style cuisine on our leisurely stroll. We’ll see the oldest Chinese temple in America, the oldest Catholic Cathedral on the West Coast, the oldest Chinese bakery in the US, we will see workers make fortune cookies in their factory , delight in the flower stalls, street musicians playing ancient Chinese instruments,  shop the produce vendors, explore an herbalist shop, pass former opium dens, gambling halls and houses of ill repute. After going through the back alleys of Chinatown, where the local residents lead their daily lives, we cross over into North Beach entering through Kerouac alley, birthplace of the beatniks…

Welcome to San Francisco’s Little Italy, the city’s most charming neighborhood with a checkered past. We’ll see the bar where the beatniks drank and the bookstore where they read their works. Both of these establishments are still going strong! You’ll see Columbus Tower: “The Godfather” Building. We’ll cross Broadway,” The Strip Club Strip”, we’ll see the club where Carol Doda danced for decades. Shortly afterwards, the St. Francis of Assisi Church which is a national Roman Catholic shrine and the Fifth Seat of the Pope. We’ll walk along the border of the legenday American Barbary Coast. We’ll work our way up Columbus past bustling sidewalk cafes, where the air smells like freshly baked bread, garlic and espresso. Passing pottery shops, bakeries, trattorias, pizzarias, delicatessens and bars,
we’ll see famed Washingon Square and Sts. Peter and Paul Church( where Joe DiMaggion and
Marylin Monroe were not married) . We’ll eat again and finish the evening with good
conversation, laughter, wine or coffee and smiles all around.


When: Nightly. If space is not available online please call the info-line.
Cost: $69. Food included. 
Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs) 
Reservations Online
More Information: 415.793.1104

Additionally, we also offer separate tours of:

North Beach     &       Chinatown


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Haight Street, spend an afternoon in the Summer Of Love



HAIGHT STREET! (Haight-Ashbury)

The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of the 1960s is still very much alive
and well today. “The Haight“, as it is now known was officially established
in 1883 and today is a vibrant urban village. It is one of San Francisco’s
most fascinating areas. Beautiful Victorians, tree lined streets, unique little
shops, thrift stores, head shops, cafes, street performers, and a wide variety
of restaurants serving food from around the world will
make this an afternoon you will never forget.

Our menu will be eclectic as Haight Street has a very high restaurant per block ratio.
And the choices always changing but in the past we have had: assorted Thai food,
tacos, burritos, tortas, Japanese, crepes, Indian, healthy and not so healthy, chai,
burgers, NY syle pizza, freshy made gourmet chocolate, freshly ground coffee, gourmet
tea or a local micro-brew. . And our walk will be leisurely, with no major hills to climb.
Because with all of that eating who wants to walk far?

You’ll learn about the colorful history of this historic area as westroll this lively and lovely neighborhood. As we go, we’ll be pointing out places that aren’t in the guide books and that you’d probably miss on your own. You’ll be seeing the neighborhood as a local….


When: Fridays 2:00pm


Cost: $85




Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs) 
Reservations Online:




More Information: 415.793.1104


Explore North Beach



North Beach is a food lover’s paradise and we are delighted to be taking
you there. As you enter this neighborhood you will begin to notice the scent
of baking bread and the aroma of strong coffee. On our tour we may sip wine,
drink coffee, try authentic pizza, olives, italian meats, freshly made chocolate,
freshly baked foccaccia, desserts or more!

All of our tours are rich in history and this neighborhood has a wonderful
past to share. Italian fishermen, beatniks, hipsters, poets, comedians, The
Barbary Coast, Gold Rush fortune seekers, Shanghai Dens, Joe DiMaggio,
Carol Doda, Beach Blanket Babylon, nightime thrill seekers, sailors, socialists,
all of these have helped shape North Beach into the rare gem that it is today.

Along with the wonderful food wine and espresso and all the history we will
see some amazing sites such as: Washington Square Park, St. Francis of Assisi
Church- which is a National Shrine and the 5th Holy Site of the Catholic Church,
Saints Peter and Paul Church where Joe Dimaggio and Marylin Monroe posed for
wedding pictures , Coit Tower, Hotel La Boheme, Molinari’s, cable cars, pottery
shops, sidewalk cafes, Kerouac Alley, City Lights Bookstore– where the beatniks
read their work, Vesuvio’s, The North Beach Museum, The city’s oldest saloon
The Beat Museum and The Condor.


When: Tuesdays at 1:00 Cost: $69. Please call to schedule additional time slots
Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs)
Reservations Online:
More Information: 415.793.1104



We also offer:
North Beach & Chinatown at Night!

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Exploring the city, the real city…

Exploring the city, the real city…