Free San Francisco
Free Do-it-yourself (DIY) San Francisco walking tours are one of the very best ways to see the Bay Area … if you know what you are doing. We are going to help by providing a list below of several interesting places to go and then guiding you on a brief “tour” to follow once you get there. These personal tours typically include “how to” directions, tips, and highlights you won’t want to accidentally miss.
This way you can make the most of your time and the many fabulous options available. Of course you should take interesting stops or side trips as you see them, but generally keep near the tour route so you don’t waste a lot of time on lesser opportunities. Later you can always come back to enjoy some more details. You’ll soon find out why San Francisco is considered one of the best walking cities in the world.
Here are some of many nice do-it-yourself tours and areas to meander which you are sure to enjoy. Many of these pages will also link you to other nearby areas worth walking.
- North Beach walking tours & map – great for tourists and locals alike
- Marina walk & map – really enjoy the San Francisco Bay
- Russian Hill walking tours & map – mainly for locals
- Best dog walks San Francisco Bay & map – different local walks not to miss even if you don’t have a dog
- Golden Gate Park & map. The Presidio is an even bigger and newer park.
- Ocean Beach & map – many locals have missed this treat
- Castro Street including Dolores Park area – interesting & gay
- Mission Street & 24th Street – old Hispanic area plus yuppies
- The Presidio and the Lyon Street Steps – more treats for locals
- The Embarcadero waterfront & map
- Sausalito & map – Things to do in Sausalito for locals
- Half Moon Bay State Beach trails & map – fabulous area south of SF
Consider the DIY tour tips below to help make your San Francisco Bay Area walk even better:
- Dress in layers! Temperatures can vary dramatically from one side of a hill to another or from morning until afternoon. You will probably sorely regret not being prepared; of course some people never learn :). By the way, wear good walking shoes.
- Watch out for cars! San Francisco is highly walkable but it also contains a lethal mixture of high speed local drivers and lost tourists. Watch out for cars! San Francisco is highly walkable but also contains a lethal mixture of high speed local drivers and lost tourists. Statistically it is one of the more dangerous cities for pedestrians in the U.S. No one — pedestrians, drivers, or bikers alike — tends to very carefully follow traffic laws either. Personally I follow the “law of survival” and always keep very alert and stay out of tricky spots. E.g., stand back from corners where it is easy to nailed, don’t get trapped in the middle of a busy street when the light turns, and don’t bolt in front of potential red light runners.
- Yes, there are hills. Don’t try to do too much the first time if you are not in good shape. That’s no fun.
- Eat en route. Part of the fun in SF is the many neat coffee shops and cafes. Maybe have a light snack and water at hand but keep some room available in your stomach and stop when hungry.
- Watch for interesting opportunities. San Francisco is full of great nooks and crannies where it is worth your while to spend more time. Stop and smell the many beautiful roses.
- Handle pan handlers, firmly but nicely. Panhandlers are widely accepted in this liberal city. They also happen to love tourists who can be flustered into a sizeable donation. One way to handle them is to pleasantly say “no thank you” and walk on. Another good suggestion is to donate to a worthy organization, such as the Salvation Army, that can help those who truly need help rather than supporting drug habits and/or aggressive behavior.
Even after many years we still find that free do-it-yourself walking tours are one of the most enjoyable things to do in San Francisco. Many walks are so nice we do them over and over again, repeating best adventures previously discovered and exploring more hidden opportunities each time we go. Hopefully these free tours will help you make the most of your time too.