The Urban Trek for San Francisco is done in a way to make it as easy as possible for anyone to complete the Urban Trek. Most walks are done at a normal pace for approximately no more than 15 minutes before a short rest period while the Urban Trek Leader does his commentaries. Uphill walks are made as infrequent as possible. However, most parks are atop a small hill to get the benefit of the best views of the City. Lunch break is about an hour to give the group time to enjoy a relaxing meal. Most stops at parks have public rest rooms available.
What to bring for the Urban Trek
- Exact Muni cash fare ($3.00 each ride for adults, $1.50 for those under 18 years old and seniors 65 years old and older). The Muni fare for the entire urban trek will be approximately $9.00 for adults and $4.50 for minors and seniors. Or $5.00 all day bus pass from the Muni Mobile App only.
- Money for snacks and/or a meal.
- Your mobile/cell phone, if you have one.
- Snack or fruit in case you get hungry before lunch.
- Sunscreen and a small bottle of water.
What to wear for the Urban Trek
- Comfortable and sensible walking shoes because there will be a lot of walking.
- Dress in layers. San Francisco weather can vary greatly from morning to afternoon and from neighborhood to neighborhood. You can remove or add a layer as needed. A hooded sweatshirt will be your best friend.
Other helpful tips
- Have a good breakfast before the urban trek. Take into consideration the first public toilet available - around 10:30 am for urban trek 1. Having coffee/tea right before the urban trek might not be a good idea because they tend to make people want to use the toilet afterwards.
- Anything you carry should not be too heavy that it will become a burden over the duration of the Urban Trek.
To be able to complete the Urban Trek for San Francisco, you must be in good enough physical condition to do all of the following without assistance:
- Walk at a normal pace for at least 15 minutes before resting.
- Walk uphill (10-18% grade) for at least 1 city block.
- Walk down stairs.
- Must be at least 18 years old. Minors should be accompanied by an adult.
Offered Tuesday & Thursday only. Advance resevation required. Starts at 9:30 am & ends between 4:00 - 4:30 pm. At this time, all urban treks are in English only.
Note: Shopping or browsing at stores in not part of the urban trek.
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Note: Reservations are not guaranteed until a confirmation number has been provided to you. Advance reservation is required.
Note: Cash in the only method of payment accepted at this time.
Detailed Itinerary of Urban Trek 1:
We will meet at 9:30 am next to the painting across from the San Francisco Visitor Information Center entrance located at 900 Market Street, on the lower level of Hallidie Plaza, next to the cable car turntable at Market & Powell Streets. Take the escalator near the GAP store and cable car turntable down to the lower level.
After a brief orientation, we will walk to Chinatown. Along the way, you will learn about the great earthquake and fire of 1906 and walk through a "Parisian" like alley with outdoor seating and restaurants where you can have lunch or dinner after your urban trek.
Upon reaching Chinatown, you will get a brief commentary on how the Chinese community began in San Francisco and the one block that started it all. You will also see the "Alley of the Painted Balconies" and learn the demographics of the Chinese community that live there today. The Urban Trek Leader will then show you the location of where the first house was built in 1835 and the first official street in San Francisco. You will learn how San Francisco started as a trading village before the Gold Rush boom. When you get to Portsmouth Square, you will learn about the Gold Rush and more history about San Francisco's Silver Age. (Note: You will be able to sit for about 10 minutes during the time the Urban Trek Leader tells you about all the historical information.)
Before leaving Chinatown, you will see where the first cable car line started and get a brief history of the cable cars.
We will then walk to North Beach, which is known as San Francisco's "Little Italy." You will see where the Beatniks hanged out in the 1950s and get a brief history about that era. The Urban Trek Leader will point out heritage businesses since North Beach has a whole bunch of businesses that have been there for 30+ years and see the oldest bar in San Francisco that is still in the same building. And for those interested in doing a pub crawl, you get recommendations on the good bars to visit. You will also see the neighborhood's red light area (i.e. birthplace of the "world's first topless and bottomless entertainment) and an art work worth a lot of money. North Beach is a unique neighborhood so you will see one of the last haberdasheries left in the city, a place that sells vintage stuff, the bar where Janis Joplin performed before becoming famous, the last Italian grocery store, the apartment building used in the movie "Mrs. Doubtfire" as Robin William's apartment. When you reach Washington Square you will learn how the demographic of this neighborhood has changed over the years, but at the same time how it has not changed much over the years.
We will take the first Muni bus ride to Cow Hollow (passing Russian Hill on the way). Upon reaching Cow Hollow, an upper middle class neighborhood, we will walk a few blocks on Union Street where you will see old Victorian houses that have been converted into businesses (i.e. restaurants, bars, offices). You will get some historical and current information about this neighborhood.
We will then take another Muni bus to Pacific Heights where we will have our lunch break around 12:30 - 12:45 pm. Lunch break will be for an hour.
After lunch, we will explore the Pacific Heights neighborhood. First stop is Lafayette Park which offers a nice view of the bay and Alcatraz. The Urban Trek Leader will give a brief history on how the city expanded westward. Before we leave the park, the Urban Trek Leader will show you a landmark mansion and tell you an interesting story about the woman who built one if the grandest mansions in San Francisco. After Lafayette Park, we will walk through the neighborhood and see more huge houses. The Urban Trek Leader will give information about the other historic houses along the way. You will also see a bunch of well-maintained Victorian houses around the neighborhood and get a brief description of the different types of Victorian houses in San Francisco. Before leaving this neighborhood, you will see the "million dollar view" with the Golden Gate Bridge and also the family house in the movie "Mrs. Doubtfire."
We will take another bus ride to Alamo Square and briefly go through the Nopa neighborhood, the new up and coming area.
In Alamo Square, you will see some exquisite Victorian houses. The famous "Painted Ladies" being the highlight. Alamo Square also has a beautiful panoramic view of the skyline of the downtown buildings. You will get some historical information about the neighborhood and the Victorian houses.
We will then walk (downhill) or take another bus, depending on what would be faster, to Hayes Valley. This is the new hip and cool neighborhood where there are a bunch of trendy boutiques, restaurants, cafes, etc. You have to option of stopping to get one of the best ice creams or coffee or hot chocolate to go. The Urban Trek Leader will also give you some historical information about this neighborhood and things you can do there today (e.g. cafe with backyard patio) in case you want to revisit this neighborhood after your urban trek.
We will then walk to the Muni Metro underground station to get back to our meeting place so you will learn how to take the Muni Metro.
We will end where we started at approximately 4:00 - 4:30 pm.
Note: Dogs are not allowed unless it is a valid service dog & must be disclosed at the time when reservations is made.
Note: All urban treks are smoke-free.
Next to "The Samuels Clock" located at 856 Market Street. (Note: Search for "The Samuels Clock" on Google Maps and it will show the location of the meeting place.)
Included with price of the Urban Trek:
- An Urban Trek Leader with informative commentaries about the sites you will visit.
- Written self-guided directions to explore more "secret spots" of San Francisco.
Not included with price for the Urban Trek:
- Cost of Muni bus fare. Est. cost for cash fare for entire urban trek is $9.00 ($4.50 for seniors, 65 years old, and minors, under 18 years old). Or $5.00 all day bus pass from the Muni Mobile App only.
- Cost of meals and snacks during the urban trek. Trekkers are free to choose where to have a meal within the boundaries of the trek vicinity. Meals can cost from approx. $15 and up depending on the place the trekker chooses. There will be a variety of places to choose from.