Guided Tours

Explore the exciting history of the growth of San Francisco over the past 200 years. Four walks take you on a virtual journey along the 3.7-mile Barbary Coast Trail through the historic core of civilian San Francisco. Learn how a village of a few hundred residents in 1846 became a city of thousands by 1850. See buildings that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, and meet some of the characters that are part of the unique experience of the City by the Bay.

The four-part Barbary Coast Trail® Walks are led by SFHS volunteers. You can take the tours in any order.

Reservations and pre-payment are required; please call (415) 537-1105, ext. 0, or email at least 48 hours before the tour, and we will give you the meeting place.

Part I Silver Strikes, Earthquakes, and Lion Dancers
covers Market Street, Union Square, and Chinatown and
will be offered on June 8, August 10, and October 5.

Part II Gold Rushers, Shanghaiers, and Jazz Dancers
covers Portsmouth Square, Jackson Square, and the
Barbary Coast and will be offered on June 22, August 24, and October 19.

Part III Hipsters, Paesani, and Semaphore Hill
covers North Beach, Washington Square, and Telegraph Hill
and will be offered on July 13, September 7, and November 2.

Part IV Stevedores, Feluccas, and Windjammers
covers the Northern Waterfront, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Aquatic Park
and will be offered on July 27, September 21, and November 16.

Barbary Coast Trail insignia

Barbary Coast Trail Guided Tours are free for current SFHS members, $15 for non-members. Reservations are required; call 415-537-1105 ext 0, or email See calendar for upcoming tours.

The full 3.7-mile trail is divided into four approximately equal segments, as follows:

Part 1: Silver Strikes, Earthquakes and Lion Dancers
– Market Street, Union Square, and Chinatown

From devastation to dynamic rebirth, this tour showcases San Francisco’s “rising” after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. You will learn about Union Square, which evolved from a remote sand dune to the commercial center of San Francisco; stroll down Maiden Lane; and explore the narrow streets and alleyways of the oldest Chinatown in the United States.

Part 2: Gold Rushers, Shanghaiiers and Jazz Dancers – Portsmouth Square, Jackson Square, and the Barbary Coast

From the birthplace of the Gold Rush and the village of Yerba Buena, walk Commercial Street to the original shoreline, the Pony Express headquarters site, the grave of a Gold Rush–era ship, and the Jackson Square historic district where Gold Rush and Barbary Coast–era buildings remain. Finally, visit the notorious Barbary Coast, home to shanghaiers, vigilantes, and “Terrific” Street.

Part 3: Hipsters, Paesani and Semaphore Hill – North Beach, Washington Square, and Telegraph Hill

Explore the artistic and cultural traditions of North Beach, from Italian immigrants to free-spirited Beats. Visit Washington Square in the heart of North Beach and Coit Tower, where historic Depression-era murals picture San Francisco’s tumultuous past.

Note: This portion of the tour includes steep hills and stairways. Attendees who have difficulty with hills or stairs will end their tour at Washington Square.

Part 4: Stevedores, Feluccas and Windjammers – Northern Waterfront, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Aquatic Park

Explore San Francisco’s past as a port city and cover the waterfront from the days of sail to the era of the longshoreman. Follow the Great Seawall, San Francisco’s largest public works project, to Fisherman’s Wharf, past two WWII vessels and the Hyde Street Pier, boasting the largest collection of historic ships in the United States. The tour ends at the Streamline Moderne Aquatic Park bathhouse, home to the San Francisco Maritime Museum.

Self-Guided Tours

The Barbary Coast Trail can also be a self-guided walking tour, using the printable map or a trail guide.

Cancellation Policy for Prepaid Tours and Events

For tours and special events requiring advance payment, only cancellations received at least five (5) business days prior to the event receive a full refund. Cancellations received with less than five (5) business days notice may be credited towards future SFHS events (within six months). Tours or events that are canceled due to weather or other reasons will be refunded within five (5) business days of the event.

NO refunds are made for no-shows or early departures.

Barbary Coast Trail® is a registered trademark.

Barbary Coast Trail Guidebooks

Two Barbary Coast Trail guides, written by trail founder Daniel Bacon, are currently available to enrich the experience of your self-guided walking tour. Trail guides are available at local bookstores, visitor information centers, and online.

Barbary Coast Trail Official Guide
32-page full-color guide includes map, illustrations, site descriptions and old photos.
Purchase the guide here.

Walking San Francisco on the Barbary Coast Trail
247-page paperback includes maps, trail guide, anecdotal history of early San Francisco, and tips on restaurants and fun things to do along the trail.
Purchase the guide here.