The tour begins in the Barbary Coast. This beautifully preserved Gold Rush district offers a glimpse into the lives of heroes and villains who defined this lawless land, home to cutthroats, swindlers and gamblers. Trace their old steps, and visit where the cable car ran, and the Transamerica Pyramid stands. In the nearby Financial District, hear how AP Giannini's turn-of-the-century community bank became the Bank of America, and see where our first eccentric, Emperor Norton, once lived.
Head to Portsmouth Square, center of Chinatown's day-to-day life, constantly bustling with dancers, conversation and street games. You'll continue up onto the main boulevard of Grant Avenue to see the trinket shops and overwhelming, colorful architecture, learning how the Chinese arrived during the Gold Rush, only to face hostility and an uncertain future. After a cafe break, head down back alleys rarely traveled by tourists. Hear about the discriminatory laws and civil rights victories that defined Chinatown, plus the inspirational leaders who helped transform preserve the community. You'll get a chance to peek inside one of the last remaining fortune cookie factories and sample the treat.
Finally, check out North Beach, starting with the street art of Jack Kerouac Alley. See the haunts of the Beatniks, including City Lights Bookstore and the pub Vesuvio. Head up Columbus Ave to see our oldest bar, first site of topless entertainment, and end with a glorious view over the Bay from a hidden locale.
What we see: