Road Scholar : Home
Signature City San Francisco: City By The Bay

Program Number: 21052RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/20/2013 - 10/25/2013; 3/20/2016 - 3/25/2016; 4/17/2016 - 4/22/2016; 5/29/2016 - 6/3/2016; 6/26/2016 - 7/1/2016; 7/24/2016 - 7/29/2016; 8/14/2016 - 8/19/2016; 9/11/2016 - 9/16/2016; 10/16/2016 - 10/21/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: San Francisco, California
Price starting at: $1,298.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Signature Cities Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 12; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 3 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

From global cuisine to Alcatraz — experience the best of the “City by the Bay.” Walk through Chinatown’s 150-year-old food market for a sensory journey past fresh produce, steaming poultry and buckets of swimming fish. Enjoy a private coach excursion, see the highlights of the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf.


• Discover Alcatraz Island, most famous for the federal penitentiary, and also home to the first lighthouse on the West Coast, a military garrison, and a Native American occupation.
• Join a local historian for a look into San Francisco’s devastating fire of 1906 and learn how the city was rebuilt.
• Learn about San Francisco's unique architecture from a local expert followed by a docent-led visit to a Victorian home.

Activity Particulars

The program is designed to minimize walking up San Francisco's many hills. However, walks of up to a mile a day may still involve inclines and declines, stairs, and standing on sidewalks that may not always be even. Some use of public transportation.

Use of public transportation with some transfers.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

3-20-2016, 5-29-2016, 7-24-2016, 9-11-2016

This date is a MODERATE activity level.

4-17-2016, 6-26-2016, 8-14-2016, 10-16-2016

This date is an ACTIVE activity level.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

San Francisco

A stunning city with a colorful past and vibrant present, San Francisco offers legendary landmarks — the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, cable cars and elegant Victorian homes — along with spectacular cityscapes and views of bay and bridges.

Comfortable hotel in downtown San Francisco.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Marie McNaughton

Marie Thomas McNaughton has been a writer, photographer, speaker, and business communications professional since 1980, when she received her B.A. in English from the University of San Francisco. She received her M.A. in humanities from San Francisco State University in 2006, and enjoys studying the "long nineteenth century" in England, France, and the United States. Marie has published her work in numerous magazines and newspapers, and she enjoys leading public lectures and writing workshops.
Jerry Morucci

A native San Franciscan, Jerry Morucci leads walking explorations in the Italian neighborhoods of Potrero Hill and North Beach, where his family owned and managed Coit Tower Market. After retiring from the restaurant industry, he became active in many of the city’s cultural and historical societies. His experience in the food industry and his passion for Italian cuisine make him an instant resource for the best cappuccino, gnocchi, prosciutto and gelato in Rome as well as San Francisco.
James Dalessandro

James Dalessandro has written more than 20 feature film and television scripts, including the movie adaptation of his best selling novel, “1906,” for Warner Brothers, and the Hallmark movie, “Citizen Jane,” based on his true crime book. He is the writer and director of the award- winning documentary film, “The Damnedest Finest Ruins,” and the writer and executive producer of, “Petrosino,” an upcoming 10-hour mini series based on his Playboy article and upcoming book. He is the principal Road Scholar lecturer in his adopted home of San Francisco where he screens, “The Damnedest Finest Ruins,” and lectures on subjects ranging from the founding of San Francisco the Transcontinental Railroad, Old Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge to the history of its artists: Mark Twain, Jack London, Isadora Duncan and the Beat Generation.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Carlton
  San Francisco, CA 5 nights
 Hotel Carlton
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The historic 161-room Hotel Carlton in San Francisco's Lower Nob Hill neighborhood offers an international ambiance with outstanding guest service and eclectic and exotic touches from around the world that celebrate the joy of travel. Located near City Hall, the Federal building and the Theater District, this San Francisco hotel is located in a residential neighborhood just five blocks from Union Square and two blocks from the California Street cable car. It is one block away from Polk Street with many eclectic shops and restaurants. The hotel features an international vintage style that offers an eclectic and relaxing haven accentuated by exotic travel photographs. The charming public spaces showcase a cross-cultural design that incorporates one-of-a-kind objects and fascinating treasures. Hotel Carlton is a non-smoking hotel.
  Contact info: 1075 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109 USA
phone: 415-673-0242
  Room amenities: Complimentary wireless internet access througout the hotel * Phone with voice mail/data port * Cable TV * Clock/radio/CD player that is MP3 compatible * Electronic locks * Hair dryer * In room safe * Coffee maker * Iron/board * Operable windows * Ceiling fan in all rooms
  Facility amenities: Complimentary wirelss internet access throughout the hotel * Nightly complimentary wine reception * Saha Restaurant serves Arabic Fusion Cuisine - breakfast and dinner * Concierge services for your stay in San Francisco * Bellman services * Pet friendly hotel offering pet bed made of organic material * Daily newspaper in lobby * Laundry/valet service * Valet parking - $35 plus tax per day * High-speed Internet access at two computer stations in lobby complimentary for first 20 minutes; after that, fee of $4.99 for every 20 minutes thereafter.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for rate. Additional nights are based on availability. The hotel will offer a 15% discount on its best available rate unless it is sold out. Contact Esther Kim at 415-292-1182 to make a reservation.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for rate. Additional nights are based on availability. The hotel will offer a 15% discount on its best available rate unless it is sold out. Contact Esther Kim at 415-292-1182 to make a reservation.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Program registration is from 3:00-4:30PM. Orientation begins at 4:30PM followed by dinner at 5:30PM. Introductions are after dinner. You will be staying at Hotel Carlton that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after the lecture at 11am. Please make your travel arrangements so that you can join us for our final class. You will be staying at Hotel Carlton the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. On the enclosed Personal Information Form (PIF), you are asked to list any food allergies or intolerances. In addition, please include any foods (i.e. fish, beef, poultry entrees) that you do not or are unable to consume. In lieu of the regular meal plan, you will receive a vegetarian entree. In order to accommodate your request, we must have this information three weeks in advance (no exceptions). There will be no changes to the menu once the program has started. Also indicate to us, on your PIF, the name of your roommate/ traveling companion and if you are traveling with other individuals and wish to be assigned a room near them. Photo ID
  Parking availability:
Guests of the hotel may 'self-park' in the 5 level garage beneath the hotel. The rate is $35 per day + tax, and guests have 'in and out' privileges.
To Start of Program
  Location:  San Francisco, CA
  Nearest city or town:  San Francisco
  Nearest highway: US101/US80 are the closest highways to the hotel.
  Nearest airport:  San Francisco International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: San Francisco, CA
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

San Francisco


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Super Shuttle
phone: 800-258-3826


Per Person/One Way:


Call Super Shuttle for current rates.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


30-45 minutes 




14 miles




From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Super Shuttle
phone: 800-258-3826
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Call Super Shuttle for current rates.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


About 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic 




20 miles

Driving Directions
  East / East Bay via Bay Bridge Take I-80 W toward San Francisco * Take the Civic Center Exit onto 9th Street * Bear right after Market and 9th Street becomes Larkin Street * Turn right at Bush St * Turn right at Hyde St * Turn right at Sutter St * The Hotel Carlton is located on your left. * Note: There is a $6 toll to cross the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.
  North / via Golden Gate Bridge Take Highway 101 South over the Golden Gate Bridge * Exit Lombard Street * Turn right onto Van Ness Avenue * Turn left onto Bush Street * Turn right onto Hyde Street * Turn right onto Sutter Street * The Hotel Carlton is located on your left. Note: There is a $6 toll to cross the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration/Orientation/Introductions
(Sunday, October 20)
 Afternoon: PROGRAM REGISTRATION takes place in the hotel lobby. Check in to the hotel at the lobby desk; you will be directed to the meeting room where the Road Scholar program is being held.

ORIENTATION: Begins before dinner. We'll have an overview of the program ahead and review the up-to-date schedule, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, any other administrative issues, and answer your questions. Please be aware that local circumstances may require adjusting program elements. In the event of changes, we will notify you as quickly as possible. We appreciate your understanding.

 Dinner: Dinner in hotel

Menus are contracted for the program and are designed to offer balanced, healthy meals for the participants. In addition to the regular Road Scholar meal plan, this hotel offers a vegetarian meal option. Unfortunately, there are no other special meal options. Participants with special dietary needs should be prepared to avoid certain foods or supplement the regular meal plan as needed.

 Evening: INTRODUCTIONS: Participants introduce themselves to the rest of the group.

Enjoy the remainder of the evening getting to know your fellow participants and discovering what you share beyond a love of lifelong learning.

Accommodations: Hotel Carlton
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Architecture of San Francisco/Haas Lilienthal House/Bus Trip of Highlights of San Francisco/The Damnedest Finest Ruins
(Monday, October 21)

Note: Walk several blocks to catch public bus to Haas Lilienthal House where there are two stairs going up and two going down to enter the ballroom where the visit begins, a grand staircase to get to the front porch, a grand staircase to get to the second floor, and a smaller staircase to return to the ballroom. There is no way to avoid the four stairs to enter the house; after that, participants can meet the group at the next point in the visit by requesting the elevator. Public bus to group lunch.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel restaurant daily. You will receive a voucher for each morning's breakfast.
 Morning: CLASS: Marie McNaughton is a lecturer at San Francisco State University. This morning she will deliver a lecture on Victorian Architecture, for which San Francisco is so famous.

FIELD TRIP: One hour docent-led visit of the Haas Lilienthal House, a Victorian mansion furnished with period pieces. Your guide will talk about the furnishing and art as well as the history of the house, including ghost stories.

 Lunch: We will enjoy lunch together at a colorful local eatery.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Narrated bus trip to highlights of San Francisco.
 Dinner: Group dinner will be at a local restaurant.
 Evening: CLASS: The Damnedest Finest Ruins

Lecture will cover San Francisco's devastation and rebuilding after the 1906 earthquake and fire, as well as the rapid growth of the various neighborhoods and architecture that developed around this time in history.

Accommodations: Hotel Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: San Francisco History/Alcatraz
(Tuesday, October 22)

Note: Walk two blocks to take public bus to pier where group will board ferry for Alcatraz. The ferry ride between San Francisco and Alcatraz Island lasts 20 minutes. Much of Alcatraz is steep and hilly; the walking distance from the dock to the cell house at the top of the island is about 1/4 mile and the elevation change is 130 feet. There are trams available if you choose not to walk up the hill. Once Alcatraz has concluded, you will return via ferry to San Francisco.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel. You will be given a voucher for breakfast.
 Morning: CLASS: Enjoy a slide illustrated lecture by James Dalessandro, a college professor, writer and filmmaker. His command of factual details is only exceeded by his entertaining and engaging lecture style peppered with fascinating anecdotes about the characters that made San Francisco the city that it is. Learn about the tumultuous history of the San Francisco Bay area.
 Lunch: Group lunch in restaurant near hotel. Vouchers will be provided.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: The history of Alcatraz--The Rock-- includes a Civil War fortress, federal prison, bird sanctuary, first lighthouse on the West Coast, and the birthplace of the American Indian Red Power movement. Visiting Alcatraz is a self guided experience which you can do at your own pace. Park Service staff offer free programs throughout the day on a variety of topics: escapes, military history, American Indian occupation, natural history, etc.

Once on the island you can stay as long or as short as you wish - there is a ferry departing about every half hour and you can return to San Francisco on any ferry. The group leader will let you know which ferry she will be taking back.

There are numerous videos and exhibits on the island, as well as a complimentary cell house audio tour which covers the penitentiary era (1934 - 1963). On arriving at the Alcatraz dock, you will be greeted by a park ranger who will give you a brief orientation including information on any special activities available that day.

The weather on Alcatraz can be some what unpredictable and can change quickly - it may be warm and sunny in the city and very windy and cool on the island. Summer days can sometimes be as cool as winter due to thick fog and strong winds. We recommend dressing in layers.

There is no food service available on the island - only water is available on site. Eating, drinking and smoking are only allowed at the dock level. (Alcatraz Island information courtesy of the National Park Service) .

 Dinner: Choose from one of many of San Francisco's fabulous restaurants. Suggestions provided by group leader and on site literature.
 Evening: Independent evening to explore "Baghdad by the Bay." Suggestions provided by group leader and on site literature. Suggestion: Go down to the Embarcadero and be bedazzled by the Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge-a limited run light show--beginning at dusk.
Accommodations: Hotel Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Palace of the Legion of Honor/Muir Woods
(Wednesday, October 23)

Note: Walk several blocks to catch public bus to Legion of Honor Museum. Three hours at the Legion: one hour docent-led visit followed by free time to explore museum and have lunch. Chartered bus to Muir Woods for two hours of exploration. There are six miles of trails. You can choose to walk a 30 minute loop, a 60 minute loop or a 90 minute loop. The trails in Muir Woods are asphalted or board walked and over flat territory. There is a gift shop and cafe on site. Food is not permitted on the trails.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel. You will be given a voucher for breakfast.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Docent-led visit of the highlights of the Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum followed by further exploration of museum.
 Lunch: Lunch in Palace Cafe. Vouchers will be provided.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Cross San Francisco's most iconic landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge. Proceed to the majesty of the old-growth redwoods of Muir Woods in Mill Valley, Marin County. Be awed and humbled by their towering beauty. The line "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree" by Joyce Kilmer now takes on a whole new meaning.
 Dinner: Another opportunity to have a delicious meal in San Francisco. Suggestions will be provided.
 Evening: Time for exploring San Francisco. Suggestion: See "Beach Blanket Babylon," the longest running musical revue in theater history. It is a true San Francisco treat!
Accommodations: Hotel Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Barbary Coast/Chinatown
(Thursday, October 24)

Note: Two hour walking tour of Barbary Coast and Chinatown. Route is mix of flat and steep streets and covers about two miles.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel. You will be given a voucher for breakfast.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Walking exploration of the Barbary Coast and Chinatown. In San Francisco's early days after the Gold Rush of 1849, the Barbary Coast was the seedy red-light district where anything and everything went. Now the narrow streets are a walker's paradise, filled with beautiful architecture that belies the history of the area. Chinatown is the oldest Chinese settlement in North America and one of the largest outside of Asia. Stroll the crowded streets filled with locals, tourists, smells, sights and sounds that will overwhelm your senses. It's an experience not to be missed.
 Lunch: After a morning of walking, the group will dine together in a mouthwatering Chinese eatery. Sihk faahn!
 Afternoon: Independent exploration of "Everybody's Favorite City." Ask group leader for suggestions.
 Dinner: Group dinner at one of San Francisco's signature restaurants.
 Evening: Spend the evening with your fellow participants, savoring the week you have spent together, or go out and enjoy one final night in everyone's second hometown, San Francisco.
Accommodations: Hotel Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: San Francisco History
(Friday, October 25)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel. You will be given a voucher for breakfast.
 Morning: CLASS: James Dalessandro will present a final lecture expanding on your knowledge of San Francisco.

Our program will conclude by 11:00AM. On this final day, you will truly appreciate why Tony Bennett and millions of other visitors leave their hearts in San Francisco.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  San Francisco, CA San Francisco Visitor's Bureau
Visit this website to get information on events happening in San Francisco while you are here. The hotel is located close to the theater district. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love

Author: David Talbot

Description: In a kaleidoscopic narrative, New York Times bestselling author David Talbot tells the gripping story of San Francisco in the turbulent years between 1967 and 1982and of the extraordinary men and women who led to the citys ultimate rebirth and triumph. Season of the Witch is the first book to fully capture the dark magic of San Francisco in this breathtaking period, when the city radically changed itselfand then revolutionized the world.

The Little Black Book of San Francisco, 2013 Edition

Author: Marlene Goldman

Description: From Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, and beyond, here's what to see and do, and where to eat, drink, shop, stay, and play in this gem of a city.


Author: James Dalessandro

Description: Every disaster has a backstory, none more thrilling than this one. Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning tale of political corruption, vendettas, romance, rescue—and murder—is based on recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Told by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Victorian-era city, from the mansions of Nob Hill to the underbelly of the Barbary Coast to the arrival of tenor Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera. Central to the story is the ongoing battle—fought even as the city burns—that pits incompetent and unscrupulous politicians against a coalition of honest police officers, newspaper editors, citizens, and a lone federal prosecutor. With the appeal and texture of The Alienist, Carter Beats the Devil, and the novels of E. L. Doctrow, James Dalessandro weaves unforgettable characters and actual events into a compelling epic. Movie rights to the novel have been bought by Barry Levinson/SpringCreek Productions/Warner Brothers. The movie will enter pre-production soon.

California, A History

Author: Kevin Starr

Description: A lively short history in the excellent Modern Library Chronicles series, written by a renowned historian.

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:

© Road Scholar 2015 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768