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Signature City San Francisco: City By The Bay

Program Number: 21052RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/2/2014 - 11/7/2014; 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: $1,219.00 - 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

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: * Phone with voice mail/data port * Complimentary wireless Internet access throughout the hotel * 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: * 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 14% tax per night * Meeting space accommodates up to 50 people * Complimentary wireless Internet access throughout the hotel * High-speed Internet access at computer stations in lobby (fees apply)
  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 the sales department at 415-292-1181 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 the sales department at 415-292-1181 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 6:00PM. Introductions are after dinner. You will be staying at Hotel Carlton that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends at 11:00AM after the final morning lecture. Please arrange your travel plans so you can join us for the final class on closing day. 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 + 14% 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 $7 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: Arrival and Check-in / Registration and Orientation / Welcome Dinner
(Sunday, November 2)
 Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 3:00 p.m.

Program Registration: 3:00-4:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table (either in the lobby or the Compass Room) and pick up your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule, and other important information we will review during Orientation, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet at the front desk when you check in.

Orientation: 4:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily program schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

You will also have an opportunity to select choices for several meals later in the program. As a special treat, there will be a complimentary wine reception each evening from 5:30-6:00 p.m.

During free time, the Group Leader will be available to guide informal excursions, activities, or meals not included in the program. You are welcome to join if you wish, with any associated costs (if any) on your own, or explore independently.

Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

 Dinner: In the hotel’s Saha Restaurant on the main floor. Menus are designed to offer balanced, healthy choices. This evening, enjoy a plated, 3-course dinner plus complimentary coffee, tea, soda; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: Take the rest of the evening getting to know your fellow participants and discovering what you share beyond a love of lifelong learning. Get a good night's sleep for the full day tomorrow.
Accommodations: Hotel Carlton
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: San Francisco History / Alcatraz / Free Evening
(Monday, November 3)

Note: Walk several blocks to public bus, transfer to pier, board Alcatraz ferry, 20-minute ride. Much of the island is steep and hilly; about 1/4 mile from dock to cell house, total elevation incline 130 feet. Weather in the Bay can change quickly; potentially foggy, windy, cool; dress in layers for comfort. Water available on Alcatraz; no food service. Eating, drinking, smoking permitted only at dock level. Return via ferry.

 Breakfast: In the Saha Restaurant, enjoy a tasty plated breakfast with choices from a select menu of eggs, breakfast meats, fruit, breads and pastries, yogurt, juices, coffee, tea, milk.
 Morning: Our lead instructor James Dalessandro -- college professor, writer and filmmaker -- will present an illustrated slide lecture on the tumultuous history of the San Francisco Bay area. His command of factual details is exceeded only by his engaging, entertaining lecture style, peppered with fascinating anecdotes about the characters that made San Francisco what it is.
 Lunch: We will eat out at a popular diner a 6-block walk from the hotel. You may order your meal and a non-alcoholic drink of your choice from the restaurant menu; other beverages available for purchase.
 Afternoon: Alcatraz – “The Rock” -- has been a Civil War fortress, federal prison, bird sanctuary, first lighthouse on the West Coast, and birthplace of the American Indian Red Power movement, as well as the most infamous Federal penitentiary. Upon arrival at the Alcatraz dock for our field trip, we will be greeted by a National Park Service ranger who will give a brief orientation including information on any special activities available that day. The remainder of this field trip will be a self guided exploration you can follow according to your own interests, at your own pace. Park Service staff offer free programs to visitors throughout the day on topics such as escapes, military history, American Indian occupation, natural history, and more. There are numerous exhibits to see as well as a cell house audio tour covering the penitentiary era (1934-1963).

We will rendezvous with the Group Leader at an appointed time at the dock to take the ferry back to San Francisco, then take public transportation to a nearby restaurant.

 Dinner: At a colorful restaurant in historic Ghiradelli Square with views of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island, and Angel Island, enjoy a plated 3-course meal plus complimentary coffee and tea; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: At leisure. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most, and refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities at the end of the daily schedule. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions, give directions, and will also lead an informal excursion or activity you are welcome to join at your cost (if any). Be sure to see The Bay Lights, a computerized light show on the Bay Bridge running nightly through March of 2015. The lights twinkle, dance, and dazzle beginning at dusk, ending at 2:00 a.m. Pick any spot along the waterfront where you can see the Bay Bridge and enjoy the show.
Accommodations: Hotel Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Barbary Coast / Chinatown / Highlights of San Francisco
(Tuesday, November 4)

Note: The Barbary Coast and Chinatown walking field trip is approximately 2 hours and covers about 2 miles up and down both flat and steep streets and sidewalks.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We head out this morning for an expert-led walking field trip through the Barbary Coast and Chinatown. In San Francisco's early days after the 1849 Gold Rush, the Barbary Coast was the seedy “anything goes” red-light district. Now, its narrow streets are a walker's paradise, filled with fascinating architecture. Chinatown is the oldest Chinese settlement in North America and one of the largest outside Asia. As we stroll crowded streets, your senses will be enlivened by the mix of residents, tourists, sights, sounds, and scents -- an experience you won’t forget!
 Lunch: We will have lunch together in a mouthwatering Chinese restaurant. Sik fan! (Let’s eat!)
 Afternoon: During a narrated excursion aboard our private motorcoach, we will see some top San Francisco highlights with rest stops and photo-ops along the way.
 Dinner: This dinner has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the cuisine of your choice. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader for dinner at your own cost if you like.
 Evening: We will re-group at the hotel to view James Dallessandro’s outstanding documentary, “The Damnedest Finest Ruins” about the 1906 earthquake and its aftermath, with post-viewing discussion. On April 18, 1906, a massive earthquake struck Northern California. In three terrible days San Francisco -- the "Paris of the Pacific" -- was virtually wiped from the face of the earth. The documentary paints a riveting portrait of courage and chaos. Rare photos and actual film of the disaster communicate a captivating story of human courage and political incompetence, underscored by the music of Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, who performed five hours before the disaster and barely made it out alive.
Accommodations: Hotel Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Legion of Honor / Golden Gate Bridge / Muir Woods / Free Evening
(Wednesday, November 5)

Note: We will walk several blocks to catch the public bus to the Legion of Honor museum where we will be for 3 hours. We will be at Muir Woods for 2 hours. Trails over generally flat terrain are asphalt or boardwalk. Café on site; food not permitted on trails.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We begin the day with a docent-led exploration of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco’s most beautiful art museum. A replica of the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur in Paris, it was completed in 1924 as a memorial to California’s World War I soldiers. The magnificent collection encompasses 4,000 years of ancient and European art in an exquisite Beaux-Arts building in a Lincoln Park setting overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. We will be there a total of 3 hours: 1 hour docent-led visit, 1 hour free time to explore more of the museum on your own, 1 hour for lunch.
 Lunch: We will have lunch in the Legion of Honor Café; vouchers provided. The menu offers soups, salads, sandwiches and hot entrées in a serene environment with views of Lincoln Park and the Marin Headlands.
 Afternoon: En route to our Muir Woods field trip via private motorcoach, we will stop at San Francisco's most iconic landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge that links the city to California's northern counties. The Golden Gate is exceptional for its length of 1.7 miles, 746-foot tall towers, sweeping cables, signature International Orange color, and Art Deco styling, flanked on both ends by the natural beauty of the Golden Gate National Parks.

We proceed to Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley, Marin County, to see the awe-inspiring majesty of old-growth Redwoods. We will have 2 hours for independent exploration. Within the 6 miles of trails, you can choose to walk a 30-minute loop, a 60-minute loop or a 90-minute loop.

Many northern California coastal valleys were once covered in Redwood forests where Native peoples made their homes for thousands of years. As the Gold Rush attracted multitudes who needed housing, timber harvesting became the leading industry, depleting thousands of acres of Redwoods. The forest along Redwood Creek in today's Muir Woods was spared only because it was hard to reach. To preserve and protect the Redwoods, Congressman William Kent and his wife purchased 611 acres in 1905 and donated more than half of the land to the Federal Government. President Theodore Roosevelt declared it a national monument in 1908, and the Kents asked that it be named for conservationist John Muir.

Returning to the hotel via motorcoach, we plan to arrive by approximately 5:00 p.m. (depending on traffic).

 Dinner: This dinner has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the cuisine of your choice. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You may also join the Group Leader for dinner at your own cost if you like
 Evening: At leisure. See and do more of what interests you most. If you like topical entertainment, try “Beach Blanket Babylon” -- the longest running musical revue in theater history. If you prefer another activity, the Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions, give directions, and will also lead an informal excursion or activity you are welcome to join at your cost (if any).
Accommodations: Hotel Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Victorian Architecture / Haas Lilienthal House / Free Afternoon / Farewell Dinner
(Thursday, November 6)

Note: 2-block walk to take public transportation to the Haas Lilienthal House. 4-block walk to restaurant for dinner.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Learn from a local expert about San Francisco’s famed Victorian architecture.

After class, we will walk two blocks and take public transportation to the Haas Lilienthal House (1886), the city’s only period era home open to the public with docent-led tours. Queen Anne styling and prominent architectural features beautifully exemplify upper-middle class life in the Victorian era. Thanks to its sturdy construction, the house withstood both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes with only minor damage and has never been significantly remodeled.

 Lunch: Our group lunch is in a local restaurant near City Hall. The sandwich you signed up for at Orientation comes with coffee, iced tea and cookies.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon: Among the many options available for your personal independent exploration is a docent-led tour of San Francisco's majestic City Hall. This Beaux-Arts edifice from 1915 was in keeping with the American “City Beautiful” movement of the time. Its dome, inspired by Les Invalides in Paris, is the 5th-largest in the world (suggested donation $10).
 Dinner: We regroup at 6:00 p.m. and walk 4 blocks to our farewell dinner at one of San Francisco's signature Italian restaurants. The entrée you signed up for at orientation is accompanied by salad, bread, dessert, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: Spend a final evening with new Road Scholar friends, savoring the week you have spent together, or go out to enjoy one more night in this amazing city.
Accommodations: Hotel Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: San Francisco History / Program Concludes
(Friday, November 7)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: The program concludes with a final presentation by James Dalessandro to further expand your knowledge and appreciation of San Francisco, the beautiful city by the Bay where you, too, may leave your heart!

The class will end by 11:00 a.m. Please note that hotel check-out is by 12:00 Noon.

We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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 very near 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


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.

Eyewitness Guide: San Francisco and Northern California.

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: This superb guide features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps, and a synopsis of San Francisco and Northern California's attractions. Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this is the guide to carry.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Author: Joan Didion

Description: A classic collection of essays on the 60s cultural climate, first published in 1968. In the acclaimed title essay, Didion vividly describes the landscape, mood and culture of 60s San Francisco.

The Haight-Ashbury: A History

Author: Charles Perry

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