Road Scholar : Home
San Francisco Neighborhood Discoveries on Foot

Program Number: 20588RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/20/2015 - 9/25/2015; 4/3/2016 - 4/8/2016; 7/17/2016 - 7/22/2016; 10/16/2016 - 10/21/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: San Francisco, California
Price starting at: $1,149.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; History & Culture Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 11; 5 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners    
Meal Options: Gluten Free; Low Salt; Low Fat; Vegetarian    

San Francisco, open your Golden Gate! Explore one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the nation through the eyes of the locals. Set out on foot into San Francisco neighborhoods known the world over and others frequented mainly by the natives. Hike through Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, Golden Gate Park, Fisherman's Wharf, Haight-Ashbury, Pacific Heights, across the Golden Gate Bridge and more. Hop aboard antique trolley and cable cars along the way. Learn from experts native to San Francisco what it’s like to live in the City by the Bay.


• Take part in the quintessential San Franciscan’s pilgrimage — a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
• Explore on foot the Presidio, long a military fort under three different flags -- and now San Francisco's newest (as well as oldest!) neighborhood.
• In the nation's oldest public Japanese garden, walk the paths among the garden’s ponds, sculptures, bridges, teahouse and plants native to Japan.

Activity Particulars

Hikes of up to five miles, with climbs of several hundred feet, possible wind and fog

Date Specific Information

4-3-2016, 7-17-2016, 10-16-2016

This date stays in a comfortable downtown hotel

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.

Centrally located hotel in San Francisco with rooftop heated pool.
Meals and Lodgings
   Queen Anne Hotel
  San Francisco, CA 5 nights
 Queen Anne Hotel
Type: Boutique Hotel
  Description: Experience the true character of San Francisco in a charming residential neighborhood, away from the bustling business district but still close to all the action. Nestled in the prestigious Pacific Heights neighborhood, with its distinctive Victorian architecture, Queen Anne Hotel is a landmark boutique hotel in the heart of San Francisco - one of the world's great cities known for its art, culture, museums and sightseeing. Walk to fabulous restaurants, live music venues, cinemas, the shops of Fillmore Street, and Japantown. The hotel's convenient San Francisco location gives you easy access to the city's most enticing art performances in the world of Opera, Ballet and the Symphony as well as world class attractions, including Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz Island, Ghirardelli Square, the Ferry Building and the North Beach district, all less than 2 miles away.
  Contact info: 1590 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94109 USA
phone: 800-227-3970
  Room amenities: Each of the unique guest rooms is individually furnished with heirloom Victorian antiques and is flooded with light and air from floor-to-ceiling windows. The rooms feature luxurious bathrooms with toiletries, hair dryers, iron and ironing board, wireless internet access, large screen TV, and telephones with voicemail.
  Facility amenities: WI-FI INTERNET ACCESS: The hotel provides guests with complimentary wireless internet access throughout the hotel. With an alluring blend of Victorian elegance and contemporary amenities, the Queen Anne Hotel is a delightful bed and breakfast boutique hotel in downtown San Francisco. Stunning Victorian architecture, authentic turn-of-the century details, and a charming ambience make this hotel a unique place to relax, meet friends, and celebrate special moments. Formal drapes and rich gold and burgundy wallpaper frame the Salon's floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the vibrant cityscape. After a day of exploring, guests meet in the lavish parlor with its baby grand piano for an afternoon tea and sherry service with freshly baked cookies from 4 - 6pm. Guests will appreciate the attentive staff and personalized services, including a 24-hour concierge and Front Desk service, unlimited in/out parking, same-day valet laundry/dry cleaning, and room service from local eateries. (Guests may also ask the concierge for directions to the two nearby "wash and fold" laundries which charge by the pound for their service.) Other amenities include a discounted outbound shuttle van service to SFO, free newspapers in the lobby, limo & town car arrangements, microwave in the lobby, nearby self-parking, a safe-deposit box at the front desk, wake-up calls, and a computer in the lobby. The hotel is entirely non-smoking.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Unknown Please contact the hotel directly. They do not guarantee Road Scholar rates pre or post-program, especially on weekend nights.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Unknown Please contact the hotel directly. They do not guarantee Road Scholar rates pre or post-program, especially on weekend nights.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Program begins at 4:00PM with check-in and wine social from 5:30-6:00PM in hotel meeting room. Dinner at 6:00PM, followed by orientation/ introduction session from 7:00-8:00PM in hotel meeting room. You will be staying at Queen Anne Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Please make your travel arrangements to allow you to join us for the Golden Gate Bridge outing. The group leader targets a return to the hotel by 11:30AM. See the Special Notes section. You will be staying at Queen Anne Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. On the enclosed Participant Information Form, please indicate to us the name of your roommate/traveling companion. Also let us know if you are traveling with other individuals and wish to be assigned a room near them. Photo ID
  Parking availability:
The hotel has a private parking lot across the street with a daily parking rate of $19.95/day and unlimited in/out privileges. Rates may change so please check before parking a vehicle.
To Start of Program
  Location:  San Francisco, CA
  Nearest city or town:  Oakland
  Nearest highway: US101
  Nearest airport:  SFO
  From End of Program
  Location: San Francisco, CA
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

San Francisco (SFO) to Queen Anne Hotel


From Airport




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


Per Person/One Way:


Call SuperShuttle for current rates
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


30-45 minutes (longer if picking up other passengers) 




14 miles


From Queen Anne Hotel to SFO


To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
SFO Shuttle Service
phone: 415-441-2828
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Call Concierge for discount shuttle price
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


30-45 minutes depending on traffic 




14 miles


Discounted OUTBOUND shuttle service from the Queen Anne Hotel to San Francisco Airport (SFO) can be arranged via the hotel's Concierge Desk. Call (415) 441-2828.


Oakland Airport to Queen Anne Hotel


From Airport




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


Per Person/One Way:


Call SuperShuttle for current rates
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


45 minutes or more, depending on traffic 




13 miles

Driving Directions
  From 101 North to Queen Anne Hotel Go to end of Freeway. Exit straight onto Octavia. Turn right on Oak. Go two blocks and turn left on Franklin. Continue on Franklin 1/2 mile and turn left on Sutter. Go 2 blocks to 1590 Sutter & Octavia.
  From East to Queen Anne Hotel Follow signs for "San Francisco". Cross over I-80 Bay Bridge ($6 toll). Use first SF exit "Fremont" Street. Go five blocks and turn left on Pine. Go 15 blocks and turn left on Van Ness. Go two blocks and turn right on Sutter. Go three blocks to 1590 Sutter & Octavia.
  From North to Queen Anne Hotel From Golden Gate Bridge (Hwy.101) ($7 toll which is recorded electronically; you will receive a bill in the mail): Exit on Lombard and continue for 13 blocks. Turn right on Van Ness and go 15 blocks. Turn right on Sutter Street. Go three blocks to 1590 Sutter & Octavia.
  From South to Queen Anne Hotel From 280 North to San Francisco: Exit 6th Street (Taylor) to Sutter. Turn left on Sutter. Go nine blocks to 1590 Sutter & Octavia.
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: Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
(Sunday, September 20)

Note: Hotel check-in is available starting at 3:00PM.

 Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Enjoy complimentary tea and sherry with freshly baked cookies in the hotel lobby on this opening day.
 Dinner: In the dining room at the hotel, we’ll gather for a 3-course dinner including your choice of coffee, tea, water.
 Evening: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have.

Indicated times are approximate. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will often be available during free time to accompany informal excursions, activities, or meals that have been excluded from the program cost. You are welcome to join if you like, with any associated costs on your own.

Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night's sleep for the day ahead.
Accommodations: Queen Anne Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Union & Portsmouth Sq., Chinatown, Coit Tower, North Beach
(Monday, September 21)

Note: Walking 3 miles during the day. Climb to top of Telegraph Hill for Coit Tower involves a gain of about 300 feet, some steps, inclined paved walkway.

 Breakfast: At the hotel, the daily breakfast buffet includes hard boiled eggs, sausage, waffles, hot and cold cereals, bagels and cream cheese, English and sweet muffins, croissants, assorted fruit, juices, water.
 Morning: We’ll take public transportation to Union Square. With the Group Leader, we’ll learn about the history of the area as we walk through the square and on to Portsmouth Square, the birthplace of San Francisco. Then, making our way to Chinatown we will sample a variety of different teas at one of many tea shops in the area.
 Lunch: At a popular Chinese restaurant, we’ll have “Dim Sum” — a variety of dishes with small individual portions. Tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.
 Afternoon: Next, we’ll explore the ins and outs of Chinatown with a local expert, walking through alleys, temples, Chinese herbal medicine shops, and unusual food markets in America’s oldest and largest Chinatown. Learn about the history and personal stories that have made this amazing place what it is today.

We continue our walk from Chinatown through North Beach, home to early Italian fishermen as well as the so-called Beatniks of the 1950s. Learn how the neighborhood has evolved over the last century and scope out restaurants along the way. Then take a brisk walk up from Washington Square up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower and enjoy the approaching sunset. You can reach the observation deck by elevator for 360-degree views of the city, the bay, and the Golden Gate.
 Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You might enjoy one of the many fine Italian restaurants in North Beach.
 Evening: At leisure. For those participants who wish to return to the hotel with the Group Leader via public transportation, an appointed time and meeting spot will be arranged.
Accommodations: Queen Anne Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3: Billionaire’s Row, Presidio, Ghiradelli Sq., Fisherman's Whf
(Tuesday, September 22)

Note: Walking up to 5 miles, climbing stairways, getting on/off a cable car; forested trails and hills at Presidio Park.

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: To begin today’s field trip, we’ll take public transportation to Pacific Heights and walk through Billionaire’s Row with a local expert.

We’ll continue walking to the Presidio, one of the oldest sections of San Francisco. For many years this wonderful urban park area was the center of military activity in the city. Now open to the public for all to enjoy, the group leader will take you through noted artist Andy Goldworthy’s “Wood Line,” a trail of eucalyptus trunks lining the trail of a eucalyptus grove. You will also see a newly reforested area of Monterey cypress trees.
 Lunch: At El Polin Spring, we'll have boxed lunches with a sandwich, salad, fruit, and fruit drink. This was the first populated portion of the Presidio where civilians lived, making it one of the first neighborhood in San Francisco.
 Afternoon: The Presidio’s chief archeologist and chief biologist will give a presentation on the excavation findings at El Polin Spring and the effort to bring the area back to its original state.

Next, the group leader will take us to to see another Andy Goldsworthy work of art, “Spire.” Be inspired by this sculpture of 37 Monterey cypress tree trunks. Then, overlooking the San Francisco National Cemetery take in breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands.

We continue our walk into the Marina District, a neighborhood bordering San Francisco Bay. After the 1906 earthquake, San Francisco hosted the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition. Many temporary buildings were constructed for the expo, including the Palace of Fine Arts. When the fair was over, all the buildings came down except the palace. Today, residents along the main street have enviable views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, sailboats, cargo ships.

Via public transportation, we’ll head to explore Ghiradelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf with the Group Leader. In 1893, Domingo Ghiradelli converted a woolen mill into a chocolate factory. In the 1960s, the factory moved and the square was slated to be torn down and replaced with an apartment building. A private citizen bought the square and converted the space to a restaurant and retail complex, the first of its kind in the country.

Fisherman’s Wharf was established by Italian immigrants shortly after the Gold Rush as they fished the waters of San Francisco Bay. Although now a major tourist attraction, there is still a fleet of active fishing boats berthed in the area. The Group Leader will focus on the history of the wharf, showing us a floating national park, fishing vessels, and the Fishermen’s and Seamen’s Memorial Chapel.
 Dinner: At a family-owned Fisherman's Wharf restaurant popular with locals, our plated 3-course meal includes a choice of soup or salad, choice of entrée, and dessert. Beverage choices include coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: We’ll return to the hotel via the famous Hyde Street cable car. The remainder of the evening is at leisure.
Accommodations: Queen Anne Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Haight-Ashbury & Golden Gate Park Walk, Free Time
(Wednesday, September 23)

Note: Walking up to 3 miles, mostly level with some slight inclines.

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: This morning’s field trip takes us into the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood that began as a Victorian era resort site subsequently developed for the merchant class, whose gingerbread homes still grace its streets. While there are many reminders of the 1960s counter-culture revolution, “The Haight” today is very different from the hippie enclave that sprang up in the neighborhood around the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets. With the Group Leader, we’ll get acquainted with its colorful history, architecture, and contemporary ambience characterized as much by boutiques, bookstores, and cafés as vintage clothing stores and hipster hang-outs.

Our field trip continues as we walk to Golden Gate Park. Larger than New York's Central Park, it once consisted of sand dunes, but is now covered with more than 75,000 trees and home to a small bison herd (in an enclosed field) since 1891. This ultimate haven away from urban chaos was deeded to the people in 1870 out of the prescient notion that San Franciscans would one day feel overcrowded. We’ll also stroll through the 5-acre Japanese Tea Garden to learn about its icons and the family that lived there. After the tea garden, we will go to the Harmon Observation Tower of the de Young Fine Arts Museum. At nine stories high, we will have the opportunity to see many views of San Francisco with the Group Leader showing us points of interest.
 Lunch: In the de Young Café with the park as a backdrop, each participant will be given a lunch card to order from the menu.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You have the whole city at your feet!
 Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. You might try one of the restaurants in the Inner Sunset neighborhood with cuisine from Chinese and Japanese to Thai, Mexican, seafood, vegetarian, even American!
 Evening: At leisure. This would be a good time to attend a concert or catch a show. If you have something special in mind, it’s a good idea to order tickets in advance.
Accommodations: Queen Anne Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Mission District & Twin Peaks Walk Trips, Farewell Dinner
(Thursday, September 24)

Note: Walking up to 5 miles throughout the day: first 2 miles through the Mission District on level terrain; public transportation to Twin Peaks; walk up 100 steps to top of one of the peaks; walking up to 2 miles mostly downhill on forested trails; take public transportation to hotel; walk half mile to restaurant for dinner.

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: Led by a local expert, we’ll encounter one of San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood, the Mission District, named for the mission church founded in 1776 under the direction of Father Junipero Serra. Interestingly, this is now perhaps the city’s most “happening” neighborhood with its vibrant diversity and a plethora of galleries, restaurants, and more amid brightly colored murals.

With the Group Leader, we’ll visit San Francisco’s oldest intact structure, which is also the oldest intact original mission in California. Originally called the Misión San Francisco de Asís (for St. Francis of Assisi), it became known as Mission Dolores after a nearby creek of the same name. We’ll learn about its historic, architectural, and religious significance. The adjoining cemetery is the final resting place of many First Californians. The large church next to the old adobe structure was completed in 1918 and is now a basilica.
 Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. There are numerous small ethnic restaurants in the area.
 Afternoon: The Twin Peaks — Eureka and Noe — are situated near the geographical center of San Francisco and are more than 900' high. They are famed for spectacular views of the city and the Bay Area. Though surrounded by an urban metropolis, the natural topography gives a sense of how the land looked before the people arrived. The diversity of plant life provides habitat for many creatures. The Group Leader will take us to the top of one of the peaks for a breathtaking panoramic view of San Francisco and the surrounding bay to see many points of interest, including the areas we have visited during the week. We will then walk on trails through Sutro Forest to catch a bus back to the hotel.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant, enjoy a plated 3-course dinner with choice of soup or salad, entrée, and dessert. Beverage choices include coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Queen Anne Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Golden Gate Bridge Walking Field Trip / Program Concludes
(Friday, September 25)

Note: Walking up to 4 miles; level terrain. Public bus to the bridge and back to the hotel. Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon. Elevation gain 50 feet

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: For our final field trip, we’ll make the quintessential San Francisco pilgrimage — a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. The city’s most iconic landmark is exceptional for its length of 1.7 miles, 746-foot tall towers, sweeping cables, and Art Deco styling, flanked on each side by beautiful parks. The group leader will enlighten us about the construction of the bridge during the 1930s as well as point out the sights from the bridge — Point Bonita, the Marin Headlands, Angel Island, Alcatraz, harbor porpoises, and the newly installed barrier system on the bridge known as the “zipper.” There will also be time to visit the Bridge Pavilion, a visitor’s center with much historical information about the bridge and surrounding area.

We expect to return to the hotel by approximately 11:30 a.m. depending on traffic and public transportation schedules. This concludes our program.

We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at Best wishes for all your journeys!
Meals Included: Breakfast
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

Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas

Author: Rebecca Solnit

Description: What makes a place? Infinite City, Rebecca Solnit's brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, searches out the answer by examining the many layers of meaning in one place, the San Francisco Bay Area. Aided by artists, writers, cartographers, and twenty-two gorgeous color maps, each of which illuminates the city and its surroundings as experienced by different inhabitants, Solnit takes us on a tour that will forever change the way we think about place. Across an urban grid of just seven by seven miles, she finds seemingly unlimited landmarks and treasures--butterfly habitats, queer sites, murders, World War II shipyards, blues clubs, Zen Buddhist centers. She roams the political terrain, both progressive and conservative, and details the cultural geographies of the Mission District, the culture wars of the Fillmore, the South of Market world being devoured by redevelopment, and much, much more.

Historic San Francisco: A Concise History and Guide

Author: Rand Richards

Description: This combination history/guidebook is divided into ten chapters, each of which provides background information on San Francisco's historic buildings, museums, and artifacts. Profiles of sites or attractions include hours of operation, costs, and a quick biographical sketch of a key figure. Four walking tours, a brief review of the sites, a chronology of events beginning with 1542, a discussion of San Francisco's Victorian architecture, and a review of the earthquake of 1989 are also included.

San Francisco: The City's Sights and Secrets

Author: Leah Garchik

Description: Discover the beauty of San Francisco, its hidden charms, and its well-loved sights in this unforgettable photographic tour. Some of San Francisco's most renowned photographers, including Bill Hanapple, Don Kellogg, and Tom Tracy, have captured new perspectives of the City with spectacular images of its most celebrated landmarks, from Coit Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid to lesser-known but equally beautiful features, such as the flower-lined Filbert Street steps and the charming alleys of Russian Hill.

San Francisco: A Photographic Portrait

Author: Brad Perks

Description: San Francisco: A Photographic Portrait is a coffee-table keepsake of high-quality, full and half-page, color images of the city and surrounding Bay Area. Its photographs depict the diverse personality of this "City-by-the-Bay". The citys commitment to its historical roots as well as the future is captured in images of both turn-of-the century and contemporary architecture; parks comprised of hillside trails and wildflowers as well as elegant theme gardens, and the cultivated vineyards of the Napa Valley are represented throughout the book.

Making San Francisco American: Cultural Frontiers in the Urban West, 1846-1906

Author: Barbara Berglund

Description: The San Francisco that rose from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake and fire was a city of rigid social stratification--a city determined to contain its diverse and disorderly rough-and-tumble past some sixty years after its acquisition by the United States. Barbara Berglund vividly describes San Francisco's rapid evolution from Mexican outpost to crown jewel of America's western empire, taking readers back to an earlier and more chaotic time when class definitions and social conventions were much more fluid. Berglund argues that the city's rapid rise from a multicultural boomtown to a racially and socially stratified metropolis reflected the careful efforts of a nascent elite to order its inhabitants through political and cultural means.

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