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California

Signature City San Francisco

Program No. 21052RJ
Immerse yourself in the story of San Francisco alongside experts as you explore Alcatraz Island, learn about the fire of 1906, stroll the markets of Chinatown and see iconic landmarks.

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Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.

DATES & PRICES

Standard
Nov 24 - Nov 29, 2024
Standard 2,399
Itinerary Note

Thursday activities will be replaced with a Thanksgiving meal on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Max of 32 participants.

Nov 23 - Nov 28, 2025
Standard 2,599
Itinerary Note

Thursday activities will be replaced with a Thanksgiving meal on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Max of 32 participants.

DATES & PRICES

Standard Single Ldg
Filling Fast!
Apr 18 - Apr 23, 2024
Standard 2,989
 
Filling Fast!
Jun 13 - Jun 18, 2024
Standard 2,989
 
Filling Fast!
Oct 24 - Oct 29, 2024
Standard 2,989
 
Filling Fast!
Nov 24 - Nov 29, 2024
Standard 3,039
 
Itinerary Note

Thursday activities will be replaced with a Thanksgiving meal on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Max of 32 participants.

Apr 17 - Apr 22, 2025
Standard 3,149
 
Jun 12 - Jun 17, 2025
Standard 3,149
 
Aug 7 - Aug 12, 2025
 
Single Lodging 3,149
Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2025
Standard 3,149
 
Filling Fast!
Nov 23 - Nov 28, 2025
Standard 3,269
 
Itinerary Note

Thursday activities will be replaced with a Thanksgiving meal on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Max of 32 participants.

At a Glance

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.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking 2 miles a day which will involve steep inclines and declines (grades of 10 - 20%) on city streets, stairs and standing on uneven sidewalks. Some use of public transportation.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Discover Alcatraz Island, most famous for the federal penitentiary and 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 neighborhoods and explore Chinatown and Nob Hill from a local expert.

General Notes

Use of public transportation with some transfers. San Francisco is famous for being built on hills which can be very steep, up to a grade of 20%. Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
James Dalessandro
James is a writer and filmmaker best known for his novel '1906,' a retelling of that year's earthquake in San Francisco. He has more than 20 feature film and television scripts to his credit. He wrote and directed 'The Damnedest Finest Ruins,' a documentary on the earthquake. In his adopted hometown of San Francisco, James lectures on the Transcontinental Railroad, Old Chinatown, and the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the history of its artists: Mark Twain, Jack London, Isadora Duncan and the Beat Generation.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of James Dalessandro
James Dalessandro View biography
James is a writer and filmmaker best known for his novel '1906,' a retelling of that year's earthquake in San Francisco. He has more than 20 feature film and television scripts to his credit. He wrote and directed 'The Damnedest Finest Ruins,' a documentary on the earthquake. In his adopted hometown of San Francisco, James lectures on the Transcontinental Railroad, Old Chinatown, and the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the history of its artists: Mark Twain, Jack London, Isadora Duncan and the Beat Generation.
Profile Image of Kenn Sparks
Kenn Sparks View biography
Kenn Sparks is an award-winning journalist, foreign correspondent, and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker. His life has taken him from the once-closed cities of Siberia to debating business economics with Barack Obama. Kenn’s Road Scholar groups explore the mysteries of old Chinatown, hear tales of treacherous sea voyages to Gold Rush California while aboard a famous 19th-century Square Rigger, experience the mostly unknown legacy of the wives of the Big 4 Robber Barons, and wonder at centuries of Medieval and Renaissance art and relics at Grace Cathedral.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Golden Gate, The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge
by Kevin Starr
Starr covers the history and meaning of this beloved icon and great American feats of engineering in this slim portrait.
San Francisco Stories: Tales of the City
by John Miller (Editor)
San Francisco Stories collects the most outstanding writings about the city from some of the most distinguished authors of the last 150 years.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
by Joan Didion
A classic collection of essays on the1960s cultural climate, first published in 1968. In the acclaimed title essay, Didion vividly describes the landscape, mood and culture of '60s San Francisco.
Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love
by David Talbot
A cultural history of San Francisco that covers the years from 1967 to 1982 and tells the gripping story of how the city by the bay overcame tragedy and strife to become the beloved city it is today. Starring a cast of notable figures, including Harvey Milk, Janis Joplin and Jim Jones.
Escape from Alcatraz
by J. Campbell Bruce
First published in 1963, this true crime classic is now out in a special edition. Bruce recounts the Rock’s transition from a Spanish fort to the infamous penitentiary, temporary home of legendary criminals like Al Capone and the Birdman of Alcatraz (Robert Stroud). He also includes descriptions of Frank Morris’ escape attempt alongside archival photos.
1906: A Novel
by James Dalessandro
Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning historical novel reveals recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Narrated by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Post-Victorian 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. James Dalessandro weaves unforgettable characters and actual events into a compelling epic.
The Barbary Coast
by Herbert Asbury
First published in 1933, the Barbary Coast is Herbert Asbury's classic chronicle of the birth of San Francisco.
The Bohemians
by Ben Tarnoff
An extraordinary portrait of a fast-changing America—and the Western writers who gave voice to its emerging identity.
The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream
by H.W. Brands
From the two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, bestselling historian, and author of Our First Civil War—the epic story of the California Gold Rush.
Cool Gray City of Love, 49 Views of San Francisco
by Gary Kamiya
A kaleidoscopic love letter to one of the world's great cities, San Francisco, by a lifelong Bay Area resident and co-founder of Salon.
Bret Harte's Gold Rush, Outcasts of Poker Flat, The Luck of Roaring Camp, Tennessee's Partner and Other Favorites
by Bret Harte, Reuben H. Margolin (Editor)
In the 1860s and 70s, a former stagecoach messenger named Bret Harte dazzled the literary world with his tales of Gold Rush-era California. These 15 rough-and-tumble stories include some of the best he ever wrote.
California: A History (Modern Library Chronicles)
by Kevin Starr
Arguing that America’s most populous state has always been blessed with both spectacular natural beauty and astonishing human diversity, Starr unfolds a rapid-fire epic of discovery, innovation, catastrophe, and triumph. For generations, California’s native peoples basked in the abundance of a climate and topography eminently suited to human habitation. By the time the Spanish arrived in the early sixteenth century, there were scores of autonomous tribes were thriving in the region. Though conquest was rapid, nearly two centuries passed before Spain exerted control over upper California through the chain of missions that stand to this day. The discovery of gold in January 1848 changed everything. With population increasing exponentially as get-rich-quick dreamers converged from all over the world, California reinvented itself overnight. Starr deftly traces the successive waves of innovation and calamity that have broken over the state since then–the incredible wealth of the Big Four railroad tycoons and the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906; the emergence of Hollywood as the world’s entertainment capital and of Silicon Valley as the center of high-tech research and development; the heroic irrigation and transportation projects that have altered the face of the region; the role of labor, both organized and migrant, in key industries from agriculture to aerospace.
Tales of the City
by Armistead Maupin
What began as a newspaper serial then transformed into a classic novel, this is the first of nine novels about the citizens of an apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco.
The Lucky Ones, One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America
by Mae Ngai
Ngai, a professor of history at Columbia University, uncovers the story of the Tape family in post-Gold Rush, racially explosive San Francisco.
111 Places in San Francisco That You Must Not Miss
by Floriana Peterson
This "111 Places" guide to San Francisco profiles so many strange and original places that it will surprise even loyal residents. Each hidden gem reveals the history and unique flavor of the Californian city.
Streetwise San Francisco Map
by Michelin
A laminated, folded map of the city center of San Francisco at a scale of 1:30,000.
Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas
by Rebecca Solnit
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. She explores the area thematically--connecting, for example, Eadweard Muybridge's foundation of motion-picture technology with Alfred Hitchcock's filming of Vertigo. 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.
San Francisco, A Cultural History
by Mick Sinclair
Organized more thematically than chronologically, this easy-to-read introduction to the city and its neighborhoods will appeal both to first time visitors and those who know and love the city.
Fifth Chinese Daughter
by Jade Snow Wong
First published in 1945, Jade Snow Wong's memoir is a simply told, moving story of family life in pre-WWII San Francisco Chinatown.





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