Signature City San Francisco

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.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21052RJ
6 days
Starts at

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.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 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 architecture from a local expert followed by a docent-led visit to a Victorian home.

General Notes

Use of public transportation with some transfers.
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.
A Crack in the Edge of the World, America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906
by Simon Winchester
Geologist, master storyteller, traveler and journalist, Simon Winchester succeeds again in this fast-paced, utterly fascinating account of the great 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Travelers' Tales San Francisco
by James O'Reilly (Editor), Larry Habegger (Editor), Sean O'Reilly (Editor)
Experience San Francisco from the inside out with this engaging, insightful and entertaining selection of mostly contemporary eyewitness reports -- a terrific literary profile of a dynamic city.
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.
San Francisco: A Food Biography
by Erica J. Peters
At the ideal intersection of rich farmlands and the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco is a reputable food destination. Peters delves into the city’s culinary history, from early Spanish missions and ongoing immigrant influences to current fixation on local ingredients.
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.
California, A History
by Kevin Starr
A lively short history in the excellent Modern Library Chronicles series, written by a renowned historian.
You Can't Win
by Jack Black
A true classic, this fascinating memoir -- first published in 1926 -- lifts the lid on Black’s life as a safecracker, thief, gambler, opium addict and hobo riding the rails of the American West. With an introduction by William Burroughs.
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.
Gold Fever, One Man's Adventures on the Trail of the Gold Rush
by Steve Boggan
Rich in history and economics, Boggan's travelogue follows the trails of the original 49ers -- to San Francisco and beyond -- where Americans still risk life and limb for lucrative gold strikes.
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.
Infinite City, A San Francisco Atlas
by Rebecca Solnit
Solnit's quirky collection of maps documents the cultural riches and diversity of San Francisco.
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.
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.
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.
San Francisco Map
by Berndtson & Berndtson
A laminated, folded map of the city center of San Francisco at a nice scale of 1:13,000.

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