san francisco historical walking tour

san francisco historical walking tour
fact: you should never stop 
exploring your own city.

this outing proved that to us when we learned
roughly 1,000 new facts about san francisco while
walking around for 3 hours on the greatest
historical tour. it’s important to remember
that even when you aren’t able to go on
a trip somewhere far away, you can always
explore more in the place you live!

we went on emperor norton’s fantastic
san francisco time machine tour, and
it was quite the treat. when i heard about
it i knew i had to book this for chase.
he is a history lover, and also the biggest
fan of our city. he already knows a lot
of SF’s history, but he even said how much
more he learned on this tour! there were 
so many entertaining stories and details.

if you are wondering who “emperor norton” is,
let’s just say…you need to go on the tour – haha,
he is a pretty interesting local legend from
sf’s past, and your tour guide is led by…
him! can you believe he comes back from 
the 1800’s to lead you all around the city? :)

and lead you around, he does.
he walks around 100% in character 
for the full tour, and it is hilarious to
walk behind him waving to everyone
in the streets and just walking around like
he owns the place. everyone loves it!
here we are right in union square, where the tour began.
from there we would start to learn the amazing stories
behind: emperor norton, the man and the myths • 
union square • the famous st. francis hotel • 
maiden lane • lotta’s fountain • the 1906 
earthquake and fire • the palace hotel •  
jackson square • the barbary coast • 
portsmouth square • and more! 
^^notice chase already loving it in this pic
we loved learning about the places 
that we walk past daily and didn’t know 
about! here are some fun photos..
a lot of the tour follows the famous
barbary coast pathway, which is 
an SF walking tour. we were lucky
to have a guide giving us all the details!
the beautiful st. francis hotel
was our very first stop.
meet me at the clock
we learned that this phrase used
to mean for someone to meet at this
clock at the st. francis hotel…you know,
back before cell phones and texting!
it’s crazy to think of all the history
that has taken place in union square.
now it’s known for all the high end 
shopping and hotels and restaurants,
but it was the center of this city and had
so many people & events pass through it.
maiden lane…already a favorite of mine
because of mocca’s…but now i know 
all of the little secrets of this street. 
seeing it in an entirely new light now.
plus, we got a treat from these incredible
opera singers at the edge of maiden lane.
they are there constantly, but i’ve never
stopped and actually taken it in. we stood in
the exact spot where the acoustics bounce off
the city walls through the alley and right to
your ears. it was amazing to hear this really
beautiful opera singing right in the busy city!
literally stopping traffic in the middle
of the street for us to cross, haha.
lotta’s fountain: sweetest story
that happened here on christmas
eve the year after the earthquake 
had hit…you have to go on the tour
to hear it, but it was one of my favorites!
then, the monadnock building.
the entry of this building is painted
with san francisco renaissance murals 
they put famous beloved san franciscans.
stop for a snack break 
at our favorite spot…
and onto the palace hotel! i will find
a reason to stay here one day. it is
beautiful and we saw photos of how it
was actually destroyed in the earthquake
and rebuilt from the ground up. gorgeous.
made a stop by the downtown
ghirardelli, where there was even
a sundae named after this guy!
then made our way downtown through
the financial district until we were 
right under this iconic SF landmark..
the transamerica pyramid. i’ve never
actually stood at the base of it until this!
if you can believe it, the ocean used
to come way further up to the financial
district — to right here, on hotaling place..
basically to montgomery st.! this little 
street is so cool, and the wavy lines
in the cement represent the water since
it used to come all the way up to right there.
and, probably the coolest part 
of the tour — discovering this
TUNNEL underneath an old
building. it was probably used
for some semi-shady reasons, but
it was amazing to see this hidden world
and literally touch a piece of history.
we walked back through chinatown and
learned about porstmouth square…can’t believe
how different it used to be compared to today!
and crossing through chinatown
on our way to the final stop.
** the tour lasts just under 3 hours and is 2 miles long.
emperor norton’s fantastic san francisco time machine 

departs thursdays & saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. 
from union square (you meet under the dewey monument statue). 
advance reservations are requested, cost is $20. subject to availability.

san francisco, you just made us
fall more in love with you on this
tour. you are truly a dreamer’s city,
with magic mixed into your history.
we’re lucky to live here amongst it all!