Harken back to San Francisco’s days as a Gold Rush boomtown on a 2-hour walking tour of the Financial District, once known as the rowdy Barbary Coast of California. Hear tales of buried ships, fortune hunters, and Wild West saloons as you explore the city’s former waterfront, and learn how it transformed into the business hub of modern-day San Francisco.
2-hour walking tour of the Financial District in San Francisco
Follow the path of the former Barbary Coast, a notorious district of saloons and brothels
Hear legends from the city's days as a Wild West boomtown
Learn how the once-seedy area transformed into an international banking and business center
Optional stop for tea at the historic Palace Hotel
Choice of morning or afternoon departure
Guided walking tour
Food and drinks
Transportation to/from attractions
Meeting And Pickup
555 California St
555 California St, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA
Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Francisco
2 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
Palace Hotel at Market and Montgomery
What To Expect
Meet your guide in Union Square in the midmorning or early afternoon, and set off at a leisurely pace among the historic buildings and modern skyscrapers of the Financial District. Learn how this neighborhood once formed the water’s edge during the 19th century and served as the entry point to California for shiploads of miners, merchants, fortune seekers, and immigrants from across the globe.
Visit the Bank of America Plaza on bustling California Street, where a symbol of the modern financial world towers over the site of one of the first ships to arrive during the Gold Rush, where it was abandoned in the bay like many others and later buried by the growing city. Follow the trail of the infamous Barbary Coast, once known as the most dangerous part of town and lined with hundreds of saloons, brothels, and miner’s outposts that popped up nearly overnight after the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada.
Trace the development of the area as land gradually filled in the old waterfront and San Francisco's red light district became an international center for banking and trade. At the end of the 2-hour tour, conclude at the historic Palace Hotel on Market Street, where you can make an optional stop for tea in the landmark’s elegant atrium cafe (own expense).
Admission Ticket Free
Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
Children must be accompanied by an adult
A moderate amount of walking on mostly flat terrain is involved
Service animals allowed
Near public transportation
Transportation is wheelchair accessible
Surfaces are wheelchair accessible
Most travelers can participate
Covid 19 guidelines: Masks required of all guests. Plastic gloves will be provided. Guides wear masks and gloves. Guests must be healthy (temperatures will be taken) and social distance as much as possible. Your safety is important.
This tour/activity will have a maximum of 6 travelers
You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.
For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If it’s canceled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund.
Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
Reviews by Viator travelers.
Showing 1-10 of 26 reviews
A very interesting history of San Francisco
Debbie_W, Jun 2023
Kathy was a excellent guide who showed us many things that we were unaware of in the financial district. I don’t think my husband and I will walk into a building without looking up at the architecture! Very enjoyable
Response from Host, Jun 2023
Thank you for taking time to write a review. We are glad you found our iconic financial district interesting. We hope you will join us for another architecture and history tour with Hobnob . Safe travels.
We enjoyed visiting...
Francine_B, Jun 2023
We enjoyed visiting buildings from an earlier era that exemplified the growing wealth of the banking industry in San Francisco in the 1920’s. We would have appreciated more information about the architects and architectural styles of those buildings.
Response from Host, Jun 2023
Thank you for taking time to write a review. We will take time to review our research and make sure our guides do not forget to include more information on the architects and their unique styles.
Great basic tour
Natalia_C, May 2023
Valerie was great. This was a wonderful 2.5 hr tour, great one to start with. Tour was intertwined with bits of history. We will do more of these!
Response from Host, May 2023
Thank you for taking time to write a review. We always enjoy having local visitors who want to refresh their knowledge of the City. Hope to see you on another walking tour.
It was fun to go inside...
Jeannette_S, Jan 2023
It was fun to go inside some buildings I never would have thought to enter and to see some hidden gems.
Response from Host, Jan 2023
Thank you for taking time to write a review. As I mentioned, Hobnob takes its guests inside many venues as opposed to just walking by the many architectural gems that line the San Francisco financial district
No don’t waste your time
trev_u, Dec 2022
Don’t do this tour it’s a waste. Use the guildebook it’s better. This was a poor tour- this was not good - no
Response from Host, Dec 2022
I am so sorry that you had a bad experience At Hobnob we research the areas fully with the historical and architectural aspects of the City and its leaders. Thank you for your comments.
The Financial District comes alive!
Vivian_A, Nov 2022
Kathy was very friendly and knowledgeable of the Financial District of SF. She pointed out important information about different people and events that helped develop this District.
Response from Host, Nov 2022
Thank you for taking time to write a review. We are glad that you felt that there was energy in the Financial District and that the history was interesting.
Useful introduction to SF downtown
Pamela_B, May 2022
Useful tour to get your bearings and see some amazing historical architecture. Guide was knowledgeable and well prepared
Response from Host, May 2022
Thank you for taking time to write a review. We appreciate that you enjoyed our important architecture and our City.
Stimulating historical experience
Cynthia_F, May 2022
Colorful stories of historical figures.
Hidden gems pointed out in spite of having been in this area many times
Response from Host, May 2022
Thank you for taking time to write a review. We are glad you appreciated hearing about our historical characters and their architectural achievements.
Historical Tour of San Francisco’s Financial District
Walt_F, Mar 2022
Thoroughly enjoyed the stories that Valerie shared regarding the history of the buildings and the people who designed and owned them!
Response from Host, Mar 2022
Thank you for taking time to write a review. Hobnob tours is passionate about our San Francisco history and we are pleased that our guests enjoyed their tour. Safe travels.
Stories of the city
Ian_F, Jan 2022
Valerie was the perfect guide: friendly, informative, with a wonderful story-telling style. The tour was fascinating & brought so much of the early city history to life by visiting the original buildings.
Response from Host, Jan 2022
Thank you for taking time to write a review. Hobnob makes an effort to bring our wonderful San Francisco history to life while exploring our outstanding architecture. Hope to see you on another tour.
William_L, Oct 2021
Really enjoyed it.
I learned so much about the history of San Francisco.
I would definitely recommend this tour!
Response from Host, Oct 2021
Thank you for taking time to write a review. We strive to make our San Francisco history interesting and informative. Hobnob is glad you had a positive experience. Safe travels.
km1410, Oct 2021
Valarie was a great tour guide! She had a tremendous amount of knowledge about the history and architecture of San Francisco.
Response from Host, Oct 2021
Thank you for taking time to write a good review. At Hobnob we strive to bring the history of our city alive. Safe travels. We hope to see you on another tour in the future.
Beautiful Buildings in the Financial District
Cynthia_B, Sep 2021
Great stories of past characters and a nice tour of beautiful buildings in the Financial District of SF.
Response from Host, Sep 2021
Hobnob tours is glad you enjoyed your visit to San Francisco’s financial district. Thank you for writing a review. Safe travels.
SF Architectural Gems
VISITOR, Jul 2021
Very enjoyable tour. If appreciate history and architecture, strongly recommend. Valarie was both knowledgeable and personable.
Response from Host, Jul 2021
Thank you for taking time to write about your experience. I am glad you enjoyed San Francisco history and our architecture. Safe travels.
Thomas_S, Jan 2020
Pleasant guide, very accommodating, knowledgeable, and had given the tour many times. I've lived in SF 40 years and learned many new things about areas I've been in innumerable times and had no idea of the history. She took us inside many buildings in learn about its history and to appreciate architecture and design. Flat surfaces, some stairs, but generally accessible.
The best tour
sean0225, Oct 2019
It was a Quiet Sunday morning in San Francisco business district. It happened that I was just kne person who signed up however the agency didn't cancel. Andrea was a guide and she was great! She made this 2 hrs walk very interesting that I didn't feel the time. She took me back to times when everything started in SF. She told me a lot of interesting information about people and places. The only thing that majority of buildings and banks closed on Sunday. So I plan to come back during weekdays to see decorations inside buildings. Highly recommended tour.
Response from Host, Oct 2019
Thank you for taking the time to write a review. We appreciate your comments as Hobnob tours strives to make a memorable tour for every guest. We hope to meet you again. Safe travels.
Fun and informative
Linda_T, Aug 2019
The whole family enjoyed this tour, there was something for everyone. It's amazing the places you can easily walk right past that Andrea pointed out and explained.
Response from Host, Aug 2019
Thank you for taking time to write a review. At Hobnob tours we strive to present an interesting tour that will appeal to everyone. I am glad we succeeded.
Excellent history and architecture tour
Brian_J, May 2019
My wife and I enjoyed the tour. My wife is a history teacher so the tour was good to understand the history of SF. I enjoyed both the history and architecture aspects. The city has really evolved thru time and understanding the history and forefathers was engaging. Check this out.! Also watch for idiot drivers when crossing the street on the tour.
Response from Host, Jun 2019
Thank you for your positive comments about your tour. Hobnob strives to make our walking tours a great experience for our guests. I apologize for our crazy rude drivers. We take our guests safety seriously.
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History and Architecture Walking Tour of San Francisco Financial District