Top 10 Travel Apps to Make Traveling Easier and More Fun

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Traveling around the world can be a very difficult proposition. From the inability to communicate (have you SEEN how much phone companies charge for international voice and data plans??) to finding the right restaurant or activity (spoiler alert: Free Tours by Foot has great reviews all over the world!) it can be challenging to make your trip as fun and as easy as it can be. Travel apps can make your life a great deal easier when you’re in a foreign land, or even if you’re traveling around your own country.

We have put together a list of some of the best travel apps to make your travels more easy, more fun, and more delicious. Check our our list below!

Travel Apps Audible10 (tie). Audible (iOS) (Android) – Free, plus cost of books

Taking a long plane ride (or train trip, or car trip) can get a little boring if you don’t have the right entertainment. Taking the 12-hour flight from Tokyo to San Francisco, you might look out the window 10 hours into the flight and think, “Oh look. MORE ocean.” Not super exciting. The best travel apps for this situation involve books.

That’s some of the best time to use Audible. This app has hundreds of thousands of books, with some of the best readers on the planet. Audible.com hires A-list celebrities such as Kate Winslet, Jack Nicholson, Samuel L. Jackson, and many others to record books that you can listen to. A long flight is a perfect time to fire up the Audible app and listen to a Hollywood celebrity read you one of your favorite books. So check out this app, and enjoy your next flight!

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Great International Foods in San Francisco

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International Foods San Francisco

One of our favorite parts about San Francisco is the amazing variety of food you can get here. Constantly rated one of the best (if not THE best) food and restaurant city in the nation, you can get an astounding array of international cuisine in San Francisco. But with so many places to choose from, how is a traveler expected to be able to make a decision? Fear not! The guides at SF by Foot are here to help! We have put together a list of the best international food experiences that you can have in San Francisco. So read on, and enjoy whatever you can eat here!

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San Francisco Cable Cars – The Invention that Changed a City

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Note: this post about San Francisco cable cars is taken from our Fisherman’s Wharf tour. Feel free to read more about the tour, or sign up today!

Want to ride a cable car? Check out our information page about taking a ride!

San Francisco Cable Cars Generic Image

San Francisco cable cars are one of the most recognizable symbols of the City by the Bay, and also one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city. Visitors come from all over the world to take a ride on one of the only two moving national monuments in the United States. But how did they come to be? In this Gold Rush city of cobblestone roads and horse-drawn trolleys, how this streetcar pulled by an underground system of cables completely change the course of San Francisco?

Read on to get the whole story!

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Meet Emperor Norton: The First (and only) Emperor of the United States

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Emperor Norton Portrait

(Note: This post refers to a story on our Secrets, Scandals, and Scoundrels of San Francisco tour. Click to learn more about that tour, or sign up today!)

Throughout its history, San Francisco has always been full of fascinating characters. You may have read about two “simple” prospectors conning the richest man in California out of $600,000 in the Great Diamond Hoax of 1872. Or possibly you’ve heard about the famous San Francisco Shanghai. But none of these characters come close to the fame, notoriety, and downright fascination as Emperor Norton the First, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

What, you didn’t know the United States was once ruled by a benevolent Emperor? Well, read on for this amazing story!

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Check Out the Best San Francisco Christmas Lights

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One of the greatest things about spending the holidays out here is visiting the best San Francisco Christmas lights all around the city. For all the travelers visiting our fair city over the holidays, your loyal guides at Free Tours by Foot San Francisco have gathered a list of their favorite San Francisco Christmas lights displays.

Want to make the most of your time in the city during the holidays? Consider taking a Holiday Lights Tour with City Sightseeing. Their 90 minute double-decker bus tour takes you to nearly all of the places included on this list so you can see all the best lights in just one evening! Learn more in our post on Christmas in San Francisco or book directly here


Best Christmas Lights

Holiday Lights Tour

Christmas in San Francisco


San Francisco Christmas Lights - Tom and Jerry House
Tom and Jerry House
(Click here for map)

This is easily the most famous single-house San Francisco Christmas light display. Residing in the Castro district, Tom and Jerry put together an amazing display every year. Easily the best single house display of Christmas lights in San Francisco, you can always count on Tom and Jerry to brighten up your holidays with their setup. These guys work countless hours on their display every year, and their work truly pays off with the masterpiece that they provide us. And be sure to bring your kids there to get a free candy cane from Santa while he’s there (before December 24). The display has gotten so famous that they even have a documentary about the decorations!

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What was the Great San Francisco Diamond Hoax?

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Banker, miner, diamond-hoaxee William Ralston

(Note: This post refers to the Diamond Hoax of 1872, a story on our Secrets, Scandals, and Scoundrels of San Francisco tour. Click to learn more about that tour, or sign up today!)

In 1872, William Ralston was the richest man in California. After missing out on the California Gold Rush, he had struck it rich in the Nevada Silver Rush ten years later.

The Gold Rush and Silver Rush happened in such quick succession that the United States was primed for the next big thing. So when two prospectors showed up on the doorstep of a local banker carrying a mysterious satchel, the stage was set for a big strike.

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Introducing San Francisco Walking Tours

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Happy holidays, everybody! As you have probably seen, Free Tours by Foot has been growing rapidly in the past few years, providing name-your-own-price walking tours in cities all over the United States and throughout Europe. Today, we are pleased to announce that we are now expanding to the West Coast. Starting Saturday, November 28, we will begin offering free walking tours in San Francisco!

Our first guide is Britt, a Bay Area native who has lived in the area for over 20 years. For the past year, he has been working with Free Tours by Foot in Washington DC, offering tours of our Nation’s capital.

We will begin by offering five different tours covering all different parts of the city and to explore various eras of San Francisco history. Maybe you’re interested in the hidden alleyways of Chinatown, one of the most vibrant and active areas of the city. Or you may want to learn about the massive art deco skyscrapers along Market Street, known as the “Path of Gold.” Or for the more adventurous visitors, maybe you want to learn about the Wild West outlaws during the Gold Rush on our Secrets, Scandals, and Scoundrels tour. We have something for everyone!

If you are interested in learning more about our San Francisco walking tours, you can read the descriptions below. Or, if you want to sign up for some of these great tours, click on the Tour Calendar page to register!

If you have any questions or would like further information, please feel free to contact us any time. Otherwise, we hope to see you soon in the City by the Bay!

Our San Francisco Walking Tours

Chinatown

Join us as we explore the streets and hidden alleyways of one of the oldest, largest and most active Chinatown in the world. In this tour you will discover how this 24 square block area was transformed from unwelcoming sand dunes in the 1700s to the bustling center of activity that it is today.

Chinatown was the first step for millions of Chinese immigrants in what would become their (often difficult and painful) American adventure.

North Beach/Little Italy

Starting our tour at the tallest building in San Francisco and walking back through 150 years of history, you’ll get to experience a little piece of Italy in this city. From the earliest days of Italian fishermen bringing their catch back to Fisherman’s Wharf to the hub of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation in the 1950s, North Beach has been a cultural institution in San Francisco.

We’ll visit all of the important landmarks of North Beach, including the place to get the best Italian sandwich in San Francisco!

Secrets, Scandals and Scoundrels of San Francisco

Welcome to the Wild West! In the 1850s, San Francisco was a frontier land where gambling and prostitution were legal, and gunfights were commonplace. Hundreds of thousands of people made the difficult and dangerous journey to San Francisco to try to strike it rich in the Gold Rush. When most of them failed, many turned to “other” pursuits to make their fortune.

On the Secrets, Scandals and Scoundrels tour, you’ll learn about famous outlaws, robber barons, great hoaxes and swindles, and even a war fought over eggs (yes, eggs!)

Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square

In earlier days, San Francisco was the West Coast hub of fishing and shipping. When the city was growing up, hundreds of fishermen would gather at Fisherman’s Wharf in the morning, earn their day’s catch, and meet back here in the evening. These days, the Wharf has turned into one of the most highly visited spots in San Francisco.

As we walk through the area we’ll see Ghirardelli Square, home of the legendary chocolate maker, the world famous San Francisco cable car, and we’ll get a behind-the-scenes look into how Fisherman’s Wharf really operates.

Market Street

Market Street is San Francisco’s Main Street. On this tour, you will see how the city developed from a tiny village on the far edge of the world to a center of our global economy. This street was born as the city’s first major boulevard, and is now compared to the Champs Elysees in Paris, and Fifth Avenue in New York City.

We will explore the history of this region and the fascinating buildings lining both sides of the boulevard.

Central Park Bike Tours

The Best San Francisco Bike Tours

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This is a comparison of the various bike tour companies available in San Francisco. When you think of the Bay Area landscape you may think of … hills. Not something the average tourist wants to tackle on a bike, more or less with 10 strangers from around the world. Fear not! Much of the city’s frequented cycle lanes are not hilly and you can see much of the city as a beginner cyclists. And for those hills, plenty people get off and walk the bikes up.

There are many bike rental and guided bike tours options so its hard to know what are the best San Francisco bike tours, so we’ve compiled a list of our favorite and highly rated guided tours.


Know Before You Go

Guided City Bike Tours

Golden Gate Bridge Tours

Wine Country and Brewery Bike Tours


KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • All bike rentals include a helmet which are required by law for riders under the age of 18.
  • Don’t worry if you’re not use to biking in a city. There are dedicated bike lanes in many of the areas the guided tours take you. And on Sundays, some roads by Golden Gate Park are car free!
  • Many of these companies have electric bike options, but be aware that you cannot ride across Golden Gate Bridge with the engine on – you can either walk it or pedal.
  • Most of the Bike the Bridge Tours END in Sausalito and you’re on your own to make it back to San Francisco. You can bike back (though this is ambitious/hilly/easy to get lost) or take the Ferry. During Summer months, 1000+ bikers and waiting in line to board the ferry so you may get stuck in the crunch as the ferry cannot accommodate everyone at once. If you have evening plans, try to board the ferry before 4pm.


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Self Guided Tour of Chinatown San Francisco

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When stepping into San Francisco’s Chinatown, you step into a world of vibrant colors, sounds, sights, and smells that will immediately whisk you around the globe. While there are several distinct Chinese neighborhoods in San Francisco, the oldest and largest Chinatown lies in the heart of downtown. On this self guided tour of Chinatown, you’ll visit sights with history dating back to the days of the early explorers, see unique and beautiful views of the city, and be immersed in a culture so intertwined in San Francisco’s history that you just can’t miss it!

Why not join one of our guided tours of Chinatown?  Also, if you are considering purchasing a hop-on, hop-off Big Bus ticket, their buses makes stops in Chinatown and your ticket will include a free Chinatown walking tour.

For more money saving ideas for your time in San Francisco, check out which tourist discount pass is best.

You can also download San Francisco Chinatown Self Guided Tour as a pdf.

Or, check out a video of a walk through Chinatown, and see many of the sights that you’ll be visiting on your own trip!


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Go San Francisco Card 3 Day Itinerary

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San Francisco is one of the most exciting cities in the country, with months’ worth of activities. But who has that much vacation time? How do you figure out the best places to visit if you only have a few days in San Francisco?

Well, don’t worry, because we’ve got you covered! We put together a sample itinerary for you to best take advantage of the Go San Francisco Card. This 3-day trip will take you to all of the greatest hits in the city so that when you get home and your friends ask you, “Hey, when you were in San Francisco, did you see…(enter any famous landmark here)” you can say, “Heck yes I did!”  If you are also considering the San Francisco CityPass, then be sure to read our post comparing both tourist attraction passes.

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