Though a lazy day at the spa will always be a luxurious way to recharge, sometimes you need to energize yourself with something that offers a little more excitement to match a city as vibrant as San Francisco. See the city in a unique way and get active with these seven experiences.
Explore San Francisco on an urban hiking tour to really see the city from a different perspective. Visit secret stairways and classic neighborhoods, and see sweeping skyline views from up high. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or you’re looking to take your first steps into the world of urban hiking, this tour is ideal for anyone wanting to explore this bustling city in a new and exciting way.
An excellent way to see San Francisco is on two wheels. It’s an invigorating experience that not only allows you to really take in the sights, smells and sounds but also tap into your sense of exploration. While the hills can be intimidating, there are cycling maps that show the easiest routes. Also, some rides don’t involve many hills at all, like biking across the Golden Gate Bridge or along Crissy Field. If you want a little extra help, you can also rent a tandem bicycle with your partner or an electric bike that can reach speeds of almost 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour). Civitatis rents bikes for 24 hours at a time, so you can take your time exploring.
There are only a few places in the world where you can see coastal redwood trees, with the most stunning being Muir Woods National Monument – about 30 minutes north of San Francisco. A walk in nature offers a sense of peace not easily found in the city, so this park’s proximity to SF allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds. With its flat and wide wooden walking paths, the park is easy to explore but can get quite crowded, making a guided tour an ideal way to see the forest. On the tour, you’ll learn about the trees in Muir Woods, including their age (the average age is 600 to 800 years old, with the oldest tree being at least 1,200 years old) and their height (the tallest one is 258 feet, or 79 meters).
The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States and is home to three acres of winding stepping-stone paths, native Japanese plants, koi ponds, stone lanterns and pagodas. The garden feels like a true oasis in the middle of the bustling city and can be very tranquil, especially in the morning hours. Be sure to climb over the highly arched drum bridge, which reflects a full circle on the water and is intended to slow people down. You can even stop for a meditative cup of tea at the Tea House, which overlooks the pond.
San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building Marketplace has some of the Bay Area’s best local farmers, artisan producers and independently owned restaurants. It’s an excellent place for anyone who loves food and wine, much of which can be enjoyed while taking in gorgeous views. With burgers, biscuits, cheese, chocolate, doughnuts, dry rubs for meat and more, the Ferry Building is a first-class culinary destination. Go on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday when the farmer’s market is in full swing to discover fresh farm products and prepared foods.
There’s something truly magical about sitting around a fire with friends, and you don’t have to leave the city to experience that magic. Ocean Beach has 16 fire rings that are available from the beginning of March until the end of October. The fire rings are first come, first served; and you can buy everything you need, including firewood, hotdogs and ingredients for s’mores, at the Safeway across the street from the beach.
Discover just how much you take your sight for granted when you enter the total darkness of the Tactile Dome at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s hands-on science museum. The sensory journey requires you to walk, crawl, climb, slide and feel your way through the twists, turns and textures of the interactive sculpture – created in 1971. The wonderland of textures is an extraordinary way to reset your senses and possibly experience a sense of rebirthing (which was the artist’s original intention). Reservations are required. The Exploratorium lies on Pier 15 along the Embarcadero and features more than 650 interactive works of sound, color and touch, challenging your perceptions and leaving you awestruck, inspired and full of laughter.
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meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.