We just couldn’t say no when we found out that this amazing city can be explored by a vintage Volkswagen van. Coming across Vantigo’s website online and seeing what the tour offered, we had to make sure we were on this tour and we weren’t disappointed. Instead of taking a tour bus which would usually get stuck in traffic and only take you to the top spots in the city, here was a tour in a van with a driver who knows a lot of information and fun facts on San Francisco (also the fact the driver knows all the shortcuts if there are traffic jams around is a bonus!) is the way to go. Here is why.
After booking up the tour, we met at the starting point at Post Street (just north-west of Union Square in Downtown), the driver explained to us what type of van we were in, what to do and not to do during the tour before setting off. Straight away we were taking in the sights of Union Square, Chinatown and Financial District of the city as well as listening to amazing history of the area. We won’t say too much as it will spoil the tour if you decide to book on one when hitting up the city.
The tour stops off at a few places on the way which is fantastic as we wasn’t stuck inside a van all the time on the three hour tour. The first place we stretched our legs was on the summit of Pioneer Park which is located between Downtown/Financial district and Fisherman’s Wharf. At the top is the Colt Tower which can be seen for miles and is a lookout tower. However, the views from here overlooking downtown, the bay, Alcatraz are simply amazing. We were told people can walk to the summit from the bottom of the hill but there are over four hundred steps to take on.
Moving northwards we passed Fisherman’s Wharf and then entered the area of San Francisco which has parks dotted all over the place. One of the highlights of the tour was having a look at the amazing Greco-Roman architecture of the Palace of Fine Arts theatre which still hosts concerts and plays. Standing outside and looking at this sure reminded me of buildings we have seen similar like this dotted around Europe and could imagine watching a show. However, the building can only hold nine hundred people so tickets are hard to get, especially if there is a big star in town.
The beautiful Crissy Fields was seen and is the ideal location for doing running, cycling or anything to do with fitness. This is also a great viewpoint (or place to take photos) of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. At the north western end of Crissy Fields (where there is a fantastic small cafe at the Warming Hut we must add!), we were taken to Fort Point, a mini fortress located underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. This was built during the Civil War but has never been under attack.
After seeing San Francisco’s main tourist sight, the tour guide took us for a drive around Lands End park before stopping at the cafe here. It is here we had a great view of the Sutro Baths and the Pacific Ocean.
Around the corner and down the hill we had a fantastic view of Ocean Beach which is San Francisco’s main surfing paradise, before driving around Golden Gate Park. This is America’s largest city park, even bigger than Central Park in New York City. There seems to be lots to do for visitors as we saw two windmills donated by the Dutch, hiking roots, music stage, the De Young museum and a planetarium. It seemed like forever to drive around the park but looking out of the window, it was wonderful to see how green the park was with all it’s trees and green grass.
The tour took us up one of the spots we really want to check out whilst in the city and that was Twin Peaks. The two hills which overlook the city from the southwest has been featured on many films (mostly for make out scenes with young people), but it’s here where the best views can be had. For us it wasn’t just seeing the skyscrapers from the distance but it was seeing the coastline and small mountains overlooking the northern side of San Francisco bay to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The views were totally amazing and we were so glad to catch this before the sun went down.
As it was becoming nightfall, we drove through the Castro District which is San Francisco’s gay village. It was so funky to see the rainbow colours on the pedestrian crossings at the traffic lights. This was a very good idea and a great way to brighten up the place. Before we finished the tour we saw the ladies houses and took in the city hall before being dropped off.
We were so glad to see San Francisco in a different light, a new perspective. Before our visit to the city, the thought of doing a tour in a campervan never came across our mind, however we were so glad to find out about Vantigo and take the chance of doing this. We loved every minute of the tour, the guide/driver was very informative and passionate about the city and everything was well organised from the moment we were picked up to the moment we were dropped off. We highly recommend this tour to anyone who is visiting the city (or even living in the city!).
We took the San Francisco City Tour but Vantigo have more tours on offer including a San Francisco Brew Tour! Check out their website to see all the amazing tours they offer.
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