Few tourists get out of San Francisco without a ride on the famous cable cars. But turns out, this city regularly voted as America's favorite tourist destination has more than 50 ways (Paul Simon, are you listening?) to get yourself free.
From walking tours to jeeps with zebra stripes to talking GoCars that navigate, crack jokes and tell historical stories, San Francisco offers more than 50 ways to leave your hotel. Here's just a small sampling:
1. Mr. Toad's Tours. Pre-1930's touring cars whisk sightseers away on hourly tours through North Beach, Nob Hill, Chinatown, Golden Gate Bride and many other San Francisco sights. Included in the fleet are a 1929 Model A Woodie, a 1912 Rambler Touring Car, a 1918 "Toadster" Woodie and a 1924 Yellowstone Bus, all-refitted to use low-impact propane. And yes, they all go "Arooga." www.mrtoadstours.com.
2. Adventure Cat sailing tours. Not only do you get up close and personal with whales and sea lions on these 55- and 65-foot catamarans, but views of the city skyline are jaw-dropping. You'll sail under Golden Gate Bridge and past Alcatraz on these 1.5-hour tours. www.adventurecat.com
3. Blazing Saddles bike tours. Whether you want to take a bike out on your own or follow along with a guide, this 20-year-veteran has it all from bicycles built for three to hill-busting electric bikes. www.blazingsaddles.com.
4. Vampire Tour of San Francisco. Mina Harker (AKA Kitty Burns) invites mortals
to join the Drac Pack on a two-hour vampire (and history) tour that begins on Nob Hill in front of Grace Cathedral. www.sfvampiretour.com.
5. GoCars. Better than Herbie, the Love Bug, these bright-yellow, open-air GPS-directed go-carts take you past all the San Francisco highlights. These stare-inducing carts have three-wheels, two seats and provide a running commentary complete with silly jokes. Best of all, they're small enough to fit in motorcycle parking. www.gocartours.com.
6. Vista Helicopter Tour. Get a bird's eye view of not only San Francisco, but Sausalito and the California coastline. This tour company also offers trolley tours, duck tours and seaplane tours. www.allsanfranciscotours.com.
7. Foodie Adventures. Chow down on three-hour, behind-the-scenes culinary tours led by chef and uber-foodie, Chris Milano. Choose between Chinatown, North Beach or The Mission. www.foodieadventures.com.
8. Urban Safaris. Grab your pith helmet and board one of the zebra-striped safari jeeps for a four-hour tour through the urban jungle. Daniel Oppenheim, who started this off-the-beaten path tour company, sings, fires zingers and spews movie trivia as you pass all the familiar (and many unfamiliar) sights. www.theurbansafari.com.