Classic Walking Tour of San Francisco with Emperor Norton
Embrace the quirky charm that defines San Francisco. See some of the City by the Bay's most iconic and historic sights—including Union Square, the St. Francis Hotel and more—guided by Emperor Norton I, San Francisco's unofficial mascot.
What You Will Do
- Meet one of the most colorful characters central to the quirky history of San Francisco, self-proclaimed "Protector of Mexico," Emperor Norton I
- Follow your entertaining Emperor-dressed guide on an interactive sightseeing tour filled with historical anecdotes from his life
- Gain a unique perspective on the earthquake and great fire of 1906, and other historical events that shaped San Francisco
- Visit and learn the stories behind Union Square, the St. Francis Hotel, Maiden Lane, Lotta’s Fountain, Bummer and Lazarus, the Palace Hotel, Jackson Square, Portsmouth Square, and the Barbary Coast
- 1 hour walking tour of San Francisco with costumed guide
Bring water and wear comfortable walking shoes.
- 412 Ratings
Emperor Norton was super knowledgeable and kept the audience engaged throughout the almost 3-hour tour. We even went inside some buildings to see murals and tunnel. Highly recommended!
Emperor Norton is warm, colourful, and informative. He has developed a clever dialogue which mixes facts about the life of Emperor Norton whom he portrays flawlessly with other important facts about San Francisco's history. We appreciated that he is genuinely interested in his subject matter and made a point of telling us that he'd never make things up. We were not surprised to learn that he trains tour guides for other programs. We highly recommend this tour.
Great tour! Emperor Norton was enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and tons of fun. We saw some areas of the city that we hadn't been to before and learned a lot. Thanks for a great time, we'll definitely recommend it to those visiting SF.
We had a WONDERFUL time on Emporer Norton's tour. Even though our group lives in SF, we had a blast exploring new parts of the downtown area and learning facts about places we've walked past 100s of times. I would highly recommend this tour for anyone visiting or living in the San Francisco Bay area. You will not be disappointed.
We loved the tour. Emperor Norton was a wonderful tour guide and made it super fun. He is a font of knowledge and knew all the Back stories to explain all of the history. We recommend it very highly.
The tour is fantastic and Emperor Norton is a passionate and enthusiastic guide who will make the visit captivating and fun for both adults and children. Our 10 and 12 year’s old sons learnt so much about San Francisco ans its history. I recommend this tour to anyone living or visiting San Francisco. It is not your typical tourist tour and you will visit places unknown from the general public. We couldn’t have been more satisfied. Thank you!
This tour was awesome! Thank you Emperor.
We were guided expertly with detailed explanation and theater. What an amazing day, packed full of great information and bits of knowledge about San Francisco. I will never forget this! So amazing.
Great Tour. Very interesting. Didn't feel the time pass by. We all enjoyed this tour and will be taking the tours soon. May be a happy hour pub crawl in the future? Thank You, Jessica
The trip was very informative. Great speed yo enjoy all the areas we stopped at. He is so knowledgeable. Very very nice day with him
What a great walking tour! Emperor Norton is knowledgeable, flexible, fun and endearing. Also, thank you for the recommendation for the Great Eastern. Their dim sum was very good!
This was the best guided tour I've been on by far. Emperor Norton is very informative, fun, and very personable. I've been on many tours (free and not) in the city in the 6 years since I've moved here. This one was well worth the money paid for it.
Very Entertaining and interesting - people would salute him on the street!
Emperor Norton's tour was spectacular! Although we are local, and have lived in San Francisco, we learned so much that we never knew about our beloved city. And with the Emperor himself guiding us, the imagery of the past sprung to life. It was tremendously fun, entertaining and provided us with a wealth of information. I would highly recommend this tour.
Fantastic tour filled with lots of energy and a personal tour of San Francisco (especially the Financial District, Union Square, and Barbary Coast). The walking was at an easy group pace and brought my eyes upwards to look at a lot of the buildings I had been aimlessly walking by for days with a new appreciation for their history. There was a great clarification on the Earthquake and Fire of 1906, including the buildings that survived and those that didn't.
The Emperor is clearly a master of historical inquiry and story telling. He wove an engaging story of the historical facts, bringing history to life Bravo!
We were very happy with the tour. The intro at Union Square could be a bit shorter though....(sorry). Loved the "inside info" on all the old buildings and structures. Would totally recommend this tour. Thank you, Emperor!
Tour was interesting and well paced. Even though I've lived in the Bay Area for 30 years, I learned many facts from the past that help bring the city to life. Emperor Norton was informative and fun!
Emperor Norton knows his history! He was informative and entertaining. We had a small tour of 4 people so it felt very personalized. Dress warm because the tall city buildings offer little to no sun! I would recommend this tour! Thanks!
Emperor Norton had his act together. He looked perfect for the part, knew the history of San Francisco and told the tales well, spicing them here and there with a sprinkle of humor. He gave us some tips on how to visit the POPOS, which we will certainly do. And he gave us a piece of candy. What a guy!!!
An incredible journey through the streets of San Fransisco, switching between the present and the past. Long live the emperor!
It was an amazing tour, very thoroughly carried out, even after having lived here 5 years I discovered so many new things about the city. Thank you for this. Robi
The Emperor is a knowledgeable, charming, and funny person/character! It was often difficult to tell the difference between the two. It was fun watching other people recognize the Emperor around the streets. He is doing a great job of showcasing San Francisco's history. It takes true passion to give two of these tours on a day with 105 degree heat. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough!
The tour was out of the ordinary, which was a good thing. We weren't looking for a check-the-box rendition of the history of San Francisco. The Emperor was happy to oblige. We learned a lot, but we were also entertained as we explored nooks and crannies of the city that we would never have known to go to on our own. What you will get out of the tour will far exceed the reasonable price you will pay to be a part of the journey.
Absolutely wonderful! Informative and fun! We learned so much and it was a great pace. Perfect amount of walking and stopping. Great stories and a variety of information.
He was in character, knowledgeable, funny, and open to questions. Planned bathroom break in the middle was appreciated.
Very informative tour and great to spend time with and learn more about Emperor Norton!
get to know a little bit of history about San Francisco.
Good tour, good info, well researched, good speaker, nice personality. Will recommend to others.
The Emperor was in full costume and character. Excellent bargain if using a Groupon. The Emperor knew what he was talking about and told many wonderful stories. Very educational and fun. Especially exciting was the surprise underneath the craft store. A MUST DO!
Emperor Norton was very entertaining and we learned a lot from him. We had a delightful time and I recommend the tour very highly.
Amazing tour guide! So knowledagble and funny!
Emperor Norton had a wonderful sense of flair and drama and exhibited intelligence and humor. Great tour, fantastic price.
Very insightful. Learned things we wouldn't have otherwise. Thank you!
Super informative and presented in a delightful manner that was entertaining and funny! Even my teenagers enjoyed the tour and laughed while they learned new facts about San Francisco. We would wholeheartedly recommend to this tour to anyone who has a few hours in San Francisco. A definite must for both visitors and locals.
Emperor Norton was fun, interesting & informative. Will definitely see him again!!
I've been to San Francisco numerous times and I was lucky enough to go on this great tour! I would recommend everyone to do this tour! Emperor Norton is very entertaining and knowledgable, I wish I had enough time to so his other tours. Looking forward to that on my next trip. Thank you Emperor!
very, very informative, and The Emperor is very friendly and personable - apparently like the Original Emperor Norton, and unlike some other Royalty & government officials in general!
The Emperor's tour is novel and informative.
Emperor Norton gave me and my friend a very interesting and informative tour The fact that we were the only ones on the tour made it even more special. He was on time, very knowledgeable, professional . It was a pleasure having him as our guide.
We took the Emperor Norton tour, which was SUCH fun and very educational. I've lived in the San Francisco Bay Area all my life, but didn't know that much about the city's history. A wonderful walk-and-talk, well worth it. I'm going to look into the other walking tour offerings, and hope to be back.