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.
- 464 Ratings
Interesting, and the guide is really good as acting the emperor
What a delightful experience. Great history about places and sites that we might have just otherwise passed by. No longer. Plus helpful hints about getting around the city, many places for future exploration. Had not idea the Clampers have made their presence felt in the big city by the bay. History made fun and brought to life.
Our tour guide Emperor Norton was thorough and highly entertaining. Prepare for a lot of walking and tons of fascinating info about the early days of San Francisco. You also never know when passersby will shout out a friendly greeting to his majesty as we walk about. All hail Emperor Norton; he was a real life fascinating character brought vividly back to life for anyone lucky enough to take his tour!
Delightfully informative and entertaining! Wonderful stories about San Fran history backstories!
The tour was so much more than we expected. It included the area around Union Square, the Financial District and China Town. Not only was the tour chock full of fascinating tidbits about events in Emperor Norton’s life and the locations where they occurred, it included the history of the city and its architecture told in an entertaining way. So glad this was the first thing we did after settling into our hotel.
Emperor Norton was fascinating and full of stories that made our tour wonderful. We are locals and love learning new things about our fabulous city. Don't miss it!
Great tour....fun and informative...highly recommend !!
The most incredible tour I have ever taken in San Francisco. The depth of knowledge, the humor, the ability to stay in character, made this a day to remember. I have been recommending it to everyone I know in the Bay Area for weeks now.
Very enjoyable tour for history buffs. I'm a local and we covered a few places I've never seen before. Would definitely recommend.
The Emperor was a perfect host to his home, San Francisco.. My family and I enjoyed every minute.. thank ou
It is a one of its kind tour, very original and educational with a lot of fun! Hail the Emperor (and bring HIS ice cream Sunday back!)
The Emperor was great! Very knowledgeable and entertaining
Interesting and knowledgeable tour given by the Emperor himself. The tour given in first person in costume enriched the stories told. Valuable dining recommendations as well. The whole city seemed to embrace the Emperor with hand shakes, waves, and selfies. We felt like part of an entourage.
Excellent tour. Even in the cold and rain it kept our attention and made it worthwhile. Highly recommended for early in your trip. Wish I had done it earlie
The tour was the highlight of my trip. Due to inclement weather the tour ended up being more intimate than I expected, which led me to having a more personal audience with the Emperor, which was quite excellent and fortunate for me. I cannot recommend the tour more, Emperor Norton is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about history and all things San Francisco. Well worth the meager fee.
The San Francisco historical information was awesome! We truly enjoyed learning about the city through “personal” stories of Emperor Norton. The time went so quickly. We also took his recommendation for a lunch location & had a delicious meal. This was a fun way to see the city.
We had a wonderful time with Emperor Norton! He wa very accommodating, making a special tour of Chinatown for us. He was punctual, kind, funny, and very knowledgeable about San Francisco’s history and current restaurants! Overall, it was great! We would love to experience his other tours.
The Emporer is very engaging and personable. Our group of six was a perfect size. He spoke clearly and loud enough for us to hear his every word. His tour felt like tapping a sip of wine from a full wine barrel. How can all that life experience and knowledge be preserved??? Only drawback was being freezing -- stupid mistake for a local like me. Bundle up! Wish there was an Emporer for every city. After the tour, you'll never be without a friend in San Francisco. I'd go again in a heartbeat.
Exceeded my expectations
Impeccably researched and narrated. We hsve been on this tour 3 times, when we have visitors to the area, and enjoy the tour every time.
This tour is wonderful. The Emperor has amazing knowledge of the history of San Francisco & imparts it in a comical & interesting way. He takes you to places you would never find on your own. Do it early in your visit but don’t miss it. Thanks Emperor, we loved it.
We had a great time. Learnt a lot about San francisco and the different buildings. Emperor Norton was awesome.
A fun and informative tour by a guide who loves his research and the man he portrays. A great way to learn about San Francisco and some of its colorful history!
I enjoyed learning about the history of San Francisco. It was a great introduction to my trip. I am a travel writer and podcaster, always looking for unique special experiences in the locations I visit. Emperor Norton's Saturday afternoon tour made my podcast and blog list of "11 Awesome San Francisco Area Experiences" at www.oneperfectdayin.org. I hope to be back to take another Fantastic SF Time Machine Tour.
It was fun, interesting, different from other tours, full of historical facts. Overall a wonderful experience.
Only four person group with interesting sites and stories. Humorous and informative. Go and you will enjoy.
This was definitely a highlight of our trip to San Francisco!
The tour was the perfect length, not too strenuous, very informative and entertaining and was a nice, intimate size.
Fun, fun, fun. One of the best walking tours we have taken. Emperor Norton is a true character who will delight you with his stories as you navigate the streets of San Francisco.
As a resident of San Francisco I don't often think to go on tours or even consider the history of the city, but I'm glad I was reminded of your tour and the story of Emperor Norton. Thank you!
I was enthralled from beginning to end! Charismatic, educational, and truly a special peek into San Franciscos past. I highly recommend this tour. I've never done a walking tour before and almost 3 hours did seem a bit daunting, however, when we finished i couldn't believe it was over. I could have easily taken the tour twice. Thank you, for this magical experience that i shall cherish my entire lifetime.
This was a fantastic tour! The Emperor was very knowledgeable about both past and present. The walking was do-able even for someone using a cane and there were plenty of stops to rest and soak in the atmosphere. We learned a lot and can't wait to do further exploring in this area. I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in history, San Francisco, and little nooks and crannies of the town you thought you knew.
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