Exploring San Francisco this 2021: COVID-friendly Activities & Tours

When COVID-19 arrived to dominate the course of 2020, San Francisco was a very different place. Tourists were packed like sardines throughout Fisherman’s Wharf. Union Square department stores were brimming with shoppers. Selfie-takers could be spotted up and down any one of our colorful Victorian lined streets. Our city remains to be as picture-perfect as ever, it’s now just a very different scene.

We’ve noticed a few silver-linings for those who still crave exploration of this beautiful City by the Bay. For one, there’s little traffic, a lack of crowds and available parking. Three things which were previously non-existent on this densely packed peninsula before. Mix in favorable weather and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a short getaway or a special ‘staycation’.

So whether you’re a visitor or a local, we argue that this fall offers a perfect time to take to the streets of San Francisco. Sure, you still can’t hop on a cable car or enjoy the atmosphere of a historic Gold Rush era bar, but the pleasant weather and plethora of safe and socially-distanced activities should make up for it for the time being.

Explore new beaches

If you didn’t even know San Francisco had beaches (it happens!), it’s the ultimate time to find out. While summer can tend to be foggy and surprisingly chilly here, fall brings clear days and warm temperatures. Beach day in October? How could you not.

For the largest and most accessible beaches, you’ll probably head to Ocean Beach or Crissy Field. For a more picturesque experience, travel along the Land’s End Trail where you’ll find a handful of secluded coves and white sandy stretches to explore. Baker Beach itself has a nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge and a public parking lot, but others involve climbing down some steep stairs to reach the sand.

Our favorite beach of all takes a little more effort to enjoy. On the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge inside the Golden Gate National Recreation Area lies Kirby Cove, a spectacular coarse-sand beach with panoramic views of the bridge and San Francisco skyline. To get there, you must hike down a steep 1 mile trail unless you happen to snag yourself a day-use or camping permit. These typically sell out  far in advance online, but it never hurts to look. If you get lucky and can grab a permit, you can skip the hike and drive directly down to the parking lot at the beach.

Rent a GoCar

One of the most unique and COVID-friendly ways to explore San Francisco is from the seat of a GoCar. These tiny yellow vehicles fit two people and allow you to self-drive around the city by following the ‘GPS guided storytelling’. Want to go your own way? That’s fine too. Use the provided map or your smartphone to guide your day.

Rent a go car for the entire day and cruise down Lombard Street, through the mansions of the rich and famous and along the breezy Embarcadero. Or just wander and see the city from a new perspective.

Photograph the city without the crowds

If you’ve always dreamed about taking that perfect bridge photo or snap the ‘Painted Ladies’ at golden hour, consider it the time to do so. Without all the cars and pedestrians, San Francisco is a photographer’s dream.

Created in reaction to COVID-19, San Francisco now has 12 new ‘slow streets‘ which are closed to all vehicles. It’s never been easier to wander through neighborhoods without having to worry about busy traffic and small sidewalks.

Hit the city trails

While the hills of San Francisco make fine mountains to climb themselves, our city also happens to have spectacular green spaces and well-maintained urban hiking paths. Take to the Land’s End Trail for expansive ocean views and rugged coastline below. Alternatively, take your dog and explore the bluff trails through coastal Fort Funston. Ready for an all day cross-city adventure? The Crosstown Trail connects San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods through a variety of urban trails and open spaces. Beginning at Candlestick Park in the southeastern part of the city and concluding at Land’s End, these 17 miles will bring you through the heart of the city and some of its most impressive views.

Grab your ‘travel pod’ and go wine tasting

Although the recent fires have been devastating for parts of wine country, that does not mean the whole area is closed. In fact, it’s a more important time than ever to support our favorite local wineries and businesses. Already struggling from COVID-19 shutdowns, nearby fires will also hurt business long after they have been put out. Air quality has improved drastically recently. To check for current conditions, visit Airnow.gov.

Ready to visit but need a DD? No problem. With the onset of the pandemic we expanded our private tours to offer services to “travel pods”, close family/friend groups that stick together to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Gather your pod, kick back and leave the driving to us.

For private groups, you have the option to follow one of our current wine country tour itineraries, or have us create something custom and personalized. The choice is up to you.

Rates start at $178/per person for a full day wine country tour with two included tasting flights. Contact us for more details & to arrange.

Take a walk in the woods

If serene nature is what your heart desires, no need to travel far. Just twenty minutes from San Francisco lies Muir Woods National Monument. Walk beneath towering coastal redwoods over the many meandering trails and boardwalks.

Muir Woods National Monument requires a permit for parking, so be prepared before you visit.  Alternatively, skip the permit and join one of our Muir Woods & Sausalito Half Day Tours.  There’s no better way to spend a morning or afternoon then by exploring Muir Woods and also Sausalito. Make it into a whole day outing by taking the ferry from Sausalito to Pier 39 and walking along the Embarcadero to end your day.

Cross Yosemite National Park off your bucket list

A staggering amount of Californians tell us they have never visited Yosemite. What a missed opportunity! But whether you are a Californian or not, right now is an optimal time to go. With pleasant autumn weather and little crowds, this is the Yosemite you want to experience. Don’t wait until high season arrives, or you might end up sitting in Yosemite Valley traffic.

There are many ways to explore the beauty of this park. If you plan to drive yourself, check out our favorite hotels on offer. Whether it’s a heated tent cabin or a comfy room inside Yosemite Valley, book as early as possible. With reduced hotel room capacity during the pandemic, they may quickly sell out. We also have tours that pickup in El Portal, right outside the park.

From San Francisco, there are many tours to choose from. Leave the winter driving to us and join one of our excursions. Relax and unwind on the drive then explore awe-inspiring Yosemite Valley at your leisure.

Tell us, which COVID-19 friendly activities or tours would you want to partake in this fall and winter?

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