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.
- 390 Ratings
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.
Very informative. The Emperor took us inside places other tours could not. Also I was impressed at how people in their cars and on the street acknowledged the Emperor. I felt like we were walking with a celebrity.
We had a great time!!!!
An interesting tour into the early history of San Francisco and the life of the real Emperor Norton.
Entertaining, informative, educational and fun!
I've lived in SF and the greater Bay Area most of my life and I really enjoyed learning the fascinating history of the City that I never knew! I will enjoy going back to SF and seeing statues and landmarks that I never noticed before, and knowing a lot more about why they are meaningful : ). The Emperor was kind, engaging, and knowledgable. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone, SF locals and tourists alike!
Great presentation, well researched historical details and stories. Emperor Norton brings history to life!
The tour was interesting, unique, and very informational. It was exactly as it is advertised on the website! I very much appreciate that up front we were told that questions are welcomed, and if you don't know the answer, you will research the answer and get back to us later. Your passion for the city and its history is the exact ingredient which separates this tour from other tours that show people around town. This tour is more than to see SF, but to also know a bit more about SF; the good, the bad, and the not-so-well-known (like the POPOS). :-) We walked quite a bit during the 2.75 hr tour. I do wish that I had a map during the tour (paper or downloadable to display on phone) showing the route or the main sites that we stopped by. So I can re-visit some of the places later. But I will admit that I haven't checked your website, so it could very well be on the website. Thank you for the great experience! Thank you for keeping the tour at a very reasonable price, so it's affordable! Next time I visit SF, I will definitely need to see if I can make the food safari tour!
The details of the history of the town, the way it was presented, what a great tour!
The Emperor's role was played very well
We had an amazing time walking the city with Emperor Norton! Despite being locals, we learned lots on our fascinating journey through San Francisco history. The Emperor regaled us with colorful stories and bits of historical trivia. It was fun to be part of the "scene" as city dwellers stopped the Emperor for selfies. You're on your feet for a long time, wear comfortable shoes!
This was an journey into time, the emperor is still very agil for his age and he is well full of knowledge of his empire! Book to be his follower you will not regret it! Hail Emperor Norton
A professional history of an eccentric historical person with a great tour of San Francisco. Entertaining and informative.