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History and Architecture Walking Tour of Nob Hill

star-4.532 Reviews
San Francisco, United States
History and Architecture Walking Tour of Nob Hill

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Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance. Learn more
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Safety measures
icon2 hours 30 minutes  (Approx.)
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English
Good for avoiding crowds


Uncover the scandalous, high-society history of San Francisco's most illustrious hill on a walking tour of Nob Hill. Hear the stories behind the grand hotels and stately mansions built by the city's powerful 19th-century business tycoons and politicians, and learn how the advent of the cable car and the disastrous 1906 earthquake shaped one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods.
  • Walking tour of San Francisco's Nob Hill
  • Learn the hidden history behind the city's most elite neighborhood
  • Hear intriguing tales of the railroad tycoons and lumber barons who built their mansions atop the hill
  • Soak up stellar panoramic views of the city and bay
  • Great for history buffs
  • Choice of morning or afternoon departure
Saved to wishlist!
Guided walking tour of Nob Hill
Fully-narrated tour
Local guide
Food and drinks
Transportation to/from attractions

Departure Point

950 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

Return Details

905 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
Choose from a morning or early afternoon tour to suit your sightseeing schedule. Get a San Francisco–style workout as you ascend to the top of Nob Hill, where rewarding panoramic views of the city and bay await.

Begin at the famous Fairmont Hotel, which debuted as the city's most elegant accommodations just before the devastating earthquake of 1906 destroyed much of the interior. Learn the backstory behind other majestic buildings on the hill’s crest and the affluent families who built them, including recognizable names like Stanford, Huntington, and Hopkins. Hear about the business rivalries and social intrigue that followed these railroad tycoons, land speculators, lumber barons, and governors who ruled San Francisco in its post–Gold Rush days.

As you stroll through the neighborhood, discover how this small, steep patch of land became early San Francisco's most elite address, especially after the introduction of the cable car. Learn how it has changed over the past 100 years while still maintaining its exclusive mystique perched high above the city streets. At the end of the tour, your guide can recommend several local restaurants and other spots to explore on your own.
Pass By:  
Nob Hill
This is your departure point.
Stop At:  
Hobnob Tours
Of all the many hills San Francisco is famous for, few contain the special history and strange regard of the local population as the hill - Nob Hill at the top of downtown. Once home to governors, lumber barons, railroad tycoons and wealthy land speculators, the hill at the top of California street played an integral part in the special history of what makes San Francisco special, weird, and unique. Your walking history tour of this once uber-affluent neighborhood begins at front of the Fairmont Hotel with your choice of a morning or early afternoon departure. After meeting your guide and the rest of your small group, you will proceed down the street with an introduction of how this single hill become home to some of this city's most famous and wealthy families. Names like Huntington, Hopkins, and Stanford still ring out more than 100 years later as your guide fills you in on the details of the business, social and political rivalries that once dominated the landscape. You'll learn how the cable car changed the perception of where the rich wanted to build their mansions and how this new form of public transportation tied the city together in a whole new way. You'll hear tales of the great earthquake of 1906 and how the fires reshaped the neighborhood permanently while discovering new restaurants, bars, and places to explore on your own. Once your two hour tour is complete, you'll have the option of eating lunch at one of the famous eateries near the top of the hill at your own expense.
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Admission Ticket Not Included
  • Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult
  • A moderate amount of walking on mostly flat terrain is involved
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
  • Surfaces are wheelchair accessible
  • Most travelers can participate
  • Covid 19 restrictions. Guests must wear masks. Gloves will be provided. Guides wear masks and gloves. Guests must be healthy (temperatures taken). Social distancing ) as much as possible. Your safety is important
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 6 travelers
  • OPERATED BY Hobnob Tours
You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.

Learn more about cancellations.

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What is the policy on face masks and attendee health during History and Architecture Walking Tour of Nob Hill?
A:The policies on face masks and attendee health are:

  • Face masks required for travelers in public areas
  • Face masks required for guides in public areas
  • Face masks provided for travelers
  • Temperature checks for travelers upon arrival
See all safety measures taken by History and Architecture Walking Tour of Nob Hill.
What is the social distancing policy during History and Architecture Walking Tour of Nob Hill?
A:The policy on social distancing is:

  • Social distancing enforced throughout experience
See all safety measures taken by History and Architecture Walking Tour of Nob Hill.
What measures are being taken to ensure staff health & safety during History and Architecture Walking Tour of Nob Hill?
A:The policies on staff health & safety are:

  • Guides required to regularly wash hands
  • Regular temperature checks for staff
See all safety measures taken by History and Architecture Walking Tour of Nob Hill.

Traveler Photos

Traveler Tips

  • "Highly recommend booking this tour whether visiting or living in San Francisco!" See review


32 Reviews

Reviews by Viator travelers

Showing 1-10 of 32 reviews
Exploring Nob Hill
, Dec 2021
Thoroughly enjoyed exploring the spectacular Fairmont Hotel & grounds! The historic background & pictures Cathy provided really added interest to the tour!
icon Response from Host , Dec 2021
Thank you for taking time to write a review. Cathy is one of our best guides. At Hobnob we strive to bring our San Francisco history alive for our guests. Enjoy the holidays.
A wonderful tour!
, Nov 2021
Valerie was great!! Best guide with a plethora of information. We really feel like we have a strong grasp on the history of San Francisco.
icon Response from Host , Dec 2021
Thank you for taking time to write a review. Our San Francisco history is unique and Hobnob tours Hopes to make it interesting. You were very nice guests with great questions.
Delightful history
, Nov 2021
A very pleasant lady lead us on a delightful tour of Nob Hill. She had many interesting stories to share with us.
icon Response from Host , Nov 2021
Thank you for taking time to write a review. At Hobnob tours we strive to make our tours fun and interesting. The history of Nob hill is fascinating.
Great tour
, Jul 2021
Great walking tour and very responsive and communicative guide! I took my family from out of town and it was a great experience.
icon Response from Host , Jul 2021
Thank you for taking time to write a positive review. It has been so nice to meet many families, such as yours, this tour season. Hobnob strives to make our San Francisco historical experience enjoyable.
Lovely tour
, Jul 2021
We enjoyed our tour very much. Kathy had lots of stories to tell about the people who settled up there and lots of pictures to show. It was an easy walk, too, because we started at the top and stayed up there. We're very glad we did the tour.
icon Response from Host , Jul 2021
Hobnob is glad you had a good tour and enjoyed our guide Kathy. We hope to see you on another one of our tours. Safe travels
Great tour!
, Jul 2021
Great tour! Highly recommend booking this tour whether visiting or living in San Francisco! Very knowledgeable tour guides will help you understand why and how San Francisco came to be. Really enjoyed the time! Will book again!
icon Response from Host , Jul 2021
Thank you for your positive review. At Hobnob we aim to please our guests. We appreciate you taking time to support our efforts. Safe travels and we look forward to seeing you in the future.
Grace Cathedral was closed
, Jun 2021
The tour guide was very knowledgeable and a nice person, but this tour name was misleading. It was not a walking tour (most of the time we sat and listened) and this is not an architecture tour (not one architectural feature was mentioned, just the names of styles and even that was said in passing)! This tour was about the people who lived on Nob Hill in the late 1800 and early 1900 and their sordid lives. Please rename the tour to represent what this tour is actually about! "The Sordid History of Nob Hill" would be much more accurate. Moreover, NONE of the rooms in the Fairmount Hotel were open (we had to look through the door slits to see the room...really?) and even Grace Cathedral was closed. We could have easily done this tour on our own with a guidebook. I know the tour guide had nothing to do with things being open or not, but still, how can you have a tour of Grace Cathedral and not go inside? The company needs to wait until things open up again to put on these tours. False advertising. Not cool.
icon Response from Host , Jun 2021
I am deeply sorry that you felt our tour was unsatisfactory. The pandemic has impacted our Nob Hill tour the most. I always explain that the Grace cathedral is closed as well as significant rooms at the Fairmont Hotel. I always discuss this with the clients prior to their visit but you did not provide a phone number to Viator and I was unable to speak to you before the tour. Since the reservation came in the evening before, I could only message your husband asking him to contact me if he had any concerns. I am sorry we did not communicate. before the tour. If I had know about your particular interest in architecture, I could have focused more on that topic. We have given this tour in the last few weeks to happy guests as they have written praiseworthy reviews. I am sorry you we did not meet your expectations. We try to make our tours a pleasurable and unique experience.
1 traveler found this review helpful
Old SF
, Jun 2021
We loved the tour. Our guide was very knowledgeable. The only negative was that we weren’t able to get into any of the actual ballrooms. Obviously not the tour guides fault. Thank you so much.
icon Response from Host , Jun 2021
I am glad you enjoyed the tour with the exception of missing the ballrooms at the Fairmont and the Mark Hopkins. With the opening up of San Francisco post Covid we hope to offer these beautiful rooms to our guests soon. Thank you for writing a review.
Valuable Historical Tour
, Jun 2021
The guide was extremely knowledgeable and she genuinely enjoyed telling us about Knob Hill history. We started by spending 45 minutes in the Fairmont Hotel which is rich with families and business stories from long ago and specula architecture. The Venetian Room was open so that was a real plus. Great views of SF from the outside garden high up on the 5th floor. Unfortunately the cathedral was not open but we had been warned of possible closings in advance. Our walk around Nob Hill was lovely with plenty to see and learn. This tour is ideal for history buffs.
Details of the Financial District
, Oct 2020
Valerie called ahead of time to let us know that many places were still closed for our Nob Hill tour. She offered the Financial District tour instead. Valerie was extremely informative and it was apparent that she previously walked the tour to let the lobby security know we were coming. Loved the stories and history.
icon Response from Host , Oct 2020
I enjoyed you and your lovely family. You were great tour guests and understanding that some of our venues were closed due to the COVID 19 problem. Hope to see you again in the future

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