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Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Golden Gate National Recreation Area: Our most recommended tours and activities

San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

1. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Cruise around the Golden Gate Bay on a boat tour. Enjoy informative commentary, see sights like Alcatraz Island, and purchase food and drink from the onboard bar. Launched in 1939 as part of the Golden Gate International Exposition, this 1-hour cruise has been a highlight of any visit to San Francisco for over 75 years. With 8-14 departures daily from Fisherman's Wharf, you will sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and close to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's fascinating history, brought to life through audio commentary broadcast in 16 languages via personal headphones. Look out for wildlife along the way, including pelicans, sea lions, and even dolphins and whales. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach, the famous swimming clubs of Aquatic Park, the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, and San Francisco Maritime National Park, before heading west towards Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy views of Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio, before cruising under Golden Gate Bridge. Steam back into the Bay, traveling past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands, and the legendary town of Sausalito, once home to the 1960s’ flower generation. With Angel Island State Park to your left, cruise around the infamous Alcatraz. After a full hour of exciting sights, the barking sea lions at Pier 39 welcome you back to Pier 43 1/2. A full bar with drinks, snacks, and merchandise, including logo wear, is available at reasonable prices on board the iconic red and blue sea vessels.

From San Francisco: Muir Woods and Sausalito Half-Day Trip

2. From San Francisco: Muir Woods and Sausalito Half-Day Trip

Explore the ancient groves of coastal redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument alongside an expert guide on a half-day tour. Then discover the charming streets of Downtown Sausalito on a relaxed half-day tour. After a pick-up from a central San Francisco hotel, head north over the bridge and into the Marin Headlands. If the fog is clear, you might get a chance to stop and take some pictures of the bridge up close. When you arrive in Muir Woods, take an hour and a half to roam through this ‘living museum’ where you can glimpse the towering trees that used to dominate the west coast from Santa Barbara to Washington. Following your exploration of Muir Woods, hop back in the coach for a quick ride over to Sausalito. Enjoy a 15-20 minute, narrated in-coach tour through the beautiful seaside Mediterranean-style town, and then some free time to walk around. After about 45 minutes in Sausalito, hop back in the coach for a trip back across the Golden Gate Bridge, or opt for a ferry ride back to San Francisco. You'll be dropped back off at your pick-up point. This half-day tour is a great way to see all the highlights of the northern San Francisco Bay in a limited amount of time. 

From San Francisco: Muir Woods Guided Bus Tour

3. From San Francisco: Muir Woods Guided Bus Tour

Hop on board a bus tour of Muir Woods. Experience the awe and wonder of one of California’s oldest redwood groves as you stroll through dedicated paths of 1000-year-old redwood trees. Your tour will begin with a 45-minute, fully-narrated scenic drive that heads across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and into coastal mountains on the Marin Headlands. Arrive at Muir Woods National Forest where you will be provided park entry tickets and have 1.5 hours to explore the park at your own pace - maps detailing walking trails will be available at the Muir Woods Visitor Center. After exploring the park, enjoy a scenic drive to the coastal town of Sausalito. This beautiful seaside Mediterranean-style town offers a wide selection of distinctive boutiques, restaurants, parks, cafés, and unique art galleries. Guests may choose to depart from Sausalito and return on their own via ferry or remain on the bus and return to a designated drop-off point within San Francisco.

San Francisco: 1-Day Bike Rental

4. San Francisco: 1-Day Bike Rental

Decide where you want to ride and then head out from Fisherman’s Wharf to discover the sights of San Francisco. You’ll be outfitted with a current-model bike, helmet, front handlebar bag and rear gear rack, map, and route instructions. Just tell the local staff how many miles you wish to ride, and they’ll show you a great route that includes all the best sightseeing stops the Bay Area has to offer. Your tour will take you on bike paths and over mostly flat terrain. You’ll receive a guide that provides recommendations on favorite local rides. You can keep the rental bike for 24 hours.

San Francisco, Sausalito and Muir Woods Small Group Tour

5. San Francisco, Sausalito and Muir Woods Small Group Tour

Take a small-group day trip by bus around San Francisco. See the Golden Gate Bridge, spend time at the Muir Woods National Monument, and enjoy lunch in picturesque Sausalito. Meet outside Fisherman’s Wharf at your chosen tour time. After a brief roll call, you’ll board the bus and travel to your first stop. Over the next 6 hours you’ll be treated to stories about the neighborhoods, diversity and geography of the area. You will exit the bus at several stops for photo opportunities and exploration, enjoying lunch in Sausalito and then spending over an hour in the beautiful Muir Woods National Monument. At the end of your amazing adventure, you’ll be dropped off at the same location where you boarded the bus.  Here are the places you will explore (photo stops noted by *): • Fisherman's Wharf - One of San Francisco's most popular destinations. From beautiful old shipyards to Boudin's Bakery and the smell of fresh clam chowder, Fisherman's Wharf has it all • Chinatown - Boasting the largest Chinatown in the United States, this 24-block mecca is bustling with energy, amazing food, and unique shops that give this area its charm • North Beach - Voted as one of the USA's ten great neighborhoods, North Beach is best known as the home of Little Italy. From delicious restaurants to authentic sidewalk cafes and bakeries, you will feel the charm of San Francisco as soon as you arrive • Pacific Heights* - Offering one of the most scenic outlooks in all of Northern California, Pacific Heights is home to Billionaire's Row, featuring the estates of politicians, tech titans and other San Francisco celebrities  • Presidio - Former military base, now a beautiful park that includes Crissy Field, Fort Point, Lucasfilm's headquarters and the Walt Disney Museum • Golden Gate Bridge - Declared "one of the 10 wonders of the modern world," the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognized symbols of San Francisco • Muir Woods* - Muir Woods National Monument is home to some of the oldest and most beautiful trees in the world. Many consider this stop to be the highlight of their trip. The National Monument entry fee is an additional expense to the paid on the day. • Fort Point* - Located just beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point gives you a front-row seat to the Bay and is a great photo stop. This former military fortification was used during WWII • Sausalito* - Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge, this artistic enclave has the setting and beauty of a European Mediterranean town. Enjoy your lunch on the San Francisco Bay • Lombard Street - All tour buses and vans are prohibited from going near Lombard Street, but you can be dropped close by at the end of the tour.

From San Francisco: Muir Woods & Sausalito Group Tour

6. From San Francisco: Muir Woods & Sausalito Group Tour

Starting from San Francisco, this guided tour takes you to Muir Woods National Monument and Sausalito. Discover the mystery of 300-feet tall redwood and sequoia trees at Muir Woods before stopping in Sausalito to sightsee, shop, and more. After pickup, start your tour with a scenic and informative drive to the Golden Gate Bridge through several of the best San Francisco neighborhoods as well as the presidio, a former military area of great beauty. Crossing the GG Bridge, stop at the northern vista point for stunning views of the bay and the bridge. Scenic views continue as the tour passes above the town of Sausalito and through portions of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Mount Tamalpais State Park, which merge with Muir Woods. Arriving in Muir Woods National Monument, your guide will inform you of the best way to experience the grove and where the oldest trees are located. An approximately 1 hour and 15 minute stay gives you time to see much of the grove and to explore the gift shop, café, and visitor center. Included in the tour is a stop in Sausalito to enjoy the art galleries, shops, cafes, restaurants, and yacht marinas. Views from Sausalito include the Bay Bridge, parts of the east bay, and San Francisco. After about an hour in Sausalito, you’ll get driven back to your hotel. Alternatively, if you want more time in Sausalito, a ferry boat, taxi, Lyft, or Uber service back to San Francisco can be arranged at your own expense.

San Francisco: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Golden Gate Bay Cruise

7. San Francisco: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Make your way around San Francisco with a 24-hour hop-on hop-off bus ticket. Hop off to explore the city's best highlights or stay on the double decker to enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of the city for two hours. Combine your ticket with a 1-hour Golden Gate Bay Cruise to sail around the famous San Francisco Bay. Golden Gate Bay Cruise Arrive at Fisherman's Wharf and look for the red and white colors of the "Red & White Fleet" to find your boat. Sail past the lively neighborhood of North Beach and take advantage of the bar onboard with drinks, snacks, and merchandise. Admire the famous swimming clubs of the Aquatic Park and the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier. Enjoy idyllic views of Crissy Field and The Presidio of San Francisco before the stunning image of the Golden Gate Bridge comes into view. Cruise straight under the bridge as the sun shines and waves lap against the boat. Travel past the wildlife reserves of the Marin Headlands to reach the shores of Sausalito, once home to the Flower Children. With Angel Island State Park to your left, finish your cruise outside the infamous Alcatraz prison. Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Exchange your voucher at any of the bus stops and get ready to discover the city of San Francisco. Discover local parks and architecture as you listen to the digital commentary, available in 10 languages. The route of the hop-on hop-off bus includes stops at iconic landmarks from Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Golden Gate Bridge, and Little Italy. This flexible approach to sightseeing allows you to enjoy your day at your own pace.

San Francisco: Muir Woods Trip and Golden Gate Bridge Cruise

8. San Francisco: Muir Woods Trip and Golden Gate Bridge Cruise

Journey to the majestic Muir Woods National Monument on a half-day tour from San Francisco. After meeting in San Francisco, drive north of the city to this stunning canyon. Enjoy the peace and solitude as you stroll among 1000-year-old trees, towering 260 feet tall. Experience awe and wonder as you wander through the redwood alleyways. On your return journey to the city, enjoy a scenic drive through the quaint seaside town of Sausalito. This Mediterranean-style village lies across the bay from San Francisco, and is famous for its incredible views. Explore the local boutiques and quaint cafes.  Then enjoy a 1-hour scenic cruise on the San Francisco Bay. Enjoy the views of the city skyline and Alcatraz Island, and admire the Golden Gate Bridge from the water. Benefit from audio guide commentary in 16 languages, to learn more about the city’s colorful history and famous landmarks. Look out for seagulls, pelicans, sea lions, and even porpoises and whales.

From San Francisco: Redwoods and Wine Tasting

9. From San Francisco: Redwoods and Wine Tasting

Get picked up from San Francisco and join a small group tour as you cross the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Begins your tour Armstrong Woods, an old-growth Redwood forest that contains some of the tallest trees on the planet. Continue on to Sonoma County's Russian River Valley where you will visit an intimate boutique winery and a grand winery with enchanting vineyards. Have a picnic lunch in the vineyards at one on the wineries.

San Francisco: Private Muir Woods, Sausalito & More Car Tour

10. San Francisco: Private Muir Woods, Sausalito & More Car Tour

Explore some of the most iconic landmarks just outside of San Francisco on a private car tour. Head out of the city to visit Muir Woods National Monument, Sausalito, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Marin Headlands with your guide. Leave crowded tour groups behind and go at your own pace. Travel in style and comfort as you make your way north of San Francisco on your private adventure. Sit back and relax as you watch the bay area pass by through the car's windows, taking in the region's delightful landscape. Benefit from a private guide and driver who can bring you to wherever you wish to visit. Some iconic locations include the Muir Woods, where you can breathe in fresh, forest air to your heart's content. Head to the charming coastal city of Sausalito with its pastel houses. Drive over the famous Golden Gate Bridge and head over to Marin Headlands for the best view of the bridge and the bay.

Other Sightseeing Options in Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Want to discover all there is to do in Golden Gate National Recreation Area? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 2,108 reviews

One of the best tours I've done in recent years! Mark was great at organising everything and letting us know the pick up time and place well in advance. The day was wonderful, it's nice to have a small group to share the experience with. Our guide, Anthony, was welcoming and great from start to finish. He knows the region inside out, has incredible stories to share and is very knowledgable on wine as well. It was a pleasure to chat with him throughout the day. All the wineries were great, the wine was of great quality and the hospitality even better! The only regret I have is not buying more wine!

Nick the tour guide was amazing- he gelled a group of people together and we were all chatting to each other very quickly. The travel itself went across a lot of interesting places which he gave us information about. The wineries were also very nice and the people there were so friendly!

James, the tour guide and bus driver was extremely knowledgeable and kind. He even waiting for the annoying couple who kept returning late to the bus. I would have left them.

Great cruise, a lot of interesting information presented in a taped narration. One hour was plenty to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the city skyline.

Boat trip was great, we had great weather and we went under the bridge and past Alcatraz.