The Wild West, Gold Rush, and Early Years of San Francisco

In 1849, adventurers, explorers, and other hardy souls made a difficult, treacherous, six-month sea voyage out to San Francisco to try to find gold in the ground.

This Gold Rush boom town was quickly replaced by the Barbary Coast, the most dangerous, lecherous, and violent place in the United States. During that time, the gold prospectors (and sleazy bartenders, robbers, con men, prostitutes, outlaws and others) somehow formed the foundation of the amazing city of San Francisco that we know today!

Stories we cover include:

  • The first millionaire in California
  • The most vicious, violent street gang in the history of California
  • A bar that kept a live grizzly bear outside the main entrance
  • The thousands of vigilantes who took justice into their own hands

…and more!

Tour information

Reservations: REQUIRED. Click here to reserve. Groups of 6 or more must contact us before booking.

Where: We meet at the bottom of the Transamerica Pyramid, on the corner of Montgomery Street & Washington Street. Use our Google map for directions to the tour starting point. Look for your guide with the orange shirt (and since San Francisco can get chilly, probably a black jacket and backpack too!).


Duration: The tour lasts about 90 minutes. The total walking is just over one mile (1.6km).

When: View our Calendar

Cost: This is a name-your-own-price tour. That means the tour is free to take, and at the end of the tour, you decide how much the tour was worth to you. Our guides are happy to take cash or credit card, whatever is most convenient to you!

Save even more money in San Francisco with a discount tourist pass!