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Emperor Norton's Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine

  • Skip the usual walking tour for one led by an eccentric fictional historical figure, Emperor Norton
  • See most of downtown San Francisco’s historical attractions in a few hours
  • Hear interesting historical stories you might not otherwise
Emperor Norton's Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine
From US$30,00
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  • Overview
  • What to Expect
  • Important Information
  • Reviews
  • Q&A
Select Date and Travellers
2:30pm DepartureMost Popular
Tour departs at 2:30pm
11am Departure
Tour departs at 11am
Instead of navigating the streets of San Francisco alone on foot, let a larger-than-life historical figure introduce you to the city. Your guide—the fictional Emperor Norton—takes you to landmarks near Union Square, including the St. Francis Hotel, Maiden Lane, and Portsmouth Square. Listen to the emperor tell stories you may not hear otherwise while you walk past some of San Francisco’s top points of interest.
What to Expect
Meet your guide—an 1800s San Franciscan named Emperor Norton dressed in a feathered hat and full regalia—at Union Square and set off on your tour of downtown San Francisco. The emperor is a colorful character who has also named himself the Protector of Mexico.

Walk about 2-miles (3.2 kilometers) to historic landmarks including Union Square, the St Francis Hotel, the Palace Hotel, Maiden Lane, Portsmouth Square, and Jackson Square. While you walk, the Emperor tells stories about the devastation of the 1906 fire and earthquake, and the beloved stray dogs of the 1860s, Bummer and Lazarus.

Visit the historical buildings that are not on any tourist map, and learn the backstory of the city’s eccentric history.
Reviews (25)
1 - 5 of 23 reviews
Reviewed 2 weeks ago
What Fun and Information at a Leisurely Pace!

Your guide impersonates a real character from San Francisco's well-known history of accepting odd balls and quacks. Before the Civil War, the original Emperor Norton declared himself the Emperor of all the United States and eventually the "protector of Mexico." Our present day Emperor leads...More

Thank PeterEfromNJ
Reviewed 2 weeks ago
Don't hesitate to book this tour

A phenomenal tour. We had kids 15 & 12 (with Asperger's) who trouped along and really enjoyed the experience. Unless younger kids are history buffs, they may drag by the end. The tour is not a grueling walk but it is a nearly three hour...More

Thank Stephanie L
Reviewed 7 June 2018
What fun! And very informative

We loved Emperor Norton's tour. He is a font of historical knowledge and brings old-time San Francisco to life with his colorful descriptions of events and places. Emperor Norton was a real person with quite an interesting story. See downtown San Francisco through his eyes...More

Thank okifyoulike
Reviewed 8 May 2018
San Francisco loves this guy

Even though we live in the area, we were drawn to the tour by a feature in the San Jose Mercury-News that this was the #1 unusual travel experience in San Francisco. This Emperor Norton is charming and a wealth of interesting historical detail. As...More

Thank SWH166
Reviewed 22 February 2018
One of the best walking tours I've ever taken!

Its not everyday that you can tour the city with a legend. Emperor Norton brings San Francisco history to life and is incredibly knowledgeable about the city. He gives tips to hidden gems you would have probably missed and great recommendations. It's a great tour...More

Thank Mary D
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Judy G
5 July 2018|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from okifyoulike | Reviewed this property |
San Francisco is hilly, but the tour guide stops a lot to talk about history, buildings, and people. You therefore won't feel the hills as much. The area covered by this tour is not as hilly as some other areas (like... More