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The 11 Best Walking Tours in California
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The 11 Best Walking Tours in California

Explore the diverse landscapes of the state on foot with the best walking tours in California.

Roubina Al Abashian

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6 min read

March 31, 2022

It is said that the best way to get acquainted with the city you’re visiting is by walking its streets. California’s gorgeous cities are an open call for walking tours, whether you go hunting for food, history, charming neighborhoods, or beautiful nature. Some of the Golden State’s best tours are free and self-guided, while others come with a heftier price tag. No matter what your budget is you can always just grab a map and go on an excursion through your favorite city. If you’re still not sure where to start, this selection of walking tours across the Golden State will make your decision a little easier to make.

Enjoy These Northern California Walking Tours

1. Sonoma Walking Food Tour

History, good food, and pedestrian-friendly streets. Downtown Sonoma is an open call for walking tours.

Enjoying your Wine Country vacation so far and wondering what else is there to do? Here’s an exciting thing to do in Sonoma you haven’t thought of yet; a walking food tour of Downtown Sonoma. The Sonoma Food Tour takes you on a stroll you won’t forget. Get ready to try the best artisanal cheese, fine chocolate, and top olive oil, and visit the picturesque vineyards and can’t-miss historic sites. Your stops at the Sonoma Plaza and Mission San Francisco Solano will teach you more about the history of the city and its valley. 

2. Yountville Art Walk-Yountville

Nestled in the heart of Napa Valley, the quaint town of Yountville has the most pedestrian-friendly streets. These walkable streets feature great restaurants, high-end boutiques, and most importantly, an enviable collection of public art. This Napa Valley tour stretches over a two-mile radius, starting at Washington Street and going all the way to the other end of the town. Along the road, you’ll encounter over 40 sculptures created by local and world-renowned artists. Download the online guided tour to know more about every piece—you might even end up purchasing one of them. And don’t worry, the piece you buy will quickly be replaced by another equally gorgeous piece.

3. Old Sacramento Walking Tour-Sacramento

Explore every inch of Old Sacramento. The 28-acre National Historic Landmark District will take you back to the Gold Rush era.

Sacramento is where the Golden State’s history is preserved best. If you’re a history buff, you’ll love to know that the best way to dig deep into the city’s history is by taking a self-guided free walking tour of Old Sacramento. Aside from the picturesque views of the Sacramento River, the historic district offers you an array of museums, restaurants, shops, and attractions. A few of the most fun things to do in Old Sacramento are visiting the California Automobile Museum, the California State Railroad Museum, and Fanny Ann’s Saloon, and dining at the Firehouse Restaurant — the restaurant was once the Sacramento No. 3 firehouse, and today is a California historic landmark.   

4. The Haunt Ghost Tour-San Francisco   

If ghost hunting and true crime are your thing, and you happen to be in Fog City, you have to reserve a tour with The Haunt in San Francisco. San Francisco’s only real ghost hunting excursion will take you through all the Gold-rush era neighborhoods, where you’ll learn about the city’s haunted history. Join your fellow ghost hunters after dark and learn about the unexplained deaths, scandalous murders, and popular spirits and assassins that still haunt the city. Don’t worry about your gear, as it will be provided to you by the tour guides.  

5. Hippie To Hipster Walk-San Francisco

The famed hippie movement of the 1960s and the 1967 Summer of Love are engraved in the colorful streets of Haight-Ashbury, one of San Francisco’s most expensive neighborhoods. The two-hour Airbnb tour, Hippie to Hipster Walk, starts at Golden Gate Park’s Hippie Hill and continues to the famed Haight Street. Here, you’ll see old Victorian structures transformed into chic hangout spots, talk about why young people flocked to S.F. during the 60s, and pay tribute to the legends who lived in the area — the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix are the most memorable ones. Don’t forget to check out the awesome murals and shop at the funky thrift shops. 

6. Pauly’s Point Half Day Snowshoe Hike-Tahoe

California’s snowy slopes are calling you. Leave the dry land behind and explore Tahoe in all its white glory.

Not all California walking tours require wearing sneakers; some call for snowshoes and many layers of clothing. If you want to see the Golden State in all its glory, you’d better put your snowshoes on and go for a hike in the snowy Tahoe National Forest. Snowshoe Tahoe starts the exciting hike at Pauly’s Point, one of the most picturesque spots in the forest. From Pauly’s Point hikers move upwards where they enjoy unmatched views of the ski resort, Alpine Meadows, and Squaw Valley, before returning to the starting point. This half-day hike is the best winter fun you’ll have in California. 

Best Walking Tours in SoCal

7. Hollywood Walking Tour

People come in flocks to the Entertainment Capital of the World, but most of them don’t know where to start and what to see. Free Tours By Foot has the perfect solution for that problem — a Hollywood walking tour that covers everything worth seeing and knowing in the region. During the tour, you will learn about how Hollywood got its name and the history of the Hollywood sign. You will also stop at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Capitol Records Building, Jane's House (the oldest residence in Hollywood), and the TCL Chinese Theatre. If you don’t feel like joining the crowds, you can take the audio guide option, and tour the area at your own pace. 

8. Downtown L.A. Walking Tour

As you walk the streets of D.T.L.A., you’ll notice how the gigantic skyscrapers grow bigger and bigger.

The Downtown L.A. Walking Tour by Free Tours By Foot is a quintessential walking tour in Los Angeles. Surrounded by diverse cuisines, memorable museums, mind-blowing architecture, and the gigantic D.T.L.A. skyscrapers, there’s so much to do and see in the region. This amazing tour starts at the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall and ends at the Grand Central Market, where all the hot restaurants are located. This two-hour-long tour is not only the best way to explore Downtown Los Angeles, it is also a name-your-own-price one that everybody can afford.   

9. Old Town Temecula Walking Tour

Looking for a cool thing to do in Temecula? Touring Old Town Temecula is one of the most memorable things you can do while in town. Old Town Temecula Tours takes you on a two-hour trip to the historic region. Through the seven blocks, you’ll pass astonishing art galleries, boutiques, antique stores, and eateries, and you’ll learn more about the history of SoCal’s own Wine Country. Before you even go to the vineyards, make sure you go on this excursion.

10. Self-Guided Walking Tour of Solvang

Solvang has four wooden windmills scattered around. Make sure to find them all.

California’s own Danish Village, Solvang, is one of those charming small towns that you can explore on foot. Experience the colorful village via a short 3-mile walk that will introduce you to everything beautiful and yummy in the town. Your Cali walking tour starts and ends at Denmark Square, where you’ll see a replica of “The Little Mermaid” statue. On the way, you’ll see quaint shops, bakeries, gorgeous architecture, the four famous windmills, and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. Make sure to eat an aebleskiver or two —your tastebuds will thank you. 

11. Mid-Century Architecture Self-Guided Tour Palm Springs 

Palm Springs has the highest concentration of mid-century modern architecture that still looks as good as it did when they were first constructed. Young and visionary architects brought their touch to the desert city and created what we now know as desert modernism. The Twin Palms (also known as the Frank Sinatra House) and the Palm Springs City Hall are just two examples of mid-century architecture you’ll see as you take this self-guided Palm Springs tour. If you’re having trouble finding your way during this Cali walking tour, just stop by the visitor’s center and get a map.

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