Frequently Asked Questions about our Private Custom Sightseeing Tours
1. Car Seats for Kids
If a child under 8 years of age or less than 4'9" tall will be accompanying you, California law requires that a car/booster seat be provided for riding in any vehicle (other than a taxi, bus or BART). Children must remain in a rear facing car seat until they weigh 40 pounds or more or are at least 40 inches tall. Unfortunately, we cannot provide a seat for you since by law it must not be generic and must instead fit your child's size, height and weight. You may bring an appropriate carseat or booster with you, or drop by Target (or similar) in downtown San Francisco to purchase one. Also your hotel concierge may know of a service that can rent and deliver one as well.
3.IN WHAT TYPE OF VEHICLE DO WE TRAVEL?
With 7 or fewer people, we travel in our Honda Odyssey minivan — a great way to see the sights as its windows are designed so that you see more completely than in a limo or sedan and its seats (with 5 or fewer passengers) as comfortable as those in first-class on most airlines. Our clients often comment spontaneously on its comfort—leather seats, 2nd-row windows that roll down, and doors that open and close with the push of a button. With 7 or more passengers we usually travel in a minibus which also offers large windows and wide fabric seats.
4.Why do your tours cost more than some 'regularly scheduled' companies like Tower Tours or Super Sightseeing?
We are a very different kind of sightseeing service. Among our many unique features… We pick you up at your home or hotel. We are flexible: for example, you stay as long as you want at the Aquarium or take the weekend cooking lesson at the Culinary Institute instead of a third winery tour. If you need frequent pit stops or smoking breaks, you simply request them. You can ask questions (about history, architecture…) of your educated guide—and get accurate answers. You can request special destinations on many tours, like that little-known winery in the backroads of Sonoma Valley or Frank Lloyd Wright's great Civic Center. You choose where we go for lunch (and it's not in a box). A comparable tour with a limo driver costs at least twice as much. And with a rental car, you trade valuable time for apparent savings--looking for parking, and trying to rely on GPS (which as you know is not always available in more remote areas). Given such features, we're a bargain! Cf. our Why Tour with Us? section.
5.Why aren't cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf. or Alcatraz featured on your San Francisco tours?
These are all excellent attractions, readily accessible by public transit—but, in our opinion, best experienced on your own. They would be difficult to accommodate in a one-day tour without sacrificing other worthy sites. The wait in line to board a cable car (at the most popular turnarounds and times of day) can take more than an hour—the ride itself an additional 20-30 minutes. To tour the former prison and other sites on Alcatraz you must take a ferry, which in turn requires tickets, that on holiday weekends or in peak season you need to order as many as 3 months in advance. Fisherman's Wharf, the chocolate purveyors at Ghirardelli Square, and Pier 39 with its colony of sea lions, et. al. appeal to a range of interests and ages, and are best enjoyed at leisure. Nevertheless, if on your one day in San Francisco you must ride a cable car or tour Alcatraz, we can certainly accommodate you. A Friend in Town's tours are designed to optimize your experiences at a brisk yet pleasant pace, given limited time. We're always happy to recommend activities and events best enjoyed on your own.
6. What if we're a large group?
Currently our primary van (a Honda Odyssey with four leather Captain's chairs and large windows for viewing) will comfortably accommodate 5-7 average-sized people, in addition to the driver/guide. Given this number, the tours can be much more personal, flexible, and interactive. However, if you happen to be traveling in a group of 8 to 24 persons (our usual upper limit) —with at least three weeks' notice, we work with our charter bus partner to make your itinerary viable. Of course, it may be feasible to run the same tour on two different days, to work with a slightly larger group, or to facilitate other options.
7. What if I tire easily, or have other mobility limitations?
Certain features on some tours may have to be omitted (for example, strolling the crowded streets of Chinatown). Anyone (except an unaccompanied child) is welcome to pass on any tour option, by resting in the van or bus...all the Captain's seats fully recline; and with our "privacy glass," passersby cannot see into the van. Unfortunately, until we're able to expand our fleet, we do require that all guests are able—with or without assistance—to get into and out of our van or mini-bus, whose thresholds are about 6 inches from most curbs and a foot from ground level. Sometimes this works if you put your rear in first :-)
8. We're shop-aholics. Can you take us to the very best places to shop?
Generally, no. We suggest that you take a taxi, Lyft or Uber, or rent a car, as employing A Friend in Town primarily for a shopping tour likely would not be the best use of your money. However, if you can specify the shopping areas that meet your needs, we can take you there—for a fee similar to those that apply to the narrated tours to those destinations.
9. I want to spend a couple of hours (at least) at the Computer History Museum, but my spouse and the kids think they want to tour the Winchester Mystery House. Can we do both?
Since these attractions are relatively close to one another, it's do-able. We ask only that you consistently meet the guide at the precise time and place agreed on. A second option would be to experience these attractions sequentially, thus abbreviating our lunch stop or skipping an afternoon activity. In general, however, a personalized tour service like ours is always open to accommodating special requests.
10. We've heard about great restaurants in Yountville AND HEALDSBURG (among others). We'd like to conclude our Tour with a special dinner, but we want to avoid the hassle of looking for overnight accommodations.
Dining in our Wine Country or on the Monterey Peninsula can be a especially memorable. Yet there are no convenient or inexpensive ways to return to San Francisco or to the East Bay after dark. To compensate for our time, we add a $90 fee (not per-person, but for the entire party) whenever we've worked out, in advance, that our day will include a presumably 90-minute dinner stop.
11. For me the fee's no problem and I really want to see Yosemite.
Our fee for the two-day Yosemite Tour is structured to accommodate just such a request: it's $1,900 regardless of whether we are taking one person or any number up to 5…(with luggage, etc. 6/7 would be crowded). You must do two things, however, to prepare for Yosemite: a) confirm your dates with us; b) arrange for lodging within 20 miles of the western entrances to the park…we are happy to help with this. (If you've not camped out in a while and don't have easy access to equipment, it is best that you plan to stay in a motel or lodge.) Also, your current fitness level (actual not desired :-)) should guide your decision regarding what you do (hike, bike, rent a rubber raft for a cruise down the Merced River, take a photo safari, or explore the art gallery, bookstore and Miwok 'village') during your 6-8 hours of free time in the Park.
12. Can you accommodate guests who'd prefer a tour in their own language?
For most international languages: with adequate notice, and for a significant additional fee, yes. Usually a bi-lingual person in your party is willing to act as translator.
13. What if we have less than a full day, perhaps just a few hours, for a tour?
If you have only a few hours (3-6), we can adjust the itinerary for some of our tours to accommodate that. This makes the most sense with regard to San Francisco, Muir Woods, and the southern end of Sonoma or Napa Valleys. Propose something, and let us consider it.
14. What are some of the un-usual destinations we may consider?
In the past, we've visited the "Peanuts" Museum in Santa Rosa (a great stop for older kids and the young-at-heart), hiked among the wild tule elk herd at Point Reyes Seashore, tiptoed through the tidepool at Duxbury Reef, spent the day exploring the world-class Railroad Museum in Sacramento and the site on the American River that launched the Gold Rush. Maybe you want just a variation on one of our signature tours. Check out our "Un-usual Itineraries" for some ideas. Or suggest your own.
CALL! 510-619-3619 or E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.toursanfranciscobay.com