Cow Hollow Tours
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San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood caters to young professionals with its hip shops and vibrant nightlife. Once an open valley where cows grazed (hence its name) and fishermen lived (due to its proximity to the Bay), it’s now filled with high-end boutiques, trendy restaurants, and bars.
The heart of Cow Hollow is Union Street, a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare lined with cafés, wellness centers, and shops. You can easily explore the area in an hour, before grabbing a coffee or bite to eat at trendy spots like Tacko and Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters. If history is what you’re after, veer off the main drag and admire the many beautifully restored Victorian homes, including the Octagon House, built to maximize natural light and ventilation. Most guided walking tours will lead you by numerous 19th-century beauties, including the vibrantly colored Painted Ladies.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Dining options range from quick-service cafés to Michelin-starred restaurants, but many require advance reservations for dinner. Consider eating before 6 or after 9pm, or dining at the bar or communal table.
- Bring comfortable walking shoes. While Union Street is flat (and wheelchair- and stroller-accessible), the cross streets above it are steep.
- Always bring a light jacket or sweater. It may be sunny when you first head out, but the fog (which has its own name and Twitter account: #KarlTheFog) can roll in and drop temperatures rapidly, particularly in the early evening.
How to Get There
Cow Hollow is situated between Russian Hill and the Presidio, with the Marina to the north and Pacific Heights to the south. Metered street parking and public garages are available, but finding spots can be difficult and expensive. Make it easy on yourself and take a rideshare, cab, or bus—the #22 MUNI bus stops at Union Street, as do many hop-on hop-off bus tours.
When to Get There
Although a few cafés and gyms cater to the morning crowd, the best time to visit Cow Hollow is in the afternoon or evening, when most of the shops, restaurants, and bars are open. Expect crowds during weekend brunch and after dark—it’s one of the few neighborhoods that boasts a late-night bar scene.
Cow Hollow’s Famous San Francisco Film Locations
From “Mrs. Doubtfire” to “Full House,” Cow Hollow has been featured in dozens of popular movies and TV shows. Explore these famous filming locations on your own or take a guided architecture tour that points them out along with former homes of celebrities such as Francis Ford Coppola. You can also book an early-access tour of Alcatraz to ensure a drama-free escape from “The Rock.”
Address: Between Steiner and Gough Streets, San Francisco, California, USA, USA
8 Tours and Activities to Experience Cow Hollow
Wander through an ancient coastal redwood forest and explore the artistic bayside enclave of Sausalito on this half-day tour from San Francisco. Travel across the Golden Gate Bridge to visit Muir Woods, home to some of the oldest and tallest trees on Earth. Then, soak up stellar views of the San Francisco skyline and browse art galleries along the Sausalito waterfront. At the end of your tour choose between getting dropped off at Union Square in San Francisco or taking the Sausalito ferry back to San Francisco.
Explore San Francisco and Alcatraz on this 2-in-1 tour. Hop aboard a ferry for a scenic ride to Alcatraz and enjoy the award-winning audio walking tour. Plus, enjoy a coach tour with a knowledgeable local guide. Learn about the City by the Bay through visits to top attractions such as Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, the Presidio, and the Palace of Fine Arts.
Experience some of the Bay Area’s top attractions on this Alcatraz and Muir Woods tour that also includes a stop in Sausalito. At Muir Woods National Monument, stare in wonder at the coastal redwoods, some of the tallest trees on Earth. Soak up the charm of seaside Sausalito, and experience Alcatraz in one of two ways—admission to the prison, which includes the ferry ride to Alcatraz Island and the audio tour.
Take a San Francisco half-day tour to pack in the city’s top sights in a convenient way that leaves you with plenty of time to spare so you can enjoy the city however you wish. With a driver-guide, travel the city by bus, stopping at major attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and Twin Peaks and neighborhoods like North Beach and Chinatown. Plus, you can upgrade to include a San Francisco Bay cruise, a half-day bike rental, or admission to Aquarium of the Bay.
Visit charming Sausalito, cruise across San Francisco Bay and stare up in wonder at the redwood trees of Muir Woods on this combo tour from San Francisco—the perfect day out in the Bay Area. Experience the Golden Gate Bridge from both above and below as you drive across it and glide under it, and learn about some of California’s oldest and tallest natural wonders, the coastal redwoods. In Sausalito, you can stroll along the waterfront or shop in the galleries and boutiques.
Combine two of San Francisco’s top tours into one Super Saver, which provides a comprehensive look at the best of the Bay Area. Travel by bus to Muir Woods, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the way, and be wowed by the towering redwood trees of the old-growth forest. Then visit the waterfront town of Sausalito before returning to San Francisco for a deluxe city tour that takes in major attractions like Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, and Twin Peaks.
Combine some of the San Francisco area's top sights—Alcatraz, Muir Woods, and Sausalito—in a single day tour. Traveling in a luxury bus, you'll be able to focus on the sights while someone else drives and provides insightful commentary. Explore Muir Woods and Sausalito independently, then hop a boat for a cruise around Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay.
Get acquainted with the City by the Bay during this 3.5-hour San Francisco tour, including a 1.5-hour cruise around Alcatraz Island. First make your way through the city’s most popular neighborhoods, and see main attractions, such as Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge. Then, hit the water on a cruise around Alcatraz Island, and learn about the history and the former inmates of the notorious penitentiary.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What's the best way to experience Cow Hollow?
The best ways to experience Cow Hollow are:
- Muir Woods and Sausalito Half Day Tour (Optional Sausalito Ferry Ticket)
- Combo Tour: Alcatraz Island and San Francisco Grand City Tour
- Alcatraz Tour plus Muir Woods and Sausalito Day Trip
- San Francisco Grand City Tour Including Free Walking Tour
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