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Art Lover's Walking Tour Of San Francisco

Mission Murals (credit: Melanie Graysmith)

Get ready to explore San Francisco's legendary artistic side by walking the neighborhoods and side streets, viewing the murals, architecture, and public and street art that encompasses the off beat, kooky yet brilliant art energy that has always been San Francisco, one of the most walkable cities you will ever visit.

San Francisco City Guides is just what you are looking for – a relaxed yet focused and comfortable way to explore anything and everything in America's favorite city. Incredibly, all City Guides tours are free, though please be kind and donate a few bucks to keep these excellent tours going.

San Francisco City Guides
c/o SF Public Library
100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 557-4266

Murals are paintings created directly on a wall, ceiling, side of a building or other large permanent surface. Murals generally tell a story or depict a memorable event or person, or commemorate an important occasion in history. San Francisco has a rich artistic and cultural tradition of murals, a wonderful art form to build a tour around. Several City Guides tours give fascinating excursions to the mural art in the city's neighborhoods.

Mission Murals

San Francisco's Mission District is well known for its colorful diversity, wonderful restaurants, clubs and bars, and ongoing energy. The area's renowned murals reflect the colorful people's art of the Mission, one of San Francisco's largest ethnic communities. The Mission Murals walking tour gives an overview of the district's amazing and beautifully painted murals. The district is a mecca for mural art, and some streets highlight this art form best. Balmy Alley is devoted to murals, and mural artists have expressed themselves here in ways that speak louder than words. See the tour schedule here.

If you would like to explore Mission District mural art on a deeper level through a variety of educational tours, check Precita Eyes Muralist tours. Precita Eyes is the non-profit community-based organization that connects talented and approved mural artists with local mural projects. The organization's work is incredibly extensive and recognized well beyond San Francisco.

Coit Tower Mural (credit: Joe Crawford/Creative Commons)

Coit Tower Murals 

San Francisco's lovely Coit Tower, a rising fluid like architectural column, was named for Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a colorful and eccentric patron of the city's fearless firefighters. Upon her death in 1929, Lillie left a substantial sum "for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city I have always loved." Her generosity provided funds to build Coit Tower in 1933 as a monument to the city's volunteer firefighters.

Later that year, under the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), a New Deal government program to employ artists during the Great Depression, an impressive roster of 25 artists, mainly faculty and students of the California School of Fine Arts, was commissioned to create mural for the tower interior. A wealth of fascinating stories and history surround the murals' creation and aftermath. City Guides invites all curious minds to join this tour.  See this tour schedule here.


Diego Rivera Mural At City College

San Francisco is home to three commissioned murals painted by noted artist Diego Rivera. Each is inside a large institution but open to public free of charge. The last and largest of the murals that Diego Rivera created is the Pan American Unity Mural, here. View this City Guides tour schedule here.

There are additional City Guides tours that art aficionados would appreciate:

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art, culture and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. Her work can be found at


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