If you fancy taking a tour of San Francisco by night, you can do so in a restored Volkswagen camper van. Tour company Vantigo is offering evening tours as part of Airbnb Experiences, and says that they offer visitors a lively, light-hearted and authentically personal experience.
“We share our favourite San Francisco sites, stories, restaurants and pastimes, so that you can experience the Bay like a local,” Vantigo owner, Erik Hormann, tells Lonely Planet. “I’ve been in love with Volkswagens and San Francisco since I was a kid crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in our family bus. You cannot beat climbing the hills in a classic. One of my favourite things is to show people around the city, including the little nooks and crannies. I own four VWs and a 1951 Ford Bus named Sally. If you want to learn about beer, San Francisco, wine or VWs, I’m always up for the conversation.”
The evening tour starts in Union Square, with a drive in the heart of the city. The bus then travels 40km through ten districts, making stops at Coit Tower, Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge and Twin Peaks, where there will be plenty of photo opportunities. Visitors will learn about the history of San Francisco, including the earthquakes and hippie movement that shaped the city as a whole.
Erik is married to Amy and they have a toddler son. He came up with the idea while working at an unfulfilling tech job, and began driving around at night perfecting his route and learning everything he could about the city. The name Vantigo comes from a blend of the word “van” and the Spanish word “contigo,” which means “with you.” The company offers everything from city, beer and wine tours, to wedding charters and large-scale company outings.
“I strive to fill the niche for people who want to do tourist-y things without feeling like a tourist,” says Erik. “We see ourselves running somewhat of a day camp for adults on vacation – or stay-cation. I think visitors are always pleasantly surprised that we’re not a gimmick and that our team is really passionate about sharing San Francisco with other folks.”