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The Tenderloin

Starts at:

CVS at Market & 7th Street, Mid-Market


50 minutes

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"If you’ve lived here your whole life, you’ve lived a hard life – period."

Kathleen Lee slept in her car, until it was stolen. After that, she slept on the street. She's seen the worst, most dangerous and difficult sides of the Tenderloin, but she's also seen its best. On this Detour, Kathleen will show you both.

You'll take an intimate walk through one of San Francisco’s most misunderstood--and most rapidly changing--neighborhoods, in the company of people who live and work there. Kathleen and her neighbors will show you where the Tenderloin's homeless go to get some rest, introduce you to beat cops who've worked here twenty years, and take you inside modern affordable housing. By the end of your walk, you’ll understand why The Tenderloin is a place people go to start over. Or just be themselves.

But be warned: The Tenderloin can be a tough place to visit, and this Detour takes you deep into its heart. As Kathleen says: "People will come up to you. They’ll talk to you and ask you for money and say or do things that might make you feel uncomfortable. If you’re not up for that, that’s okay." Be sure to read the 'Before You Go' section before you start.

Tips & Hours

  • The ideal starting time for this walk is 11am on a weekday. One of the best stops on this Detour has limited hours, so its best to follow the recommended hours on this one. You can take this Detour at other times too, but some of the stops may be closed.

  • The streets of the Tenderloin are safer than you think, but visitors are sometimes mugged or hassled. Keep your phone in your pocket, and be aware of your surroundings. Please don't take photos of people without asking permission. All that being said, the Tenderloin can be a warm and welcoming community filled with wonderful people. We hope you get a chance to meet and talk with some of them.

  • This Detour takes you places where people sleep and live. Inside St. Boniface and the Arlington Hotel, be as quiet and respectful as you can.

  • Bring cash for a drink and tip at Aunt Charlie's Lounge