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Best Hike for History Buffs San Francisco 2004 - Barbary Coast Trail

This 3.8-mile hike is perfect for those who want to learn something about the city while burning calories. The circuitous route, marked by 150 bronze medallions and arrows set in the sidewalk by the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society, wends its way from downtown through Chinatown and North Beach to Fisherman's Wharf and Aquatic Park, connecting with 20 of the city's most important historic sites, from the Old U.S. Mint to Portsmouth Square and past Barbary Coast-era bawdyhouses, or at least the locations where some of them used to be. To best enjoy the trail, you'd better pack some info along with a canteen. The aforementioned Web site offers details on how to obtain a 32-page official trail guide for $5.95, or for real information junkies, the 274-page book Walking San Francisco on the Barbary Coast Trail (Quicksilver Press, $15.95).

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