14 Souvenirs That Scream San Francisco

14 Souvenirs That Scream San Francisco

Home to many historic landmarks, such as Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and Alcatraz, San Francisco is closely associated with many iconic images of the American culture, such as Levi's jeans, baseball, and hippie movement. Modern Frisco carefully preserves its legacy by keeping it alive (wherever possible) and, in some cases, even makes it available to buy a piece of for those who appreciate it. The 14 items on this list will help you connect with the San Fran culture and have the memory of your stay in this city linger on long after!
(To visit the venues mentioned in this article, check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in San Francisco)

1. Olive Oil

Olive Oil
The past decade has seen a resurgence in California oil production which first began when 16th-century Spanish missionaries introduced what is now known as the Mission olive to the New World and which lapsed into horticultural neglect for the several centuries that followed. In 2008, the University of California at Davis established the Olive Center – the first olive research and education facility in North America and a division of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. Its purpose is to help vault California olives to high rankings and to a league on par with its Mediterranean competitors.

Stonehouse’s Silver Ridge grove harvests Mission olives along with Manzanillo (the most common variety of Spanish olive) and Barouni olives (a tree developed in Tunisia). Olive oil has been called one of the healthiest cooking oils due to its antioxidative properties and high levels of monounsaturated fats (which lower cholesterol and improve overall heart health).

Extra Virgin House Blend costs $14.
Where to find it:
Stonehouse California Olive Oil
Ferry Building Plaza, 94111
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 9AM-7PM; Saturday: 8AM-6PM; Sunday: 10AM-5PM

The Stonehouse farm is located east of Chico in north-central California at the edge of the volcanic Table Mountain plateau and on an 80-plus-year-old organic olive grove called Silver Ridge. Its store is in the Ferry Building Marketplace.
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2. Chocolate

Gourmet Magazine once called Michael Recchiuti, co-founder of Recchiuti Chocolates, “the Picasso of San Francisco Chocolatiers.” His is a combination of taste and packaging: modern minimalist design elements and obscure flavorings like Ceylon tea, tarragon, grapefruit, lemon, and cardamom. The chocolate itself is usually some sort of unexpected blend as well – sweet and unsweet, extra bitter and Venezuelan, or dark and milk, among others. Many of the more unlikely ingredients have been inspired by Recchiuti’s previous experiences working for restaurants, hotels, and catering companies. As a child in Philadelphia, he helped his grandmother bake Italian wedding cakes and, later, studied sugar and chocolate with Alain Tricou, a top French chef. A flying skillet from the days of working with Tricou left a permanent scar on Recchiuti’s forehead.

Other local chocolate manufacturers include Ghiradelli, Scharffen Berger, TCHO, XOX, and Michael Mischer. Recchiuti’s factory is located in the Dogpatch – a mixed-used industrial-residential zone east of Potrero Hill.

The Black Box of 16 original handmade chocolates costs $44.
Where to find it:
Recchiuti Confections
Ferry Building Plaza, 94105
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 10AM-7PM; Saturday: 8AM-6PM; Sunday: 10AM-5PM

The Ferry Building dates to the first San Francisco ferries which, during the mid 1800s, connected the city with Sacramento. At one point during the 1930s, it was the second busiest transportation terminal in the world, and in 2003, after several decades of declining use, the building was renovated for office spaces, restaurants, and gourmet specialty stores. A farmer’s market is held there on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
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3. Hats

A fourth generation enterprise since 1895, Goorin Brothers is one of the U.S. oldest hat makers. Its felt flat caps invoke black and white images of days in the country dressed in tweed. “A life of sport and leisure” is what Goorin would advertise and also the end of all searching for bowlers, Panama hats, feathers, and fedoras. When the store opened, hats were an everyday item, but with the decline in hat wearing, Goorin Brothers began to turn to other markets. In 1960, and for just $400, they were named the official headwear sponsor of the Squaw Valley Winter Olympics and, more recently, supplied hats for Usher’s concert tour.

A wholesale business for most of its hundred-plus years, the store opened its first retail outlets in 2006, and two and a half years later began opening locations around the country. Also exclusive to the stores is the 1333 Minna Collection, designed by local tattoo and graffiti artists, printers, and illustrators working from an industrial warehouse at 1333 Minna Street in SoMa. The hats incorporate custom fabric combinations, screen-printing, and embroidery.

1333 Minna Collection, $55-100.
Where to find it:
Goorin Brothers Hat Shop
Haight Street – 1446 Haight Street, 94117
Operation Hours: Sunday-Friday: 11AM-7PM; Saturday: 11AM-8PM

North Beach - 1612 Stockton Street, 94133
Operation Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11AM-7PM; Friday-Sunday: 10AM-8PM

Downtown - 111 Geary Street, 94108
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 11AM-7PM; Saturday: 10AM-7PM; Sunday: 12-6PM

A classic, classy, tall-ceilinged Victorian-style hat shop done up in dark mahogany woods and decorated with hat boxes and crystal chandeliers, the original North Beach location of the Goorin Brothers hat company opened in 2006. Another Haight Street location exists at the intersection of Ashbury, and a smaller store Downtown near Union Square.
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Offline reading and travel directions:
With GPSmyCity App you can read this article offline on your mobile device, use the embedded offline city map and GPS navigation, as well as create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured in the article.

4. Wine

Large-Scale Wineries such as…
PlumpJack: Founded by former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom in 1997, Newsom’s wine career began with a wine shop called PlumpJack in the city’s Marina district in 1992 (named after an opera written by Gordon Getty, father of Newsom’s then business partner Bill Getty). PlumpJack is now a restaurant, bar, wine shop and resort group and, above all, a Cabernet house winery. Opus One: A joint venture between fellow Napa winegrower Robert Mondavi and baron Philippe de Rothschild, the elite operation is based out of a minimalist Napa Valley bunker and begins at $50 a bottle. Crops are aged in single-use $700 French barrels. “The standard is not to be excellent here, it is to be perfect,” Robert’s son Tim Mondavi once said.

Boutique Wineries such as…
Hill Family Estate: The estate has worked with athletes and musicians to promote their 12-vineyard operation, marketing a “Hill Harvest Red”-stained surfboard and, for Fender guitars, “Hill Harvest Red” instruments. Hill Family Estate 2007 Pinot Noir ($37). Prager: Specializing in Portuguese port-style wines, Prager lies at the end of a one-lane dirt road in the Napa Valley. Flavor comparisons have been made to caramel popcorn, black licorice, chocolate, and cherries.

For all the rest, there are tastings at the store on Saturdays between 2 and 5:30PM.
Where to find it:
San Francisco Wine Trading Company
250 Taraval Street, 94116
Operation Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10AM-6:30PM

Napa has been, at times, a quicksilver mining region, a lumber mill, and (as it is today) one of the world’s premier wine growing regions at a fraction of the size of most of the great competing regions. It’s climate is characterized as “Mediterranean” where warm summers meet mild winters – hot enough for grape ripening, preserved by evening fog, and without a December frost.

5. Giants Black & Orange

Giants Black & Orange
Originally founded in 1883 as the New York City Gothams, the San Francisco Giants is one of the oldest teams in Major League Baseball and its stadium is the first privately-financed ballpark since Dodger Stadium (at $357 million). Supposedly, a New York manager declared them “my giants” after a win, and the name stuck around for the next century and counting. The New York Giants logo consisted of an overlapping N and Y, similar to the current S-F layout, in characteristic orange and black. The original rivalry between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers moved west as well in the form of a San Francisco Giants-Los Angeles Dodgers division. Well-known retired numbers include Willie Mays (24) and Jackie Robinson (42); a nine-foot statue of Willie Mays stands at the entrance to the stadium. The official mascot – Lou the Seal (Lucille), for the seals that swim just outside the stadium walls.

SF Giants Ballcap is $18-37.
Where to find it:
The Giants Dugout
24 Willie Mays Plaza, 94107
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 10AM-5PM; also open during games

AT&T Park opened in 2000 in the China Basin district of San Francisco between a canal, a yacht club, the bay, and the city. The Giants had originally played at Candlestick Park on a windswept extension of South San Francisco called Candlestick Point. Even before that, after first moving west in 1957 from their original location in New York, they played at Seals Stadium, a now defunct minor league ballpark.
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6. Wallet

Heather, founder of an operation she calls Heathered Handmade, makes a series of wallets from her San Francisco studio using recycled materials – old 1930s and 40s newspapers, maps and fabrics, postcards, and airline manuals. The newspaper wallets draw from a publication called The San Francisco Call, now The San Francisco Examiner. Between 1863 and 64, Mark Twain wrote for the paper at a time when it was called The Morning Call. Her series of Muni wallets are made using old Muni transfer tickets, and the map wallets cover a comprehensive cross-section of the city. They measure 4 inches long by 2.5 inches wide when closed. The enterprise began with Narwhallets – felt wallets decorated with Narwhals, followed by guitar amp- and tree stump-decorated wallets. She calls them “eco-friendly wallets for the fashionable adventurer.” Heathered also accepts special-order wallet requests.

Heathered Map Slim Wallet is $15.
Where to find it:
Collage Gallery
1345 18th Street, San Francisco, CA, 94107
between Missouri and Texas (Potrero Hill)

Park and Pond
1422 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
between Green and Union (North Beach)

Urban Bazaar
1371 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94122
between Irving and Judah (Inner Sunset)

7. Eyepatch

A self-proclaimed “place of wonder and red velvet,” the 826 Pirate Supply Store can call itself the only one of its kind in the city, if not the world. Some of the rules: 1) No whistling, 2) No forgetting to swag, and 3) Cannons shall not be fired in vain. Crooked drawers in wavy wooden cabinets stand floor to ceiling. One is labeled “Thumps” and in it are mallets. Cans of blood, bottles of lard, spyglasses, and eyepatches in black, pink, hot pink, powder blue, turquoise, yellow, and tan line the shelves, and Karl, the puffer fish, floating idly nearby in his tank.

The inspiration for a pirate supply store may have been the sailing culture of the San Francisco Bay or else that section of town, called the Barbary Coast, named during its Gold Rush hey day after North Africa’s pirate-infested Barbary Coast for its lawlessness. Now, 826 is one of many tutoring and writing centers associated with Eggers around the country, with additional locations in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Ann Arbor, and Seattle. All pirate supply proceeds directly benefit the writing programs.

Black Eyepatch ($4) and Color ($5).
Where to find it:
826 Valencia Street, 94110
Operation Hours: Monday-Sunday: 12-6PM

A non-profit named for its address and founded by local author Dave Eggers – who first gained notoriety with the book A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius, 826 Valencia serves underprivileged students as both a tutoring center and pirate supply store. Valencia Street in the Mission District occupies a long, low expanse of unkempt alternativeness in a rare pocket of quasi-eternal San Francisco sunshine.

8. Poster

Image Courtesy of: Houston Freeburg
Between 1965 and 1971, hundreds of posters were pounded out in ink and steel to promote concerts around San Francisco. Content was secondary to psychedelic design. Text and images collided. Commerce was art, and color and wavy lines trumped all in the spirit of free love, wailing guitar solos, and experimental typesetting. The effect was to be hallucinatory, electric, and illegible.

Two of the most influential promoters of the era – Bill Graham (also responsible for transforming the Fillmore Auditorium at the intersection of Fillmore and Geary into a fully-functional concert venue) and Chet Helms (founder of Janis Joplin’s Big Brother and the Holding Company and partially responsible for San Francisco’s 1967 Summer of Love) – contracted over 500 of these advertisements. Graham would also convert an ice rink at Post and Steiner to a music venue named the Winterland Ballroom where, in October of 1968, Jimi Hendrix performed six shows over the course of three days. By decree of the San Francisco City Supervisors, September 13, 2011, was declared Jimi Hendrix Winterland Day in honor of a CD release based on those six shows.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience poster is $40-275.
Where to find it:
San Francisco Rock Posters & Collectibles
1851 Powell Street, 94133
Operation Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10AM-6PM

A relatively non-descript storefront save for the large winged eyeball above the window, here is the source for all things rock and roll art related. South of the city, an archival framing outlet serves the San Francisco store which is located in North Beach, just off the main Columbus Avenue thoroughfare.

9. Messenger Bag

Messenger Bag
Founded in 1989 by San Francisco bicycle messenger Rob Honeycutt and his sewing machine, Timbuk2 messenger bags were intended for both messengers and civilians, distinguished by a three-panel design and military-grade fabrication. The bags were, they say, inspired by the movement of populations around the city between various groups and disparate activities.

Beginning in 2000, the “Build Your Own Bag” system allowed for custom paneling and custom logo colors. In a city where the homes are blue and pink, the bodies painted, and clothing at times optional, so too the customization - another vehicle for expressing identity. Handles may be right- or left-handed, interiors with or without laptop pockets, and additional reflective tabs available upon request. All bags are sewn in San Francisco and are guaranteed for their lifetime.

Custom Messenger Bag ($64-170).
Where to find it:
506 Hayes Street, 94102
Operation Hours: Monday: 12PM-6PM; Tuesday-Friday: 11AM-7PM; Saturday: 10AM-7PM; Sunday: 11AM-6PM

Located in Hayes Valley, the neighborhood was rebuilt following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake when a freeway that used to run through the area collapsed. Also available in the Timbuk2 store is a bike sharing program that allows visitors to borrow a bike, helmet, and lock free for the day. The bikes are cruisers.
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10. Mushrooms

At the edge of the Pacific Ocean, more than 40 wild and cultivated varieties of mushrooms are grown on the Far West farm. A blend of straw, rice bran, and red oak sawdust is treated with high-pressure steam before being seeded in sterile chambers. Depending on the species, growth cycles can last from four to eight weeks.

Shitake, tree oyster, king trumpet, bear’s head, and maitake are some of their top producers. Porcini – one of the more difficult varieties to cultivate due to the symbiotic relationship it forms with other plants in the area, has become one of the top selling gourmet mushrooms. Wood ear leads the food chain in terms of vegetable fiber and contains three times as much iron as liver and two times as much calcium as milk. There are chicken-like varieties – chicken of the woods, and peppery ones like yellowfoot; large, red parasitic lobster mushrooms and two-pound chanterelles. Once harvested, they are sold at the San Francisco store and at farmer’s markets around the Bay Area.

Dried Mushrooms ($5-20).
Where to find it:
Far West Fungi
Ferry Building Plaza, 94111
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 10AM-6PM; Saturday: 8AM-6PM; Sunday: 11AM-5PM

The Far West Ferry Building store services a family farm in Moss Landing, a commercial fishing town on the Monterey Bay. Mushrooms are grown there in petri dish cultures and cultivated in blocks of treated sawdust. Ian Garrone manages the store and helps run the farm along with his farther, stepmother, and brother.

11. Coffee

Four Barrel-
The name “Four Barrel” refers to the gas-heated, four-barrel roaster at the back of the store where about 7,500 pounds of coffee are turned out every week. A series of single-origin roasts are for sale along with the most popular Friendo Blendo blend.

Ritual Roasters-
Jeremy Tooker, founder of Four Barrel, also co-founded Ritual Roasters with Eileen Hassi, so the styles can be similar, in this case something called “Scandinavian.” Culinary coffee drinkers have called it superior in many ways, the perception being that Scandinavians roast lighter to allow the flavor of the coffee bean speak for itself. Their single-origin blend, Sweet Tooth, rotates throughout the year, a new esoteric coffee grower chosen every month.

Blue Bottle-
Once described as “more coffee rave than cafe,” the Blue Bottle kiosk first existed in the garage of an architect’s woodshop in Hayes Valley and its brewing headquarters in a 182-square foot room in Oakland. Its Three Africans blend combines Ugandan and Ethiopian coffees for something chocolaty, unthreatening, and easy to like. The Hayes Valley Espresso was created for the launch of the Linden Street store and is their darkest.

Four Barrel Friendo Blendo 12oz. ($13.75)
Ritual Roasters Sweet Tooth 12oz. ($15.95)
Blue Bottle Three Africans 12oz. ($16.50)
Where to find it:
Four Barrel-
375 Valencia Street, 94103
Operation Hours: Monday-Saturday: 7AM-8PM; Sunday: 8AM-8PM

A Mission District institution, the Four Barrel cafe occupies a stylish, wood-paneled oasis of cool with tasting, roasting, grinding, sitting, and standing around stations evenly divided.

Ritual Roasters-
1026 Valencia Street, 94103
Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 6AM-10PM; Saturday: 7AM-10PM; Sunday: 7AM-9PM

Six blocks from Four Barrel on Valencia Street, Ritual Roasters shares in common with its neighbor its ownership and roasting style minus the coffee bar and with more medium roasts than the stronger Four Barrel style.

Blue Bottle-
Ferry Building Plaza, 94111
Operation Hours: Monday-Saturday: 7AM-7PM; Sunday: 8AM-5PM

With additional locations downtown and in the Ferry Building marketplace, the original store is located in the Hayes Valley at 315 Linden Street. (Operation Hours: Monday-Friday: 7AM-6PM; Saturday-Sunday 8AM-6PM)
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12. Vintage Levi’s

Vintage Levi’s
Levi’s owns a large warehouse in an undisclosed location south of San Francisco where it stores its pre-1900-era jeans along with reliquary documents, photographs, fliers, and handbills. Through Levi’s Vintage Clothing, special limited edition items are created to replicate old vintage jeans found in mine shafts and in the Nevada desert, among other sources – lumberjack-looking flannel shirts, hunting coats, and shooting vests. Replication is exact. For example, belt loops have been removed from jeans of the 1922 and earlier age when men would wear suspenders. The 1944 version lacks rivets on certain sections, as well as stitching on the pockets, as a result of a request from the War Department to ration fabric, thread, and metal.

Levi Strauss worked as a dry goods merchant in San Francisco and made most certainly a greater profit outfitting prospectors than many of the miners did themselves. The oldest 501 in the world dates to around 1879 and is called the “Double X”, meaning “extra strong” or “double extra heavy” for the denim used. No one seems to know why the lot number “501” was chosen.

1944 501 Jeans ($250).
Where to find it:
Levi Strauss & Company
300 Post Street, 94108
Operation Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10AM-9PM; Sunday: 10AM-6:30PM

Located at the lower level of the Union Square flagship store next to the Tailor Shop, Levi’s Vintage Clothing carries 501s from the late 1800s to the mid 20th century. A wall display shows the evolution of the 501 over time.
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13. Pint Glasses

Pint Glasses
Named after a book written in 1933 by Herbert Asbury – a historian of the San Francisco underworld – Faedi’s collection draws on relics from the city’s past like the Sutro Baths (once a glass-enclosed swimming pool at the north end of Ocean Beach and now a Roman ruin), the San Francisco Speedway (a wooden racetrack used during the 1920s), the Hunter’s Point Butchers (referring to the high-crime Hunter’s Point neighborhood south of the city, formerly called Butchertown for its many slaughterhouses), and the Bear Flag Rebels (who ruled briefly over the Republic of California before the formal existence of a state).

Devil’s Acre refers to the section of Kearny Street between Pacific and Broadway in what is now North Beach. During the 1970s and 80s, it was the Barbary Coast – a 40-square block area occupied by miners, farmhands, sailors, pickpockets, and prostitutes along with a series of beer and dance halls, gambling tables, and rickety wood-frame buildings. A few saloons dating to the era of handlebar moustaches still exist, among them the Comstock Saloon, the Savoy Tivoli, and the Gold Dust Lounge. The Taverna Aventine at Washington and Montgomery has been built along a 150-year-old seawall which marked the edge of the district.

Devil’s Acre Pint Glass ($8)
Where to find it:
Gangs of San Francisco
66 Gough Street, 94102
Operation Hours: Wednesday: 4-9PM; Saturday-Sunday: 12-6PM

Located in Hayes Valley and founded by graphic designer Laureano Faedi, who designs all of the merchandise and who has also produced work for Gap and Levi’s, Gangs of San Francisco has been built in a closet-sized wooden shack of a store decorated with old whiskey and wine cases and fading black and white portraits.

14. Muni T-Shirt

Muni T-Shirt
The Muni t-shirt company has based itself on the squiggled-line logo of San Francisco’s Muni transit system – the collection of buses, trolleys, subways lines, and cable cars that circle the city. The shirts pay tribute to a public transportation system that might be described, in general, as limited and slow. Various iterations on a theme exist in the form of Muni line shirts with route numbers, line names, and a list of the main stops. They are made by Walter Koning who calls the shirts “intentionally simple.” A previous Muni-based t-shirt line by another San Francisco resident was pulled from stores due to claims of copyright infringement, although the action may have had more to do with their implied critiques. The L line became “L-ate,” the J line “J-acked,” and the T – “T-ardy.” Koning has never had any problems with the Muni department.

Muni Squiggle Shirt ($20)
Where to find it:
440 Brannon
440 Brannon Street, 94107
Operation Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 11AM-7PM

Located in SoMa, 440 Brannon showcases local designers and limited edition lines in a gallery-style setting that gives way to a sewing and fabrication workshop for local artists and apprentices. Once the city’s fashion district, South of Market is now a collection of warehouses, low-rise commercial buildings, and low-budget hotels, along with the Museum of Modern Art, the Giants Stadium, Moscone Convention Center, and the Yerba Buena Gardens and Center for the Arts.

Other Interesting Souvenirs from California

If traveling to California is not on your immediate agenda, or you simply can't afford an extra space in your luggage, fortunately, these days, you can find a wide selection of authentic and truly interesting West Coast souvenirs online. Presented here are some of the West Coast products sought by foreign visitors, now available online for your convenience.

1. Tapatio Hot Sauce - One of the greatest hot sauces ever made, hands down! Spicy with tons of flavor, Tapatio is good on everything it touches, from bland travel food to breakfasts on the go to camp stew to hot dogs to eggs or potatoes! You simply can't go wrong with Tapatio, as it blows red hot out of the water. Great for backpacking, camping, fishing, road trips, or even air travel!

2. Cactus Cooler Soda - Inspired by Fred Flintstone, who used to drink a beverage called Cactus Cooler, this delicious mix of orange and pineapple, with a hint of cream soda, may seem like an an odd combo, since both are very distinct flavors. But when mixed together, they create a taste similar to a tangerine or a clementine. Unknown to most Easterners, this soda is something well remembered by those lived on the West Coast. A regional drink that brings back lots of memories! If you're in the mood for something sweet and refreshing, try Cactus Cooler!

3. Rainbows Sandals - Rainbow Sandals is a staple attire for those who want to look cool. Considered world's best since 1974, these sandals boast premier leather, top grade nubuck, double stitching, double layer midsole, and arch support triple glued, for maximum durability, to the non-slip Rainbow bottom. Watch out for an original woven label on the strap, as this is the mark of a genuine Rainbow Sandal. With an unbeatable Rainbow Guarantee, your Rainbow Sandals will carry your feet for miles.

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Walking Tours in San Francisco, California

Create Your Own Walk in San Francisco

Create Your Own Walk in San Francisco

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Union Square Walking Tour

Union Square Walking Tour

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One of the prominent landmarks in...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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Castro District Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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