North Beach is the Little Italy of the West Coast with a bustling atmosphere from mid-afternoon until late into the night. The mornings are a great time to stop into a café for a strong coffee that will make you wonder how Starbucks got so popular in the first place and don’t be surprised if the language you hear at the next table is Italian. It’s as likely to be that as English in this part of town. Stop by for a cannoli in the afternoon and you can people watch or stroll the shops, whatever your preference. But it’s the nights when the area comes into full swing, with busy bars and jammed packed restaurants serving up Italian fare family style just like mama used to make. Osso buco, mortadella, bada bing bada bang. I’m from Jersey and I was even impressed.
North Beach was at one time a beach, long ago before landfill extended the city. Now it is an Italian neighborhood with tree-lined streets, wonderful Italian restaurants, beautiful Washington Park with the spectacular Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral.
N. Beach is home to the City Lights Book Store where the Beatnik Movement started. This area borders Chinatown & is definitely a must see & enjoy neighborhood. Probably best to fit it into your schedule in the afternoon & evening so that you can have dinner there & enjoy the crowds of people out for a night of fun .
Home of the Beat Generation
North Beach is one of my favorite parts of San Francisco. Maybe that is because I am such a fan of all things Italian. But if there is one part of San Francisco that can be said to define what the City is to me this is it. Historically it is an incredibly rich area from Barbary Coast Days to the days when Chinatown (which butts up against North Beach) had opium dens and other unspeakables, to the more recent 60's when the Beats (who still frequent places like Cafe Trieste) and Carol Doda rubbed shoulders (???)... ok maybe some other body parts as well!
Today you can take guided walks or self guided. Great maps to be found at:
Suddenly you leave China to get into a mix of French and Italian buildings and restaurants.
It seems that is more lively at night, but here we enjoyed a great cappuccino and sandwiches.... with something that made me nostalgic, water with Lemon and ice... a classic at home...
This was the transition between the Chinatown and the Italian zone. Here you can see the church but also we founded in the park a group of Chinese students playing, old couples sitting on the chairs talking of all races you can imagine…. I just loved that of San Francisco, such a variety!
North Beach is usually described as San Francisco's Little Italy or Latin Quarter. To be sure, Italian restaurants abound on Columbus Avenue, as do small cafes and bars. Of all the neighborhoods in San Francisco, I believe this was my favorite and although it has no doubt changed a lot since the days of Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, I still find it easy to understand why the Beat Generation poets elected North Beach as their favorite place to hang out on the West Coast. In fact, several "landmarks" still bear testimony to the presence of the Beat poets, such as the City Lights Bookstore, the Vesuvio (see my nightlife tips), the Jack Kerouac alleyway, and the Beat Museum. But perhaps the best way to feel like a Beat poet is simply to sit at one of the little cafes and order something to drink!
On a different note, "The Strip", an area famous for its numerous striptease clubs and other types of adult-related entertainment, can be found at the corner of Columbus and Broadway. In 1964, America's first topless act was performed at the Condor, which still operates as a stripclub today. Although the area used to be rather seedy, the clubs that are still in operation today kind of have a neat retro look (at least from the outside!).
North Beach is a mix of Italian restaurants, hippie coffee shops and yuppie cafes. Some how it all comes together to make a very vibrant and welcoming area. The restaurants and shops are uniquely decorated with lively colors and designs. Murals adorn the sides of buildings thourghout the neihgborhood. Lots of good Italian restaurants.
North Beach is one of San Francisco's great neighborhoods. There are a countless number of cafes, laid-out European style, with delicious Italian food. This neighborhood is historically one of Italian immigrants, and restaurants in this neighborhood have all the traditional Italian foods - from panini to pizza to gelato. This neighborhood has a great atmosphere, and it's a big reason why its residents are often in their 20's and 30's. On a nice day, you will see many people relaxing and sunbathing in Washington Square Park, and everyone out on the sidewalk cafes. Straight ahead of Washington Square Park, you will see a breathtaking cathedral - St. Peter and Paul's, where many celebrities have gotten married. Furthermore, the famous City Lights Bookstore is here in North Beach - great for fans of Kerouac and the Beat movement. It is also home to Coit Tower and the Filbert Steps. Nightlife here is also excellent.
North Beach is a wonderful San Francisco neighborhood. It's mostly known as an Italian enclave, but it also houses many of the other ethnic groups that give San Francisco it's distintcive flavor.
When in SF, I love to walk up and down Columbus Avenue. It's got so many restaurants, coffee houses, etc. Columbus Avenue also bisects the city-it's a great way to get from "here to there".
My pic was taken in the heart of North Beach. Sts Peter and Paul Church is in the foreground. Note Coit Tower in the background.
When in SF, spend some time in North Beach-you'll love it
North Beach is known today as the Italian neighbourhood although many immigrant settlers of different ethnic background called this place home before the Italians. North Beach is one of the touristy parts of San Francisco that I visit often, the reason being the joyfull atmosphere and the fact that you can dine outside in numerous places. It's a nice place to stroll and a good place to eat. At one point in time North Beach used to be the bohemian neighbourhood of San Francisco, home for the San Francisco's Beat counterculture so a walking tour of the neighbourhood must include the Vesuvio Caffe, the City Lights Bookstore, the Tosca and Trieste Caffes, all places of gatherings for the "beatniks" like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Another highlight of this area is the Washington Square Park lined on one side by the Saints Peter and Paul Church, a beautiful Gothic Revival church. And finally, no tour of San Francisco will be complete without seeing the Coit Tower, which sits on top of Telegraph Hill.
At night this place becomes even more vibrant, with numerous bars, saloons and lots of jazz clubs. Really nice. And I almost forgot about Broadway Street, also part of North Beach. It's the "adult entertainment" zone.
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