North Beach

North Beach is best known as San Francisco’s Little Italy. It is a tourist hotspot and a neighborhood much endeared by San Franciscans. Its streets are lined with red and white checkered restaurants, cafés specializing in espressos and delicatessens oozing European charm. Mixed in to this blend of Old World charm are the ghost of the Beat movement, including the haunts of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg – with City Lights (the original publisher of Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’) remaining one of the country’s best bookstores.

This of course is not to say that North Beach is stuck in the past. Far from it in fact. Today the neighborhood is a nightlife destination and its edgy boutiques carry an array of designs from up and coming designers. Turn a corner and on Broadway you’ll be blinded by neon and teased by the strip clubs.

In summary, North Beach has something for everyone – from historic landmarks to Italian cuisine, clubbing and shopping, relaxing and recreating.

Where it’s At

North Beach is difficult to drive to – primarily due to the lack of parking. Instead take either the 15, 30 or 45 bus or, better yet, a cable car.

What to See

North Beach is full of sites. Washington Square Park is a great place to start. Its tranquil green is a good place to get your bearings and some people watching. The iconic Saints Peter and Paul Church is best known for the famous photograph of Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe following their wedding, but its Gothic spires make it worth a visit alone. For hard to beat view, try Coit Tower in Pioneer Park that looks off over the skyline. A walk down Filbert Steps gives you a privileged peek into the luxury life of Telegraph Hill. Film fans will want to visit Columbus Tower, home to Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope Studios. And Beat fans will want to chase Kerouac to the Beat Museum, which features a collection of books, manuscripts and memorabilia from the life and days of the beat poets, writers and artists.

Where to Eat

Café Jacqueline makes for a great romantic night out. Its sparse décor and candlelit tables is known for its soufflés and lobster. For legit Italian pizza, Capo’s is the place to be. Run by world pizza championship winner, be sure to try the Quattro Forni – a pizza cooked four different times.