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North Beach and Little Italy

Explore the Italian-American culture, learn about the Beat Poets and explore one of San Francisco's earliest settlements
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.3 miles
Duration: Less than 1 hour
Family Friendly

Overview :  North Beach is one of San Francisco's distinct, famous, and oldest neighborhoods, dating back to the village of Yerba Buena in the... more »

Tips:  San Francisco can get quite cold at night when the sun goes down and the fog rolls in. Many restaurants in the area have outdoor... more »

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Points of Interest

The Vesuvio Cafe was a favorite among local beat poets including Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas, and Neal Cassady where they would hang out often. Today it remains open as a bar and cafe every day from 6am-2am, and is a great place to take a break from a day of city walking before you get back "On The Road..."

City Lights is the most famous bookstore in North Beach, and perhaps all of San Francisco. This independent bookstore/publisher was opened in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin and specializes in arts, progressive politics, and world literature. At nights, it is a great place to go for a poetry reading or to snuggle with a... More

If you are a fan of the Beat Poets, or just want to find out more about the spirit of the generation, the Beat Museum may have what you are looking for. Here you will find memorabilia from the 1950s including original manuscripts and first editions.

4. "Language of the Birds"

This sculpture at the northwest corner of Broadway and Columbus is one of many you will see walking the streets of San Francisco. Created by San Francisco artists Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn, these 23 books are displayed as if they are birds flying away after being scared by a small child running on the sidewalk.

"The Langauge of the Birds" is a... More

5. Jazz Mural

On the northwest corner of Broadway and Columbus you will see the "Jazz Mural" by Bill Weber. This mural depicts the history of the area, specifically North beach and Chinatown, with several famous jazz musicians and San Francisco politicians

6. View of Banksy Street Art

Look across the intersection above the south eat corner and you will see some more public art--this time by graffiti artist Banksy. His street art is known to combine dark humor and stencil graffiti.

A number of Banksy pieces have shown up in San Francisco, but were painted over at first because local shop owners and city officials did not... More

7. Street Cafes and People Watching

If you are hungry, want to rest your feed, or just want to watch the crowds, there are a number of create cafes and restaurants that line Columbus Ave. Many have outdoor seating on the sidewalk where you can sit and face the street and catch up on some people watching.

Washington Square marks the end of Little Italy (or the beginning if you are coming from Fishermans Wharf and is a nice place to sit and relax while enjoying the scenery. The "square" has 5 sides (no ones counts the corner on the other size of Columbus), and you can find many small cafes and pizza places along the east and south sides of the park.
... More

This famous Catholic Church is located ironically at 666 Filbert street. Why they didn't choose 665 or 667 nobody knows. In the 1920s the church and parishioners were targets of an anti-catholic anarchy group who initiated 5 separate bomb attacks within a single year.

The church--along with Washington Square--make a cameo appearance in the... More

10. Juana Briones Monument

At the north east corner of the park--at its highest point--you will find a small plaque commemorating Juana Briones, who built her house in 1836 near this exact location in what was the village of Yerba Buena. She was one of the first 3 settlers of North Beach, and one of the first landowners in all of California.

It you are interested in testing out some of the famous San Francisco hills, consider the couple-block trek to Coit Tower where you will have great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Bay Bridge, Lombard St. and other parts of the city--that is, if it isn't foggy.

The street is quite steep, the the view well worth it.

The tower was ... More