Steeped in Italian character, San Francisco's original waterfront is a good place to have coffee, take a stroll, and enjoy Washington Square Park. Terrific North Beach dining includes Fior d'Italia, Little City Antipasti, Moose's and Washington Bar and Grill. The Beat Generation also made this area famous, so a stop at City Lights Bookstore and Vesuvio Cafe is a must.
See & Do
It might not be as long as the Golden Gate Bridge or as tall as the "Pyramid Building," but the sight of Coit Tower is unmistakably San Francisco. And what better way to burn off that big dish of pasta than to climb to its 200 foot tall top and enjoy a spectacular view?
With so many excellent Italian restaurants in North Beach to choose from, it's hard to go wrong. If you're specifically craving seafood, head to Rose Pistola. But if you desire a small, intimate space that feels like a slice of old Italy, make a reservation at L'Osteria del Forno. Although its known for focaccia, every dish is made with such love and care you shouldn't worry about choosing anything off the menu.
Complete your North Beach experience by bellying up to the same bar that many Beat poets and writers did. The Beat Generation lives on at Vesuvio Cafe of North Beach, not just in the fascinating wall mementos and pictures but in the storytelling from patrons and bar owners alike. If you want a real taste of the Beats, head to Vesuvio Cafe. (If you just need a Guinness, then head to O'Reilley's Pub of North Beach.)
A small, boutiquey hotel that is cherished by locals and travelers alike. The location to North Beach, Downtown, Chinatown and all parts in-between can't be beat. And, although bohemians and beatniks could be accused of being too laid-back, the staff here is incredibly attentive and friendly, ready to suggest the best place to visit or eat.
Just walking through City Lights Bookstore is a strong but sad reminder of how bookstores used to be the heart and soul of many communities. Besides being a living museum to the accomplishments of the Beat Generation, City Lights offers a space for community gathering and lectures. And the Poetry Room, a simple space at the top of the stairs for reading poetry, can be a San Francisco memory as powerful as walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.