Beat Museum Tours
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Discover the history of a generation of writers known as the Beats at the Beat Museum, which pays tribute to the movement in memorabilia, books, and a video documentary. This small museum, situated on a busy corner of San Francisco’s Italian North Beach neighborhood, is easy to include on a tour of the city.
Citizens of San Francisco pride themselves on their renegade history. The Beat writers, including Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, Charles Bukowski, and William S. Burroughs, among others, gave voice to a renegade spirit and a tolerance for individual expression that reverberates throughout the city to this day.
The spirit of openness and the defining touch points of the Beat era—the Howl obscenity trial and jazz—are some of the discoveries to be found at the Beat Museum. There is a small admission fee (family and group discounts are available), and a 90-minute guided museum tour helps visitors distinguish a “beat” from a “beatnik.”
Discounted admission is included in two of San Francisco's popular visitor passes, which allow the passholder reduced entrance fees to a variety of local attractions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Quirky as the movement, the museum displays original artifacts next to secondhand books.
- Enter from the street and walk up a short flight of stairs to enter the small museum.
- The museum serves as a great introduction to the Beat Generation. Fans of 1950s and 1960s music, literature, and history will find plenty to savor here.
How to Get There
North Beach is easy to explore on foot. The Beat Museum, located on Broadway near the intersection of Columbus, is accessible by numerous Muni bus lines. Muni 30, 10, and 12 bus routes all stop within a block of the museum. Parking is difficult and driving is not recommended unless using a car service.
When to Get There
Poetry readings, book release parties, and events honoring the key figures of the Beat Generation are regularly scheduled in late afternoon and evening hours and attract a local crowd of writers and free speech enthusiasts. For a quieter experience, visit during the morning. The video documentary runs on a continuous loop.
The Beat Museum’s Local Hangouts
Explore the Beat era in a short walking tour of their North Beach hangouts. Vesuvio Café, open from 8am to 2pm, was a regular hangout for the Beats. The eclectic establishment, with art and poems gracing the walls, has been a haven for jazz, poetry, and the good life since 1948. City Lights Bookstore, on Jack Kerouac Alley, carries even more Beats literature and works from Ken Kesey and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Address: 540 Broadway Street, San Francisco, California, USA
3 Tours and Activities to Experience Beat Museum
Tour San Francisco with the Go San Francisco Pass on your mobile device. See all the sites or just a few; it's your choice using this customizable touring option. Enjoy free admission at more than 30 popular San Francisco attractions as well as discounts on dining and shopping. Choose from 1-,2-, 3- or 5-day options to help you save as much money as possible on your vacation. Please note: Enjoy the extra flexibility in case your travel plans need to change: All passes (purchased by December 31) are valid for two year from purchase date and only become activated with your first attraction visit. After activation your pass will be valid for 30 days and/or the remaining number of attraction choices purchased.
Private Sightseeing Tours
Independent travelers can enjoy the benefits of a sightseeing tour without the hassles of following a big group with this San Francisco self-guided audio tour. You walk around North Beach with a GPS-triggered smartphone app, and the audio plays automatically, so you can hear the neighborhood's stories while you stroll. Highlights include spotting the Transamerica Pyramid, visiting Jackson Square, walking along Broadway, and more.
Take a self-guided tour of San Francisco that provides lively commentary about the city’s history and landmarks. After booking your tour, simply download the mp3 audio guide and map, then proceed at your own pace. You’ll get great views of monuments including Coit Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Fisherman’s Wharf as you tour the city at an affordable price.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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