Despite its name, San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood does not border the water and has no sandy spots. But its position between Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, and the Embarcadero makes it one of the city’s most popular areas for visitors and locals, all of whom enjoy its Italian eateries, Beat history, quiet park, and nightlife scene.
North Beach is often included on San Francisco sightseeing tours due to its proximity to major attractions like Lombard Street, Coit Tower, and Pier 39. For a deeper look at the neighborhood, opt for a more specific experience such as a food tour for tastings of pizza and other favorite dishes, a night tour for a look at the bustling bar and club scene, or a history tour to learn about City Lights Bookstore, Jack Kerouac, and the Beat Generation.
Things to Know Before You Go
- North Beach is essential for history buffs, literature lovers, and club-goers visiting San Francisco.
- Columbus Avenue is the main thoroughfare, which runs diagonally across the grid of other streets.
- Bars and restaurants are mostly concentrated between Powell Street, Filbert Street, Green Street, and Pacific Avenue.
- If you’re visiting North Beach with children, note that a small section of Broadway is home to strip clubs.
How to Get There
North Beach is easily accessible by public transportation. Take the Powell-Mason cable car or MUNI buses 41 or 45. If driving, metered and free street parking is available throughout the neighborhood.
When to Get There
Enjoy North Beach’s best atmosphere in the evening, when sidewalk cafés and restaurants are full and people are out strolling. The North Beach Festival, which takes place every June, features a variety of food stands and merchants selling art and jewelry.
Saints Peter and Paul Church
On the northern side of Washington Square stands Saints Peter and Paul Church, a Roman Catholic church that dates back to 1924. Its cathedral-like white facade with twin spires has been featured in movies such as Dirty Harry and San Andreas, and is a popular photo op with the green space of the park. In fact, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio took their wedding pics on the church’s steps.