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North Beach

The Little Italy of San Fran, North Beach hosts some fantastic Italian restaurants and is one of the city's best nightlife districts.

TravelCurious Tip

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North Beach’s Italian heritage is deep and evident. It’s not large - spreading less than a square mile - but it is dense with jazz clubs, galleries, restaurants, gelato parlours and a shed-load of Italian Americans. It only really developed this character after the 1906 earthquake razed what preceded it to the ground. Since then, several prominent Italian Americans have emerged from this neighbourhood, including none other than baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, who actually returned to live there with his wife Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s.


The Beating Heart

It was also during the 1950s that North Beach became the historic centre of the Beat Generation. Many of that generations most famous writers lived in this neighbourhood, including Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady. Another poet from that time, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, founded the famous City Lights Bookstore, which can still be found there today. It’s a cultural landmark that’s well worth visiting.


The Beat Generation may have left us, but the nightlife of North Beach remains among the best. For classy drinks in blue velvet booths enveloped in candlelight, head to 15 Romolo. For a real taste of Italian North Beach, you can try Gino & Carlo, where cheap martinis and homemade Italian food, along with pool and pinball, are enjoyed by (very) lively crowds.


America’s Dual Heritage

North Beach’s festivals are also not to be missed. Art in the Alley is an annual outdoor art event where you can catch emerging young talent and live music. It usually takes place at the beginning of May. A little earlier in the year is the Oyster and Beer Festival, whose heritage is in fact Irish. Enjoy an array of Irish musicians along with your pint of Guinness and batch of fresh oysters.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in San Francisco
Coit Tower
An emblem of the city skyline, this 65 metre tower provides a 360 degree view of the city.
Fisherman's Wharf
A neighbourhood with Italian roots, this area has seafood restaurants aplenty.
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
Sample some fresh fortune cookies, learn about their history, and take some home with you, directly from this landmark factory.
Jack Kerouac Alley
Learn about the literary movement developed in North Beach in the 50's and the legendary City Lights Bookstore.
Italian Desserts
Treat yourself to an Italian espresso, freshly made cannoli or gelato as a way to sate your sweet tooth.
Washington Square Park in North Beach
This beloved park with view of Saints Peter and Paul church located in North Beach is one of the city's oldest parks, established in 1847.

Related Tours

Private Full Day Highlights, with Alcatraz Island
Immerse yourself in the highlights of San Francisco, and discover the infamous history of Alcatraz. On your private tour of San Francisco, you will:

  • Soak up the San Francisco skyline from the top of iconic Nob Hill 
  • Explore Union Square, San Francisco's bustling shopping area
  • Immerse yourself in the customs, cuisine and curiosities of Chinatown 
  • Snap panoramic pictures from statuesque Colt Tower 
  • Venture through North Beach to absorb the community’s Italian heritage 
  • Enjoy striking views of the Golden Gate Bridge from atmospheric Fisherman's Wharf 
  • Dig into some of San Francisco's famous seafood - like clam chowder soup in a sourdough bread bowl (price not included)
  • Visit the world’s most notorious island penitentiary, Alcatraz.
On this Private Half Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights, you will learn about the city’s founding in 1776, when Spanish colonists settled the area during gold-rush fever. See first-hand San Francisco’s colorful mix of quaint buildings and modern architecture in a stunning ocean-facing city that is more than just flower power and social consciousness. 

Your Private Half Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights will take you through an urban landscape, set on the northern tip of a peninsula, shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and the Pacific’s rolling waves. At the top of Nob Hill, soak up an extraordinary cityscape at cable car height. Iconic landmarks, such as Golden Gate Bridge, Japantown, the Colt Tower and the oldest Chinatown in North America. Set on San Francisco's picturesque steep slopes, enjoy a stunning skyline across streets criss-crossed by street cars, yellow taxis and jogging trails. 

Wander through some world-class shopping centered on Union Square, where big-name brands and local stores nestle amongst chic boutiques. At beautiful North Beach, known colloquially as Little Italy, soak up the ambience of the city’s lively historic Italian-American community. Lastly, Fisherman’s Wharf, lined with seafood cafes, is home to basking sea lions, jugglers and mime artists and enjoys striking views across the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island. At the ‘dress to character’ ferry, your guide will leave the tour so that you can explore the world’s most infamous island prison - Alcatraz. 

Your guide will leave you at the dock for Alcatraz, once you are in line. Then, take an audio tour at a leisurely pace to hear tales of notorious felons such as Al-Capone and Robert Franklin Stroud in this former fort, military prison and maximum security federal penitentiary.  

Please note: Alcatraz tickets are in high demand during the summer and tickets cannot be guaranteed at the time of booking. We will contact you soonest should we be unable to obtain tickets.
Private Half Day Highlights of San Francisco
Dating back to 1776, the city was founded by Spanish colonists, and grew rapidly during the gold rush of the 1840s.  Through the centuries the city has become the centre of several industries - especially banking and high-tech, and is one of the most beloved cities for people on the West Coast. On your private half day tour of San Francisco, you will: 

  • Learn the history of its famous neighbourhoods, including Downtown, the Financial District, Nob Hill, Chinatown, and Little Italy. 
  • Take a cable car to the top of Nob Hill  for spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline.
  • Explore Union Square, San Francisco's bustling shopping area
  • Immerse yourself in the customs, cuisine, and curiosities of Chinatown 
  • Snap panoramic pictures from statuesque Colt Tower 
  • Venture through North Beach to absorb the community’s Italian heritage 
  • Enjoy striking views of the Golden Gate Bridge from atmospheric Fisherman's Wharf 
Considered by many as the USA’s most beautiful city, San Francisco - a.k.a The City by the Bay - is a seductive mix of exotic cultures renowned world-wide for its liberal free-thinking ideals. A vibrant arts, music and festival scene continues to echo San Francisco’s long-standing progressive stance on activism: the city is credited with trailblazing the so-called “Flower Power” peace movement, pioneering the sexual revolution, and powering the gay rights movement to one of the largest and most prominent LGBT communities in the world. Deeply-embedded Mexican cultures stem from San Francisco’s strong historical bonds with Spanish America and Mexico with today’s buzzing Hispanic population fully immersed in the city’s art scene, both in galleries and studios as well as urban murals. 

On this Private Half Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights, you will learn about the city’s founding in 1776, when Spanish colonists settled the area during gold-rush fever. See first-hand San Francisco’s colourful mix of quaint buildings and modern architecture in a stunning ocean-facing city that is more than just flower power and social consciousness. Your Private Half Day Tour of San Francisco Highlights will take you through an urban landscape, set on the northern tip of a peninsula, shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and the Pacific’s rolling waves. At the top of Nob Hill, soak up an extraordinary cityscape at cable car height. Iconic landmarks, such as Golden Gate Bridge, Japantown, the Colt Tower and the oldest Chinatown in North America. Set on San Francisco's picturesque steep slopes, enjoy a stunning skyline across streets criss-crossed by street cars, yellow taxis and jogging trails. Wander through some world-class shopping centred on Union Square, where big-name brands and local stores nestle amongst chic boutiques. At beautiful North Beach, known colloquially as Little Italy, soak up the ambience of the city’s lively historic Italian-American community. Lastly, Fisherman’s Wharf, lined with seafood cafes, is home to basking sea lions, jugglers and mime artists and enjoys striking views across the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island. 

Please note: Historic cable cars cannot run in adverse weather conditions, so on days with inclement weather you will take an uber or taxi to the top of Nob Hill. 
Private Walking Food Tour of Chinatown and North Beach
Explore two of San Francisco’s beloved neighborhoods with a foodie extravaganza tour. With an eclectic array of food from Chinatown and Little Italy, be sure to arrive hungry for this experience. On your private food tour, you will: 

  • Learn about the histories and the food cultures around two of the city's well-known neighborhoods. 
  • Walk under the Dragon's Gate and enter San Francisco's world-famous Chinatown. 
  • Visit a fortune cookie making factory, where you will not only get to try these pastries when fresh but also learn the history of the factory and its' local influence. 
  • Stop at a Catholic Cathedral, which has been continuously active since the California Gold Rush. 
  • Enjoy a seated tasting in Little Italy, indulging in the best place for calzones and pizzas. 
  • Comb Stockton Street and North Beach's wealth of street markets, bakeries, restaurants and sidewalk cafes. 
  • Finish off with Italian dessert - tasting a cannoli or having an espresso to lift the inevitable food coma from the preceding four hours.
San Francisco's international influences are so diverse that locals are constantly discovering foodie spots that have existed for decades. Don’t miss the chance to try fresh-baked fortune cookies - before they're wrapped in the crinkly plastic and served to you at restaurants. On your private tour your guide will not only take you to the  best places to try new desserts and espresso,  but also equip you with their insider's knowledge, so you can continue exploring  the city's diverse food scene long after your tour has ended.   Your tour ends in Washington Square Park, where you can continue on with your day, or take time to digest your food extravaganza by lounging in the grass amongst the locals who congregate in the area every day. 
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