North Beach

Eat tiramisu for breakfast! North Beach, a.k.a. Little Italy, is beloved both by tourists and locals. Choose one of its many sidewalk cafés to start your day with a caffeinated jolt. Here, you’ll find people standing at the counter, drinking theirs out of real espresso cups, as espresso is drunk in the motherland. Grab some focaccia at Liguria Bakery (if you don’t feel transported to Italy in here, we have a problem), and have a picnic in sunny Washington Square Park, this area’s main oasis of greenery and easily one of the most pleasant places to while away sunny days in the city. Stroll around and gawk at the breathtaking architecture and views. Don your reading glasses and peruse the treasures in historic City Lights, and when you’ve had your fill of beatnik, saddle up to the bar at the Comstock Saloon for an old-school cocktail concoction that just might make you howl.

Adjacent to the Financial District, Russian Hill and Chinatown and conveniently located for getting anywhere in town, thanks to a number of cable car, Muni and BART stops, North Beach offers up plenty of history and character. It’s also full of interesting stories, delicious dining options, plentiful bars, and a smattering of sultry burlesque shows sure to please your adventurous out-of-town guests.

Part of the old Barbary Coast (which, during San Francisco’s formative years, was a collection of dance halls, saloons, variety shows, and brothels), North Beach’s Grant Avenue is the oldest street in San Francisco. In the late 1800s, thousands of Italians made the area their home. We have that community to thank for protecting the neighborhood against the fire that ravaged SF after the 1906 earthquake. Legend has it that some residents cracked open barrels of red wine in their cellars and saved their homes by draping them with wine-soaked blankets. Pier 39 (offering ferry access to Oakland and plenty of ferry-based sightseeing tours) and the ever-popular Fisherman’s Wharf are both located here.