North Beach is most famous as San Francisco’s Little Italy and any time of day, the European style outdoor cafes along Columbus Street are filled with locals and tourists drinking espresso and people-watching. On Grant Avenue, San Francisco’s oldest street, you will find Italian, French and Mexican restaurants and local musicians performing lively sets in the multitude of bars. The Beats famously met in North Beach at the City Lights Bookstore, a San Francisco institution that still hosts nationally renowned writers and speakers. Washington Square Park is a grassy square block where residents of nearby Chinatown practice morning Tai Chi and locals relax with their dogs. The park sits in front of Saints Peter and Paul Church, where North Beach legend Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe celebrated their wedding. The neighborhood is bordered by the Financial District, Chinatown and Russian Hill.
Climbing east up the steep hills of North Beach leads to Telegraph Hill, which is famous for beautiful views of Treasure Island, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Bay Bridge. Visitors will find that car-accessible streets end and become pedestrian-only staircases like the Filbert Steps that lead to magical outdoor gardens and jewel box homes. The most prominent feature of Telegraph Hill is Coit Tower, a 240-foot structure built to commemorate the firefighters who lost their lives after the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires, and the views from the tower are some of the best in the city.