One of my favourite things I did during my time in San Francisco was just wandering around neighborhoods, taking in all the architecture and brightly coloured houses. The neighbourhood of North Beach, aka San Francisco’s Little Italy, was no exception.
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North Beach got its name because at one point in its history, it was a beach on the north side of the city. Since then, the city limits have expanded, but the name stuck. The term “beatnik” originated here during the 1950s as the neighbourhood was the centre of the Beat Generation. The neighbourhood was once home to author Jack Kerouac of “On the Road” fame and poet Allen Ginsberg.
The neighbourhood is filled with Victorian homes built during the 1920s after the earthquake and fire of 1906 that had completely decimated the city. The tall, thin houses in varying shades of pastels were so much fun to discover. Each house seemed to have something unique which set them apart from the rest. Here are a few of my favourite discoveries.
Other Things to See
While I was off staring at houses and wishing I lived in the neigbhourhood, there are plenty of other things to discovery in the neighbourhood.
Supposedly the “crookedest street in the world”, visiting Lombard Street is a must when you’re in the neighbourhood. It’s not even the the crookedest street in San Francisco. That honour belongs to Vernon Street between 20th and 22nd street in the Portrero Hill neighborhood. Regardless, have a walk up and down and enjoy the nice views.
Filbert Steps & Coit Tower
Climb up the Filbert Steps to Coit Tower for a great view of the city. The climb to the top of the hill is intense, but worth it. For a small fee you can climb to the top of the tower. Otherwise, take the fantastic murals at the base of the tower.
National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi
San Francisco’s namesake, this church holds a Porziuncola, a replica of Saint Francis’s Porziuncola (Little Portion) in Assisi, Italy
City Lights Bookstore
This three story bookstore is great for book lovers. Next to the bookstore is Jack Kerouac Alley and on the other side of the alley is Vesuvio’s, the historic bar associated with many of the Beat Generation poets.
Do you like wandering aimlessly in new cities? What has been your favourite discovery?