Shoppers on Grant Avenue find old shops replaced by trendy boutiques, but the French-Italian Bakery and Caffe Trieste still hold their own. On Columbus Avenue, you'll find the legendary City Lights bookstore, Italian pottery shops, a scrumptious-smelling deli and chef Jean-Marc Gorce's handmade chocolate truffles.
It's mellow here during the day, but after dark, Columbus Avenue lights up and the atmosphere becomes quite festive.
See It Now: Photo Tour
Visiting North BeachColumbus Avenue is the main thoroughfare, and it's enjoyable enough to just wander up and down, window-shopping, eating or stopping at a sidewalk cafe for some people-watching. If you take the time to wander off the beaten track, you'll find some of the area's most interesting sights.
North Beach ToursGuided tours are very helpful to understand the area's history. You can take our self-guided tour by printing out a map and written guide, but if you'd rather have someone show you around, try one of these tours:
- City Guides: Meet them on the steps of Sts. Peter and Paul Church on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, or in front of Coit Tower on Saturdays for an informative (and free) walking tour. Learn about local history and explore places you couldn't see on your own: go behind the scenes in an Italian bakery, or see the upstairs murals at Coit Tower.
- Mangia! North Beach: Led by local food critic Grace Ann Walden, this five-hour tour explores the neighborhood cuisine.
- Local Tastes of the City Tours: On this culinary tour, you'll taste cappuccinos, chocolates, breads, pastries, olive oils, specialty meats, and more.
- Barbary Coast Trail: This insightful walking tour features highlights of San Francisco history.
North Beach Festivals
- North Beach Festival: Held in June, this outdoor party features Arte di Gesso (Italian street chalk art), animal blessings, food and music.
- North Beach Jazz Festival: Held in late June, this music fest offers some great jazz music.
- Italian Heritage Parade: This October festival, the nation's oldest Italian-American parade, celebrates North Beach's Italian roots and includes a festive parade.
North Beach ReviewWe rate North Beach 3.5 out of 5. It's full of surprises, and while we miss some of the old spots that have disappeared, it's still a great place to spend some time.
Others may disagree. You can see what other people just like you think about it, then bookmark this page and after you've been there, come back and tell us what you think.
What do you think of North Beach as a tourist destination?
- Yuck! Just say no to this flea-bitten hole of a tourist trap
- So-So More fun than a night in jail, but you might enjoy a good nap more
- OK Some people find it interesting, but I didn't
- Good Go if you have time, but it's not a big deal if you miss it
- Great I really liked it, and I think you will, too
- Awesome! It's a must-see sight that I recommend to everyone
Where to "Go" in North BeachFacilities are scarce in this part of the city, but you'll find public restrooms at the corner of Filbert and Columbus in Washington Square. There's also a coin-operated public toilet on Union Street at the park. Local restaurants are often unsympathetic to your plight, posting signs that their potties are for customers only, but if you're in a real pinch, buy a cup of coffee at one of the cafes to gain access to their toilet.
Getting to North BeachNorth Beach is roughly bounded by Columbus Avenue, Broadway, Bay Street and Telegraph Hill. Most of the shops and restaurants are along Grant and Columbus Avenues.
The Powell-Hyde cable car stops at Columbus Avenue and Mason, and the #30 Muni bus runs down Columbus. Parking is hard to find here, but North Beach Magazine has an excellent parking map to ease your search.