San Francisco Neighborhood Guide: North Beach
San Franciscans call this neighborhood by two names. One is North Beach, which fits this neighborhood’s current status as a trendy place to live, eat and shop. The other is Little Italy, which fits the neighborhood’s ethnic past and still-current identity. Book lovers call this San Francisco neighborhood by both names. However, to them, the name matters little; it’s the incredible new and used bookstores that have made this a Mecca for bibliophiles for many decades. You see, North Beach is home to our fair city’s most famous bookstore, City Lights. City Lights continues to draw readers from all over the world who yearn to sit, read and relax in the very same rooms where Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Kerouac and other literary giants wrote, read and hung out in days past.
Whether you’re a bookworm or not, there are plenty of reasons why North Beach is a must-visit destination each year. Do you feel like having authentic Italian cuisine right down to the breadsticks and checkered tablecloths? Then, andiamo to Little Italy! Here you will find plenty of great food and wine priced to please expense accounts of all sizes. If Italian isn’t your thing, fear not! There are lots of other great dining options in North Beach without accordion music and a candle in a Chianti bottle on every table. These days, it’s just as easy to find a place that serves a great bowl of pho as pasta fagiole in this neighborhood. Got a sweet tooth? North Beach is as renowned for its places featuring flaky, exquisite napoleons as places that make tiramisu the Old World way. Trust us. If you’re hungry, you can’t go wrong in North Beach.
This San Francisco neighborhood is part of what once was our city’s old Barbary Coast, and a careful eye can still see glimpses of the neighborhood’s checkered past. One of its main thoroughfares is Grant Avenue, the oldest street in the city. In the early 1800s, this neighborhood was the gateway for immigrants from all over the world. Near the end of the century, Italian immigrants staked their claim on North Beach and established a unique sense of identity here. Legend has it that Italian residents saved their neighborhood from the fires that razed other parts of the city after the 1906 earthquake by soaking blankets in casks of their beloved red wine and wrapping them around houses threatened by the fire. It must’ve worked as Little Italy has some of the oldest remaining homes and commercial buildings in the city.
There is one drawback to visiting this cool San Francisco neighborhood, and it is one shared with many other districts of the city: trying to find parking here is a serious drag. If you want to check out North Beach, we highly recommend renting one of our San Francisco limos and leaving the driving (and parking) to us. Read, dine, shop, relax and sightsee to your heart’s content in North Beach. When you’re ready to see more of our fair city, simply hop in the back of your San Francisco limousine! If you want to add this affordable luxury to your next visit, just call NLS Limo at 1-800-339-8936, and let us take care of all the details. We look forward to hearing from you and showing you our lovely city!