San Francisco - Around Town : Downtown (part 2) - North Beach Sights,Downtown Shopping

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A Walk Around North Beach


Start at the top of North Beach, on Telegraph Hill , admire the famous views, and visit Coit Tower , making sure to take in the murals. Next, walk down to Filbert Street and go right a couple of blocks until you get to lovely Washington Square, where, at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church , Marilyn Monroe and local baseball great Joe DiMaggio had their wedding pictures taken. Continue on along Columbus Avenue to the left and pay a visit at colorful Caffè Roma , where you can indulge in a bit of sidewalk ogling. Or, across the street, pay homage to the time-honored US Restaurant which serves some of the best pasta in town.


After lunch, take a left on Green Street and go over one block to Upper Grant , with its funky shops and bars, a regular hangout since the 1950s. Turn right on to Vallejo Street, where a visit to the famous Caffè Trieste for a coffee and the authentic Bohemian atmosphere is a must. Continue on down Columbus to William Saroyan Place and at No. 12 you’ll find Specs’, an exuberant bar filled with Beat memorabilia. Finally, just across Columbus at No. 261 is the immortal City Lights Bookstore , where you can browse the Beat poetry written by owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti and friends.

North Beach Sights

  1. Telegraph Hill

    Named after the semaphore installed on its crest in 1850, the hill’s eastern side was dynamited to provide rocks for landfill. Steps descend its slopes, lined with gardens. At its summit stands Coit Tower.

  2. North Beach Views

    The panoramic views from both the hill and the top of the Coit Tower are justly celebrated. The wide arc sweeping from the East Bay and the Bay Bridge to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge is breathtaking.

  3. Coit Tower Murals

    The frescoes were painted by local artists in 1934, to provide jobs during the Depression . The murals are socio-political commentary yet are also appealing for their details of life in California at the time.

    Coit Tower
  4. Filbert Street Steps

    The flowery descent down these rustic steps provides great views of the Bay.

    Filbert Street Steps
  5. City Lights Bookstore

    The Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded City Lights in 1953. It’s a great place to leaf through a few volumes of poetry or the latest free papers to find out what’s on.

    • 261 Columbus Ave

    • 415 362 8193

    City Lights Bookstore
  6. Broadway

    Made famous in the 1960s for its various adult entertainments, the offerings haven’t changed much, though today many venues are now more mainstream.

  7. Upper Grant

    Saloons, cafés, and bluesy music haunts give this northerly section of Grant Avenue a very alternative feel.

  8. Caffè Trieste

    If you’re in the quarter on a Saturday afternoon, don’t miss the impromptu opera that takes place here. But any time is right for this artists’ and writers’ gathering place (see Caffè Trieste).

  9. Washington Square

    This pretty park is lined with Italian bakeries, restaurants and bars. Don’t be surprised to see practitioners of t’ai chi doing their thing on the lawn every morning.

  10. Saints Peter & Paul Church

    Neo-Gothic in conception, with an Italianesque façade, this church is also called the Italian Cathedral and the Fisherman’s Church, since many Italians who originally lived in the neighborhood made their living by fishing .

    • 666 Filbert St

    • Open daily

    • Free

Downtown Shopping

  1. Shreve & Co

    A San Francisco original and one of the city’s most elegant jewelers. In addition to gems set in wonderful ways, you’ll also find fine timepieces, Limoges porcelain, and Lalique crystal.

    • 200 Post St at Grant

    • 415 421 2600

    • Dis. access

  2. W. Graham Arader III

    One of Jackson Square’s most appealing shops is like an art museum, featuring fine antique prints. You can marvel at Audubon’s Birds of America, ancient maps, and historic works.

    • 435 Jackson St, Jackson Square

    • 415 788 5115

    • Dis. access

  3. Wilkes Bashford

    A San Francisco institution for deluxe apparel by up-and-coming local and international designers.

    • 375 Sutter St

    • 415 986 4380

    • Dis. access

  4. Jeanine Payer

    An innovative jewelry designer with a strong celebrity following who creates pieces that combine Old World craftsmanship with contemporary design.

    • 762 Market St

    • 415 788 2414

    • Dis. access

  5. Serge Sorokko Gallery

    If you’re in the market for something by one of the modern masters, this is an excellent place to browse. Important prints and other works by Picasso, Matisse, Mirò, Chagall, and other 20th-century greats, such as Tapiès, Bacon, and Warhol.

    • 231 Grant Ave

    • 415 421 7770

  6. Christopher-Clark Fine Art

    Another gallery for modern European masters. A good stock of Bay Area artists, too.

    • 377 Geary Blvd

    • 415 397 7781

    • Dis. access

  7. Aria

    This hideaway is loaded with collectibles of all sorts. You’re likely to discover anything from an old Buddha to an Art Deco lamp.

    • 1522 Grant Ave

    • 415 433 0219

    • Dis. access

  8. The North Face

    Another San Francisco original, here you’ll find everything for the outdoor adventurer.

    • 180 Post St

    • 415 433 3223

    • Dis. access

  9. Wingard

    If you like the decor of your hotel, chances are some of the touches have been supplied by this company. Lamps, bathroom accessories, and home accents at wholesale prices.

    • 2127 Union St

    • 415 345 1999

    • Dis. access

  10. New India Bazaar

    A long-time local favorite for every sort of Indian-Pakistani spice and foodstuff. They also carry an array of Hindu religious artifacts and Indian videos.

    • 1107 Polk St

    • 415 928 4553

Check out the jewelry designs of Jeanine Payer at

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