San Francisco has a rich history, and many authors have been inspired by ‘The City by the Bay.’ Days could be spent exploring all of the city’s literary past, and oftentimes, it can be difficult to know where to start. For book lovers who find themselves with anywhere from an hour to an entire day free in San Francisco, any of the suggestions below can provide a great starting place for a memorable day in the city.
San Francisco is the birthplace and home to many well-known, influential writers, and the influence of the city on them is evident in much of their work. In multiple locations around San Francisco, there are plaques commemorating the native writers and the places they once lived. If you are interested in the history of San Francisco as a home to writers, you can visit the birthplace of Jack London, the apartment of John Steinbeck, and the plaza dedicated to Robert Frost, in addition to the homes of many more authors scattered around the city.
Along with Los Angeles’ Venice West and New York‘s Greenwich Village, North Beach became an outpost for the Beat Generation, a group of close friends including Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassidy, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs, who drove a social and literary movement in the 1950s. Original manuscripts, memorabilia, and work from the movement can be viewed at the Beat Museum located in the North Beach neighborhood. After viewing the literary work that emerged from the era, you can head over to the world renowned Vesuvio Cafe. This saloon, located directly across the street from City Lights Bookstore, was a favorite meeting spot for members of the Beat Generation.
The Beat Museum, 540 Broadway, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 399 9626
Vesuvio Cafe, 255 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 362 3370
Outside of the bustling city, San Francisco’s natural beauty has captured the minds of writers for years. The rugged beauty of the Pacific Coast and the lingering fog on the bay has become backdrops for many pieces of literature. Visit Ocean Beach to experience the environment that inspired Robert Frost’s poem ‘Once by the Pacific,’ or go down to the waterfront to see what Jack London saw when he wrote Martin Eden. Just north of the city, Muir Woods National Monument is a delight for those interested in natural history writing. With trails that weave between towering California redwoods, it is the perfect place to go for a walk to clear your mind or to sit down with a good book.