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Top 10 Things to Do in San Francisco's North Beach
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Top 10 Things to Do in San Francisco's North Beach

Picture of Amanda Jones
Updated: 24 April 2017
There are dozens of communities in San Francisco and among them is North Beach, which has a rich Italian history that provides endless opportunities for entertainment, food, and culture. Despite Chinatown’s rapid growth, North Beach stays strong and its painted flags on the poles of the town still remain. We find out what you should do when passing through this beautiful corner of the world.
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When the kids (or you) get tired of walking around all day, eating, and shopping, stop at the Exploratorium for a hands on educational experience. With exhibits and activities about the human body, evolution, and varied types of engineering, there is an exhibit that will grab everyone’s attention. The Exploratorium is beautifully located right on Pier 15, so whether it is a 10 minute or four hour visit, this is a rich experience for all involved.

Exploratorium, Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 528 4444

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The Stinking Rose

Serving over 3,000 pounds of garlic every month, the original Stinking Rose is a unique, delicious, and aromatic restaurant. In addition to its strong palate of garlic (plus food), the vibe of The Stinking Rose beautifully reflects San Francisco’s culture, with its quirky atmosphere. Whether it is a party of two or 20, it is safe to say that no one will leave this meal smelling fresh as a daisy…but all will leave sated.

The Stinking Rose, 325 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 781 7673

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Washington Square Park

Built in 1847, Washington Square Park is a beautiful park surrounded by shops and restaurants, sitting right next to the majestic Saint Peter & Paul’s Church. In a time where people-watching is at its prime, all year long there are festivals, movie nights, and activities in the Washington Square Park that you can either participate in, or simply sit back and experience from the sidelines.

Washington Square Park, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 274 0291

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Beach Blanket Babylon

15,000 performances and 16 million viewers later, Beach Blanket Babylon is a world-renowned performance that both locals and tourists love to go see. It is the world’s longest running musical, and rightly so, because it is not only entertaining, but hilarious, and you will leave the performance to buy a crazy and unique hat or wig of your own.

Beach Blanket Babylon, 678 Green St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 421 4222

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Tony’s Pizza Napoletana

Naturally, the next stop in North Beach will be Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana has been around since 1991, and since then they have won multiple awards for their Napoletana style pizza, made from the finest ingredients. In addition to their pizza, they also serve American style, New York style, Sicilian style, even gluten-free.

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, 1570 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 835 9888

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The Filbert Steps

Described as a botanical garden rather than just a residential area, the Filbert Steps leading to Coit Tower are a must-see in North Beach. The stairs themselves are not too steep, so anyone of any age can enjoy the beautiful stroll.

The Filbert Steps, Filbert St, San Francisco, CA, USA

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City Lights Bookseller and Publishers

While a bookstore might not be the most obvious destination in North Beach, it is certainly a special one. City Lights Bookseller and Publishers was founded in 1953 by a poet by the name of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, and has since remained an independent bookstore and publisher, where people come from all over the country to read, but also to explore the world of literature, art, and politics through the medium of a book.

City Lights Bookseller and Publishers, 261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 362 8193

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Coit Tower

If you’re looking for a special view of the Golden Gate or Bay Bridges, Coit Tower in North Beach is the perfect place to do so. With a beautiful 360-degree view of the bay, the tower which was completed in 1933 by the firm of Arthur Brown, Jr., who also happens to be the architect of City Hall in San Francisco created a beautiful piece of history. Inside of the tower are murals depicting California during the depression in the 1930s. A unique piece of history, and a must-see in North Beach.

Coit Tower, 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 (415) 249-0995

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The Beat Museum

In a location where Beat music once thrived, the Beat Museum in North Beach celebrates music from the 50s displaying original manuscripts, first editions, and personal effects from the Beat music era. If you have any interest in music and its history in the city, this museum is a wonderful place to get your fill of the city’s music culture.

The Beat Museum, 540 Broadway, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 399 9626

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Caffe Trieste

Rumored to be the first place to sell an espresso, Caffe Trieste is a true gem in the heart of North Beach. It has become one of the most famous coffeehouses in the world, no doubt because of the authentic Italian vibe, the finest coffees, and beautiful music. With a friendly staff, delicious coffee, and memorabilia decorating the walls, be sure to stop by this North Beach treasure.

Caffe Trieste, 315 S 1st St, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 (408) 287 0400

By Amanda Jones