North Beach is that rare thing -- a neighborhood that manages to be a perennial hit with tourists, and also to remain beloved by San Franciscans. It's best known as San Francisco's Little Italy, with its high density of check-clothed ristorantes, caffes and Old World delicatessens. It's also a popular pilgrimage for fans of the Beat movement seeking the old haunts of Kerouac and Ginsberg. However, North Beach is no relic, and it has much to offer beyond pasta and poetry. This vital neighborhood is home to some of the liveliest nightclubs and bars in town. Small boutiques carrying handmade clothing and imported goods dot the streets, particularly on upper Grant Avenue. Though Italian restaurants appear to dominate the dining scene, there are plenty of other good spots to try once you've had your fill of lasagna, with menus featuring Japanese, French and contemporary fusion cuisine.
Whether prowling for historic landmarks, sampling house-roasted espressos, shopping, clubbing, or chowing down, you'll find North Beach has plenty to offer for both a leisurely afternoon visit and a night on the town. Take a detour off the main drag of Columbus and you're likely to run across some unexpected treasure of a shop, restaurant or spectacular view.