1. Visit City Lights
A former hangout of Beat generation writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, City Lights has been designated a San Francisco landmark. This iconic bookstore houses three levels of volumes, including an impressive poetry collection. The store stays open until midnight. 261 Columbus Avenue; 415-362-8183.
2. Break for Coffee at Trieste
A quintessential North Beach coffeehouse that has been family owned for 40 years, Trieste presents weekly concerts that range from opera to Italian folk and pop. It’s no surprise this authentic, atmospheric spot is a haven for artists and writers; word has is Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay for The Godfather here. 601 Vallejo St.; 415-392-6739.
3. Browse Shops on Grant Avenue
Charmingly narrow Grant Avenue epitomizes the independent spirit of North Beach. Here you’ll find a terrific collection of small cafes and boutiques selling clothes by local designers and vintage wares. Grant Avenue between Columbus and Filbert Streets.
4. Climb the Filbert Steps
Along the east side of telegraph hill, the Filbert steps wend their way past charming lushly landscaped historic cottages (these are private residences). The top affords a terrific city view; lucky walkers may spot the famous parrots of Telegraph Hill, who make their home among the trees here. Filbert Street between Sansome and Montgomery.