North Beach Walking Tours
The best way to experience North Beach is definitely to walk on foot. Below are suggested approaches for walkers to consider. We recommend you glance through them all and also look at our North Beach Page and Map since these resources are designed to complement each other.
North Beach is so compact and densely filled with good things to do that just getting from one place to another is fun and much, much easier than trying to park. You can easily walk to several interesting adjacent neighborhoods as well. All of the above makes North Beach one of the very best places to start a walk in San Francisco.
This simple tour is fairly short yet takes you by or nearby many best things to do.
- Start at Broadway/Columbus. Another good starting point on this round trip is Washington Square.
- Go north on Grant Ave to Union St.
- Go west on Union St to Columbus Ave at Washington Square.
- Go southwest on Columbus Ave back to your starting point at Broadway/Columbus.
First look through our North Beach page and find something that particularly interests you. This page has details & directions for many different walks and nearby side trips including:
- Columbus Ave & Washington Square Walk through the heart of Little Italy.
- Filbert Steps & Greenwich Steps Climb the most famous steps in SF.
- Grant Ave Walk the oldest street in San Francisco.
- Barbary Coast This was the most infamous redlight district in the world from about 1850-1900.
Here is another variation on the specific walks mentioned above. Start at any one of the best things to do on our North Beach page & map then just start exploring nearby streets and shops on your own. That is often the way we do it! For example start at:
- Intersection of Broadway/Columbus There is something neat to do in 6 different directions.
- Washington Square Park Little Italy’s community center.
- Any particular restaurant or coffee shop We often start at our favority coffee shop, Caffe Trieste.
North Beach is immediately adjacent several other interesting neighborhoods. The list below helps you efficiently link together walks to/from these destinations.
Before you start check the maps & links indicated below for relevant details. Also, sometimes the directions are too subtle to completely describe so we recommend you first quickly highlight your path on copy of a map so that you can easily recover should you make a wrong turn or decide to take a do-it-yourself variation (there are many good ones).
- The crookedest street(Lombard) and the steepest street(Filbert) are not far from North Beach. Start at Lombard/Columbus and go west to Lombard St. While you are in the area check out the San Francisco Art Institute, Chestnut & Jones, a nice hidden secret.
- Walking west up Union St starting at Columbus/Union is probably the most easiest way though more mundane. This is also a good way to drive to Russian Hill.
Vallejo Stairs walk to Russian Hill
A very nice, fairly long & steep round trip from North Beach to Russian Hill follows:
- start at Vallejo/Columbus
- go west on Vallejo St through Ina Coolbrith Park and the Vallejo Crest to Hyde St.
- go north on Hyde St past Swensons Ice Cream, the steepest street in SF (Filbert), and the crookedest street (Lombard) to Beach St.
- go west one short block on Beach St to Columbus Ave.
- go southeast on Columbus Ave back to Vallejo/Columbus.
- We usually take Columbus Ave from Washington Square back and forth to Fisherman’s Wharf. It is the quickest, flattest route and is fairly interesting. This is also the easiest way to drive.
- A different walk to Fisherman’s Wharf is to start on Filbert St near Washington Square then work your way north northwest up Grant Ave or Powell St to the Wharf. Wander around some on your way.
- From Columbus/Broadway walk southeast to the highly visible Transamerica Pyramid. Southeast of there is the main Financial District.
- Another route is through Chinatown is south on Grant Ave to California St. Then walk west a block on California St which will put you in the middle of the Financial District.
See Barbary Coast and Jackson St on our North Beach page.
- From Telegraph Hill take the Greenwich or Filbert Steps east down to Levi Straus Plaza & Park and on east to The Embarcadero. Note that Pier 39, at the north end of The Embarcadero, is only a couple of blocks from here.
- Walking south on Embarcadero is a longer walk but you can ride one of the historic street cars going up and down Embarcadero back to Fisherman’s Wharf.
- You can also get to Embarcadero by walking east on Broadway from Broadway/Columbus towards the Bay shoreline. It is quicker but relatively uninteresting.
It should be very evident why North Beach is a walker’s paradise. Enjoy!