San Francisco Visitors Guide: Chinatown, North Beach and Telegraph Hill
Many visitors to Napa Valley combine their trip with a stay in San Francisco. To help you in planning your visit, we have included this San Francisco Visitors Guide. After several days of visiting San Francisco, Golden Haven Hot Spring will be your perfect base for exploring the Napa Valley Wine Country.
Upturned pagoda roofs and dragon-bedecked lampposts on Grant Avenue signify health and wealth in Chinatown, which grew up when thousands immigrated here from China to build the city and the railroads during the Gold Rush. A labyrinth of narrow alleys is crowded with small trading companies, fragrant herb shops, tea houses, mysterious Buddhist temples, fortune cookie factories and souvenir emporiums.
In a Julia-Morgan-designed building, the Chinese Historical Society of America displays 19th century artifacts, parade dragons and a fishing sampan. Across the street from the community’s gathering place, Portsmouth Square, the Chinese Culture Center is a small, impressive museum of antique pottery, musical instruments and the gold-adorned costume of an empress.
Ten Ren Tea Company offers steaming samples of fifty varieties of green, jasmine and black teas. A meal of Chinese food is a must, in a noodle shop or a dim sum restaurant where patrons choose from carts that clatter by each table, loaded with small plates of stuffed dumplings and savory bites.
In the heart of Italian North Beach beneath the towers of the Romanesque Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Washington Square is an outdoor meeting hall and social center, where Chinese practice tai chi, Italian grandpas sit on park benches, and artists set up their easels. The rich smells of Graffeo coffee, meatball sandwiches and homemade focaccia waft down Columbus Avenue from family-style restaurants, pizza joints, bakeries, delis and more than a dozen coffeehouses where patrons sip cappuccinos and waiters sing opera.
Tucked away on the mezzanine of a bank, the North Beach Museum exhibits fascinating old photos documenting early days when fishermen from Genoa and Sicily lived in “Little Italy” in the 1880s. The 1950s Beat Generation–-Ginsberg, Kerouac and other anarchists and literary types––congregated at City Lights Booksellers, still owned by poet guru, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Tourists and locals flock to the jazz and comedy clubs and to the long-running comedic satire show, “Beach Blanket Babylon” at Club Fugazi, an irreverent review of pop culture and current events by costumed actors and singers in preposterous hats and outrageous costumes.
|The article on this page is adapted from guidebooks written by Karen Misuraca, the author of Our San Francisco, Fun With the Family in Northern California, and other travel books. Available for purchase on Amazon.|