Previously dubbed as the ‘Paris of the West’, San Francisco is rapidly evolving into a tech industry. Beatniks, artists and hippies have been replaced by groups of young tech developers. While many of the central neighbourhoods have transformed themselves into trend-setting districts, the vintage charm of old San Francisco is still bustling in the surrounding districts.
A place that seems to be immune to change, North Beach is one of San Francisco’s greatest hidden gems. Despite it being crowded with tourists, locals embrace the neighbourhood to escape the tech crowds.
North Beach is a buzzy neighbourhood steeped in Italian heritage. One of the best ways to enjoy the neighbourhood is by night. Neon signs light up the streets of Broadway, radiating an odd and nostalgic allure, and the Italian-American cafes on Columbus give of an authentic charm.
You can also get a taste of San Fran’s Beatnik culture at Vesuvio. The spot has a narrow balcony in the second-floor that overlooks the bar. Since the noise-level tends to be manageable, many come here to write their spoken word poetry or even hold deep conversations. Not only is Vesuvio a great place to get your mind going, it’s also one of the few places you can get a good martini for $8.
Many forget, some don’t even know it, that San Francisco has a pristine beach and that it has a bustling surf culture. Thanks to the fog that blankets the city for most of the year, Ocean Beach is often looked past by locals and tourists.
As beautiful as Ocean Beach seems, it is one of the most challenging and dangerous surf spots in the world. Although Ocean Beach is less than 10 miles from the central, it feels completely different from the rest of San Francisco.
Giving a nod to the 80’s and 90’s, Trouble Coffee is a small and no-frills neighbourhood institution that serves the community with coffee, toast and coconut. Once you get near the opening of the coffee shop, their in-house music collective of heavy metal music should be a good indication that it is not a gimmicky health-conscious artisan café.
If you continue to the end of Judah Street, you will come across the beach where you can catch surfers get a good wave or you can also head to Hook Fish Company, a surfer-run sustainable fish market and restaurant, where you can get fresh seafood or even classic fish tacos.
Ocean Beach may be great for surfers but not so much for those who just want to enjoy the beach and swim. If you want to go for a dip, you can head to Marshall’s Beach in the north-western tip of the the city, into presidio. Getting there involve a bit of hiking but the cold waters will cool you right up.
Nearby the beach is Clement Street, best known for their selection of ethnic food in the city. 11thAvenue to Arguello Boulevard is the main point of the Inner Richmond neighbourhood, the stretch is an enclave of Chinese immigrants and has amazing Chinese restaurants. Not only do they have Chinese cuisines but as well as Vietnamese, Thai, Indian and even Turkish.