What makes San Francisco such a colorful city and a favorite of tourists from all around the globe is its neighborhoods. They are distinct and delightful and deserving of a few minutes of your time to learn more about them. North Beach, which many know as Little Italy, is where you’ll savor some of the finest meals and cappuccinos anywhere. It’s also the place the Beatniks got their start in the 1950s (visit City Lights Bookstore to get the whole story). Great place to stroll around. Or pull up a bench in Washington Square and check out locals doing Tai Chi every morning. Right next door to North Beach is Chinatown. The streets are narrow and the shops and restaurants overflow with locals and tourists alike. Don’t miss the experience of seeing how fortune cookies are created at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company. It would not be a true visit to San Francisco if you didn’t make an appearance in the Castro District, the center of gay and lesbian life. Great eateries, unique boutiques, and wild bars dot this renowned area. Catch a classic film noir at the Castro Theatre or a classic evening of decadence during the annual Halloween celebration.
If you missed out on the 1960s, you’ll have a chance to experience it up close and personal in the world-famous Haight-Ashbury. The part of San Francisco where old hippies reign supreme, the Haight is a funky combination of contemporary and kooky. There are a few upscale stores sprinkled among the head shops and tattoo parlors. One of the most up-and-coming neighborhoods is Bernal Heights. You’ll encounter an array of fine restaurants and cafés plus year-round sunny weather. Back when San Francisco was young, this was the section of San Francisco where the rich and famous built their mansions. Located just northwest of downtown and right on a cable car stop, this fanch-schmancy neighborhood is where two of the city’s most prestigious hotels reside: the Mark Hopkins and the Fairmont. One of the liveliest places to be is the Latino-rich Mission. Like Bernal Heights, the weather is much nicer, making nearby Dolores Park a sunbather’s paradise. Plus, the restaurants and shops are definitely on the eclectic side. You can find a taco stand next to a five-star dining establishment and a thrift shop next to a stylish boutique. Find out more about San Francisco neighborhoods at http://www.sanfrancisco.com/neighborhoods/