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Learn about the Beat generation, the Barbary Coast and San Francisco’s Italian community on this 2-hour historical walking tour in North Beach, including admission to the Beat Museum. Led by a local guide, you’ll hear the stories behind the neighborhood’s coffee shops, jazz clubs and speakeasies. Pass Vesuvio, a favorite drinking spot of the Beats, as well as City Lights Bookstore, Kerouac Alley and 1010 Montgomery. Then head to the Beat Museum to see memorabilia from Allen Ginsberg and other big-time writers.

Highlights

  • Discover the history behind San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood on this 2-hour walking tour
  • Learn about the Beat writers and Italian anarchists from an expert guide
  • Pass famous landmarks including City Lights Bookstore, Vesuvio and The Cellar
  • Admire memorabilia from Beat icons like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac at the Beat Museum

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

North Beach Underground Tour with Beat Museum Admission

See the old haunts of the Beat icons

Meet your guide and group in Kerouac Alley, in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, to begin your cultural underground tour. This is where the writers, artists and visionaries of the Beat Generation movement frequently congregated during the 1950s. 

Walk through the area's streets and hidden landmarks to learn about the lives and times of the people who made up this movement, such as the iconic Jack Kerouac, author of 'On the Road'. 

Hear stories about the Barbary Coast's Gold Rush days, when the area was filled with sailors getting 'shanghaied'. Learn about the Italian anarchists who settled in the neighborhood and the circumstances that allowed strip clubs, gay bars, drag shows and the punk movement of the 1980s to thrive and prosper here. The Beat movement's tolerance, rejection of censorship, experimental drug use and environmental awareness paved the way for the vibrant neighborhood that exists there today. 

Stroll past a secret underground tunnel and some historical speakeasies on the way to the City Lights Bookstore, co-founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a longtime San Francisco resident. Learn about the bookstore's history, particularly its role in Alan Ginsberg's public readings of 'Howl and Other Poems' and the resulting obscenity trial. 

Stop in at Vesuvio, a bar frequented by the Beats, that is still popular with the locals today. Check out The Cellar, an influential poetry and jazz club, as well as 1010 Montgomery, a place several members of the Beats called home. 

Finish your 2-hour cultural tour at Washington Square Park. Admission to the Beat Museum is included after the tour.

Customer Reviews

Lance D

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2016

We had a great time. Definitely something worth doing.

Kurt E

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2016

Covers both history of The Beat Generation members and events as well as the rich and long history of San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. Very knowledgeable and fun tour guide. Highly Recommended!

Evelyn G

5 star rating: Highly Recommended April 2016

It was a great walking tour, covering the history of the area going back to the Gold Rush, with special emphasis on the Beat Generation. Our guide was very knowledgeable. Afterwards, I was able to take in the Beat Museum at my own pace. As a result of the tour, I'm now reading Kerouac's On the Road.

Alexandra H

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2015

My husband and I had a great time! Ryan was an absolutely first-rate guide and we had lots of opportunities to ask questions and talk about our own experiences in SF during the 60s. Worth every penny and more! We'll be back next year to take another walking tour with Ryan and his group of guides. We can't wait, we had so much fun!

Andrew M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2015

Interesting!

Didn't realise there was so much history around North Beach and The Beatniks!

Thanks for a lovely afternoon, we even went to the Vesuvio for 1 of Jack's favourite drinks after!!

grobtuch

5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2015

Van was excellent. This was very enjoyable for me 58 y.o. woman and my 2 sons - 23 and 24 y.o.

Dr. Frank S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

Ryan did a great tour. He brought us North Beach and the Beat very close. Thanks, we really enjoyed it.

Reena A

5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2014

Ok, so if I could give this tour more stars I would. If you want to know more about the Beat Gen and San Fran - please do this tour. They charge you so little and they actually provide you so much more than they describe on Viator. Ryan, our tour guide, is a fount of knowledge when it comes to Beat writing, the Beat Generation hot spots and their writing.

Ryan takes you to their old haunts and gives you insights into their lives, influences, loves, vices and writing. He knows the ins and outs of the area (he also does the foodie / restaurant tours and gave us some great restaurant suggestions). Also, the guy is hilarious. The museum itself is amazing and inside is the original car from On the Road - filth and all. The owner is welcoming and attentive. They have some amazing Beat artifacts, books and media available (it has its own little makeshift cinema). I purchased some amazing things from the museum, like a poster that I absolutely fell in love with. Brandon, who also works in the Museum, was kind enough to wrap it up nicely and it survived the entire trip (about 8 + flights) in my bag - thank you dude! I will be framing it and hanging it up in my new apartment in Sydney, Aus.

Ryan also suggested that we go to two restuarants one in a Lighthouse (below sea level) and another on Mission St called La Taqueria. Both were EXCELLENT.

My friends and I loved this tour. I know I will be back soon and will be visiting there again.

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