Feather & Flint

Exploring San Francisco: Russian Hill, North Beach, Chinatown & Fisherman’s Wharf

May 29, 2017 59 Comments 26 Photos

Hi! Are you ready to continue exploring San Francisco neighborhoods with me? This week, we’ll walk through Russian Hill, North Beach, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf—I have a feeling you’re going to love these San Francisco neighborhoods.

In post two, we explored Haight-Ashbury and the Mission District; then in post two, we saw The Presidio, the Sunset District, Sea Cliff, and more gorgeous sights around the city. Check them out for more San Francisco travel tips and stunning photos of San Francisco neighborhoods!

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods:

Russian Hill

Russian Hill is one of San Francisco’s forty-four(!) hills. This San Francisco neighborhood is most famous for Lombard Street, known as the most crooked street in the world (although several other streets are apparently vying for that title). The design, first implemented in 1922, was necessitated by the street’s steep grade (27%), which cars were otherwise unable to climb. The San Francisco cable car—the last manually operated streetcar in the world—climbs Russian Hill as well as Nob Hill. There were originally 23 lines, and 3 are still running; I recommend taking the Powell-Hyde Line because it’s the longest route at over 2 miles (and thus the longest ride for your fare!). You can board the cable car at Hyde & Beach Streets in the Marina, or at Powell Street Station near Market & 5th.

Russian Hill: 1 of San Francisco's 44 hills! See the scenic neighborhood on #featherandflint. Click To Tweet

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

The view from Lombard Street

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Powell Street Station

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Hyde Street & Francisco Street

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Jones Street & Lombard Street

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods

North Beach

North Beach is San Francisco’s Little Italy. While it was once home to a large Italian population, today, its cultural legacy is mainly carried forth by its restaurants. This San Francisco neighborhood was also the origin of the term “beatnik,” as the Beat Generation (including writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg) came of age in North Beach’s bars and cafes. It was also home to the country’s first topless bar, lesbian bar, and strip club run by its own dancers (The Condor Club, The Lusty Lady, and Mona’s 440 Club, respectively). Many renowned establishments in North Beach still feature vintage-style signs that bring a ton of character to this San Francisco neighborhood.

Eat: Italian Homemade Company (we especially loved their alfredo sauce—insanely good!)

Drink: Bodega (they have a fascinating wine menu. Each wine is described with three stunningly accurate words—some that you’d expect, like “floral” or “peach”; but others that you’d never expect, like “marble.” We asked what their process was for choosing each description, and they laughed—one guy tried every wine in a single sitting, got rip-roaring drunk, and never double-checked the menu after he completed it. They were surprised but thrilled to hear that it was so accurate!)

Where to find the best Italian food in San Francisco? Find out on #featherandflint now! Click To Tweet

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

101 Music

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Tamarind Hall

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Washington Square Park

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Gino & Carlo and Golden Boy Pizza

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest neighborhood of its kind in North America, and it’s actually the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Chinatown was the point of origin for much of what us Westerners think of as “Chinese food”—which, of course, is much different from actual Chinese cuisine. It’s famous for Grant Avenue, with lanterns adorning its streets, and which culminates in the Dragon Gate. Its history is far less pretty, however: Chinatown was the only neighborhood where Chinese immigrants were allowed to live for decades, and the original neighborhood was decimated by the 1906 earthquake. Today, this San Francisco neighborhood continues to embody the customs that immigrants have brought with them for nearly 170 years.

Visit: Grant Avenue (the lantern-adorned street in Chinatown)

Discover San Francisco's Chinatown with #featherandflint: Lanterns, history & so much more. Click To Tweet

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Grant Avenue

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Grant Avenue

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Grant Avenue

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Fisherman’s Wharf & the Marina

The Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood is overrun by tourists, but its proximity to the bay makes it a beautiful place to stroll on a sunny day. Parts of Fisherman’s Wharf comprise the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, including the historic ships that you’ll see docked along the Hyde Street pier. On Pier 39, you’ll see (and hear, and smell) a colony of sea lions that first appeared in the Fisherman’s Wharf area in 1989, and ended up forcing out all of the boats that once docked here. The San Francisco Marina has been hit hard by earthquakes over the years. Much of this San Francisco neighborhood’s land was reclaimed from the rubble left by the 1906 earthquake; and a second earthquake impacted the Marina again in 1989.

Drink: The Interval at Long Now (their decor was incredibly cool—I’d describe it as a sophisticated scientist’s laboratory.)

Find sea lions & sangria at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco with #featherandflint! Click To Tweet

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

The Cannery

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Fisherman’s Wharf

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Capurro’s

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Fisherman’s Wharf

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Pier 39

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

Pier 39

San Francisco Neighborhoods: Chinatown & Beyond | Feather & Flint

What have your favorite San Francisco neighborhoods been so far? If I’m being honest, I can’t wait to show you the next few posts… We’ll be taking a loooong stroll through Muir Woods, Napa Valley, and more! So be sure to check back next week—you won’t regret it 😉

Which San Francisco neighborhoods should you visit on your trip? Find out on #featherandflint! Click To Tweet

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59 Comments

  1. Reply

    Jessica

    May 30, 2017

    i really felt like you took me with you! thank you

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Yay! You’re so welcome, Jessica 🙂

  2. Reply

    Taylor

    May 30, 2017

    I have always wanted to travel to San Fran and these photos make me want to go TODAY! I will definitely be booking a trip soon and following this post as a guide. Thanks for the great read!

    xx, Taylor (thesprinkle.tayloramead.com)

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      That makes me so happy – thanks so much, Taylor!!

  3. Reply

    Jackie

    May 30, 2017

    Great post! Wow you got some really amazing pictures! We are from here and you captured if beautifully. I loved getting to travel the city with you. Great blog!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thank you, Jackie!! That’s high praise coming from a Californian; that means a lot to me!

  4. Reply

    Nancy at Miles For Family

    May 30, 2017

    I’m really loving this San Francisco series! I like reading about the history of each area. I’m bookmarking this to go back and read with my kids before our trip.

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thank you so much, Nancy; that’s so great to hear! I love thinking about you reading this post with your kids 🙂

  5. Reply

    Kimber

    May 30, 2017

    I love San Francisco, your photos capture it beautifully – Love the colors! Great post, I’ve explored a lot of SF but you’ve got some great tips on places I’ve never been to!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 31, 2017

      Thank you so much, Kimber – you’re so sweet! So glad that I could expose regular SF visitors to new places, that makes me happy!

  6. Reply

    Lona Benitez

    May 30, 2017

    Breathtaking! Your post gives such a neat perspective, and it has got me dreamin’ about the West Coast!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 31, 2017

      Thank you so much for reading, Lona – it means a lot to hear that!

  7. Reply

    Jasmine Eclipse

    May 30, 2017

    Isn’t San Francisco just wonderful?! I loved all of your photos, it reminded me of my last trip there, which was many, many years ago. It brought back a lot of great memories though 🙂

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 31, 2017

      So glad you’ve gotten a chance to visit – it’s such a special city! Thanks, Jasmine 🙂

  8. Reply

    Shani | Sunshine & Munchkins

    May 30, 2017

    I’ve only been to San Francisco a couple of times and the most recent was 8 years ago! Both times I visited Fisherman’s Wharf which is a lot of fun. I’d love to go to Chinatown though on of these times. And riding the cable car was a highlight for me!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 31, 2017

      The cable car was definitely a highlight for me, too – it’s something you could never do anywhere else in the world, and it gives you such a unique view of the city. We tried to go back for a second ride later in the week, and the line was over an hour long!

  9. Reply

    Harmony, Momma To Go

    May 31, 2017

    we are taking our kids to san fran this summer. I forgot there is a little italy there! and def taking them to fishermans wharf! They will love the seals!

    • Reply

      Robin

      June 2, 2017

      Oooh yes!! I can’t even imagine how excited I would have been as a kid to see this many sea lions – even more excited than I was as an adult, hahah! Have so much fun 🙂

  10. Reply

    Crystal

    May 31, 2017

    Such a helpful article that I will save for later. I want to visit the local coffee scene when I’m there. 🙂

    • Reply

      Robin

      June 2, 2017

      There is SUCH a great coffee scene in San Francisco! In Outer Sunset, where we were staying, there were a multitude of great brunch places that each claimed to have the best coffee in San Francisco. We tried Beachside, which is great for a cup of fresh-brewed hot coffee; and Java Beach, which has all kinds of drinks, hot and cold; but I heard great things about Trouble as well. And they’re all within a few minutes’ walk from each other on Judah Street!

  11. Reply

    kristal

    May 31, 2017

    This is such a fun post. Making me want to visit.

    • Reply

      Robin

      June 2, 2017

      I hope you get a chance to go someday – there’s seriously something for everyone in San Fran! Such a cool city! Thanks for reading, Kristal 🙂

  12. Reply

    Diandra

    May 31, 2017

    I haven’t been to San Fran yet, so I am definitely saving this post for when I visit! The images are gorgeous, thank you for sharing!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Thank you so much, Diandra! So glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  13. Reply

    Angelina

    May 31, 2017

    I’ve been to fisherman’s wharf! Your photography definitely makes me want to return

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      It was a really cool place – especially the views! So glad you had the chance to visit!

  14. Reply

    LeAnn

    May 31, 2017

    Oh, such gorgeous shots!!! All the pink buildings has me all heart eyes. lol. I would love to one day travel there and this post only reinforces that desire. Great post!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Thank you so much, LeAnn! I felt the same way – there’s nothing better than pastel buildings! Heart eyes emojis all over the place 🙂

  15. Reply

    Joy

    May 31, 2017

    I love your photos! This is perfect timing since we’ll be in SF next week! 🙂 Thank you for all the tips!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Omg, I hope you had the best trip!! It’s such an amazing place!

  16. Reply

    Danielle Fairhurst

    May 31, 2017

    Amazing write up! And your photos are amazing 🙂

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Thank you so much, Danielle – that’s so sweet of you to say! 🙂

  17. Reply

    Anna

    May 31, 2017

    I remembered my vacation in San Franciso it was a lot of food and the food oh my it was delicious. I love the China town there as well. This post is awesome and beautiful pictures.

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Thank you, Anna!! Omg, we had so much good food there, from so many different parts of the world – I absolutely loved it!

  18. Reply

    Jessie

    June 1, 2017

    Both the city and you are radiant! It looks so beautiful, makes me wish to plan another visit to San Fran…<3

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Awww, thank you so much, Jessie! I honestly can’t wait to go back for another visit!!

  19. Reply

    Sara

    June 1, 2017

    Wow, your photography is stunning–I hadn’t thought of San Francisco for years. You brought back all the great places to see and experience. Great post!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Thank you so much, Sarah!! I had been dying to go back ever since I visited when I was 4. It was a long time coming–over 2 decades–but well worth it!

  20. Reply

    the sophia diaries

    June 1, 2017

    These pictures make me miss San Fran…

    http://thesophiadiaries.com/stories/monthly-mantra-june-2017

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Working on these posts has me missing it already, hahah!! Such a great city 🙂

  21. Reply

    Jordyn

    June 1, 2017

    San Francisco is such a cool city. I really love Russian hill and the wharf. My Dad lives in Napa Valley so when I visit him I usually like to take a day trip or two to San Francisco…I’m actually headed there tomorrow so this post feels so timely (:

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Omg, I’m so jealous!! We were covertly looking for ways to move there the whole time we were there, hahah – I fell in love with Napa!

  22. Reply

    Divya

    June 1, 2017

    I’m a huge fan of Bodega!! I’ve only been there twice (because I lived about an hour from the city) but enjoyed it so much both times.

    I’m also a huge Fishermans Wharf fan. There’s just so much to do and see and EAT. And the CHEESE. And the Blue Bottle Coffee. And all of it. I love it all!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Omg, I can’t believe you’ve been to Bodega!! We were meant to go there together <3 I want to eat ALL the cheese and drink ALL the wine with you!

  23. Reply

    Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries

    June 1, 2017

    Your photos captured the city perfectly. Loved the one with the cable car!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Thank you so much!! My husband had the amazing idea to take time-lapse videos from the cable car as it ascended and descended the hills – SO COOL.

  24. Reply

    colleen wool

    June 1, 2017

    Your pictures look amazing. I really want to visit there now!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Thank you so much, Colleen! I can’t wait to go back!!

  25. Reply

    Anonymous

    June 1, 2017

    It looks beautiful there. I really have to make it to Cali one day. I have an uncle in San Diego… maybe I’m due for a visit. 😉 And I always love visiting the China Towns in big cities. SO cool. And I never knew that was where the first (americanized) Chinese food arrived!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Oh my gosh, you have to visit! I’m dying to see more of the state – especially the state and national parks. And isn’t it a crazy story?! There are so many interesting details about how all of the “Chinese” dishes Americans love came to be – including fortune cookies!

  26. Reply

    Rebecca Hicks

    June 1, 2017

    I want to visit San Fransisco so bad! It looks like such a cool place to explore. I love your pictures- so fresh and colorful!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Thank you so much, Rebecca! I really couldn’t recommend it more!!

  27. Reply

    Rachel

    June 1, 2017

    Love this! North Beach and the Fisherman’s Wharf area (I know very touristy) are my faves!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      I don’t even know if I could pick a favorite – every single neighborhood has so many special things about it! What an amazing city!

  28. Reply

    Kaycee

    June 2, 2017

    I have always wanted to go to San Francisco! Your pictures are so vibrant– love it!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Thank you, Kaycee!! It’s honestly such a vibrant place in person, too – I’m so glad my photos captured that 🙂

  29. Reply

    Karyl | Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

    June 2, 2017

    I loved my trip to SF a couple years ago! I feel like I walked every one of those hills while I was there…they are BRUTAL. Chinatown was such a great place to walk through, to browse through all the shops. I didn’t get to eat anything in Chinatown, unfortunately. The Fisherman’s Wharf was probably one of my favorite areas, and I think I spent an hour in the Boudin shop! So bummed, cause we only say one seal 🙁

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      HAHA omg I know, I had calves of steel after a week there!! I didn’t get to eat anything in Chinatown either, actually – although we did have Chinese food in another neighborhood that my friend’s Chinese boyfriend said is legit! We saw the seals during such a crazy time – it was mating season, so the males were literally bludgeoning each other trying to push their competition off the docks, while the ladies just lounged in the sun on another dock. It was hysterical.

  30. Reply

    Brittany Putman

    June 11, 2017

    what a beautiful city! I’d love to visit someday.

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