This is the Hippest Beatnik Walkin’ Tour
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SF Beatnik Bash Walkin’ Tour:
We all know that reading is sexy, so what could be hotter than a literary walking tour of one of San Francisco’s most celebrated contributions to writing! No matter if you’re on the road, or here at home, a Beatnik tour of San Francisco lets you see the city through the colorful and chaotic lenses of famous dreamers like Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsburg.
San Francisco Beat Museum
540 Broadway Street, San Francisco
The best place to start your walking tour of this history of Beat writing is, duh, the San Francisco Beat Museum. A treasure trove of brilliant scrawls, discarded dreams, and fun facts your wanderings around the dirty city streets that have become emblazoned on so many pages and in the minds of generations of readers, thinkers, and believers.
255 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
Like a ship captain and his cap, a cowboy and his horse, it’s hard to image a writer without a drink. Vesuvio is the perfect place to commune with the spirits, and the spirits who love them. Opening its doors in 1948, Beat writers like have frequented the joint since day one. So order a drink, pull out your notebook, and see if the inspiration strikes!
Formerly named Adler Alley, Jack Kerouac Alley is the tiny stretch of street that spans the distance between Vesuvio Cafe and the bookstore at the center of the Beatnik writing revolution, City Lights Bookstore! Sure, it might be just a tiny alley, but it’s also a statement of just how profound of a thumbprint Beat writers left on the City by the Bay.
City Lights Bookstore
Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
There is absolutely zero way you can traipse down Beatnik memory lane without stopping by the legendary City Lights Bookstore. Located in the heart of North Beach, City Lights is hallowed ground in the annals of Beat literature as the bookstore, and publishing house, that gave many of the San Francisco Beat’s their first shot at written fame. City Lights continues to be a visionary publishing house, and a must-visit stop for book, and Beat, lovers of every age.
The Quintessential SF view
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If you grab a quick Lyft up the hill, make sure to stop off here or at least look out the window when you hit near the top of Jones St. From there you can see Alcatraz Island and the bay bridge from the same vantage point, you really get sense of what these writers got to wake up to every mornin’. You can almost smell the inspiration…and wine breath.
Neal and Carolyn Cassady’s Home
Kerouac’s On The Road is, without a doubt, one of the defining books of the Beat Generation. Thoughtful, mad, and flowing, this story follows Dean Moriarty as he blazed across America looking for himself. The legendary character of Moriarty, is not simply a being of fiction, instead he was closely based on Kerouac’s own dear friend Neal Cassady. A crazy man with a beautiful mind, he and his wife lived at 29 Russell Street where Kerouac often loitered and couch surfed.
After all that walking, drinking, and musing, you’re going to need a little pick me up and Caffe Trieste is just the ticket for that. Founded in 1956, this cafe boasts being the first true Italian-style cafe in San Francisco and was a popular hangout for beat poets like Ginsburg, Kerouac, and others. Take a close look at the photo-laden walls to catch great candid shots of these writers hanging out and doing what they do best.
San Francisco is a city of words, people, and movements that have rocked the entire world. Take some time to take a literal walk through history and immerse yourself in the phenomenon that turned the literary world on its head.