One of San Francisco’s most storied watering holes, Vesuvio Cafe is an icon of the Beat Generation and a symbol of the history and culture of North Beach. Founded in 1948, the bohemian saloon was a popular hangout spot for writers and poets such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Other famous patrons include Bob Dylan and Francis Ford Coppola.
Many travelers visit Vesuvio Cafe as part of a tour of the North Beach (aka Little Italy) neighborhood, which is a bustling nightlife destination. Get there on a hop-on hop-off tour, or join a pub crawl to visit the bar with fellow travelers.
Inside, the eclectic, artsy decor and two stories of lights create a retro atmosphere in an intimate space, with walls covered in paintings and writer memorabilia. The drinks menu includes classic cocktails and Beat-themed tributes.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Vesuvio Cafe does not serve food.
- You must be 21 to enter; IDs are checked.
- There is plenty of free and metered street parking available in North Beach, but pay attention to posted signs about prohibited parking during street cleaning or other times.
How to Get There
The bar is easy to reach by cab, ride-hailing service, and public transportation. Take the Powell-Mason cable car to the Mason Street and Pacific Avenue stop, or hop on Muni bus 8 or 41.
When to Get There
Vesuvio Cafe is open daily from morning to late night. To enjoy the laid-back vibe of North Beach, visit in the evening or on a weekend afternoon, when sidewalk cafés and restaurants are bustling. Late-night, the neighborhood becomes more of a party scene. Every June, the North Beach Festival features a variety of food stands and merchants selling art and jewelry.
City Lights Bookstore
Located next door to Vesuvio Cafe, just across Jack Kerouac Alley, sits the other Beat-era icon of San Francisco—City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. A North Beach institution, this independent bookstore was founded in 1953 and is known for its international literature, progressive attitude, and author readings.