Exploring San Francisco’s North Beach Neighborhood with Vurb

As much as I miss living in Hong Kong, San Francisco is quickly feeling like home. Besides the obvious beauty (it’s seriously 70 degrees and sunny everyday!) I’m so impressed by the innovations happening throughout the Bay. People here are literally changing the world and there is no project too silly or small. From making your daily commute easier to developing cures for cancer, creativity knows no bounds here. So, it’s safe to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I’m liking it here.

As special a place as San Francisco is, I felt like an outsider looking in. When I’d walk around the city I often had to glance at Google Maps to make sure I was headed the right direction. As a travel writer and hopeless romantic when it comes to neighborhoods, I wanted to hit the ground running and magically become a SF neighborhood expert like I am in New York or Hong Kong but that wasn’t the case…yet!

The Best App to Tour San Francisco

Then came Vurb and all of a sudden it was like the clouds parted and I could see the city clearly for the first time. Once I discovered this app, I was hooked. Why? Well, it’s simple. The app houses all my other favorite apps like Yelp, Google Maps, Uber and Netflix BUT instead of opening each application separately, you can search for restaurant recommendations, book movie tickets and order an Uber at the touch of a button.

Exploring San Francisco's North Beach Neighborhood with Vurb

There are a lot of cool features to play around with, like their chat functionality, but I decided to focus in on the one thing I really needed: an understanding of my new neighborhood. In a nutshell, North Beach is the Little Italy of San Francisco but as I soon found out, it’s so much more than a good lunch break. There are countless cafes, fashion boutiques selling some pretty unique items, dive bars that are surprisingly charming and, of course, Italian restaurants that will make you want to book a trip to Rome pronto.

As I explored where to eat, drink, shop and meditate, I recorded my favorite discoveries within the app. You can find it by downloading the app and searching for “The Best of North Beach” deck. Here’s a quick link to connect with me directly. I also created a “Secret SF” deck as well, which is a roundup of some hidden gems I love that are often overrated. Below are screenshots of both decks including a map-view of my North Beach roundup.

Vurb mobile app

Getting Started

Want to find me on Vurb? The first thing to do is download the app. They’ll prompt you to enter your phone number and once you’re all set up, you can create a profile (linked through Facebook for convenience) and you’re good to go. New users are greeted with a few introductory screens to help get you started. Even though I was already familiar with Vurb, I learned some key tips this way.

The home screen (pictured below) is your starting point. For me, I mostly searched for nearby cafes and restaurants but you can also discover new music artists, search movie listings, watch videos…the list goes on. If you end up liking Vurb as much as I do, invite your closest pals so that you can chat within the app. I’ve coordinated a few activities with my husband this way and it definitely saves time.

mobile apps for San Francisco

Let Vurb Lead the Way

I’m a scorpio so I really like to feel in control but I happily tossed the reigns to Vurb for a few hours while I wandered through North Beach for the first time. Like many neighborhoods in San Francisco, there are some hills to deal with but with any hill also comes a great view! For me, the location couldn’t be better. It’s walking distance to both the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf so I’m never too far from the water.

Another perk is that there’s enough to see and do within a four-block radius. I work from home, so it’s important for me to feel like I can leave my apartment once in awhile without feeling like I’m in the middle of nowhere. North Beach almost feels like it’s own little town rather than a neighborhood within a big city. There’s a little bit of everything here, which is all part of its massive appeal I suppose.

guide to North Beach SF

Search your Interests

Vurb has a few main search categories including Food, Coffee & Tea, Nightlife, Shopping, Sights and Outdoors. North Beach might be one neighborhood in a city with dozens, but there’s a lot going on here. I decided to stick to one category every day for a week so that I didn’t feel too overwhelmed. That said, I had the time to do this and that won’t be the case for everyone. If you’re visiting a new city and are on a time crunch, I’d recommend simply searching the map for nearby points of interest. Vurb offers both list-view and map-view options depending on your preference.

best new travel apps

Discover

Here are a few of my favorite discoveries I made with Vurb. To see more, make sure to check out my “The Best of North Beach” deck after signing up.

*Hole in the Wall Coffee – it’s literally a hole in the wall! I love this place and despite its small size, the coffee is high-quality and the baristas super friendly. I also learned that you can order coffee here and bring it into Pisto’s Tacos next door (they don’t serve coffee themselves) if your craving a cup of Joe at brunch.

*Goorin Bros. Hat Shop – It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with hats and the fact that is spot is less than two blocks from my apartment is amazing and alarming ( unnecessary shopping spree anyone?) There are a few Goorin Bros. locations in SF but this one holds a special place in my heart. Come here for high-quality, vintage-themed hats.

*City Lights Bookstore – This is a San Francisco institution. As tech-driven as SF is, nobody can resist a good book and City Lights has thousands. I love that it’s so close because I could easily spend hours on end sifting through the racks. They specialize in the arts, politics and world lit. Perfect for my fellow bookworms!

*The Devil’s Acre – I came here for a meeting and left a little tipsy. If you’re a fan of apothecary-themed cocktails, this is a must! The drink menu is rather extensive but if you’re indecisive, you can just ask the mixologist to whip something up for you. Everything from the eclectic bar decor to the old-fashioned furniture feels like a time warp.

best views in San Francisco

Find your Happy Place

Clearly, North Beach is my happy place in San Francisco but what is yours? There are countless neighborhoods worth a wander and I still have many more walking dates with Vurb. Now that I’m comfortable in my own backyard, I plan to explore a few other hip areas like the Mission, Pacific Heights and The Haight.

For those of you who give Vurb a chance, I hope we can connect! I’d love to learn more about your hometown because who knows…I may be there sooner than you think. For now, I hope you’ll follow me on Vurb!

top neighborhoods in San Francisco

What’s your favorite San Francisco neighborhood? Tell me in the comments below!

This post is in collaboration with Vurb. All opinions are my own. 

Like me on Facebook and Tweet me: @BohemianTrails.

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Hi! I’m Megan,

a Scorpio sun and Libra moon who left her job in the music industry to travel and write full-time. Since then, i´ve explored more than 60 countries in the hopes that you will, too.

The world is made of magic and so are you!

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