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The art & culture lover’s guide to the North Beach

With its jazz clubs, Italian heritage, and galleries, North Beach is one of the artsiest neighborhoods in San Francisco. It will take more than a weekend to fully explore the explosive arts and culture scene here, but this list of places to check out should get you started (and keep coming back for more). 

Pier 39
Caricatures, interactive arts, live music, and street performances
The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

Pier 39 is a hotbed of arts and culture in the North Beach. At the Entrance Plaza, you’ll be treated to live music every day of the week, from Latin Fusion to Bolivian Jazz.

If you want a fun souvenir to take home with you, head to the caricatures cart and have the in-house artist sketch a fun portrait of you or a loved one. And while you’re here, don’t forget to have your picture taken by the Open Heart sculpture. It’s one of the many interactive art scattered around the 45-acre complex.

Ferry Building Marketplace
Farmers market, local arts and crafts, artisanal food and products
One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA

The Ferry Building Marketplace is the place to be if you want to shop for fresh and local produce, as well as artisanal products, arts, and crafts made from San Francisco’s specialty food purveyors and artists. Some of the establishments and merchants you’ll find inside include Heath Ceramics, Acme Bread Company, Biscuit Bender, Far West Fungi, and Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop.

One Ferry Building itself is a piece of San Francisco history and culture. It was built in 1898 as a transportation hub where travelers arrived or bid adieu to pursue adventures abroad.

The Exploratorium
Art and science exhibits, After Dark Thursdays, and immersive experiences
Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

Art and science collide at the Exploratorium, which isn’t just a museum, but a “learning laboratory.” Kids and adults alike will have fun here— there are a ton of interactive and immersive exhibits that will challenge your perceptions about science, life, and art.

The best time to visit the Exploratorium would be during their After Dark event, which happens every Thursday night. In this time of the week, the entire Exploratorium takes on a different skin. Explore dark domes, try trick mirrors, peek into a large kaleidoscope, and admire the light displays. This is only for adults, by the way. Click here for the upcoming After Dark events.  

Autodesk Gallery
Cutting-edge design, concept art, and digital prototypes
1 Market Street #200, San Francisco, CA

At the Exploratorium, the spotlight was on art and science. Here at Autodesk Gallery (billed as one of the top destinations in San Francisco), art meets engineering and cutting-edge design.

Autodesk builds, and you can see some of their finest works, as well as the machines and tech they used, at the Gallery. There are several exhibits to explore, but if you want a deeper experience, join Autodesk in one of their Design Nights or build your own stuff at the Design & Make Studio.

North Beach might be the neighborhood for you

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