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admin 02.07.2015

City Lights Books has been a fixture of the San Francisco literary scene since it was founded in 1953. San Francisco has long been a breeding ground for the counterculture, which really started in the 1950s with a group of nonconformist writers, artists and poets called Beats or Beatniks. Today, visitors can relive the San Francisco Beat Generation by popping into some historic haunts clustered around the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Broadway Street. Across the adjacent alleyway, Vesuvio Cafe was a favorite hangout of Jack Kerouac, arguably the most famous Beat writer whose milestone novel On the Road chronicled the inner workings of his merry group of friends and the San Francisco Beat Generation.
For some interpretation of the surrounding sites, stop by the Beat Museum, an intimate little gem that showcases old photographs, original manuscripts, handwritten letters and personal ephemera to keep the legacy of the Beat Generation alive. Visit the Beat Museum and surrounding historic hangouts on a San Francisco Beat Generation Walking Tour, or retrace the hippy movement that followed on the Magic Bus Tour. Though San Francisco might seem like a big, busy, cultural hotspot, complete with coveted real-estate, ocean views, and a real financial district, this does not mean that San Francisco is accessible to those only with a heavy pocket and a spendthrift attitude—far from it. And if these weekends are devoted to exploring the nightlife and bar-hopping around town (always a favorite way to see the city), consider utilizing San Francisco’s own free limo service.

Other fantastic San Francisco freebies include wandering around the Golden Gate Promenade, browsing the eclectic Haight-Ashbury section of town,  and stopping by the Boudin Demonstration Bakery to see the secrets behind making that delicious and signature San Franciscan sourdough loaf. These storied characters, notably Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, challenged mainstream American beliefs about everything from literature and spirituality to drugs, sex and materialism. Start at City Lights Books, the store and publishing house that Lawrence Ferlinghetti co-founded in 1953. Across the street, Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Cafe is a dive bar cum curiosity shop that also pays homage to the Beats. This is where you’ll meet any remaining Beatniks still in the neighborhood (rumor has it Lawrence Ferlinghetti is still a regular) as well as the next generation of writers and free thinkers. San Francisco has some of the best museums in the world—their sheer beauty alone will surprise you—and seeing the cultural wonders they house on one of the many museum free days is a great way to explore the artistic treasures of the city. That’s right—Tonic Limo Service offers guests a free ride every Friday and Saturday from 8 p.m. While they hailed from all over the country, most of the Beats settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco for at least some time in the 1950s.

City Lights made history with the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, which later faced an obscenity trial, and the shop still supports emerging and renegade writers today. Typically, free museum days land on the firsts of every month, particularly first Tuesdays. Their lives spurred a movement now known as the Beat Generation, which paved the way for the Hippy Generation of the 1960s.
These are good days to explore the museums, because it leaves the weekends open to other pursuits.
This is a one-way ride (you’ll still have to find a ride back home), but it beats shelling out $30 for cab fare, no?

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