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by Jill Loeffler •
Updated: January 12, 2023
Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco is in the North Beach which is also known to the locals as the "Little Italy" District. This beautiful Roman Catholic Church is a quick stop and free to enter.
You will find its spires towering high above Washington Square Park. It's ornate details both inside and out are a sight to see for all visitors.
One of the reasons that it is so famous is that it's also the location where Joe DiMaggio married his first wife and took pictures with his second wife, Marilyn Monroe.
Read on for visiting tips, more on the history of the church including more on the DiMaggio marriages, where you'll find it featured in the movies, and how to get here.
Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.
You will find Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco at 666 Filbert Street. It's on the northern side of Washington Square Park in North Beach. It's part of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
The church is open to visitors 365 days a year. The visiting hours are Monday through Friday from 7 am to 3:30 pm. On Saturday, the church welcomes visitors from 7 am to 6 pm.
On Sunday, it is open from 8 am until 6 pm.
Anyone can come and visit as there is no requirement regarding your beliefs or religion.
It closes early twice a year. On Christmas and Easter, Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco closes after mass at 1 pm.
The church staff asks that you dress moderately while visiting the church. They request that no shorts or tank tops be worn during your visit. Women do not need cover their heads when entering, but they welcome those that wish to do so.
Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco offers several masses throughout the week. They also offer Italian and Cantonese masses once a week.
Here is their current schedule of services.
Weekday Masses: 7:00 am and 9:00 am
Saturday Masses: 7:30 am, 9:00 am & 5:00 pm (Vigil)
They request that all visitors be respectful during their visit when mass is in session.
If you want to learn more about Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco, you will find a variety of North Beach tours that include it in their itinerary. Most do not enter the church but will stand outside explaining some of its fine details. You can then enter on your own time to check out the interior.
North Beach Free Walking Tour: SF City Guides (part of the SF Public Library) offers a free walking tour of North Beach. The tour starts at the church with information on its history and why its been an important part of this community for a long time. Find out more details and upcoming tour dates and times.
North Beach & Little Italy Walking Tour: This guided tour offers you the chance to learn all about North Beach. It includes some tastes and treats along the way as well as a stopping point at the church for you to learn more about it. This 3-hour tour runs most days at 10 am and 2 pm. Visit Viator to learn more and check for ticket availability.
You will love this free San Francisco attraction as it features many gorgeous details. Its twin spires with crosses at the top reach up 191 feet each.
On the front facade, you will see a ribbon of verse from Dante's "Paradiso." The translation is "The glory of Him who moves all things penetrates and glows throughout the universe."
The front also showcases four animals on pedestals. They represent the following four evangelists from the Bible:
Below is a picture of two of them.
The stained glass on the inside is also gorgeous. Once you enter, make sure to turn around and check out the large rose glass display above the entrance area. This magnificent piece is 14 feet in diameter.
The main altar is another lovely site to see.
The first Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco was built in 1884. It was on the corner of Filbert Street and Grant Avenue, which is just a few blocks from its current location. Unfortunately, the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed the original building.
The current church was built in 1924.
Shortly after it was rebuilt, it became at target of anti-Catholic activities. From 1926-1927, there were five separate bomb attacks. A bombing attempt in 1927 ended with the police shooting the two activists and both of them dying.
Joe DiMaggio grew up in the North Beach District and was part of Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco during his childhood. He married his first wife, Dorothy Arnold, in the church in 1939. They divorced but did not get an annulment which means he was still married to Arnold according to the church.
This is why, when he married Marilyn Monroe in 1954, he was not able to get married at Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco. They were married in San Francisco's City Hall in a civil ceremony and then came to the church to take pictures outside. Rumor has it that it was a way to show is family back in Italy that he had a "proper marriage."
DiMaggio's funeral was also held at the church in 1999.
Inside the church, you will still see a picture of DiMaggio and his first wife on their wedding day.
The church is featured in a variety of movies and TV shows. In these films, you can get a sneak peek at this historic gem.
Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco is in the heart of the city and easy to get to from many popular districts. If you have the time, you could easily walk here from both Fisherman's Wharf and Union Square.
You will find quite a few public transit options nearby the church. It's mostly buses and cable cars that run through this part of town.
Buses: The 30 & 91 stop along Columbus Street. Their closest stop is at Columbus and Filbert which is about a block away. The 8 and the 39 also have stops nearby at Filbert and Powell. The 41 and 45 have stops on Union at Columbus Avenue.
Cable Car: The Powell Mason cable car comes through North Beach. You will find a stop at Columbus and Lombard. This is about four blocks away from the Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco.
The Hop On Hop Off Bus tour is another great way to get here. There is a stop on the western side of Washington Park.
You can find out more the popular one-day tour including other stops on its route.
721 Filbert Street: Parking garage about a block away
1636 Powell Street: Garage about three blocks away
North Beach Garage: This is one of the bigger garages in this area. You will find it at 735 Vallejo. It's about four and a half blocks away from the church.
>> More tips on getting around SF
If you are interested in staying near Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco, I have a few recommendations for you. The North Beach district doesn't have very many large hotels. Therefore, your best bet is to stay in one of the few small boutique hotels.
Here are a couple of good local hotels in this district.
Washington Square Inn (1660 Stockton St): Just across the street you will find the Washington Square Inn. This 3-star historic hotel offers modern amenities with an Old-World vibe. I love their evening wine and appetizer happy hour. Check here more details and check for availability.
Green Tortoise Hostel (494 Broadway): This hostel offers both dorm rooms and private rooms with shared baths. It's a great way to save a little money on your stay. It's a very social hostel with game nights and other events, so it's the perfect way to meet and spend time with fellow travelers. Find out reviews and learn more about the Green Tortoise Hostel.
San Remo Hotel (2237 Mason St): North of Saints Peter and Paul Church San Francisco is the cute San Remo Hotel. This European style pension offers private rooms with all shared bathrooms. The prices are great too and it's a wonderful way to save some dollars when you visit here.
>> Get all the most up-to-date information for your stay at San Remo Hotel.
Fisherman's Wharf Hotels: You will also find a large selection of hotels less than a mile away in the Fisherman's Wharf district. Here you will find large better-known hotels including a Marriott, Hyatt, and a few other brand name options. Find a list of my favorites by budget.
>> Find additional lodging options all around SF
Coit Tower: This San Francisco tower sits high above North Beach on Telegraph Hill. The most popular things to do at Coit Tower is check out the sweeping views and admire its historic murals. Learn more about visiting here.
Comedy Clubs: You will find a couple of great comedy clubs in this district. You will see both local and internationally recognized performers on stage. Check out the upcoming schedule of comedians for this district and all of SF.
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?
I would love for you join me in my private Facebook group!
It’s a great place to interact with me and others that know the area well.
You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It’s a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!