San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury: Feeling the Groovy 60s

Photo by Carole Terwilliger Meyers

A stroll through San Francisco's famous hippie hub

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Though the days when Aquarius dawned are long gone, San Francisco’s once vibrant Haight-Ashbury neighborhood retains some color and plenty of tales. Walking around in the Haight is still a trip! Pick up the ’60s hippie vibe and perhaps a tie-dyed t-shirt on this day trip through San Francisco’s famous hippie neighborhood.

San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury Walkabout

Starting Point: The intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets

Begin this visit at the famous intersection where Haight Street meets Ashbury Street. None other than Hunter S. Thompson nicknamed this area “Hashbury,” and plenty others referred to it as “like groovy, man.” Colorfully attired hippie types are still seen here and there, so you won’t look out of place if you don your love beads and peace symbols for this visit. Street people and dogs hang out, and skunky-smelling weed wafts through the air, so hold your breath . . . or breathe in deeply for a contact high.

Step first into Love on Haight, a shop that burns incense and purveys everything tie-dyed. It is the spot to stoke the memory of the Summer of Love and to purchase psychedelic prism glasses to bring it back hard. A few doors down, under “the legs” that hang famously out of the upstairs windows of a colorful Victorian, the Piedmont Boutique dispenses beauty enhancers that include bargain jewelry, feather boas, and satin gloves along with wigs and sequin-lined false eyelashes.

Haight-Ashbury Lunch or Snack Break

Ease hunger at the Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery, which back in the day was the Magnolia Thunderpussy erotic bakery. Now beer is brewed in the basement—most brews are named for Grateful Dead songs—and good grub is served in a comfy interior that is atmospheric with ‘60s music. Not so hungry but want a snack? Ben & Jerry’s dispenses Cherry Garcia ice cream on one of “the corners.”

See the Homes and Haunts of ’60s Legends

Dead Heads will want to mosey down Ashbury Street to #710—the former home of the Grateful Dead. This sweet Victorian appeared on the cover of their Seven Ten Ashbury album.

Back on Haight Street at #1524 is the Jimi Hendrix Red House, where the legendary singer once lived. Also on the famous corners, Haight-Ashbury T-Shirt Store displays some of the best ’60s rock and Dead Head T-shirts around. On a downer note, the Manson “family” once resided amid all this at 636 Cole Street.

Moving a few blocks west, Happy Donuts is another old-timer dating back to the ‘60s and famous for its Bohemian krawler chocolate donut. In the next block, the don’t-miss, world-famous Amoeba Music fills what once was a bowling alley with new and used music items. It is one of the best spots in town to find collectible vintage Fillmore posters.

Hippie Hill and the Summer of Love

Keep strolling west, and you wind up in Golden Gate Park, where the famous Human Be-in happened in 1967. Hippie Hill was the scene of many events back then, and it is still a popular place to congregate. Continue your exploration today in the park.

Ride the Magic Bus

Should you not have the time for exploring the Haight on foot, consider taking the Magic Bus from Union Square. It hits most of these sights as well as many more, including Chinatown and North Beachall while listening to a soundtrack that feels like a flashback, and with a psychedelic light show complete with colorful dancing blobs.

Explore Another San Francisco Itinerary

Best of the Mission District … Finding art and local culture
Best of the Tenderloin … What to see from Little Saigon to City Hall
San Francisco Gardens … Where gardens thrive on steep slopes, rooftops and barren sandhills
Fun, Food, Arts and Culture in San Francisco’s Embarcadero District … A walking tour from the Ferry Building to Union Square
Yerba Buena: culture, art, innovation … A walking tour through the vibrant neighborhood
And more related itineraries below.

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