Haight-Ashbury Things to do: 9 Summer of Love hangouts to visit. Take a step back in time to the era of love as you explore the hippie places in San Francisco.
The iconic Haight-Ashbury is located between a big hill and a big park, and there’s so much history to see, love to feel and music to hear in between. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, we’re discovering the Haight-Ashbury things to do and specifically the hippie hangouts of the Haight that you can still explore today.
Skip paying for one of the Haight-Ashbury walking tours in San Francisco, and follow this guide to create your own tour of hippie street San Francisco and walk in the shoes of the Haight-Ashbury hippies that lived in the 1960s.
Buena Vista Park
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Recommended music: San Francisco (Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie at the Monterey Pop Festival 1967.
Start your Haight-Ashbury walking tour at Buena Vista Park San Francisco. The park is 35 acres situated on a 600-foot tall hill, the fourth biggest hill in the city, and marks the unofficial entrance to Haight-Ashbury.
Pro tip: if you want to sound like a local, call this neighborhood the Upper Haight.
This urban forest was a beacon for the burgeoning hippie counter culture in Haight-Ashbury in 1967, making it one of the top Haight-Ashbury things to do. Embrace the spirit of the Summer of Love and ditch your shoes letting your toes feel the cool grass.
Grab a pint at the former Drogstore
Recommended music: White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane at Woodstock 1969.
One of the classic Haight-Ashbury things to do is to enjoy a beer at Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery. During the Summer of Love, this pub was a Drogstore.
That’s right, Drogstore with an “O” – a place where you could partake in recreational drug use. Marijuana, LSD and psychedelic mushrooms were legal at first and regularly consumed usually at the Drogstore.
These days the Drogstore is home to Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery. Magnolia was one of the first microbrews to hit the streets in the 1990s and still one of the best places to grab a brew and burger.
Visit the corner of Haight & Ashbury
Recommended music: Purple Haze by The Jimi Hendrix Experience live in 1967 where he changes lyrics to “Excuse me while I kiss this guy!”
The next stop that you should add to your Haight-Ashbury walking tour is the corner of Haight and Ashbury. At the corner of Haight and Ashbury, you’ll find the intersection of peace and love.
You might see some 420 tours of San Francisco here because it happens to always be 4:20 at this location. This corner was the epicenter of the Summer of Love. Why specifically was this intersection so pivotal to the hippie scene? It has to do with that psychedelic Haight Street music that was always being played in the area.
Make a pilgrimage to the Grateful Dead House
Recommended music: Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead at Winterland 1977
One of the top Haight-Ashbury things to do is explores that Haight-Ashbury Grateful Dead House. You’ll be hard pressed to find a band that had a bigger impact on the music scene and hippie community than Jerry Garcia and The Dead. From ’67 – ’69, during the height of the Summer of Love, you would have found Jerry and the rest of the Grateful Dead hanging around the stoop of 710 Ashbury Street.
Don’t forget to check out the tree outside the house, folks from all over have left messages engraved into the bark!
Toss up a peace sign at the pink Janis Joplin House
Recommended music: Piece of my Heart by Janis Joplin in Frankfurt 1969
Most Haight-Ashbury tours in San Francisco will include a visit to the pink Janis Joplin House. Within shouting distance from the Grateful Dead House is this bright pink home at 635 Ashbury Street. This was the most famous of the homes Janis Joplin lived in while performing with Big Brother & the Holding Company here in San Francisco.
Listen to some buskers outside of The Jimi Hendrix Red House
Recommended music: Red House by The Jimi Hendrix Experience in Stockholm 1969.
One of the must Haight-Ashbury things to do is to visit Jimi Hendrix’s San Francisco home. Just around the corner from Janis and Jerry, where Ashbury Street infamously meets Haight Street, is Jimi’s Edwardian home with red paint chipping away on the exterior. Rumor has it, on warm days at 1524 Haight Street, Jimi Hendrix would throw open the windows as he worked on a new song, “Red House.”
Listen to the sound of the sixties in The Panhandle
Recommended music: Scenes from the Love Pagent Rally 1966
Summer of Love tours in San Francisco would not be complete without stopping at The Panhandle. The Panhandle gained national attention at the end of 1966 when thousands showed up for the Love Pageant Rally. Showcasing the country San Francisco’s wild music scene and a technicolor bus, named Further, filled with Ken Kensey and his Merry Prankster. It was the largest free outdoor rock event of the time, and it brought the Haight-Ashbury to the forefront of the counterculture stage in the 60s.
Catch a glimpse of the Evolutionary Rainbow Mural
Recommended music: Sunshine of Your Love by Cream
On the corner of Haight & Cole, you’ll find one of the most hippie places in San Francisco, the mural of the Evolutionary Rainbow which was painted by local artist Yana Zegri during the Summer of Love in 1967. The mural persisted until the 80s when the building sold and the new owner pained over the beloved piece of art.
If there’s one thing this city really appreciates, it’s our street art. After a slew of protests, boycotts and angry letter writing campaigns Yana Zegri was invited to recreate the original mural. The colors are still bright and vibrant after a restoration in 2006.
Hunt for vintage vinyl in an old bowling alley
Recommended music: California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & The Papas at the Monterey Pop Festival 1967
Enjoy some Haight-Ashbury shopping at Amoeba Music. Above the giant Amoeba Music neon sign, you can find the signage for what this building was for the hippies of the 60s, Park Bowl. Into the 80s Park Bowl hosted a weekly Rock & Bowl, where the monitors were used to show music videos instead of tracking scores. In the 90s this behemoth space was turned into the go-to spot for Haight Street shopping of vinyl, cassettes, VHS and even the short-lived Laserdiscs!
Join a drum circle at Hippie Hill
Recommended music: Grateful Dead playing Hippie Hill in 1967.
It was inside of Golden Gate Park, down at the Polo Fields, where the Summer of Love began, in January of 1967. You had the beatnik poet reading their works and Jefferson Airplane dominated the stage. It was at the event, the Human Be-In, that Timothy Leary famously told a generation of listeners to “turn on, tune in and drop out”!
It was this scene that ignited a mass exodus of American youth to the Haight-Ashbury. By the summer of 1967, this neighborhood became synonymous with hippie culture.
To get a taste of a modern day Human Be-In, you’ll want to enter Golden Gate Park from the Stanyan entrance at the end of Haight Street. Follow the paved path through a tunnel, and you’ll see a big hill with a lot of hippies. On any given day you’ll find drum circles, hula-hoopers and purveyors o ganja. If you arrive on 4/20, you’ll experience thousands of cannabis-connoisseurs celebrating this unofficial holiday. The fog doesn’t usually roll in at 4:20 pm, but it sure will look like it on April 20th.
Want to adventure around the Haight-Ashbury with a local? Check out our special Facebook walking tour celebrating the Summer of Love with one of our local guides! Be sure to give us a thumbs-up on Facebook because every Wednesday we go live and explore the streets of San Francisco.
If you want to explore on your own, use discount code “SummerOfLove” for 15% off bike rentals.
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Need more inspiration for your next dream to the Bay Area? Check out our other blogs, and start planning your trip to San Francisco now.
[Featured image courtesy of Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection at the Indiana University Archives]