The iconic Haight-Ashbury runs between a big hill and a big park — and there’s so much to see in-between! In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love we’re discovering the hippie hangouts of the Haight that you can still explore today ✌️️??
Begin your time traveling trip back to the Summer of Love over at Buena Vista Park
Best explored while listening to: San Francisco (Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie at the Monterey Pop Festival 1967.
Buena Vista Park is 35 acres situated on a nearly 600 foot tall hill — the fourth biggest in the city — and marks the unofficial entrance to the Haight-Ashbury. But, if you want to sound like a local, you can call this neighborhood the Upper Haight — very originally named since it sits on the elevated portion of Haight Street.
This urban forest was a beacon for the burgeoning hippie counter culture of the 60s. So, embrace the spirit of the Summer of Love and ditch your shoes so you can put your toes in the grass!
Grab a pint at the former Drogstore
Best explored while listening to: White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane at Woodstock 1969.
That’s right, Drogstore with an “O”, this was so that you wouldn’t confuse it with a pharmacy drugstore! Marijuana, LSD and psychedelic mushrooms were are 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! As Grace Slick would say, feed your head.
Visit the corner of Haight & Ashbury
Best explored while listening to: Purple Haze by The Jimi Hendrix Experience live in 1967 where he changes lyrics to “Excuse me while I kiss this guy!”
At the corner of Haight and Ashbury — you’ll find the intersection of Peace & Love. And, where it happens to always be 4:20. 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 music, baby.
Make a pilgrimage to the Grateful Dead House
Best explored while listening to: Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead at Winterland 1977
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
Best explored while listening to: Piece of my Heart by Janis Joplin in Frankfurt 1969
Within shouting distance from the Grateful Dead House is a 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
Best explored while listening to: Red House by The Jimi Hendrix Experience in Stockholm 1969.
Just around the corner from Janis and Jerry — where Ashbury Street infamously meets Haight Street — is an 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
Best explored while watching: Scenes from the Love Pagent Rally 1966
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 on the 60s.
Catch a glimpse of the Evolutionary Rainbow Mural
Best explored while listening to: Sunshine of Your Love by Cream
On the corner of Haight & Cole you’ll find a long-standing neighborhood mural — the Evolutionary Rainbow — 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. So 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
Best explored while listening to: California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & The Papas at the Monterey Pop Festival 1967
Above the giant Amoeba Music neon sign out front 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 behemouth space was turned into the go-to spot for vinyl, cassettes, VHS and even the short lived Laserdiscs!
PROTIP: The best (or worst) time to visit is when touring artists take to the small stage hidden in the corner.
Join a drum circle at Hippie Hill
Best explored while listening to: 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 this event, the Human Be-In, that Timothy Leary famously told a generation of listener 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 — that’s Hippie Hill. On any given day you’ll find drum circles, hula-hoopers and purveyors o ganja. But — if you arrive on 4/20, you’ll experience thousands of cannabis-connoisseurs celebrating this very unofficial holiday. The fog doesn’t usually roll in at 4:20pm — 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. Or tag-a-long one of guided minibus or e-bike tours for a more personalized experience of San Francisco!
[Featured image courtesy of Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection at the Indiana University Archives]