A Brief Lesson On Haight
The Haight-Ashbury district rose to fame in the 1960s as the home of the hippie movement. The height of which occurred in the summer of 1967 when almost 100,000 people flocked to Haight-Ashbury in search of free love, like-minded anti-war sentiments, and, of course, drugs. Artists such as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Yoko Ono, and others made the Haight-Ashbury their home during this time, adding to the allure.
If you havent heard it yet, this song inspired thousands of people to move to the Haight in the summer of 1967.
While it sounds like it wouldve been an interesting summer, to say the least, the neighborhood could not accommodate the large influx of people so homelessness, crime, and addiction became a problem.
Interestingly, an anti-capitalist community called the Diggers organized the very first free medical clinic, handed out free meals daily, and offered a free store to support the community.
As the flower power hippie movement had become a media sensation and residents were going back to school or work, it was time to put an end to the counterculture movement.. So, at the end of the summer of love, residents of the Haight Ashbury celebrated the death to the hippie.
Have A Picnic In The Panhandle
The grassy meadows in the Panhandle combined with the shady canopies from the eucalyptus trees make for an ideal picnic spot in the city. I am a sucker for urban parks, which makes it another one of my favorite spots in the Haight Ashbury. The Panhandle has paved walking paths and is accessible by Stanyan Street from the western end, and Masonic Avenue if you enter through the middle.
The Wild Sf Experience
The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is a fantastic place to explore on your own.
However, if youd like a San Francisco native to show you around , consider joining our Haunted San Francisco Ghost Tour.
Its a macabre and murderous experience, full of tales of scandalous murders and ruthless cult leaders. Who knows, you might even meet a ghost or two!
Ready to discover the dark side of San Francisco?
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History Of The Haight Ashbury
The history of the Haight Ashbury neighborhood starts after the Gold Rush.
The 1800’s. This neighborhood was the boonies when San Francisco was young. A wilderness of sand dunes soon turned into a recreation area for the city dwellers after Golden Gate Park was created in 1837.
A cable car line ran out to the edge of the park which made it easy for residents to come out to the “country” for picnics, and an amusement park was built here as well.
The Depression & WWII. The economic woes affected the Haight Ashbury, as it did other areas. In the 1930’s, many of the Victorians stood empty up, or were converted into boarding houses to supplement income.
During the World War II housing shortage, the large houses were often chopped up into flats to house the workers moving here.
1950’s and 1960’s. During these years, the Haight Ashbury was a low-rent neighborhood. Houses tended to be run down, and the Victorians weren’t looking all that great.
That was the main reason the Haight became very popular with the beatniks of the 50’s and later the hippies of the 60’s.
The counterculture reached its peak with the Summer of Love in 1967.
Over 100,000 young people, many under 20 years old, headed for San Francisco that summer, looking for love, drugs and rock and roll.
“The Song” alone inspired many to head for San Francisco.
After that summer, and into the 70’s, the Haight became seedy, a hangout for drug addicts and muggers, and San Francisco residents mostly avoided it.
Guided Tours Of Haight
There are some organized tours of Haight-Ashbury. If you want to have a hippy experience, I recommend The Summer of Love Magic Bus Experience, a themed minibus trip that will take you to the top cultural attractions of San Francisco . There are also otherSummer of Love Tours , but they are not thematic tours rather, they are sightseeing tours that go to the main areas of the city. There are tours during the day and at night and you can find the information by clicking on the 2 links below:
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Hike To The Top Of Buena Vista Park
On the eastern side of the shopping and commercial district is Buena Vista Park. This steep, tree filled park has amazing views of San Francisco and the Bay at the top.
Start up the stairs at the corner of Haight Street and Buena Vista Avenue. Walk the trail and continue on the path that keeps taking you up to the top. It usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes to reach the top and once you get there, you will be glad you checked it out!
Take A Tour Through The Haight
The tours of the Haight-Ashbury District often take you back to the Flower Power days of the 1960s. Not only do they provide you with details of its famous residents over the years, but theyll also be doing all of this aboard a colorful, intimate 1970s Volkswagen bus. But it doesnt stop there theyll take you to many other neighborhoods in SF as well. Here are the top tours in and through this SF neighborhood: San Francisco Love Tour and Painted Ladies San Francisco City Tour. These VW buses only seat 6-7 peoplemaking them a super-fun and intimate San Francisco experience.
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Hotels In The Haight Ashbury
The Haight Ashbury neighborhood has two quaint hotels right on Haight Street:
- The Stanyan Park Hotel. An historic hotel in a pretty Victorian at the end of Haight Street, just across from Golden Gate Park. See Stanyan Park Hotel for more info and booking.
- The Red Victorian. This has been a hotel since 1904, and became the “Red Victorian” in 1973. It’s been a counter-culture, artsy hotel ever since, going through various incarnations until the present one, calling itself an “experimental” hotel. The 22 rooms are individually decorated and booking is through Trip Advisor. An unusual experience, to say the least. Totally Haight Ashbury. 1665 Haight St. See Rec Vic for more info and booking.
The Best 10 Hotels Near The Haight
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private little garage. Staff was on site securing the premises and hotel had a closed gate overnight more
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The Stanyan is GROSS hotel. They are gross in upkeep and character. I attempted to book a room more
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not the worst hotel, but someone stole my shoes in the lobby a while back and i’m still not over it. more
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Have been coming to San Francisco for 40 years and this was the best hotel experience I’ve ever had more
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If you need temporary housing in Upper Haight, SF I would recommend this place. You can rent for days, weeks, months or more. Clean, safe, and well-run. more
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the Presidio. This small hotel on the grounds of the Presidio with a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge more
for something bougie and hotel like, this isn’t for you. This is a quaint bed and breakfast more
The hotel itself is nice and our room had a great view but it was the check out that ruined it more
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The Haight Ashbury District Today
Today, the Haight-Ashbury District is still a lively and interesting part of San Francisco. There are a number of funky shops, restaurants, and other historical sites. Most of the shop owners here work hard to keep the flower power and hippie vibe in the neighborhood alive.
Haight Street runs through the middle of this neighborhood. Today, it is the commercial area where you will find the majority of the shops and restaurants.
Starting at Masonic Avenue on the east, it stretches about five city blocks down to Stanyan Street. The famous Haight-Ashbury intersection is just one block west of Masonic Avenue.
In addition to the shops and restaurants along Haight Street, you will also find several beautiful and colorful homes along the side streets. The Haight-Ashbury District is one of the few districts that was not hit hard by the 1906 earthquake and fire, making it the neighborhood with the highest concentration of Victorian homes still intact.
While you are in the neighborhood, walk up and down some of these streets. Some of the Victorian houses here, as you can see from the first picture at the top of the page, are brightly painted. Others are more subtle, and yet they are still important since famous artists lived in them .
Fun Fact: As you stand on the corner of Haight and Ashbury Streets, you will see a clock that is always set for 4:20. This is common language used when people are talking about smoking marijuana.
What To Do In Haight
The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is incredibly popular for tourists and locals to visit. I highly recommend adding the Haight Ashbury to your San Francisco itinerary. Head shops, vintage stores, beautiful architecture, good food, and of course the history of the summer of love draw people in. Before we get into what to do in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, we must first understand how it became immortalized as the countercultural epicenter of the 1960s and how you can still feel that energy walking through the streets today.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a tiny bit of income if you decide to make a purchase or booking. For more, check out my disclosure.
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Best Time To Visit San Francisco California
In our humble opinion, the best time to visit San Francisco is from . Unlike many other places in the US, the fall season offers some of the citys warmest and most pleasant temperatures. Unless theres a massive heatwave in effect, summer temps usually hover in the 60s and 70s. The other benefit of traveling during these months is that there will be fewer crowds than in the summertime.
Spring is another good time to visit thanks to its mild temperatures and lack of rain. Summers are great too, but just expect higher than average tourism as most travelers tend to seek out sunny weather activities in the city.
If youre just looking to avoid rain, any time from April to November is good.
Regardless of when you choose to visit San Francisco, be sure to bring plenty of layers. Similar to other California coastal cities/towns, the weather here can be so unpredictable . Below is a photo of a chilly, brisk, and foggy afternoon in mid-July!
Where To Stay In Nob Hill
For a mid-budget stay, consider the Nob Hill Inn. With Edwardian-style decor, this cute property is close to a ton of attractions.
The Fairmont San Francisco is the crown jewel of Nob Hill luxury properties. This beautiful hotel features a full-service gym and spa and offers panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
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Peruse The Shops Along Haight Street
Between all the head shops, stores stocked with Tibetan rugs and wall-hangings, and used-clothing boutiques it’s easy to spend hours perusing the wares along Haight Street. Some standouts include the always colorful Piedmont Boutique, known for its sparkling drag queen regalia and the fishnet-stockinged legs marking its entrance the fedoras, floppys, and flatcaps of SF’s own Goorin Bros. Hat Shop and Loved to Death, with its taxidermied animals and resin skulls. There’s also The Booksmith, a beloved community bookstore that hosts readings, book signings and book exchanges, both in store and across the street at their newer Bindery annex, where the titles are arranged by decade.
Dominic Simpson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Colorful Houses And Homes Of Famous Artists
Once youve explored Haight Street, the opportunities for things to do in Haight-Ashbury dont end there! The neighborhood is one of the best areas to admire the Painted Ladies,colorful Victorian-style houses that have become true icons of San Francisco. The most interesting ones are not far from the Haight Street area. To find them, take a look at our guide on the Painted Ladies of Haight-Ashbury.
In the neighborhood, there are also a number of houses of historical and cultural significance that belonged to musicians, poets, writers, and illustrators who influenced the hippies. Here is a list with their addresses:
- 710 Ashbury St: home of the Grateful Dead
- 635 Ashbury St: home of Janis Joplin
- 122 Lyon St: another home of Janis Joplin
- 612 Ashbury St: home of Country Joe McDonald
- 1018 Page St: home of Big Brother and the Holding Company
- 1550 Page St: Hippie Temptation, a house that became particularly famous after being filmed in a CBS documentary
- 1828 Page St: home of Ron Donovan
- 1452 Haight St: home of Jimi Hendrix
- 879 Haight St: home of the punk band Flipper
- 636 Cole St: home of Charles Manson
- 731 Buena Vista West: home of Graham Nash and Bobby McFerrin
- 264 Downey St: home of poet and playwright Michael McClure
- 32 Delmar St: home of Sid Vicious.
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Walk Along Haight Street
Once you arrive at the intersection of Haight and Masonic, the first thing to do is to take a nice walk along Haight Street heading west. Youll find many shops and cafes that try to recreate the atmosphere of the Summer of Love with brightly colored signs and furniture, colorful vintage clothes on display, flashy murals, smoke shops, Tibetan spiritual shops, and tattoo shops.
During the walk, take the opportunity not only to do some shopping in San Francisco , but also simply to immerse yourself in a unique neighborhood, which in some ways still seems to preserve the idealistic dream of the Hippy Movement that fell apart in a short time.
Frequently Asked Questions And Answers
What are people saying about hotels near San Francisco, CA 94117?
This is a review for hotels near San Francisco, CA 94117:
“Have been coming to San Francisco for 40 years and this was the best hotel experience I’ve ever had. The place is elegantly understated and appointed. Their location in Pacific Heights is very quiet, extremely safe and filled with beautiful mansions. The staff accommodated us with an early check-in and when we had to leave very early before breakfast started.There’s 24-hour room service. They have an incredibly fresh, diverse and expansive breakfast buffet included, as well as a big complimentary Happy Hour spread with a lot of wine and beer choices. The room was large with a very comfortable bed, great chairs, a big bathroom and a nice desk area. This will be our go-to Hotel in the future. Thanks for the wonderful experience.”
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Where To Stay In The Haight
Lodging within Haight-Ashbury itself is limited, but we like the following:
Stanyan Park Hotel Located in San Franciscos Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, Stanyan Park Hotel is in the historical district and near a metro station. Stanyan Park Hotel is family-friendly and offers 36 accommodations with free self-serve breakfast and free WiFi in public areas.
Becks Motor Lodge The stylish Becks Motor Lodge is in San Franciscos Castro District neighborhood, an area with great shopping. Mission Dolores Park is about a 13-minute walk from here. All 58 rooms provide conveniences like refrigerators and coffee makers, plus free WiFi and flat-screen TVs with cable channels. Best of all, there is FREE parkinga rarity in San Francisco!
Staying in SF-proper is definitely not cheap. If you dont mind taking public transportation, consider staying in South San Francisco, Daly City, or even Millbrae . Hotels here are so much cheaper than staying within San Franscisco.
Check pricing and availability on other San Francisco hotels here on Expedia.
+ Things To Do In San Franciscos Haight
San Franciscos Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is steeped in history. Made famous by the hippie movement in the 1960s, Haight Ashbury was once the home to revolutionaries, famous singers and even cult leaders . Influenced by The Beat Generation, a literary group defying the social norms of the 50s, an influx of hippies flooded into the neighborhood in the 60s. The colorful homes and cheap rent would attract young people from all over America, excited about counterculture ideals.
Today, the Haight-Ashbury District has become a very popular tourist destination, famed for its unique history, liveliness, and charm. You can still see a lot of those same colorful houses and buildings that attracted hippies decades ago! And of course, that hippie counterculture atmosphere still exists today.
Wondering what to do in this iconic San Francisco neighborhood? Read on to reveal the best things to do in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco.
*Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. You wont be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful content. Thanks!
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Hippie Hill And Janis Joplin’s Tree
The hippies liked to head over to nearby Golden Gate Park and hang out there . The park begins where Haight Street runs into Stanyan Street.
In addition to the impromptu concerts of the 60’s and the Human Be-In held in January of 1967 in the polo field nearby, there’s a tree in the park near Hippie Hill where Janis Joplin would sit and play her guitar.
It’s a quick detour from the neighborhood you’re likely to run into some actual hippies there, where the clouds of aromatic smoke drift over the heads of the drummers, especially on sunny weekend days. See Hippie Hill for photos and info, and the map above.