The city of San Francisco is a mosaic of culturally rich neighborhoods, including the famous Haight-Ashbury area. With its unique history and charm, Haight-Ashbury holds the promise of fun and adventure for every type of person, from locals looking to escape on the weekends to those visiting for the first time. With vintage bookstores, swanky cocktail lounges, and a unique culture, the Haight has it all.
Every trip to the Haight should begin with a visit to the unassuming intersection that gave the neighborhood its now-famous name. In 1967, thousands of young people, inspired by a sense of idealistic purpose and open-mindedness, came together at the corner of Haight and Ashbury. Known as the Summer of Love, this phenomenon helped forge the area’s distinct identity and forever cemented Haight-Ashbury’s place in history as the epicenter of the hippie movement. Take a picture in front of the globally-recognized street signs and you can capture your own little piece of history.
Every June, a non-profit organization which is committed to preserving the district’s unique culture and history organizes the extravagant Haight-Ashbury Street Fair. With its three musical stages, countless food booths, and host of other activities, the fair promises to stimulate and delight your senses for hours. Started in the 1970s with help from late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair has since become a city-wide cultural event. Visit on the second weekend in June and you’ll be invited to appreciate and experience Haight-Ashbury at its finest.
For fans of the Grateful Dead, no visit to Haight-Ashbury is complete without stopping by the house in which the band’s five founders lived during the 1960s. Located at 710 Asbury Street, the Victorian-style home was one of many throughout the Haight-Ashbury District that provided affordable housing to the thousands of youth drawn to the district by an infectious energy and radical ideas. The spirit of the era lives on through the Grateful Dead’s music and its identity as a band — the house acts not only as a tribute to a group of musicians, but also as a proud reminder of the neighborhood’s heritage.
As digital sources of information gradually replace the printed word, it has become increasingly difficult to find a quality bookstore, but for the millions of people who still prefer reading the old-fashioned way, search no further than 1644 Haight Street. The Booksmith is an independent bookstore that actively contributes to Haight-Ashbury’s counterculture-infused sense of community by hosting non-profit events, such as author readings and book exchanges. With its vast array of reading materials and calming atmosphere, the Booksmith provides the perfect alternative to both crowds and e-readers.
Spending hours among the landmarks and vintage shops of Haight-Ashbury can be an exhausting experience. Fortunately, Coffee To The People is conveniently located at 1206 Masonic Ave. to lend a helping hand to tired travelers and weary locals. As is the case with the Booksmith, Coffee To the People has been profoundly influenced by Haight-Ashbury’s rich cultural history, which is demonstrated by the coffee shop’s dedication to only brewing organic, free-trade coffee. Given its quiet setting and spacious seating, not to mention the endless supply of caffeine, Coffee To The People is the ideal spot for those who desperately need to power through a few hours of work without unwanted distractions.
There may come a time when a planned trip to Haight-Ashbury happens to coincide with yet another instance of the Warriors demolishing an opposing team or the Giants winning the World Series. Whether you are a sports fanatic or simply looking to grab a beer, head to Kezar Pub, which can be found at 770 Stanyan Street. Although it may be impossible to hear over the sound of cheering fans, the quality food and diverse selection of beers will keep even the most noise-adverse person content for hours.
One of Haight-Ashbury’s most popular nighttime hangouts, Club Deluxe has built its reputation on the combination of free live jazz and New York-style pizza. The club is conveniently situated at 1511 Haight Street for anyone who is hoping to turn their San Francisco day trip into a night out, as well as those simply looking for an excuse to get out of the house. If Club Deluxe is a part of the night’s itinerary, be prepared to dress in your finest vintage clothing, dance for hours to groovy jazz melodies, and eat mouth-watering pizza until the break of dawn.
Amoeba Music will amaze visitors with its collection of records, DVDs and posters
Located at 1855 Haight Street, Amoeba Music is one of three stores owned by the independent music chain of the same name. Set apart from its two peers in Berkeley and Hollywood by its gargantuan size, the Haight-Ashbury location is a must-see for casual and hardcore music fans alike. With an endless supply of timeless vinyl records, audio cassettes, movies, and other trinkets, Amoeba Music holds a potential treasure for everyone from the most zealous indie-music lovers to work-crazed professionals.
Bar, Cafe, Cocktail Bar, Pub, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub, $$$
The Alembic Bar
It’s likely become clear by this point that the Haight is home to plenty of noteworthy establishments where you can enjoy some downtime amidst all your shopping and sightseeing. That being said, pubs and jazz clubs are perfect for some, but not all. For everyone else, The Alembic at 1725 Haight Street is sure to do the trick, especially if one is in the mood for a classier affair. Open until 2 a.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, The Alembic sets the mood well with its dim lighting and craft cocktails, and could very well be the highlight of your night.
Situated at the edge of the Haight-Ashbury District, Buena Vista Park affords sightseers, shoppers, and locals the opportunity to take a break from the stresses and excitement of life. When compared to the numerous other parks spread out across San Francisco, Buena Vista holds two notable distinctions — its status as the oldest park in San Francisco and its location on a hill. Take a stroll up to the top and gaze upon spectacular views of the city that Buena Vista has called home for almost a century-and-a-half.