Resting below the iconic Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, Lower Haight offers a similar artsy vibe without the abundance of tourists. This neighborhood has a chill, nonchalant attitude and feels like a less traversed area of the city. It’s a great destination for relaxed afternoons or entertaining evenings. Check out the different things to see and do in this part of town.
Art lovers rejoice: the vast number of murals in Lower Haight reflect the eclectic and progressive character of this neighborhood. There is always something new to see due to the ephemeral nature of street art. Be sure to check out the galleries around the area such as Fifty24SF, Smith & Co., and ZeroFriends for a taste of the local art scene.
Rooky Ricardo’s is a haven for vinyl lovers and a staple of Lower Haight for over 28 years. Make sure to stop by when you have time to peruse the music and truly experience the soul of this shop (there are several listening stations that allow you to preview records before purchasing them). The owner, Dick, is a character who truly believes in the power of vinyl: a rare necessity in the world of digitized music. Spoiler alert: expect a ton of soul and funk music.
This quirky café is a must if you’re around the Lower Haight district. Besides the amazing coffee and the plethora of outlets at which to get work done (so necessary), this place offers a variety of fresh meals. You also cannot say you’ve truly experienced Lower Haight without getting to know Zahra, the vibrant women who has been running the café since 1992. Walk in for a cup of coffee, and leave with some of Zahra’s wisdom.
If you’re a cycler, you have to bike the iconic ‘wiggle’ route. Believe it or not, this is an extremely flat route between Market Street and Golden Gate Park. It will get you anywhere you need to go from the center of the city to the Sunset with no hills. Feel free to follow the sea of other riders, because you’ll never be alone on the wiggle.
Tea House at The Center | Courtesy of The Center SF
The Center SF is a conscious community in Lower Haight with over 25 permanent residents. This building was a former rectory and was converted into a communal living house in 2010. The basement of the building houses a member-based tea house, officially called ‘Tea House of The Sacred Heart,’ in which you pay a monthly fee for access to unlimited tea. The Center also has yoga, capoeira, occasional open-mics, and other events for the greater community.
Directly adjacent to The Center SF, you will find The Church of 8 Wheels (translation: roller disco in an abandoned church). If you are at all curious about roller disco, check this place out for an eclectic and unique nightlife experience. It’s $10 to enter and $5 to skate, and it’s cash only, so come prepared! The Church of 8 Wheels is open Thursdays from 7pm to 10pm, Fridays from 7pm to 11pm, and Saturdays from 3pm to 5pm (family-friendly skating) and 7pm to 11pm (adult skating).
Brush up on your fine arts and photography skills by taking a class at the Harvey Milk Photo Center, or simply show up to check out an exhibition (for free!). This establishment is the oldest and largest community dark room on the west coast, celebrating 75 years of business. The public is invited to all of the exhibits, lectures, and special events hosted by the HMPC. Members have unlimited access to the film processing areas, large darkroom, studio rentals, and digital lab, as well as the opportunity to participate in public photography exhibits. The HMPC is a non-profit agency, so feel free to donate!