A visit to Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco’s hippie village, is a trip back to the ‘60s. A stroll down Haight Street will evoke reminders of the hippie counterculture. Here you’ll find fragments of “flower power”—incense-burning, tie-dye-clothing, peace-and-love vibes and maybe a evidence of acid-dropping. In the ‘60s, Haight-Ashbury now called Upper Haight, was a haven for cultural revolutionaries who preached “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”
It was a time of major social change. In the middle of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement the hippies preached peaceful revolution. The heart of the movement lasted from about 1964 to 1968 and culminated in 1967’s Summer of Love. During the period over 100,000 young dreamers affectionately nicknamed “flower children” converged on the village to protest against the Viet Nam War and what they considered the materialism of mainstream society. They were joined by artists and psychedelic rock musicians including Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead as well as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is considered the birthplace of the hippie movement marked by peaceful protests and psychedelic experimentation. John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, wrote a song celebrating the “flower children.” It became a world hit. Scott McKenzie recorded the beautiful “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” and released it in 1967.
On October 6, 1967 the “flower children” staged a mock funeral titled “The Death of the Hippie.” The era was officially ended.
Today Haight-Ashbury is among San Francisco’s most affluent districts. Tourists can visit comedy cafes like Crepes on Cole where Robin Williams, Dana Carvey and Whoopi Goldberg entertained in the 1980s. They can tour boutiques, vintage-clothing shops, book stores, Internet cafes, hip restaurants and beautifully restored Victorian homes. They can purchase remnants of the Haight-Ashbury’s past at shops like Dreams of Kathmandu and the Love of Ganesha. The Grateful Dead house at 710 Ashbury Street is a must see.
Hungry, stop for bangers and mash at Mad Dog in the Fog or crepes at the Squat ‘N’ Gobble or if really starving try the All You Knead but bring a doggie bag.
After a busy day, consider crashing for the night at the Red Victorian Bed and Breakfast, a throwback to an earlier time. Rooms are decorated in themes such as Flower Child Room
On the second Sunday in June you won’t want to miss the celebrated Haight-Ashbury Street Fair.
Upper Haight encompasses the neighborhood surrounding Haight Street between Stanyon and Masonic. The famous corner is named after two early San Francisco leaders, Henry Haight and Munroe Ashbury.
In Haight-Ashbury, many remnants of the era still remain—people in brightly colored tie-dyed clothing, sandals, dashikis, Native yank jewelry, headbands and long beaded necklaces. The village is still a feast for the senses. You’ll hear live guitar music on street corners, see peace signs in shop windows, smell pot wafting from somewhere and maybe get a free hug.
San Francisco is indeed a collection of villages. Haight-Ashbury is one of the most unique.