Haight-Ashbury

Born in the wrong generation or reliving tie-dye dreams? San Francisco’s original hippie haven for counterculture has got a few Summers of Love in it yet.

It may not be the flower-powered epicenter that it once was, but Haight-Ashbury still moves to a bohemian beat. The West Coast’s hippie heartland rose to fame in the 1960s as a refuge for rebels and dreamers, and inspired a worldwide movement. Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead may be gone but they are certainly not forgotten in this laid-back locale.

Go on a peace-loving pilgrimage to the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets and uncover some of the district’s hippie history. Rifle through the records at music stores or try some tie-dye for size. Vintage clothing boutiques, second-hand bookstores, and an assortment of cafés and eateries recall the Summer of Love in Upper Haight Street. Take some time and explore the district on foot, ensuring you bring your camera along. Need a beer break? No problem. Haight-Ashbury still has its fair share of honest dive bars.

Much of the district has transformed since those love-not-war days and Haight-Ashbury is now known as a considerably gentrified postcode. Before too long, Haight-Ashbury had more yuppies than its hippies and the movement moved on. One of the district’s draws is its boulevard of blushing Victorian and Edwardian row houses, known affectionately as the Painted Ladies. Among these is the Queen Anne-style home that served as the headquarters and home of the Grateful Dead in the 1960s. These quaint façades represent the pocket of old-world San Francisco that survived the devastation of the 1906 earthquake. For this reason, Haight-Ashbury’s Buena Vista Park is the city’s oldest. If you want to find out why this park got its name, find a spot to sit on the hillside and watch the sun sink below the Golden Gate Bridge. If you think it can’t get any better, try it with a date and a picnic hamper.

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