Spending a Day in Haight Ashbury, San Francisco’s Hippie Neighborhood (+Map)

Fifty-five years after the Summer of Love, Haight Ashbury is still buzzing with hip residents, artsy galleries, and thrift stores reminiscent of its past. Having spent a couple of years in San Francisco, I was lucky enough to live amongst the peaceful atmosphere in this trendy neighborhood. Now, I might not go so far as to call myself a ‘flower child,’ but I sure did come to appreciate the hippie culture and open-mindedness that echoes through these streets.

There is a lot to do and see in The Haight – as the locals call it. Well into my year living in the neighborhood, I was still finding new quirky cafes and local grocery stores. That said, the main section of Haight Ashbury is one long street called, you guessed it, Haight Street. The heart of the neighborhood is at the crossroads between Haight Street and Ashbury Street, but most activity is concentrated along Haight Street itself.

Putting my love of this neighborhood to good use, I’ve put together the best things to do in Haight Ashbury, restaurants and bars to visit, and iconic shops to experience. This area really embodies a unique blend of boho hippie culture and holds a special place in the hearts of visitors and locals. Follow along as I take you through the mural-covered streets of this historic San Francisco neighborhood.

America’s Historic Enclave of the Hippie Movement

Haight Ashbury

Haight Ashbury won its fame in the mid-1960s when the neighborhood became the epicenter of the hippie counterculture. Thousands of Americans (now referred to as flower children) flocked to the area for what is now fondly remembered as ‘the Summer of Love’ to protest America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and the commercialization and materialization of society.

In a gathering of love, music, and hallucinogens, Haight Ashbury was once the stomping grounds of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and The Grateful Dead.

Haight Ashbury
Haight Ashbury

Before these artists moved in, The Haight experienced a stagnant period of neglect. Many of the gorgeous historic homes were abandoned due to an extended period of post-war economic decline. As these community-minded, forward-thinking artists moved in, the neighborhood blossomed into one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city.

I could ramble on for pages about how incredible the atmosphere must have been here in the 60s, but I’ll spare you the time and get right into Haight Ashbury as we know it today.

The Perfect San Francisco Location

Haight Ashbury

Haight Ashbury is one of the best-located neighborhoods in the city. I say this because it’s tucked away between Golden Gate Park (San Francisco equivalent to Central Park), and Buena Vista Park, alongside the Panhandle – a lush extension of Golden Gate Park. The street itself is densely populated with shops, restaurants, and bars and is mostly flat – a rare phenomenon in the hilly city of San Francisco.

Haight Ashbury

The houses here date back to the 1800s and are some of the most beautiful in the city. Multi-story Edwardian and Victorian wooden houses, known as ‘painted ladies,’ line the streets, each painted with a different combination of pastel colors and clad with fragrant jasmine.

Everything on this list is within walking distance of one another. To put things in perspective, walking from one end of the neighborhood to the other takes less than fifteen minutes.

Because of this, I won’t mention the distances between each location. Rather, I advise you to take what you want from this list of activities. Depending on how long you have been in the city, you can enjoy them over the course of a week or squeeze them all into one day.

Getting to Haight Ashbury

The street at dusk

To get here from other parts of the city, you could use Uber, Lyft, or the well-scheduled buses. The 6, 7, and 33 buses run up and down Haight Street, with the 33 bus turning up Ashbury Street and making its way into The Mission (a neighborhood worth its own post). The 43 also runs through a section of the Haight, linking the southern part of the city with The Presidio.

The bus you will use depends on where you are traveling from. Typically speaking, most travel in one direction, either North to South or East to West, cross-sectioning the city’s grid-like formation roads. The one downfall is that traveling diagonally usually requires catching two buses. A one-way ticket on the bus costs $2.50 and lasts 120 minutes. The easiest way to get around is to download a Clipper Card on your phone and load it with money, allowing you to tap it the same way you would while riding on the metro.

Flywheel Coffee to Start the Day

Flywheel CoffeeFlywheel Coffee

Two of my favorite coffee shops happen to sit on either end of the neighborhood. Against the border of Golden Gate Park, Flywheel is a trendy hub of coffee culture where you can sip your brew and watch fresh beans roast and grind in industrial machinery. They serve a selection of traditional coffees as well as specialty brews made using drip machines that look like they belong in a school laboratory.

I love to set up my remote work desk from this cafe, which has a small outdoor seating area and a good vibe all around. A cappuccino here costs $5, which you can pair with a delicious muffin or baked good from the bakery selection.

If you walk through the Haight starting from the eastern side, Ritual Coffee Roasters is a coffee bar chain wth a minimalist interior bathed in natural light. They are open from 7 am until 6 pm daily, best known for their cold brew. They also serve delicious teas and specialty drinks, including a hot and spiced winter warmer for $5.75.

Hippie Hill at Golden Gate Park

Hippie Hill

With a buzz of energy from your morning brew, make your way into the Golden Gate Park towards Hippie Hill. This sunny hil is an iconic part of the park that is intertwined with the 1967 Summer of Love and hippie movement. It was used as a gathering space for community events and music festivals. In fact, the park is still used as a venue for an annual celebration of peace at the 420 Marijuana-positive event every April.

If you start at Ritual, you’re just a few blocks from Buena Vista Park or the Panhandle, two separate but equally as beautiful parks for a short walk.

Brioche Bakery for Breakfast

Brioche Bakery

One of my favorite places to visit on Haight is Brioche Bakery & Cafe. Open from 8 am until 8 pm, this cozy, locally owned restaurant has a warm wooden interior and a sunny outdoor terrace totally protected from the wind.

Serving coffee and brunch foods as well as high-speed Wi-Fi, I love to spend a day working outdoors here. Grab a bowl of granola for $8.5, or go big with the classic eggs benedict for $13.75. You won’t be sorry.

Another great option for breakfast is Pork Store Cafe across the street, home to the neighborhood’s most delicious omelets, waffles, and hashbrowns. They even have vegan brunch options.

Shopping in Haight Ashbury

Shopping in Haight Ashbury

If you ask any locals about the area today, they’ll confirm that Haight is the epicenter of thrift stores and festival wear. From second-hand Gucci bags curated at Wasteland to $5 jeans sold at Goodwill to hand crafted festival outfits at Piedmont, there is something for every shopper here. Wasteland, Blue Bin, and Buffalo Exchange are three famous stores, but countless more line the street.

I love digging through the festival stores packed with bespoke bedazzled outfits, sunglasses, and jewelry perfect for any funky outdoor festival.


Amoeba Records is the world’s largest record store located in a disregarded bowling alley. The shop is truly in line with the hippie movement, selling more hundreds of thousands of new and used CDs, vinyl records, and cassettes.

The Booksmith is another one of my happy places in The Haight. I like to spend time reading and relaxing in this incredibly well-curated bookstore, which has unique book review cards for most of the books on sale.

Art and craft stores (Mendels in particular), souvenir stops, and other Californian locals, including Aviator Nation, can also be found on the street.

Gus’s Community Market for Lunch

Gus’s Community Market

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, drop into Gus’s Market and grab a poke bowl to-go. The market is a privately owned grocery store with only the best local and organic produce on show.

If you’re a fan of grocery shopping like myself, you’ll be transported into ‘deli-heaven’ in this incredible store. Perfectly arranged produce, tasting samples, and plenty of options to buy freshly toasted sandwiches, salads, and even sushi make this my top choice for an on-the-go lunch.

For just $12.95, you could dig into the best Bahn Mi in San Francisco.

Dinner and Nightlife in The Haight


Before dinner, make your way to Magnolia Brewing for a pint. Packed with locals after a busy work day, this is one of the more social places to spend an afternoon.

The Alembic is one of the coolest places to grab a drink and meal in the Haight. While technically a cocktail bar, they serve an inventive selection of small plates a la carte, including crab dip and a spring risotto for $14. The kitchen is open Wednesday through Friday, 4 pm to 10 pm, and 3 pm to 9 pm on Sundays.

Early evening at Milk Bar

After dinner, Mad Dog In the Fog, Milk Bar, and Noc Noc are among the many bars and pubs worth checking out.

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