The Haight Ashbury is one of San Francisco’s favorite neighborhoods. Also known as the ‘Upper Haight’, it’s a lively neighborhood full of activities, history, attractions, high-end boutiques and more. Originally a bastion of the 60’s hippie counterculture, the Haight Ashbury has become a thriving, colorful community, great for families, trendy shoppers, foodies, music lovers, and just about anyone else!
If you’re in the area, here are our top ten favorite things to do in the Haight Ashbury.
#1. Hike to the Top of Buena Vista Park
Hike to the top of Buena Vista Park and take in the views of the Haight Ashbury, the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown, and the hills across the bay. The Haight Ashbury has a number of parks, but this might just be the nicest spot in the neighborhood. With a sprawling view of the city below, plenty of trees and foliage, and the picturesque bridge beyond, the top of Buena Vista Park is hard to beat.
#2 Have a Picnic in the Panhandle
The grassy meadows combined with the shady canopies from the eucalyptus trees make for ideal picnic spots. Another of our favorite parks in the Haight Ashbury, the Panhandle has paved walking paths, and is accessible by Stanyan Street and the Western end, and Masonic Avenue through the middle. While the area consisted of sand dunes at least as far back as 1853, the park was reclaimed with deliberate planting through the end of the 19th century, and it remains a haven for eucalyptus, cypresses, and pines – all trees known for quick growth and shallow root structures, perfect for the thin soil.
#3 Check out the San Francisco Botanical Garden
In Golden Gate Park, close to the Conservatory of Flowers, the Botanical Garden’s arboretum is a 55-acre urban oasis. With a variety of special events and particular attractions, including a giant, century-old Monterey Cypress, this is a great spot to spend a day, to take the kids, or to just bask in the natural beauty of California. While the Botanical Gardens are not located directly in the Haight Ashbury, they are just a short jaunt away!
#4 Come out for the Haight Street Fair
Every June, the extravagant Haight Ashbury Street Fair, with three musical stages, countless food vendors, and plenty of other activities is organized by a local non-profit organization to preserve the district’s unique history and culture. A city-wide cultural event, it’s claimed the second weekend in June since the 1970s.
#5 Visit the Grateful Dead House
At 710 Ashbury Street, this Victorian home provided affordable housing to the five founding members of the Grateful Dead in the 1960s. The radical spirit of the youth of their era lives on in the band’s music, and the house stands as a proud reminder of the district’s heritage.
#6 Spend an Evening at Club Deluxe
Club Deluxe, at 1511 Haight Street, might be Haight Ashbury’s most popular nightclub. It has a reputation for long nights of free live jazz, New York pizza, and vintage attire. More than just for Jazz fans, this club is a must for anyone with a flair for nightlife of any kind.
#7 Grab a Meal at one of Haight Ashbury’s Many Amazing Restaurants
Whether you’re in the mood for Thai, pizza, pub food, Mexican, Indian, Asian Fusion, Chinese, Caribbean, and more, the 94117 has it all! Stand-out favorites include Hobson’s Choice and Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery. Another local hot-spot is Kezar Pub, a favorite for sports fanatics, with quality food and a diverse tap selection. As for pizza, Haight Ashbury loves New York style. Check out Slice House and Escape from New York Pizza, which first opened on Haight Street more than thirty years ago, and is still serving up some of the best pizza in the neighborhood.
#8 Go Thrift Store Shopping for Vintage Goods
Bargains and treasures are to be found within the many thrift stores and vintage clothing shops in the 94117 neighborhood. From 1920s flapper attire to the tye-dyed duds of the 1960s, the Haight Ashbury carries clothing from decades dating back to the 1800s. Some of our faves are the vintage thrift store Held Over, which has a robust selection for both men and women and offers the widest range of decades. Buffalo Exchange, Wasteland, and Relic Vintage are excellent choices, too — really, there are so many thrift stores in the 94117 that there are too many to list!
#9 Take a Walk down Haight Street
Haight Street has become a very popular tourist destination, famed for its unique boutiques and distinctive restaurants. It’s got thrift stores, record stores, and bookstores, like the world-famous Amoeba Records and book lovers’ Booksmith.
Catch a free concert at Amoeba Records and peruse their wide collection of albums. If reading is more your style, the Booksmith hosts author readings, book exchanges, and more, in a calming atmosphere with a vast assortment of reading materials of every kind. It’s independent spirit, and affection for a more human experience reflects the countercultural forces in the Haight Ashbury’s history, and the ongoing echoes of the raw hippie spirit.
#10 Explore for Inspiration
The Haight Ashbury is full to bursting with murals, galleries, and other art spaces. If you need a break, there’s always time for a pinball tournament at Free Gold Watch, a yoga class at any of several studios, a workout at the various clubs and rec centers, or a civilized coffee at Coffee to the People. We say “civilized” because it’s particularly famed for its spacious seating, slow pace, and quiet setting. It’s a great spot for a conversation, a few hours of productivity, or even just a rest.
Are You Interested in Haight Ashbury Real Estate?
The Haight Ashbury has come a long way over the past fifty years. Originally a bastion of the hippie counterculture with a seedy reputation and an allure for ideological rebellion, it’s become a bustling tourist spot, a thriving haven for families with its many parks, and a wonderful neighborhood to call home.
If you’re considering a move to the Haight Ashbury, give Danielle Lazier + Associates a call! Our team is ready to find you your perfect home in the Upper Haight.