Summer of Love on a Budget

Pacific Tradewinds

Summer of Love on a Budget

Picture of the text "Summer of Love" in rainbow letters with two police officers walking by on the sidewalk.

Haight Ashbury It’s been more than 50 years since the Summer Of Love, but the spirit of 1967 still resonates today. And there’s nowhere in the world that continues to capture that free-love revolution like Haight-Ashbury — the place where it all started. This San Franciscan district is widely recognized as the birthplace of the hippie movement and attracted thousands of youngsters in the 1960s looking for a bohemian way of life. That ethos lives on making Haight-Ashbury a must-visit for travelers to San Francisco. If you take a stroll along Haight Street, the main road and lifeblood of this San Franciscan neighborhood, you will still find men and women dressed in the tie-dye clothing of the Sixties. Head shops with names such as Puff Puff Pass and Pipe Dreams sit alongside tie-dye boutiques such as Love On Haight and Land Of The Sun. But what makes Haight-Ashbury special? Why has it become a Mecca to nomadic souls and curious travelers from all over the world? Here we take a look at the district’s glorious past and things to do when you get there.

The hippie history of Haight-Ashbury The history of Haight-Ashbury is not only the story of a San Franciscan district, but of a revolution. It’s the birthplace of America’s counter-culture movement. The Haight phenomenon started with the decline of the Beat Generation at the beginning of the 1960s. Proponents of that movement, including writer and poet Allen Ginsberg, moved to the district, sucked in by its artistic soul. A younger generation, seeking out cheap rent, like-minded community and a good time, joined them. It was a crackling cocktail of youth, idealism, art, music, and passion. The hippie revolution was born.
From around 1964 onwards, the area was the epicentre of the free-love movement, attracting musicians, artists, poets and the liberal masses. The climax of the era was undoubtedly the world-famous Summer Of Love in 1967. Many say it started with the Human Be-In event at the Golden Gate Park, a rally against a new Californian law banning the use of psychedelic drug LSD. More than 20,000 people showed up (some say it was closer to 30,000) to listen to speeches from luminaries of the counter-culture scene and music from bands including Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. As word spread, tens of thousands of young dreamers came to join the party. Many took part in peaceful protests while sex, drugs and alcohol were shared in abundance. Their message was simple: Love could change the world. We at Pacific Tradewinds agree with that motto.

But, as more and more people arrived, the district struggled to keep up. Overcrowding and widespread drug and alcohol abuse led to an increase in petty and violent crimes.
By the fall of 1967, most of the newcomers were forced out to escape the troubles. Many historians point to the mass exodus as the beginning of the end for the hippie movement.

Inexpensive things to do on Haight Street Travelers now flock to Haight-Ashbury to take in that magical history. And no visit would be complete without a wander down the district’s main road: Haight Street. The famous thoroughfare is lined with amazing eateries, stunning Victorian houses, shops of wonder, buskers and much, much more. And the best thing of all… there’s plenty of cheap things to do on Haight Street that will give you the full hippie experience.

The Haight and Ashbury road signs At the intersection of Haight Street and Ashbury Street The modest intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets holds two signs that, despite their normal appearance, have become a must-visit for visitors to the district. Many stop, pose, and take a photo with the historic signs, which gave the district its name. In many ways, they have become an important symbol of the hippie movement, with free-spirited travelers making the journey to stand underneath them in much the same way as Beatles fans walk across the famous Abbey Road Studios crossing.

Bound Together Anarchist Collective Bookstore 1369 Haight Street Like so much in Haight-Ashbury, Bound Together is much more than it seems. Inside the store is a homage to all things anarchy. The all-volunteer run bookstore pushes the anarchist movement through its wide-selection of literature, zines, CDs, DVDs and more. Once you’ve finished exploring the mind-liberating shop, step outside and marvel at artist Susan Greene’s tribute piece, Anarchists Of The Americas. The work features some of the most well-known anarchists including Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre and Alexander Berkman.
Visit Famous Haight Addresses Various spots around the Haight-Ashbury Use google to find the location of the previous homes of Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane. You will find Bobby McFerrin’s house too. The Hells Angels had their home base there in  the 1960’s. They often served as bodyguards at rock concerts.

Buena Vista Park Buena Vista & Haight Street If the free-love movement has got you feeling like you want to get back to nature, it doesn’t get much better than the stunning Buena Vista Park. The green land, which is the oldest official park in San Francisco, boasts spectacular views over the city, plus winding trails and one the city’s last live oak groves. If you’re lucky, you might spot one of the western harvest mice or Botta’s pocket gophers that call the park its home.


Amoeba Music 1855 Haight Street In a converted bowling alley at the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park, lies one of the greatest collections of music in San Francisco. Celebrate Haight-Ashbury’s musical heritage with a trip to Amoeba Music. The iconic (and enormous) store has a huge collection of vinyl records and CDs as well as movies and merch. People watching is a peak experience at Amoeba Music. It is a must-visit for even the most casual music fan.

Bonus: Haight-Ashbury Street Fair On the corner of Haight Street and Ashbury Street Since its very first showing in 1978, Haight-Ashbury Street Fair has been a yearly tribute to the incredible hippie movement of the 1960s. The fair, which takes place on the second Sunday of June, boasts music stages, arts and crafts, food booths and more. If you want to experience the incredible power of the counter-culture movement and the Summer Of Love, then the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair is the one for you.

Cheap places to eat in Haight-Ashbury If all the sight-seeing and excitement has got you hungry for a bit of grub, then you’re in luck. Haight-Ashbury is home to plethora of amazing restaurants that won’t be too painful on the bank balance. And while there are many budget meals in Haight-Ashbury for the cash-concerned traveler there are some places that are extra special. Check out these five favourites:

Haight Street Market 1530 Haight Street If food on the go is your thing, then look no further than Haight Street Market.
The indie grocery store is part of a family of three (the other two are in Harrison Street and Noriega Street) and offers a spectacular takeout menu from its deli. Try one of their signature sandwiches which start at $8.45. There’s also a respectable vegetarian section for those who don’t eat meat. After you’ve enjoyed your meal, explore the delights of the store and its wonderfully fresh produce. Take a camera with you to capture the vivid colors and beautiful layout.

Pork Store Café 1451 Haight Street If you want to fill up for an adventurous day ahead, check out the Pork Store Café. The iconic breakfast eatery serves up the best American comfort food — perfect for a traveler. Dishes such as the Santa Fe Scramble (scrambled eggs with chedder cheese, red bean chili, sour cream, and corn bread) are well worth the trip to Haight Street.
For first-time visitors to the States, Pork Store Café is a wonderful place to explore American cuisine at its finest.

Emanuel Coffee 488 Haight Street If you’re looking for true value look no further than Emanuel Coffee. The Salvadorian restaurant might be small in size but it offers big breakfasts for low prices until 10pm. Their speciality is delicious pupusas — a traditional Salvadoran dish of thick corn tortilla and a savoury filling.

VeganBurg 1466 Haight Street While Haight-Ashbury is best known for kicking off the hippie movement, it is also home to another phenomenon. The spectacular VeganBurg became the world’s first plant-based burger joint when it opened its doors in October 2010 and the eatery has won a strong following (including The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde).

Kate’s Kitchen 471 Haight Street This classic American diner on Haight Street is a glorious mix of big dishes and low prices. Expect home cooked-style Californian food with hints of the South. The popular eatery with both locals and tourists is just what you need when you’re feeling rough after a couple of days on the road.

Explore the Golden Gate Park The Golden Gate Park’s place in history is secured. The stunning green space became home to thousands of hippies during the 1960s and, as previously mentioned, played host to the Human Be-In event — the unofficial beginning to the Summer Of Love.
Now the 1,017 acre park, which sits to the west of Haight-Ashbury, welcomes more than 13million visitors each year and is undoubtedly one of the highlights of San Francisco.
Within its grounds lies beautiful gardens, lakes, trails and monuments plus a packed event calendar.
For sports fans, the park contains tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball fields and more. If you’re a sports history buff visit Kezar Stadium, in the south east corner of the park, home to the San Francisco 49ers from 1946 to 1970. At the eastern end of the Golden Gate Park is Hippie Hill, the home of the modern day hippie in San Francisco. The open fields are a throwback to the Sixties with teens in tie-dye tee shirts strumming guitars or joining together in a drum circle.

Where to stay If you’ve got the urge to explore Haight-Ashbury and the wonders it holds then you’ll need somewhere to stay.
Check out some of these excellent options:

Pacific Tradewinds Hostel 680 Sacramento Street Pacific Tradewinds Hostel, the best-rated hostel on TripAdvisor, is a fantastic choice. The hostel itself is close to Chinatown, North Beach (Little Italy) and the world-famous California Street Cable Cars. Getting to Haight-Ashbury is easy and inexpensive. To get a bus to the famous hippie hangout of Haight Street just take a short walk to Market Street and 2nd Street and hop on the number 7 towards Great Highway. Your stop is Divisadero and Haight Street.

The Red Victorian Bed & Breakfast 1665 Haight Street Smack bang in the heart of it all is the impressive façade of The Red Vic. The bed and breakfast also offers hostel facilities and is a regular haunt for those with a nomadic lifestyle.
In the 1970s, environmental artist and social activist Sami Sunchild painted the Haight Street hostel tomato red and renamed it The Red Victorian. Sunchild regularly hosted World Peace Conversations and made the business a center around which peace and love could be shared. Unfortunately, Sunchild passed away in 2013 but her legacy lives on thanks to the unique guest room designs such as the Summer Of Love and Flower Children Rooms. For those interested in expanding their horizons The Red Vic hosts the Tuesday Lectures, a series of talks on everything from how to induce out-of-body experiences to the hemispheric dominance in the human brain.

Key Photo by Torbakhopper

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