Love It or Haight It: Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Guide
Haight-Ashbury is an incredible relic of San Francisco’s past. The neighborhood, also known as “The Haight” or “Upper Haight”, succinctly personifies the City’s history, aesthetic, and culture.
It is perhaps the most colorful swath of acreage in San Francisco, and remains one of the last-standing neighborhoods to retain an eccentric personality despite decades of changes.
The Haight rose to fame during the Counterculture Movement during the Vietnam War era; it became a regular feature in international news headlines and incited a global initiative for social change with special thanks to the 1967 Summer of Love, and a little help from Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. Ultimately, Haight-Ashbury is known for being a monument to hippie culture and, well, being weird.
The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is nestled in between three parks: Golden Gate Park, the Panhandle, and Buena Vista Park, making it somewhat of an urban oasis. The section of Golden Gate Park nearest Haight Street is called Hippie Hill, naturally. In addition to these parks, Haight-Ashbury is squared off by Oak, Stanyan, Frederick, and Divisadero Streets. The neighborhood is centered around the main commercial thoroughfare on Haight Street, the epicenter of which is the famous intersection of Haight and Ashbury.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park
Though defined by its unique singularity, Haight-Ashbury has a multi-faceted personality. It’s a tourist trap, shopping mecca, and historic landmark. It’s where the counterculture movement was conceived, and yet it is one of the most interesting commercial streets in town.
Being in the Haight feels like a blast from the past with modern updates: while nostalgia pervades the neighborhood, modernity governs its collective consciousness. Strolling the streets of this neighborhood is akin to perusing a museum about San Francisco’s hippie heyday, but first-time visitors will be taken aback by its incomparable contemporary liberalism.
Related: 11 Ways to Relive the Summer of Love
The aesthetic of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood extends beyond the superficial. Instead, it insists on preserving history, as illustrated by pretty and political murals memorialized on the walls of the neighborhood. Take one step into the arrondissement and you won’t be able to miss them. And while history can be traced through the neighborhood’s murals and aesthetic, it’s also evident in various tourist-oriented shops selling tie-dye clothing, fringed vests, and John Lennon sunglasses.
Haight-Ashbury is one of the rare parts of San Francisco where tourists and locals gather in the same place. Though the neighborhood gets pretty busy on weekends, it’s also one of the less congested tourist attractions. This makes for a full-fledged San Francisco experience without the hassle of going to Fisherman’s Wharf or Union Square.
Related: San Francisco’s North Waterfront, via Bay Area Bike Share
And indeed, there is plenty to do in this ‘hood, which is why the Haight is so adored. There are apparel shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, and even a hookah lounge. Haight’s vibrant restaurant scene runs the gamut from budget to high-street, but does not extend to super high-end. Moreover, there are plenty of independent markets selling organic produce from small storefronts, establishing a stronger sense of community. There’s also a Whole Foods.
Haight Street is indubitably one of the best thoroughfares for shopping in San Francisco, especially for the flamboyant fashionista who likes a bargain. Haight Street is known for thrift stores and vintage shops, which range between standard secondhand stores like Crossroads to designer consignment boutiques like Wasteland. However, if vintage and consignment clothes are not your cup of tea, shops Diamond Supply, Ambiance, and X Generation will be more up your alley. Haight Street is also unbeatable when it comes to shoe shopping. Here, you’ll find a Doc Martens, cool sneaker shops, and stores like John Fluevog for unique finds. Whether you like fishing for secondhand treasures, mainstream garb, or niche styles, the Haight will certainly speak to your sartorial interests.
The Haight’s offerings extend beyond bustling businesses, as its residential streets exhibit awesome architecture. Haight-Ashbury displays one-of-a-kind Victorian and Edwardian homes splashed with vibrant personalities, courtesy of the 1970s Colorist Movement that repainted the City. The neighborhood is thus peppered with historic homes painted in psychedelic coloreds, which is so only-in-San-Francisco. In June 2017, homes in Upper Haight sold for $1.79 million on average, a 5.1% increase from June 2016, and an 87.4% increase from June 2012.
Residents and visitors of San Francisco all have something to gain by spending more time in the Haight, even if it’s a little more eccentric than your run-of-the-mill Nob Hill. Since the Haight is utterly symbolic of an important part of San Francisco’s history, you should absolutely keep this neighborhood at the top of your San Francisco bucket list.
Where to Eat in Haight-Ashbury
Cha Cha Cha
$$ | 1801 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Great for lunch and dinner, this tapas bar and restaurant offers guests a brilliant menu of Caribbean and Cuban fare. Be sure to grab a pitcher of Sangria during their happy hour which takes place between 4PM – 7PM, Monday – Thursday.
Order: Cajun Shrimp, Fried New Potatoes, Chicken Paillard
Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 11:30AM – 11PM, Friday – Saturday: 11:30AM – 11:30PM
Siam Lotus Thai
$$ | 1705 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Awarded “Best Thai” restaurant in San Francisco for the past 5 years by ABC 7 News’ Bay Area Alist, Siam Lotus Thai serves authentic Thai cuisine with vegetarian and gluten free options.
Order: Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, Drunken Asparagus
Hours: Monday, Thursday, Friday: 12PM – 4PM & 5PM – 9PM, Wednesday: 5PM – 9PM, Saturday: 12PM – 9:30PM, Sunday: 12PM -9PM
Slice House by Tony Gemignani
$ | 1535 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Owned by Bay Area native, 12 time World Pizza Champion, and world renown chef Tony Gemignani, Slice House serves well composed pizzas with the perfect amount of crunch and well balanced flavors. Be sure to also check out Gemignani’s 12 other restaurants including Capo’s in North Beach SF and Pizza Rock in Las Vegas.
Order: Purple Haze, Cal-Italia
Hours: Sunday – Friday: 11AM – 10PM, Friday – Saturday: 11AM – 11PM
Ginza Sushi & Sake
$$ |1793 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Great tasting traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern touch served in a hip and spacious venue. Stop by for happy hour from Monday – Friday between 4PM – 6PM featuring $3 beers, $6 cocktails, and an array of appetizers.
Order: Akairo Roll, Daburu Roll, Moriawase
Hours: Daily: 12PM – 10PM
Pork Store Cafe
$$ |1451 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
A fantastic breakfast and brunch option in the City, Pork Store Cafe serves hearty portions in a warm and cozy space. Lines tend to get long during weekend brunch, so try to get there early!
Order: Corned Beef Hash Special, Green Benedict, Eggs in a Nest
Hours: Weekdays: 7AM – 3:30PM, Weekends: 8AM – 4PM
$$ | 1805 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Authentic Puerto Rican cuisine served home-style in a bright and intimate space with only 10 tables. If you’re a fan of Boogaloos, Parada 22 also hosts weekly pop ups during breakfast/brunch hours on weekends from 9AM – 3PM, so stop by and try some of Boogaloos’ famous biscuits and gravy!
Order: Boogaloos Famous Biscuits & Gravy, Camarones a la Criolla
Hours: Daily: 11AM – 10PM
Sparrow Bar & Kitchen
$$ | 1640 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
A terrific brunch option, Sparrow Bar & Kitchen uses organic and locally sourced produce to create their fantastic American offerings. Stop by for a cup of joe from Sightglass Coffee or enjoy a beer / glass of wine on their beautiful outdoor patio during happy hour which takes place Tuesday – Sunday from 4PM – 6PM. Reservations are recommended as it does tend to get busy during brunch hours.
Order: Late Breakfast Lunch, Eggs Benedict, Vegetarian Burger
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 11AM – 10PM, Friday – Saturday: 10AM – 10PM, Sunday: 10AM – 9PM
Where to Drink in Haight-Ashbury
Magnolia Pub & Brewery
$$ |1398 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
A fantastic gastropub with a strong offering of house brews and organic fare. Dine inside their beautiful or outside on sunny days. Happy hour featuring $3 beer specials takes place Monday – Friday from 3PM – 6PM
Order: Kalifornia Kolsch, Proving Ground IPA, Possum Pale
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11AM – 11PM, Friday: 11AM – 12AM, Saturday: 10AM – 12AM, Sunday: 10AM – 11PM
$$ | 1633 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
With a beautiful mural corralled by a curved bar and Middle Eastern decor, Zam Zam offers guests a unique experience and well made drinks at reasonable prices.
Order: Classic Cocktails
Hours: Monday-Friday: 3:00PM–2:00AM, Saturday-Sunday: 1:00PM–2:00AM
$$ | 1601 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Everything rum, Hobson’s Choice has a enormous selection of rum and rum based cocktails from their powerful punches to classic mojitos. Stop by for happy hour Monday – Friday between 5PM – 7PM for $3 punches, daiquiris, and well specials!
Order: Pain Killer, House Punch, Dark and Stormy
Hours: Daily: 12PM – 2AM
$$ | 1725 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Recently remodeled and expanded in 2015, The Alembic has become one of the best cocktail bars in the country. Owned by Dave McLean who also started Magnolia Brewery and Smokestack, this intimate venue offers a long list of well made, classic handcrafted cocktails and exquisite bar fare. If you’re looking to sample their fantastic food menu, their kitchen is closed on Sundays and Mondays, so please plan accordingly.
Order: Southern Exposure, Pickled Quail Eggs, Pork Belly Slider, Beer Battered Rockfish Sandwich
Hours: Monday-Tuesday: 4:00PM–12:00AM, Wednesday-Friday: 4:00PM–2:00AM, Saturday: 2:00PM–2:00AM, Sunday: 2:00PM–12:00AM
The Milk Bar
$$ | 1840 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
A fun cocktail bar and events venue, The Milk Bar hosts an array shows from stand up comedy to music performances. Lounge around the venue’s large bar area or show off your awesome moves on the dance floor, it’s always a good time at The Milk Bar. Must be 21+ to enter.
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 4PM – 2AM, Friday – Sunday: 1PM – 2AM
Gold Cane Cocktail Lounge
$ | 1569 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Your neighborhood bar with sweet happy hour deals, plenty of TVs, a pool table, and an outdoor patio.
Order: Bloody Mary
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 12:00PM–2:00AM
Where to Get Caffeinated in Haight-Ashbury
Flywheel Coffee Roasters
$ | 672 Stanyan Street, San Francisco, CA
An old bike shop turned coffee shop serving coffee brewed with beans sourced from Nicaragua. Free Wi-Fi, ample seating inside and on their back patio make Flywheel a great place to study or just hang out.
Order: Nitro Cold Brew, Siphon Coffee, Cappuccino
Hours: Weekdays: 6AM – 7PM, Weekends: 7AM – 7PM
Cantata Coffee Company
$ | 1708 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
A cozy mom and pop shop serving special caffeinated beverages named after celebrities, boba, ice cream, breakfast fare and quick bites.
Order: Frank Sinatra
Hours: Daily: 7:30AM – 8PM
$$ | 1300 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Ritual Coffee Roasters sparked a coffee renaissance in San Francisco after opening in 2005. Based out of The Mission, Ritual has expanded to include six locations including Haight, Bayview’s Flora Grubb Gardens and Napa’s Oxbow Public Market. Our favorite is the outpost at Hayes Valley’s PROXY — a modified shipping container that’s positively hipsteriffic.
Order: Sweet Tooth Espresso, Cornucopia, Cold Brew
Hours: Weekdays: 6:30AM – 7PM, Weekends: 7AM – 7PM
$ | 1195 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA
Great for breakfast and lunch, Oakside Cafe offers delicious breakfast sandwiches, art for sale, a printing station, and free WiFi. Grab a bite to go or catch up on some work in the space’s 2 story dining area.
Order: Oakside Chicken Special
Hours: Monday – Friday: 6AM – 5PM, Saturday: 6AM – 4:30PM, Sunday: 7AM – 3:30PM
Where to Shop in Haight-Ashbury
$$ | 1855 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Amoeba Music opened its doors in 1997 in the free expression neighborhood, The Haight. Record lovers go bananas for this Indie music lover’s hangout. Amoeba was once a bowling alley and today is home to many records and CDs. Enjoy free, live shows at this must-see part of San Francisco.
Hours: Daily: 11AM – 8PM
$$$ | 1452 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Carrying a “be who you are” outlook, Piedmont Boutique carries everything you need to be as unique as you want to be. With a fabulous inventory of “Made in San Francisco” disco-party wear, drag queen fits, and accessories, whether you’re putting together an outfit for Burning Man or that company costume party, Piedmont Boutique is a must visit during your time on Haight. Also offered on site are complete apparel customizations with 2-3 day turn arounds.
Hours: Daily: 11AM – 7PM
Decades of Fashion
$$$ |1653 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Home to the largest collection of vintage clothing in San Francisco, Decades of Fashion carries fabulous pieces from the Victorian Era in the mid 1900’s to the late 1980’s. Whether you’re looking for that perfect outfit to wear to your favorite speakeasy, or a Halloween costume that’ll your friends teeming with envy, Decades of Fashion is sure to have what you need.
Hours: Daily: 11AM – 7PM
$$$ | 1697 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Over 40 years in the making, Vancouver native, John Fluevog has been going against the grain and setting trends since 1970. With a progressive style and the use of green materials to construct beautifully designed footwear, John Fluevog has been a household name in Hollywood with clients including Whoopi Goldberg, Scarlett Johansson, Neil Patrick Harris, and Paula Abdul to name a few. John Fluevog was also the first retailer to import Dr. Martens state side during the 80’s.
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11AM – 7PM, Sunday: 12PM – 6PM
$$ | 1420 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
Today’s booming sneaker culture has everyone and their mothers on the prowl for the hottest shoes on the market. With 2 stories of Instagram worthy interior design and shoes, Nice Kicks has been a trusted retailer for hard to find sneakers and apparel since 2010. Attentive customer service and great prices is what you’ll find at this fantastic retailer.
Hours: Daily: 10AM – 7PM
$$ | 1632 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
FTC, or For The City, has been recognized for truly embracing and promoting real skate culture since the sport first gained wide spread popularity in San Francisco during the 80’s. Whether you’re a hardcore skater or just a fan of the style, shop FTC’s inventory of quality clothing and authentic products for all your needs.
Hours: Daily: 11AM – 7PM
$$ | 1742 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
How many socks can a sock-shop stock? Find out at the Sockshop! With over 300 cool socks, funny socks, yummy socks and more, the Sockshop has everything you need from brands like B.ella to Zohara.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11:00AM–7:00PM, Friday & Saturday: 11:00AM–8:00PM
$$ | 1644 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Spending “only a few minutes” in a bookstore like The Booksmith is a hard feat. This independent bookstore keeps a well curated inventory of books, plays host to frequent author events, and a has team of knowledgable staff members that’ll gladly give you superb recommendations.
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10:00AM–10:00PM, Sunday: 10AM – 8PM
$$ | 1660 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
If you want to ‘pop some tags’ but only have $20 in your pockets, Wasteland is your best bet for designer and vintage apparel. Accruing recognition by the likes of Vogue and Rolling Stone magazine for their inventory of must have, head to toe pieces, Wasteland is one of San Francisco’s premier thrift / consignment stores.
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11AM – 8PM
Where to Play in Haight-Ashbury
$$ | 1821 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA
A casual hookah lounge decorated with a gallery of paintings and murals serving Mediterranean fare. Just $20 will get you unlimited hookah refills, fries, and beverages. Hang out and relax while you smoke, or enjoy the bumping music and get your groove on.
Hours: Daily: 3PM – 2AM
Buena Vista Park
Buena Vista & Haight, San Francisco, CA
Nestled in the heart of the City, Buena Vista Park is the oldest park in San Francisco. Home to a wide array of wildlife, this 36 acre park includes ascending windy trails and vantage points offering spectacular views of the Bay Area. Additional highlights include tennis courts, and a children’s playground.
Hours: Daily: 5AM – Midnight
Stanyan Street & Fell Street, San Francisco, CA
Located just east of Golden Gate Park, running between Fell and Oak Streets, the Panhandle is 3/4 miles long and one city block wide. Here you’ll find biking / jogging trails. basketball courts, and a children’s playground equipped with restrooms, water fountains.
Hours: Daily: 5AM – Midnight