This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Summer of Love, which took place right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here are some of the best things you can do around San Francisco to relive the glory of this colorful era, and get a hippie history lesson while you’re at it.
The San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers recently held a Summer of Love Anniversary concert, at which they revealed their new nightly Photosynthesis illumination display. If you missed it, fret not: every night the Conservatory will be illuminated in a psychedelic, floral light show. This flowerful illumination extravaganza occurs daily at nightfall until October 21st, so make sure to pencil this in before the end of summer.
Perhaps the most advertised exhibit amongst San Francisco’s many Summer of Love Anniversary events is the de Young’s Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll. Running through August 20th, this is a colorful exhibition of iconic rock posters, photographs, interactive music and light shows, costumes and textiles, ephemera, and avant-garde films.
3. Fall in Love with the Haight
Haight-Ashbury was the epicenter of the 1967 Summer of Love. To this day, the neighborhood still retains the eccentric personality of its hippie heyday. Visiting the Haight is a fun history lesson and a reminder of San Francisco’s role as a countercultural haven. It’s also a great place to shop for a fringed vest and John Lennon sunglasses.
The Asian Art Museum is taking a more nuanced approach to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. The museum is showcasing a series of floral masterpieces in their Flower Power exhibit, a commemoration of the long history of florals being used as a symbol for peace, which was a central aesthetic practice used to create the iconic art during the Summer of Love.
5. Visit North Beach
North Beach was a hotspot for the influential artists that defined the Beatnik Era, such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, who frequented Caffe Trieste and City Lights Bookstore. Though the Beat era occurred in the 50s, it importantly preceded the sentiments that instigated the countercultural movement, eventually culminating into the Summer of Love.
Starting August 2nd and running through September 10th, the California Historical Society will present On the Road to the Summer of Love, a photographic exhibit looking back at the cultural movements and events leading up to this transformative moment in California history. From the Beat poets to the experimental art scene, this exhibition explores the cultural context that made San Francisco a magnet for hippies and the center of a social revolution during the Summer of Love.
Sit back and let the Magic Bus be your “transcendental transportation” back to the ‘60s. This “phantasmagorical” two-hour trip runs through San Francisco, leading a tour with historical insights through the prism of the Summer of Love. You’ll be on a bubble-blowing, wildly painted bus that transforms into a theatre filled with moving images, music, and psychedelic theatrics. In the words of Lana del Rey, “just ride.”
8. Take a Day Trip to Berkeley
Berkeley, like the Haight, was a cultural epicenter for hippies during the 1967 Summer of Love, and it remains a hotspot for the free-spirited attitudes that defined the era. Check out UC Berkeley and walk along Telegraph Avenue at its southern tail to get a feel of the academic institution known for perpetuating the ideas representative of the Summer of Love.
Check out the GLBT Museum‘s art installation Lavender Tinted Sunglasses to explore the gay side of history. Fabulous.
10. Hit the Books
Head to the San Francisco Public Library to see the installations they’ve organized in celebration of the Summer of Love. The library will be honoring this historic moment with films, author talks, art, and other programs for all ages. The Park Branch in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is particularly engaging with tie dye and macramé classes, an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia, a ‘60s fashion show and film screenings. Perhaps read some of Ginsberg’s poetry while you’re there.
Music is a defining element of the Summer of Love, and Jimi Hendrix is one of the most iconic musicians to haven taken the stage during this era. The Museum of the African Diaspora investigates the Summer of Love through a perspective overlooked by other exhibits in San Francisco. Among a few of their Summer of Love shows, the Jimi Hendrix installation takes a gander at the influential rock icon who altered the course of history through his music and presence.