The Haight (pronounced like "hate") is a district of San Francisco running along Haight Street and the famous center of San Francisco's hippie community, with a multitude of eclectic stores, coffee shops, and art that reflects this fact. The district is bounded roughly by the Panhandle and Fell/Oak Streets on the north, Market Street on the east, Duboce Avenue and Buena Vista Park on the south, and Stanyan Street (and Golden Gate Park) on the west, with a small extension west to include the University of California, San Francisco Parnassus campus just to the west.
The Haight is made up of two neighborhoods: Haight-Fillmore, usually called the Lower Haight, and Haight-Ashbury, also known as the Upper Haight. The two neighborhoods are separated by a large hill and are bisected by Divisadero Street. The neighborhoods have two separate histories whose cultures and identities merged in the 1960s as poor, young white hippies moved into the Upper Haight and began to make contact with the poor, young black residents of the Lower Haight. Together, these outcasts forged the counter-culture movement the Haight is most well known for. Today, the two neighborhoods remain similar, yet distinct. The Upper Haight is more of a tourist destination, more identified with its hippie roots, and is safer, especially since the 1990s. The Lower Haight retains more of its black roots. Since the Lower Haight does not have as much tourist traffic, rents are less expensive, and there are more shops featuring young local artists rather than stores catering to hippie-nostalgia foot traffic.
In the 1960s large portions of the predominantly African American Fillmore District were involuntarily relocated to Haight-Ashbury due to the disruptive urban renewal movements of the time. At the same time, middle class whites began moving to the growing suburbs of the Bay Area, causing home values in the area to plunge. The neighborhood, with its then-surplus of affordable Victorian homes, was ripe for housing an influx of African American families as well as Beats attracted by the growing intellectual, anti-establishment community surrounding the local universities, as well as an emerging (pre-Castro District) gay and lesbian community.
With the onset of the Vietnam War, many white middle class college kids derailed by the draft now began to move into the Haight, identifying with the counterculture trends already taking place in the neighborhood and adopting Hippie ideologies and alternative lifestyles. Many thrived while other lives were ruined by destructive drugs such as speed, heroin and cocaine, and some remain committed to the Hippie dream to this day. While gentrification has turned the Upper Haight into something of a counterculture theme park (although it is also home to many young, homeless drug addicts, though no longer of the peaceful, hippie variety), there are still plenty of eclectic finds to uncover here and one can still can get a sense of the once-bohemian nature of this area.
Fell and Oak Streets, parallel one-way streets running east-west across the northern edge of the district, offer a relatively easy way to get into the district via car from Downtown to the east. A few major north-south streets which pass through Haight are Fillmore Street, Divisadero Street (which merges into Castro Street to the south) and Masonic Avenue. Parking in the area can be very limited, however, and it's far preferable to use alternate transportation for the Upper Haight area.
By public transit
MUNI operates the 71-Haight-Noriega bus route (plus the 6-Parnassus east of Masonic) running the length of Haight Street, connecting the area to Downtown. Nearby streets parallel to Haight also serve the area, for example the #5 on Fulton and #21 Hayes north of the Haight district. Additionally, a few lines run north-south through the district: 22-Fillmore, 24-Divisadero, 33-Stanyan and 43-Masonic.
The N-Judah Muni Metro line (partially underground) also runs parallel to Haight Street several blocks to the south. An easy way to access the western portion of the Haight district (near Cole Valley) from downtown is to take the N-Judah outbound to Cole Stret, then go right. It runs under the hill. The N-Judah continues westward, stopping at University of California, San Francisco before heading into the Sunset neighborhood.
If you are walking really quickly, it will take about 20 minutes to walk from the Lower Haight to the Upper Haight - and it will be good exercise going up a large hill.
- Buena Vista Park. Steep paths to the top of its 575' elevation lead to some nice views through the trees, but are easily circumnavigated by non-enthusiasts.
- Hippie Hill. Near the district's western border is the entrance to Golden Gate Park. Walking into the park and through a small tunnel beneath the Alvord Lake Bridge, the first large field and adjacent hill are known as Hippie Hill. In dry weather, Hippie Hill is a popular destination for locals and offers a glimpse at the Haight's hippie culture. There visitors will find a large and popular drum circle, amateur performers of many types from jugglers to musicians, frisbee enthusiasts, picnickers, and psychedelic drug users, all mingling happily. Don't be surprised to find locals lighting up a joint of marijuana at Hippie Hill. Though marijuana use is still illegal in the US, California has decriminalized medical marijuana. A note from your doctor suffices to obtain a card enabling one to reliably check quantity and quality and purchase in a civilized manner over a counter. Hippie Hill is a relatively safe place to purchase marijuana, but law enforcement patrols Haight Street at the urging of merchants in order to maintain a teen- and tourist-friendly environment.
- Famous homes. (Please note- These are all PAST addresses, none of the people listed still live there and these are peoples' homes and though they are used to and pretty tolerant of tourists taking pictures, their privacy should be respected and one should NOT go knocking on doors.)
- The Grateful Dead house, 710 Ashbury St.
- The Hell's Angels house, 719 Ashbury St.
- Janis Joplin house, 635 Ashbury St.
- Country Joe McDonald house, 612 Ashbury St.
- Big Brother and the Holding Company house, 1018 Page St.
- "Hippie Temptation" house, 1550 Page St. Site of the CBS documentary.
- Ron Donovan house, 1828 Page St. Former home of the psychedelic concert poster artist.
- Flipper house, 879 Haight St. Former home of the famous punk band.
- Charles Manson house, 635 Cole St.
- 731 Buena Vista West. Former home of Graham Nash (and several owners later) Bobby McFerrin.
- Michael McClure house, 264 Downey St. Former home of the Beat-era playwright and poet.
- 1235 Masonic Ave. Patty Hearst hid in a Symbionese Liberation Army safe-house here.
- Sid Vicious house, 32 Delmar St. Site of Sid's non-fatal overdose after his last Sex Pistols show.
- Duboce Park. The N Judah streetcar travels along the perimeter of the park and stops at the intersection of Noe Street and Duboce Street. The park is attractive and split into a dog-friendly and a children-friendly section. There is a well maintained children's playground that attracts children from the neighborhood.
While there are a number of fun walking tours, this is also a good place to simply sit in a cafe, have a few cups of coffee, and watch other people walk the streets.
- Haight Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour. By guides who experienced the 60's --and can actually still remember it! 40% architecture/general neighborhood history and 60% counter-culture hippy history comprise this fun and informative 2.5 hour flashback through the neighborhood; includes a trip to the Psychedelic History Museum in a restored Victorian, open only in conjunction with the tour. Tour starts at the McDonalds parking lot at the corner of Stanyan and Waller every Tuesday and Saturday at 9:30AM, every Thursday at 2PM and every Friday at 11AM. $20 per person.
- The Haunted Haight Walking Tour, ☎ . Shows the spooky and macabre history of the neighborhood in an evening walking tour. Tour starts in front of Coffee to the People at 7PM on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. $20 per person.
- Haight Ashbury Street Fair. On the second Sunday of June, people pack the Upper Haight for this event featuring local bands, food stalls and plenty of shopping.
Haight-Ashbury has more shopping and variety of shops than Lower Haight, with great record stores, book stores, fabric stores, shoe stores, cafes with music and poetry, a free clinic, and head shops from the '60's.
There are several places worth checking out, including:
- Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight Street, ☎ . M-Sa 10:30AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. The best place in San Francisco to buy vinyl and cds, new and used, with an emphasis on indie music. It has one of the largest selections for an indie music store in the country.
- Booksmith, 1644 Haight Street, ☎ . M-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-8PM. An independent bookstore that's been around since the 1970s, this bookstore is best known for its events program, with many book signings from famous and honored authors.
- Life, 604a Haight Street, ☎ . Exotic perfumes and aromatherapy oils, incense, bath beads, jewelry, purses, cards, and vaguely east Indian themed goods. Get some henna painted on your hands in the henna lounge.
- Roberts Hardware, 1629 Haight Street, ☎ . A non-chain hardware store with over 20,000 items in inventory and another 200,000 available by special order. The oldest family-owned store on Haight Street, celebrating 75 years in 2006. Staffed by knowledgeable, friendly workers who are willing to take the time to explain how to make your repairs without any of the condescension or attitude found in other stores.
- Cafe du Soleil, 200 Fillmore Street (corner of Fillmore and Waller), ☎ . Daily 7AM-10PM. Owned by a Morrocan French ex-Pat, this popular cafe serves coffee, pastries, salads, sandwiches, soups, and homemade potato chips. The food can be overpriced, but the atmosphere makes it a popular local hangout. Beer & wine bar, live free jazz most Sundays 5-8PM, and some outdoor seating for a pleasant day. Chic, casual, family friendly. Free wi-fi, but limited power outlets.
- Citrus Club, 1790 Haight Street (at Shrader), ☎ . Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM. This is an excellent noodle house with dishes chosen from all Asian traditional cuisines. Portions are generous, with an emphasis on flavor over presentation. Decent prices and an unpretentious decor make for a pleasurable group meal. $5-$8.
- Estela's Fresh Sandwiches, 250 Fillmore Street (at Haight), ☎ . The name speaks true. Also try Estela's delicious fruit smoothies. $5–$7.
- Kate's Kitchen, 471 Haight Street, ☎ . M 9AM-2:45PM, Tu-F 8AM-2:45PM, Sa-Su 8:30AM-3:45PM. Breakfast - Southern style. If you're really hungry, try the French Toast Orgy. Expect a long wait for weekend brunch (just like everywhere else in San Francisco).
- Love 'n Haight, 553 Haight Street, ☎ . Often overlooked, but a neighborhood favorite. A family-owned sandwich joint with an Asian flair. Meat and fake meat sandwiches made to order. Try the "veg" duck.
- Metro Caffe, 247 Fillmore Street (at Haight), ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Burgers and cheesesteaks. $6-$7.
- Rosamunde Sausage Grill, 545 Haight Street, ☎ . Daily 11:30AM-10PM. Delicious sausages and not much else. Now with a vegan choice! Get here early Tuesday (11am) to get in line for their once a week burgers. They sell out instantly! Get it for here, to go, or bring it next door to Toronado and have it with some beer.
- Axum Cafe, 698 Haight Street (at Pierce), ☎ . M-F 5:30PM-10PM, Sa-Su 12:30PM-10PM. This Ethiopian restaurant is very affordable. Try the vegetarian sampler. If you are hungry, order for two. Wash it down with an Ethiopian beer (2 kinds). $7-$14.
- Cha-Cha-Cha, 1801 Haight Street, ☎ . Lunch: daily 11:30AM-4PM. Dimmer: Su-Th 5PM-11PM, F-Sa 5PM-11:30PM. Popular Cuban tapas place. Good sangria. Typical wait is 1–2 hours on weekends, and they don't take reservations. Great bar, always crowded with a fun 'artsy' crowd. Be warned, the sangria packs a punch! $7-$15.
- The Grind, 783 Haight Street (Haight near Pierce), ☎ . M-F 7AM-8PM, Sa 7AM-6PM, Su 8AM-6PM. Coffee shop with breakfast, lunch, and an amazing array of desserts, pastries, and munchies. Indoor and patio seating. $6-$10.
- Indian Oven, 233 Fillmore Street, ☎ . Daily 5PM-11PM. This Indian restaurant is on the expensive side, although it is pretty good. Expect a wait any day of the week. $8-$19.
- Memphis Minnie's, 576 Haight Street, ☎ . Tu-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Great southern-style barbecue and (oddly enough) sake. Amazing mac-n-cheese. $8-$14.
- Mythic Pizza, 551 Haight Street, ☎ . Daily 12PM-2AM. Pizza by the slice. $12-$20.
- Naan 'n' Chutney, 525 Haight Street, ☎ . Daily 11AM-11PM. Indian and Pakistani.
- Pork Store Cafe, 1451 Haight Street, ☎ . M-W, Sa-Su 8AM-4PM, Th-F 7AM-4PM. Extremely popular breakfast spot. Always a line on the weekends. Very inexpensive and friendly diner atmosphere and food. $7-$16.
- Squat & Gobble, 237 Fillmore Street (between Haight and Waller), ☎ . Cafe and crepery, part of a small San Francisco chain. Popular for breakfast and lunch, crowded on weekends. Outdoor dining on the back patio when the weather is nice. The side potatoes are a favorite. $6–$10.
- Squat & Gobble, 1428 Haight Street (between Ashbury and Masonic), ☎ . This is the chain's other Haight location. $6–$10.
- Thep Phenom, 400 Waller Street, ☎ . Daily 5:30PM-10:30PM. Sometimes called the best Thai in San Francisco; call ahead as this restaurant can be very busy. Or walk in with a small party and have a Singha in the back while you wait to be seated at a family-style table. $8-$15.
- The Alembic, 1725 Haight (next to the Red Vic Movie House), ☎ . Styling itself a 'Whiskey Bar', the Alembic is a place to have classic cocktails as well as original creations. The house Manhattan, made with Rye Whiskey, is phenomenal.
- Aub Zam-Zam, 1633 Haight Street, ☎ . M-F 3PM-2AM, Sa-Su 1PM-2AM. A 1930's vintage cocktail bar with a beautifully restored arabesque art-deco decor. Written up in 'W' and 'Newsweek' magazines for the best martinis in the US back in the 80s. Drinks are moderately expensive but of exceptional quality, even from the well. An intimate and classy setting for a romantic evening with a juke box that leans toward swing and big band music. Named for the Well of Zamzam, one of the holiest places in Islam, a source of blessed beverages.
- Danny Coyle's, 668 Haight Street, ☎ . M-Th 2PM-2AM, F 12PM-2AM, Sa-Su 7AM-2AM. Irish pub where the Guinness is served with a smile, and if you're lucky, an Irish accent to match.
- Club Deluxe, 1511 Haight Street, ☎ . This small, stylish bar has been around for a long time. It's all about Giovanni's Neapolitan Pizza and freshly squeezed cocktail's. Deluxe hosts free comedy on Monday nights and Jazz every other night, always by local acts. The bar-tenders are friendly and the crowd is arty and hip.
- Gold Cane, 1569 Haight Street, ☎ . A great place for cheap, strong drinks, and friendly bar-tenders. Divey atmosphere, local crowd. Has a pool table and small outdoor patio for smokers of all types.
- Hobson's Choice, 1601 Haight Street, ☎ . Offering a selection of well over 100 rums, this “Victorian punch house” themed bar is best known for it’s original alcoholic punches that you can order by the glass or by the bowl. (watch out, they’re stronger than you think!) The corner location and large windows make it a perfect spot to grab a drink and people-watch. Go on Sundays when they offer a lavish make-your-own Bloody Mary bar with plenty of fixin’s. (don’t worry, they’ll mix it for you if you’re not so inclined) A friendly staff and great jukebox brings the locals in early, more of a younger crowd late night and on weekends.
- Kezar Pub & Restaurant, 770 Stanyan St, ☎ . M 11:30AM-Midnight, Tu-F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 6AM-2AM, Su 6AM-Midnight. A popular English-themed pub where you can watch soccer.
- Mad Dog in the Fog, 530 Haight Street, ☎ . This is an English pub where you can come to watch soccer on TV or go out back where you can smoke. Occasionally live music at night. The hotline for when matches are being played is +1 415 442-7994. Since they open for live matches from England as early as 6AM, its the best place to get a beer before noon in the area on the weekend.
- Magnolia, 1398 Haight Street, ☎ . Serves solid food and microbrews, including some excellent cask conditioned beers.
- Molotov's, 582 Haight Street, ☎ . Leans towards rockabilly and mohawk crowd. Dog and food friendly.
- Nickie's, 466 Haight Street, ☎ . M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa-Su 10AM-2AM. Dance club and bar - Grateful Dead night every Monday, and popular dub and funk nights during the week as well.
- Noc Noc, 557 Haight Street, ☎ . Daily 5PM-2AM. A very artsy atmosphere. You can get many Trappist monk beers here. Live DJ nightly. Tarot readings Mondays 6-9PM. Beer, wine and sake (no hard liquor). Alas for smokers: Big Brother finally put down the rebellion and smoking is now relegated to the sidewalk in front.
- Toronado, 547 Haight Street, ☎ . Daily 11:30AM-2AM. This bar has forty-six beers on tap and a bottled beer menu which covers two whole pages. They serve many microbrews and imports from Germany, Belgium, and Japan. Come through the Dutch door and if there is no room in the front bar, there is a back room with tables. No food is served, but you may bring food in from any of the many restaurants nearby. This is a cash only establishment.
- Trax, 1437 Haight Street, ☎ . A gay bar for gay men and lesbians that is also very much straight-friendly. Small, divey, and a local's scene. Drinks are cheap, and on Saturday nights it offers ridiculously cheap drink specials ($1 well cocktails before 10pm).
- Underground SF, 424 Haight Street (at Webster), ☎ . Dance club and bar, formerly called The Top, which features different theme nights, some of which are geared towards alternative culture.
- Bean There, 201 Steiner Street (Steiner at Waller), ☎ . M-F 6AM-8PM, Sa 7AM-8PM. Good coffees with a nice selection of pastries, bagels, and focaccia bread. Great place to hang out and read a book. Outdoor seating. Free ad-supported wi-fi.
- Cafe du Soleil (see above in Eat). Popular cafe serving decent coffee and lattes.
- Cafe International, 508 Haight Street (Haight at Fillmore), ☎ . Offers net access, live music, food, and a variety of beverages from coffee, tea, beer, wine to fresh squeezed juices. Good desserts.
- Coffee to the People, 1206 Masonic Avenue (just off of Haight Street), ☎ . M-F 6AM-8PM, Sa-Su 7AM-9PM. A favorite community gathering spot, Coffee to the People serves giant sandwiches, hearty soups, and organic and fair trade coffee and tea. Their croissant breakfast sandwiches are especially popular with locals. The shop is laptop/work friendly, with free wi-fi and almost a dedicated section to people working around notepads and notebooks. The shop has an overtly political theme and decor and is a good spot for people watching.
- Metro Hotel, 319 Divisadero Street, ☎ , fax: +1 415 863-1970, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM-Midnight, check-out: 12PM. A reasonably priced hotel at the corner of Page and Divisadero Streets, one block north of Haight Street. The rooms are quite basic, but functional, clean, and quite inexpensive for the central city. There is an excellent French restaurant downstairs, with outdoor dining and weekend brunch. Rooms directly over Divisadero Street can be quite loud on the weekends. $76-$130.
- Red Victorian Bed & Breakfast, 1665 Haight Street, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A throwback to the Haight Ashbury's glory days during the 1960s, this peace and love themed B&B has several eclectically themed rooms and suites, as well as a cafe downstairs. $90–$200.
- Coffee to the People. See above in Drink. Free wireless internet.
The Haight has been a magnet for wandering youth for decades and that continues today and is part of the neighborhood's character. Some of the people can behave poorly - aggressive panhandling and obnoxious behavior sometimes happen, but it's more likely you'll be asked for money or to buy soft drugs. However, these people are almost never violent. Either ignore them or be brave and strike up a conversation - they might have an interesting story. Both areas of the Haight can be dangerous late at night after the bars close. Travel smart when on foot at night. There are always other people walking up and down Haight Street so you won't be alone.