San Francisco/Haight

Travel Guide North America USA Western United States California San Francisco San Francisco/Haight

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Introduction

The Haight 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 somewhat separate histories. The Haight-Ashbury gained international fame in the 1960s as young white Hippies moved into the area and made contact with poor, young black residents in the neighborhood and surrounding areas like the Lower Haight and the Western Addition. Together, these outcasts forged the counter-culture movement for which the Haight is most well known.

Today, both the Upper and Lower Haight are residential neighborhoods served by businesses and transport along Haight Street. However, the Upper Haight is the busier tourist destination, because of the stronger identification with the Hippie era. Into the 1990s, the Lower Haight had lower rents and a larger African-American community, but that difference has eroded with the rise of rents in both areas and the steady dwindling of San Francisco's black population. The most obvious difference to a visitor today is that the Upper Haight has many more head shops and stores catering to Hippie-nostalgia foot traffic.

In the 1960s large portions of the predominantly African American Fillmore District were involuntarily relocated to the 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.

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Sights and Activities

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.
Monastery of Perpetual Adoration, 771 Ashbury St (The Chapel is located at the corner of Ashbury and Frederick Streets and next to the Lycée Français de San Francisco French School), ☏ +1 415-566-2743, ✉ mpador@aol.com. typically 6:15 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Monastery of cloistered nuns from the order of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration that holds daily services as well as special masses and novenas for holidays.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Car

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 Transport

MUNI operates the 7-Haight/Noriega bus route (plus the 6-Haight/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-Fulton and 21-Hayes north of the Haight district. Additionally, a few lines run north-south through the district: 22-Fillmore, 24-Divisadero, 33-Ashbury/18th 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 Street, then get off and walk north. It runs under the hill topped by Buena Vista Park. The N-Judah continues westward, stopping at University of California, San Francisco before heading into the Sunset neighborhood.

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Getting Around

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.

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Eat

Cafe du Soleil, 200 Fillmore St (corner of Fillmore and Waller), ☏ +1-415-934-8637. 7AM-10PM daily. 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 St (at Shrader), ☏ +1-415-387-6366. 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 St (at Haight), ☏ +1-415-864-1850. The name speaks true. Also try Estela's delicious fruit smoothies. $5–7.
Kate's Kitchen, 471 Haight St, ☏ +1-415-626-3984. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-252-8190. 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 St (at Haight), ☏ +1-415-621-9536. M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Burgers and cheesesteaks. $6-7.
Rosamunde Sausage Grill, 545 Haight St, ☏ +1-415-437-6851. 11:30AM-10PM daily. 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 St (at Pierce), ☏ +1-415-252-7912. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-386-7670. 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 St (Haight near Pierce), ☏ +1-415-864-0955. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-626-1628. 5PM-11PM daily. This Indian restaurant is on the expensive side, although it is pretty good. Expect a wait any day of the week. $8-19. edit
Memphis Minnie's, 576 Haight St, ☏ +1-415-864-7675. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-864-1999. Noon-2AM daily. Pizza by the slice. $12-20.
Naan 'n' Chutney, 525 Haight St, ☏ +1-415-255-1625. 11AM-11PM daily. Indian and Pakistani.
Pork Store Cafe, 1451 Haight St, ☏ +1-415-864-6981. 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 St (between Haight and Waller), ☏ +1-415-487-0551. 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 St (between Ashbury and Masonic), ☏ +1-415-864-8484. This is the chain's other Haight location. $6–10.
Thep Phenom, 400 Waller St, ☏ +1-415-431-2526. 5:30PM-10:30PM daily. 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.
Haight Street Market (aka Gus's), 1530 Haight St (north side of Haight, between Clayton and Ashbury), ☏ +1-415-255-0643. 7AM-9PM daily. Family-owned grocery store serving the Upper Haight since 1981. Well-stocked, and with a good range of organic fruit and veg. Also has a deli counter that makes a wide range of sandwiches, which can be eaten at the parklet outside.

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Drink

Cafe du Soleil. Popular cafe serving decent coffee and lattes.
Cafe International, 508 Haight St (at Fillmore), ☏ +1-415-552-7390. 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 Ave (just off of Haight St), ☏ +1-415-626-2435. 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.
The Alembic, 1725 Haight St (next to the Red Vic Movie House), ☏ +1-415-666-0822. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-861-2545. M-F 3PM-2AM, Sa-Su 1PM-2AM. A 1930s 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 St, ☏ +1-415-558-8375. M-Th 2PM-2AM, F noon-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 St (Near corner of Ashbury), ☏ +1-415-552-6949. This small, stylish bar has been around for a long time. It's all about Giovanni's Neapolitan Pizza and freshly squeezed cocktails. Deluxe hosts free comedy on Monday nights and jazz every other night, always by local acts. The bartenders are friendly and the crowd is arty and hip.
Gold Cane, 1569 Haight St, ☏ +1-415-626-1112. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-621-5859. 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, ☏ +1-415-386-9292. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-626-7279. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-864-7468. Serves solid food and microbrews, including some excellent cask conditioned beers.
Molotov's, 582 Haight St, ☏ +1-415-558-8019. Leans towards rockabilly and mohawk crowd. Dog and food friendly.
Nickie's, 466 Haight St, ☏ +1-415-255-0300. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-861-5811. 5PM-2AM daily. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-863-2276. 11:30AM-2AM daily. 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 St, ☏ +1-415-864-4213. 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 St (at Webster), ☏ +1-415-864-7386. Dance club and bar, formerly called The Top, which features different theme nights, some of which are geared towards alternative culture.

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Sleep

Metro Hotel, 319 Divisadero St (at Page), ☏ +1-415-861-5364, fax: +1-415-863-1970, ✉ info@metrohotelsf.com. Check-in: 2PM-midnight, check-out: noon. A reasonably priced hotel just 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 St, ☏ +1-415-864-1978, ✉ peacefulworldtravel@redvic.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.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 12:19 on Sep 18, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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