It’s the summer of 1967 in San Francisco and Haight Street is bustling with thousands of young dreamers craving social reform. The summer of ’67 is also known as the Summer of Love and was a time when artists like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix lived on these San Franciscan streets. Flash forward 50 years and the afterglow of this monumental peace movement can still be felt on Haight Street.
Wandering around San Francisco, it’s no surprise that the hippie movement originated on these streets. Adjacent to Haight Street is Buena Vista Park, a clandestine natural haven, an escape from the bustle of the city streets. Following Haight Street until it’s West End, you will run into another natural beauty, Golden Gate Park. Head west on the 1,017 acres (411.5 hectares) of trails and you will reach the breathtaking, powerful Pacific Ocean Beach. Since the movement ended, Haight and the surrounding streets are swimming with mindful shops, local markets, yoga and more. If you crave nature, community, flow and are a love child at heart, here is your hippie guide to San Francisco.
Walk down Haight Street
Haight Street, the birthplace of the hippie movement, is the first stop to check out on your hippie tour to San Francisco. Now a little cheesy, with many of the original hippie hangouts turned into tourists attractions, Haight Street is doused with rainbows and flowers. Travelers flock to these streets to walk by the homes of the artists who inspired them as children. The street is full of cafes, restaurants, tie-dye clothing shops, head shops, crystal shops and more. While many San Franciscan natives may claim Haight Street has lost its authenticity, there are still a few places that embody the peaceful spirit of the hippie movement. My favorite shop was Love of Ganesha, a crystal heaven. The shop has an unimaginable variety of crystals, singing bowls, incense, tarot cards and other meditation aids. In the back of shop there is also a meditation space, a perfect opportunity to ground from the sea of vibrations flowing through Haight St.
Flow with the SF yoga and dance culture
San Francisco has a thriving yoga community with plenty of opportunities for travelers looking to flow. Yoga to the People is a completely donation based studio in Mission District, one of my favorite locations in San Francisco. The studio has a community feel with one large room that can accommodate nearly fifty students. On the fifth floor, the large windows have a fantastic view of the city and during class students can watch flocks of birds soaring by. With classes all day from 7 am to 9 pm this studio accommodates all types of schedules. There are even candlelit classes on weekend nights. The classes focus on each individual student connecting to their own breath. The instructors will run the class through a sequence and then prompt the students to repeat the sequence flowing with their own breath. This studio also has yoga mats available for rent and water for purchase.
If you are looking for a more intimate practice, head to Yoga Garden SF. The entrance of the studio is thriving with plants and flowers, giving truth to the name Yoga Garden. With several small rooms for practice there are multiple classes going on at a time. The rooms are cozy and naturally accented. The studio even has real wood blocks for modifications. The studio is versatile, offering prenatal yoga, acro yoga and everything in between. While in town, I took the Vinyasa Align class with Phillippe whose anatomical awareness and helpful adjustment cues led to huge shifts in my practice. If you are in town on Wednesday nights, the studio has Community Satsang! More info about the schedule and prices can be found on the studio’s website linked below.
Jump on the Bart and head over to Oakland on Wednesday night to experience a vibrant night of ecstatic dance. Every Wednesday starting at 7 pm the Oakland Ecstatic Dance Community hosts yoga followed by three hours of an unforgettable movement experience followed by a sound healing for 15 USD. The yoga teachers, DJs and musicians change week to week and a schedule can be found at the website linked below. The dance is a perfect opportunity to shake off anything that no longer serves you, while inviting in the high vibrational energy of the wonderful beings who participate. Whether you are an experienced dancer or have never stepped foot on the floor, all are welcome with love, respect and acceptance. The ecstatic dance community is a no judgement space, so remember to bring a positive attitude and open mind!
Sit back, relax and sip on kava
Kava Lounge SF is an exciting local spot to grab a shell of kava while in town. Enter the double doors of this cozy space and you will be greeted by plants and a variety of crystals including a giant amethyst geode. This spacious lounge is decorated with mind-blowing, eclectic, transcendental artwork (which is also for sale). Kokopelli psychedelic colorful painting, colorful pyramid third eye lion, lotus flower birthing multidimensional being with many arms, and beautiful woman in the moonlight with native headdress are some of the powerful pieces of art that visitors can gaze at while enjoying their shell of kava.
Take a seat at the bar if you are looking for a social experience. If you come in with friends, there are large tables in the front. Head to the back if you are looking for a quiet spot to study or read one of the inspiring books scattered throughout the lounge. If you want to be outside, the lounge also has outdoor patio seating. The lounge fosters community through a weekly meet your neighbor event on Wednesdays, and an open mic night on Tuesdays. The space also hosts art parties, DJs, belly dances, jazz bands, and many other events. Be sure to check the Facebook page/website linked below to get the latest updates on events and happenings.
The community engagement and incredible atmosphere are not the only perks of this kava lounge. The menu is also unique! Multiple strains of kava are brewed in house. The lounge also has a sweetness elixir that can be added to your kava for those that enjoy the effects of kava but do not enjoy the earthy taste. If your taste buds are craving some living medicine, the lounge has kombucha on tap as well! There are also happy hour deals for kava lovers on a budget! Hours and more information can be found on the website linked below.
Admire the Golden Gate Bridge without the crowd
South of Haight Street sits Buena Vista Park, a breathtaking hill of nature surrounded by city. It is the perfect spot for those needing to ground from the high vibrations of city travel. The 36-acre (14.5 hectares) park has a bunch of trails to explore full of beautiful trees, plants and flowers. It is also home to wildlife such as birds, squirrels and coyotes. The park’s peak is one of the tallest points in San Francisco, providing many amazing views of the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge. At the top there is a haven surrounded by trees where visitors can read, do yoga and meditate. You are also likely to meet other travelers here as it is a commonly recommended place to visit by locals in San Francisco. The park’s hours are 5 am – midnight.
Just southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge, Baker Beach is an amazing spot to view the bridge without the heavy bustle of tourists. The view is unique, looking up at the bridge instead of straight on or from the top, like in many of the parks throughout the city. It is situated on an ocean bay, which makes it a little less windy and rough when compared to Ocean Beach. At the beach there are tons of beautiful birds and trees, as well as trails to hike in the beach’s neighbor, Presidio of San Francisco.
Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach
Golden Gate Park is one and a half square miles (3.8 sq km) of horse, biking and trekking trails, exhibits and more beginning at the west end of Haight St and running to the Pacific Coast. There are plenty of fields, like Hippie Hill, for visitors to relax. Off the trails there are little side trails for more adventurous souls. Along the trails you will find a large variety of trees, birds and little critters. Open 24/7 the Golden Gate Park can be explored at all hours. The park has a butterfly and flower conservatory, baseball fields and other exhibits which can be found on the website below. The website will also connect visitors to special events that take place in the park.
At the west end of Golden Gate State Park, you will run into Ocean Beach, a beautiful Pacific beach with large dunes that are constantly changing due to the strong winds and currents. The water is very cold and extremely powerful and swimming is not recommended except for the most experienced swimmers. Don’t forget to bring a blanket to sit on, sunglasses to shield your eyes from airborne sand and a sweatshirt as the ocean wind can be very chilly.
Environmentally conscious attitude
The conscious attitude of San Francisco does not stop with the mind. SF natives are mindful of the ecological and socio-economical impacts of their food. Composting is the norm in this environmentally aware city. The city is also loaded with farmers markets and locally sourced, farm-based grocery storefronts. Farmers’ markets are going on all of the time and schedules are constantly changing but the website linked below has some information regarding the markets locations and dates. Two conscious storefronts to check out are Bi-Rite, a local focused grocery store that places importance on fair wages for workers. Rainbow Grocery is another must visit co-op with an incredible bulk section.
The environmentally conscious attitude does not end with food. It also extends to how food is transported from the store to home and how people are transported to work. The San Francisco Bike Coalition is a group that is actively involved with making the city more bike-friendly. With tons of events like ride your bike to work day, the coalition is constantly striving to get more people out of their cars. They even have events where the coalition works with local police forces to blockade entire streets and all of the bikers ride together through the city. If you are interested in biking check out the website linked below for upcoming events.
Fall in love with San Francisco
For you, the Summer of Love can start now! San Francisco is loaded with so many conscious activities, falling in love with this city is no shocker. Whether it be yoga, dance, kava, biking, conscious food, crystal hunting or nature hikes, San Francisco has it all for the mindful seeker. The original hippies set roots of peace and love on the crossroads of Haight and Ashbury back during the summer of ‘67. Since then it is apparent that those roots have spread from the coast to Oakland, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Mission District. Now the love and positive energy can be found all over the city. It is your turn to go and discover these gems!