HAIGHT ASHBURY GUIDE – SAN FRANCISCO

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After two years living here in San Francisco it’s time friends to show you around my neigborhood – Haight Ashbury. I don’t even know where to start to describe this quirky, fun, colorful, but also sometimes kind of strange and touristy piece of San Francisco. Haight Ashbury has the most remnants from the past Flower Power days, where tie-diy was the collective uniform and weed dietary staple. Today lots has changed, yet you can still feel  – and smell – the spirit of the hippie-culture floating trough the Haight Street.

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There are people everywhere; tourist, old and new hippies, locals – all mixed together. Some are taking pictures of the many murals and coloful homes or even coloful people, the others are playing a guitar or running errands. It’s a fun drive to see. Head shops, vintage & thrifts stores, fancy new boutiques, restaurants and bars are all lined up on the Haight Street. Especially for vintage lovers Haight Street is a mecca. For me, it also can get a little bit stressful, when I just want to go get some groceries at Haight Street Market – I’m navigating like a hell through the masses. But when you move into the side streets, it immediately gets quite and charming. Beautiful Victorian and gardens invite you to have a stroll and get lost.

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If you feel like you need some more exercise  go up to the top of the Buena Vista Park {which is the oldest park in SF} and you will have an amazing view of the city and Golden Gate Bridge. People might tell you that this park is a bit uncomfortable and true, you might run into some “hippies”, but I think when you go during the day, you are totally fine. Most people who just hang around on the street will most likely ask you for a dollar or remind you to smile more often. I go every other morning and I meet locals walking their dogs and tourists. And as for the night – parks and dark is never a good idea. You can also skip the hills of Buena Vista Park and walk the flat Panhandle – a front lawn of the Golden Gate Park.

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Music is a big part of Haight Ashbury. Think of all musicians from the 60’s who lived here – Janis Joplin {112 Layon Street}, The Grateful Dead { 710 Ashbury Street}, etc. There is always someone playing an instrument on the street and when the sun goes down a band will set up their stage in front of Mendel’s Craft Store and play some tunes.  Animating people to stop, listen to the music and escape the everyday life for a second. Just the other day, on my way to the hardware store, a young pal asked me if he should play a song for me, just like that. Why not.

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Shopping wise you won’t find any big chain stores on the Haight Street; more the smaller ones – locally owned. There is something for everyone’s taste and budget. Few of my favorites are:

– – – SHOP – – –

Goorin Brothers – I need to start wearing hats, just because of this shop! 

Shoe Biz – they have a great selection on fancy brands, styles for reasonable prices. 

Ambiance – they have a few location here in SF and you need time if you want to shop this store. So much stuff to go through. 

Mystery Mister – a very well curated vintage shop.  

Piper’s Shoes – cool interior and nice shoes. 

Booksmith
– this is how book stores should be. 

Wasteland – a nice mix of vintage and new clothes. 

American Apparel – it’s always good to have one around the cornet 

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– – – EAT – – –

It might not be the Mission, but Haight Ashbury is not short on food spots, too.  Some locations have been around since years, but you can see that more and more fancier ones are moving in.

If I want something fast and good, with no waiting time, I would go to 1428 Haight Street {formerly it was one of the many Squat & Gobble restaurants around the city} ; they won’t win the price for best interior, but their food actually never disappoint, a big plus is that they have a nice, heated patio.

Since few months Sparrow is the new kid on the block, with hipster vibe and beautiful patio for wine drinking and cheese nibbling. I have only had dinner one here when they just opened, I definitely have to go back taste my way through the inventive menu.

Magnolia brewery and pub is an Haight Ashbury institution. Mostly crowded, but definitely worth the wait, they have some great dishes on their menu and one of the best burgers I ever had.

Let’s do some Cha Cha Cha  – this tapas place is just mouthwatering. Bring time and bring appetite.

Second Act opened only two months back, but it’s already a gathering spot for the neighborhood. It a cool concept of a market place with independent vendors and event space. I’m excited to see how this place develops while drinking some super healthy juices from RAW.

Oh and yeah, not to forget Ben & Jerry’s and Crepe Express. This two are tourist magnets but they are inescapable if you have a sweet tooth. Go with the flow, don’t care about being outed as a tourist.

This one is my insider tip for you that will taste amazing and save you some bucks. If you find yourself in Haight Ashbury during lunch time, go grab something delicious from the Haight Street Market, take a seat at the parklett and enjoy the unique vibe going on the streets.

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 – – – TO-DO – – –

If you come across the guy with his vintage typewriter, spend 5 bucks and let him pen a poem – only for you.

If you see a street musician preforming and you like the music, stop and tap your feet to the rhythm – feels really good, believe me. But don’t forget a small donation.

Have a little bit fun in one of the vintage stores and play dress up with the old clothes. Sure, you can also buy them.

Stroll the music shop Amoeba for old records and unique tunes.

Climb all the way! up the Buena Vista Park and rest on the lawn. It’s super quite as no one really makes the effort to come here.

See the other “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco at Central and Haight. Look for the same house in 5 different colors.

Smile & wear flowers in your hair.

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And as a premier I have made my first ever video for Fluxi On Tour with the help of John Burke who did the filming and edit. I can tell you guys, making video is lots of fun, but it needs some overcoming to step in front of the camera, at least for me. But I like it, so I will aim to improve my video skills and hopefully bring you some video guides. I would love to hear what you think in general of videos? Thanks and I hope you enjoy my Haight Ashbury Guide!

11 Responses
  • Tiffany
    August 14, 2014

    Awh, this makes me remember when I lived in the Haight (right across from Magnolia) You really captured some of the classics (cha cha cha sangria…yum!) I eventually had to get out of there living wise. I can totally relate to the hecticness of just trying to get groceries from HSM. I’m very interested in the new places you mentioned..Sparrow sounds great and I’ve been dying to get myself into Second Act ever since it opened! xx

    • Ana Kamin
      August 19, 2014

      Thanks Tiffany! YEah Second Act is super cute and Sparrow is perfect for cozy evenings! :)

  • Judith
    August 14, 2014

    Woah so cool Ana! Here’s to more FluxionTour-videos, loved this one with the little dance moves and all! And you totally ROCKED that wall too!

    • Ana Kamin
      August 19, 2014

      Judith, I’m so happy you approve! It wasn’t easy to put the video live but somehow it’s fun! :) Kisses from SF!

  • Jessica M
    August 18, 2014

    Oh wow Ana I absolutely LOVE the video! You really got all the best parts of the Haight in one clipping. It reminds me of the things I liked about living in the Haight, which is better than just remembering how much the tourists and street kids annoyed me!

    • Ana Kamin
      August 19, 2014

      Thank you my dear! I’m glad you like it and I totally know what you mean. It can be tricky to navigate with all those people. :)

  • Katie | lovely letters
    August 21, 2014

    Love your photos so much! I feel like I’m there :)

    xx Katie
    lovely letters

  • kleine Schwester
    August 27, 2014

    Ach, wie süß dein Video. So schön authentisch. Wie immer, sehr coole Fotos, liebe Ana.
    Genieß noch den Sommer. Bei uns startet schon der Herbst.
    Liebe Grüße
    Katinka

    • Ana Kamin
      August 28, 2014

      Danke liebe Katinka! Ich hoffe der Sommer kommt bei euch auch noch mal vorbei. :)

  • Jensen
    October 1, 2014

    I live in this neighborhood, also — it’s definitely a charmer. And it’s fun to see it through someone else’s eyes!

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