When one hears someone mention San Francisco’s Haight neighborhood, one typically thinks of the famous Haight Ashbury crossroads, the 1960s and the Grateful Dead. Although Haight was once the heart of flower power era San Francisco, today the area has evolved into a dynamic neighborhood best-known for its smorgasbord of commercial offerings (with a few well-preserved hippies too of course).

Perhaps the Haight neighborhood of today best captures the diversity of San Francisco’s soul. Here you will find high-end designer boutiques sharing space with vintage clothing shops and vinyl record stores. It is this collision of high-culture with sub-culture that makes San Francisco’s Haight neighborhood such a fascinating visit.

Where it’s At

The Haight neighborhood is actually divided into two very distinct districts. Upper Haight, which is known for its high-end shopping, runs from Stanyan to Masonic. Hipster Lower Haight, on the other hand, runs between Divisidero and Webster and is the place to go for night clubs and vintage shopping.

What to See

The main draw in the Haight neighborhood remains its 1960s past. Best epitomized by the now iconic Haight and Ashbury Street sign, this is the area that became a mecca of peace and love for people from around the globe. Although the flower power of the 60s may be long gone, it is still worth seeing the well-preserved Victorian homes – one of which (710 Ashbury Street) was the home of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. While you’re out, be sure to poke your head into the Buffalo Exchange (1555 Haight Street) to browse the rows upon rows of vintage clothing – maybe you’ll even stumble upon a 1960s Grateful Dead tie-died t-shirt!

Where to Eat

As one of the neighborhood’s big draws is simply to sit and people watch, the Asqew Grill (1607 Haight Street) is well positioned for just that. As its name implies, this restaurant – like the neighborhood it calls home – is a little free-spirited. Everything on the menu is served on a stick – from tofu kebabs to caramel apples. So grab a kebab and a pint of homebrew and pull up a spot at one of the jigsaw puzzle tables, sit back, and soak in San Francisco at its finest. Unfortunately, Asqew Grill has closed as of March 2013.