Tourist in My Town – San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury

For a long time I’ve wanted to do a series on things to do in San Francisco (and another on things to do on day-trips outside of San Francisco). I have a whole list of activities and places to include and write about. But it has continued to be just a list.

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Until now!

I present to you the first Tourist in My Town on the hazy, crazy neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury!

As part of a sampling of highlights from one their Northern California guided vacations, I joined the Trafalgar team on a real insider’s experience of this iconic area of San Francisco. This is where hippies were born, the epicenter for all things smoking and grooving in the ’60s.

After a lunch at Cha Cha Cha, a local gem serving “New World” cuisine (a mixture of Latin and Caribbean specialties) we met our host for our tour, Izu of Flower Power Walking Tour.

And here she is.

Izu Interlandi of Flower Power Walking Tour
Izu of Flower Power Walking Tour

She is a character, yes. But she is one smart cookie. We only spent a few hours with her and I went away with my head spinning. I had never visited this part of the city. Of course, I vaguely knew about its history, or so I thought. What I realized is that I barely knew anything.

The amount of knowledge and the number of personal experiences that Izu herself went through could fill volumes and volumes. As it was I have pages and pages of notes. Her personal anecdotes and method of delivery are one part fascinating and one part over-the-top entertaining! Just Google “Izu Haight Ashbury Tour” and you can see pages and pages of people raving about her. So much so she was named the San Francisco Bay Area tour guide of the year!

And of course, Trafalgar knows this. The source really exceptional people who run top-notch tours and that is the work they do behind the scenes to ensure that all their guided vacations or guided holidays exceed your wildest expectations! They nailed it on this one.

If you are coming to San Francisco do this tour. Period. If you love history, heck, if you love a good time, do this tour!

You’ll learn about the history of the musicians, the artists, the architects, the activists. The funny stories, the scary stories, the unbelievable stories. Things like how and when the phrase “Turn in, Tune in and Drop Out” was born and the impact it had on a generation of people. Or how The Grateful Dead and the Hell’s Angels became friends. Crazy fascinating stories about a neighborhood that certainly has helped to shape the unique character of San Francisco.

The following photos are just a small sampling from the spots we stopped at. I actually want to re-do the tour because I was taking so many shots and trying to capture notes that I am pretty sure I missed some stuff!

Part of the building that houses the San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury Food Bank, a spot built by architect Bucky Fuller that has oodles and oodles of history just in this one corner. In fact, Izu lived here at one point in time when she was a teenager when it was a commune that housed 70 people!

San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury Food Bank

This is 709 Ashbury where the Grateful Dead lived between 1966 and 1968 (the Hell’s Angels lived across the street!).

709 Ashbury in San Francisco

These were Banksy pieces on the sidewalk in front of the house!

Banksy work in front of 709 Haight in San Francisco

The actual intersection of Haight and Ashbury…there were so many things to photograph I was on snapshot overload!

San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury
Like, check out the mural with Jimi Hendrix on the opposite corner (on the left in green). Sorry, I didn’t have the right lens to get closer, another reason to return.

Haight-Ashbury mural

And there was the wonderful (and freshly added) mural across the street from Coffee of the People (Masonic and Haight) where Izu posed for us in the photo above. Absolutely gorgeous!

Mural across the street from Coffee of the People (Masonic and Haight)

I applaud JP Smith (who I introduced you to as part of the Trafalgar Team) for discovering this gem. Not just curating the tour which is a really good tour, but finding Izu, the best of the best and the one that provides a real insider experience, it’s the added touch that comes with working with Trafalgar.

If you aren’t booking a whole vacation and you are coming to visit San Francisco, take an afternoon and book this tour from Flower Power Walking Tours and make sure you request Uzu!!!

How about you? Have you visited Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco? Have a memory or a funny story? If you haven’t, do you want to?

Read more about the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood from a local.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Trafalgar for a tour in San Francisco and Napa. I was not required to write this post, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions are 100% my own.

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23 Comments

  1. Walker Thornton
    December 6, 2012

    Wow. What fun. I went to Haight Ashbury briefly in the late 70’s but only saw it on a superficial level. The tour sounds like a lot of fun.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      December 6, 2012

      @Walker, it really was so in-depth and completely fascinating!

      Reply
  2. Jenx67
    December 6, 2012

    I love hearing more about Trafalgar. My father wrote a few poems about Haight Ashbury. I hope I can see it someday and get to know the characters he wrote about.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      December 6, 2012

      @Jen, do you still have those poems? Who did he write about? Personal experiences? Fascinating!

      Reply
  3. julochka
    December 6, 2012

    what a great idea! to be a tourist in your own town (i think i’d maybe choose my country, since my town is pretty small and not at all colorful and fabulous like SF)! and how awesome are Izu’s sparkly chucks!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      December 6, 2012

      @Julochka, hello there, nice to see your face around here 🙂 Izu had a very sparkly personality to match!

      Reply
  4. Seriously, she wins best tour giver EVER!!!!! LOVE these shots!

    Reply
  5. Josie
    December 8, 2012

    Hi Andi,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Haight-Ashbury lives in my mind as a long-ago memory from 1968. Yes, the summer of love. Yes, it was amazing and life-altering. Yes, it defines me, in a way.
    Someone recently said to me, “You’re my favorite hippy chick.” I take it as a big compliment.
    Thank you for taking all of us down memory lane.
    I wish you happy and safe travel always and all ways,
    ~Josie

    Reply
    1. Andi
      December 11, 2012

      @Josie, so glad to hear that is still has a positive effect on your life. It definitely is a unique area!

      Reply
  6. Lady Jennie
    December 12, 2012

    Very cool pictures! I also like to really learn stuff. It’s not enough to snap pictures. I want to retain every detail.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      December 14, 2012

      @Jennie, happens to me all the time, why my hubby and I make a good team, he can snap photos while I digest, I just don’t always have him with me 😉

      Reply
  7. Abby
    December 12, 2012

    Your photos are stunning!! I’m so happy you so gamely joined us tourists in your town. I will never get over little flower power tour guide — the best ever!!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      December 14, 2012

      @Abby, she was sensational!

      Reply
  8. Koren @ City Gal
    December 12, 2012

    Just saw this post! So much of what I mentioned in my previous comment!

    Reply
  9. Charu
    December 14, 2012

    Love this post and warm memories!! Great shots, Andi!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      December 15, 2012

      @Charu, thanks so much. Warm memories….exactly, like the ten minutes we got to spend together warming up over soy lattes!

      Reply
  10. Shelley
    June 27, 2013

    I’ve never visited Haight-Ashbury but am a big fan of music history so would love to… if I ever take a trip to SF I’ll make sure to go on the Izu Haight Ashbury Tour!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      July 3, 2013

      @Shelley, I highly recommend it!

      Reply
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