If you’re going to San Francisco, the Upper Haight is probably the place where you’ll still find people wearing flowers in their hair. But this vibrant neighborhood offers more than just tie-dye and tourist stops. With playgrounds, a rich local history, foods of all variety, and fun shops to explore, here’s our guide to taking your own flower children out for a day on the Haight.

buena vista park playground sf

Play

Buena Vista Park Playground
With views of the downtown skyline and a sneak peek of the Golden Gate Bridge, this basic little playground takes you away from the bustle of Haight St. No restrooms.

Buena Vista & Haight
San Francisco, Ca
415-819-2699
Online: sfrecpark.org/buena-vista-park

panhandle playground Alla V via YelpPhoto: Panhandle Playground by Alla V. via Yelp 

Panhandle Playground 
Upper Haight and NoPa parents adore this busy little playground in the middle of the Panhandle which includes sand, swings, and a modest play structure, ideal for the under 6 crowd. Bathrooms near by.

Good to know: Check out the underside of the recently replaced short slide for a cool surprise.

Oak & Ashbury St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-831-2700
Online: sfparksalliance.org/panhandle-playground
Koret Children's Quarter, Golden Gate Park
                                         Photo: Children’s Playground in GGP by Heather Rodgers 

Koret Children’s Quarter (Golden Gate Park Children’s Playground)
Though not quite in the Upper Haight, it’s a short walk (listen for the drums of Hippie Hill and you’ll know you’re going the right way), and well worth the trip for the kiddos who just let you spend an hour in Amoeba Records. It features one of the tallest climbing structures in the park circuit,  a water and sand that mix together for a messily awesome good time, and a carousel! Restrooms are just past the carousel.

Martin Luther King, Jr and Bowling Green Dr
San Francisco, Ca
415-831-2700
Online: sfrecpark.org/koret-childrens-quarter

free gold watch pinball_Broc-ree B. via Yelp

Photo: pinball machines at Free Gold Watch by Broc-ree B via Yelp 

Explore

Free Gold Watch
A custom screen printing/clothing store in disguise of an arcade, there are dozens of vintage arcade games along with pinball galore.

1767 Waller (between Shrader and Stanyan)
San Francisco, Ca
415-876-4444
Hours: Mon. & Tues., 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Wed. & Thurs., 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Sat., 1 – 7 p.m., Sun., 1 – 6 p.m.
Online: freegoldwatch.com

haight-2

Haight Ashbury Tour
Want some help explaining flower-power to the kids? Self-described as about 60% hippie history, this local, easy walking tour is free for kids 9 and under.

Meet on the corner of Stanyan and Waller
San Francisco, Ca
415-863-1621
When: Tues. & Sat., 10:30 a.m., Fri., 2 p.m.
Cost: $20; children 9 and under are free
Online: haightashburytour.com

Insider tip: Parents with kids ages 13 and up  will enjoy the Haunted Haight Walking Tour.


painted ladies_victorians_san francisco_haightPlay Tourist Yourself
If your not in the mood for a guided tour, you can navigate the hot spots yourself. The “Grateful Dead House” as it’s called by locals, is located at 710 Ashbury St. Here, Jerry Garcia and co. spent their own Summer of Love.  It’s a pretty purple Victorian but keep in mind it is also a residence, so hum a few bars, snap a photo and try not to linger. Just around the corner on Waller Street between Ashbury and Masonic, on the south side of the street are several painted ladies that rival those of Alamo Square.

Bike Rentals
Because Haight St. dead-ends into Golden Gate Park, renting a bike on the park’s edge means you can explore the entire park in a couple of hours.

Golden Gate Tours & Bike Rentals
1816 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-922-4537
Hours:  9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. every day
Online: goldengateparkbikerental.com

Avenue Cyclery
756 Stanyan St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-387-3155
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. every day
Online: avenuecyclery.com

street taco_tacos_haight street travis j via yelp

Photo: tacos from Street Taco by Travis J. via Yelp

Eat

Street Taco
The newest restaurant on the block, the Mexico City “street tacos” are served two to an order on fresh, handmade tortillas. There’s also quesadillas, and burritos: ask for a kid’s burrito. It’s not on the menu but if you’ve got a little one they will accommodate.

1607 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-525-4435
Hours: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day

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Cha Cha Cha
New World cuisine that includes fried plantains and jerk chicken. No reservations, and it can get crowded on weekend nights, so try it for lunch. Kids will love the colorful decor and bright oil-cloth covered tables (which don’t stain!)

1801 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-386-7670
Hours: Open every day for lunch, 11:30-4 p.m. Dinner, Mon.-Thurs. and Sun., 5-11 p.m. and Fri. and Sat. until 11:30 p.m.
Online:  cha-cha-cha-haight.com

Great Indian Food
A recent addition to the Upper Haight, this large, clean restaurant serves some Indian food favorites like chana masala and dahl for reasonable prices. Pay at the counter service means you don’t have to wait around for the bill. Treat the “kids” to a mango lassi.

1793 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-750-1313
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. every day

escape from new york pizza Gary E via YelpPhoto: Escape from New York by Gary E. via Yelp 

Escape from New York
This Upper Haight institution with walls plastered with autographed pics of the many, many years of celebrity customers who have come to this pizza-by-the-slice mecca. It’s a small space, but if you’re just in for a slice you can easily wolf it down standing up like the late night locals do.

1737 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-668-5577
Hours: Sun.- Wed., 11 a.m. -midnight; Thurs.-11 a.m.-1 a.m., Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Online: escapefromnewyorkpizza.com/haight

Sparrow Bar and Kitchen
A relative new-comer to the Haight, this sit-down restaurant was started by a couple who lived up above the space for years. Chic but still welcoming (yep, you can still feel fancy with spit-up on your sweater) there’s a big beautiful patio in back for dining al fresco. They serve brunch, lunch, and dinner and even offer an in-between small plates menu for lupper (you know, the time between lunch and supper when the kids are whining…we mean hungry.)

1640 Haight St.
415-622-6137
Hours: Tues.-Fri., 11-10 p.m. dinner. Sat., 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sun. 5:30-9 p.m.
Online: sparrowbarandkitchen.com  

Haight Street Market
If a picnic is on your mind, this family owned and operated (for 30 years!) market has a great selection of fresh fruit and snack items and a killer deli. There’s even a few outdoor tables. Take a peek behind the check-out counters: you’ll see photos of the grandkids as well as neighborhood children of customers.

1530 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-255-0643
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. every day
Online: haightstreetmarket.com

Off the Grid
Fancying an inside-out samosa or creme brulee? SF’s favorite food-trucks gather at the end of Waller Street every Thursday from 5-8 p.m.

Stanyan St. & Waller
San Francisco, Ca
Online: offthegridsf.com/upperhaight

Insider tip:From April through October, the end of Stanyan is the host to the Upper Haight Farmer’s Market

ben and jerrys ice cream haight

Treat

Ben & Jerry’s
As iconic as the corner it stands on, this ice cream shop might have a line but it’s well worth the weight…we mean wait. Ben & Jerry’s may not be original to the Haight, but Cherry Garcia is!

1480 Haight St. (corner of Haight and Ashbury)
San Francisco, Ca
415-626-4143
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. every day
Online: benjerry.com/haightashbury

The Fizzary
An urban menagerie of soda, you’ll find nostalgic and exotic bubbly drinks here. There’s also plenty of “penny” candy treats here, too.

1782 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
1-877-368-4608
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. every day
Online: thefizzary.com

mendelsPhoto: faux fur at Mendel’s courtesy Mendel’s via Yelp

Shop

Mendel’s
Arts and crafts supplies and the largest selection of fake fur in SF, this shop will please your tiny tailors to no end. Be sure and look up at the ceiling to see the latest craft creations of the store clerks.

1556 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-621-1287
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Online: mendels.com 

Kid Robot
Toys! Tiny collectible toys. Geared toward grown-ups, the littles will still love a look around this place. Of course, you might have to explain why that bunny is smoking…

1512 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-487-9000
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.- 7 p.m.; Fri.& Sat., 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Online: kidrobot.com

tie dye kids clothes

Kids Only
This toy and clothing store for kids has a bevy of objects to admire (including tye-dye, of course). And with a polite request they will let your little one use the restroom. They also will gift-wrap for you.

1608 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-552-5445
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.;Sun., 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Online: kidsonlysf.com

booksmith_kids books

The Booksmith
With just a smattering of toys, your kids focus will really be on the books (though “they” may get distracted by the Fraggle Rock puppets). The Booksmith offers complimentary gift wrap and has one of the best selections of greeting cards in the city, so you can one-stop-shop for that last-minute birthday gift.

1644 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-863-8688
Hours: Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Online: booksmith.com

Loved to Death
If your kids can really adhere to the “look but don’t touch” policy, this place is worth a  stop. It’s full of bizarre and beautiful items (read: creative taxidermy) that might require a bit of explanation, but if the kids are curious souls, they’ll be enchanted.

1681 Haight St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-551-1036
Hours: noon-7:30 p.m.
Online: lovedtodeath.com

71 Haight torbakhopper HE DEAD via YelpPhoto credit: Gazer Only via Flickr Creative Commons

Getting There
Take the N Judah, the 71, 6, 43, or 33. Street parking can be tricky on weekends, the spots along Haight Street are all metered. There is a paid parking at ABC Garage, 601 Stanyan.

—Amber Guetebier

What do you love in the Haight? Let us know in the comments below!

Photos by Amber Guetebier/Red Tricycle except where noted.