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Turn on, tune in, and drop out. Timothy Leary

In the 1950s, students from the then-nearby San Francisco State College took over most of the neighborhood, forging a youth culture that led to Flower Power, the hippies, and the Summer of Love. The first hippies to move to the Haight were actually Beats from North Beach, who also came to take advantage of lower rents for the large, run-down Victorian homes. The bohemian culture that later developed embraced Eastern religion and philosophy, an anti-establishment political stance, and experimented with drugs, especially psychedelics.

The Grateful Dead (see their house at 710 Ashbury St.), Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother and the Holding Company made names for themselves during the 60's, and Bill Graham took the rock music scene nationwide. Inevitably, crowds of young people started turning up for free food, free drugs, and free love. Not long after the 1966 "Be-In" and the Summer of Love the following year, an influx of unsavory characters (i.e., Charles Manson, who recruited most of his "family" there) and organized crime began the Haight's gradual decline.

A far cry from the emporiums that existed during the Summer of Love, today the area shows signs of gentrification. It may surprise you. For instance, at the corner of Haight and Ashbury, Ben and Jerry's stands proudly. Freshly roasted coffee stores and some hip clothing boutiques are scattered throughout the neighborhood, but for the most part, the demands of youth still reign.

Find discounted record stores, used clothing, costume shops, and all manner of wild emporiums along Haight Street. Close to Golden Gate Park at Stanyan, rent bikes and skates. No trip to San Francisco is complete without a visit to the Haight.

If the eclectic personality of the Haight wears thin, hike, jog or walk through Buena Vista Park. With 36 acres of forested parkland and great views of surrounding Victorians (and the city itself), this park is an effective antidote to tie-dyed mania.

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