How to celebrate the Summer of Love in Style

Calling all free spirits!

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, a social phenomenon where some 100,000 participants gathered in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood to promote the "free love" movement. While San Francisco has become a major tech hub in the last few decades, the hippy spirit of the city still reigns supreme. Whether it’s your first time to San Francisco or your tenth, here are five of the most authentic ways to celebrate the Summer of Love in style. 

1. Show off your festival fashion

Festivals are great for showing off your summer style and interacting with the local community. There are several Summer of Love-themed events already popping up, beginning as early as May. The first of many is the “How Weird Street Festival” that brings together all sorts of creatives, from vendors selling handmade wares to avant-garde artists and their latest work.

Then, in June, the Haight-Ashbury Street Festival kicks off. Both locals and tourists are welcome to this outdoor community celebration of the arts. Wear comfortable shoes, as there will be live music and dancing in the streets just like during the Summer of Love. 

2. Hop on the Cable Car

In a city packed with Ubers and Lyfts, the cable car is a far more authentic way to tour San Francisco’s eclectic neighborhoods.

A national historic landmark since 1964, this is how many Summer of Love participants got around town. While you can hop on and off at any of the cable car’s stops, for the full experience you’ll want to start your journey at the Powell and Market Street Turntable. Even better if you're staying at The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square, as it’s the only hotel the cable car actually drives past. From there, you’ll pass through Nob Hill, Chinatown, Russian Hill and finally, Fisherman’s Wharf. 

3. Play "hippie" in the Haight

The Haight-Ashbury area has been a hippie haven for decades, and while times have certainly changed, the neighborhood still retails a definite 60s vibe throughout.

In addition to quirky coffee shops, Haight-Ashbury is home to some of the city’s best vintage and secondhand shops, including garb from the 60s decade. For a crash course in the neighborhood’s “hippie” history, sign up for the “Haight Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour.” You’ll pass by some of the area’s most famous landmarks, like the houses of Janis Joplin, Charles Manson and the Grateful Dead. Bring your appetite, as there are several snack stops along the way. 

4. Catch an art show

Many of San Francisco’s museums and galleries are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love with special exhibits that shine a spotlight on the "free love" movement. From April 8-August 20th, the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park will host the “Summer of Love: Art, Fashion and Rock and Roll,” an exhibit celebrating everything from iconic rock posters and light shows to psychedelic artwork. Mid-way through the summer, the Asian Art Museum will open their “Flower Power” exhibit, complete with colorful artwork that characterized this decade in American history. 

5. Picnic and people-watch

The simplest way to celebrate the Summer of Love is to pack a picnic lunch and head to one of San Francisco’s public parks. If you’re visiting in mid-May, you can partake in the "1960s Takeover of Presidio Picnic." Get in the spirit by dressing in tie-dye clothing while you sip on cocktails from the era, make decorative flower crowns, and jive to sixties rock.

Alternatively, you can pack a picnic at your leisure and head to the Haight, just like hippies have been doing for 50 years. Keep in mind that certain neighborhoods are foggier than others, so aim to stay east of Divisadero Street on overcast days.

No matter how you celebrate the Summer of Love, find your best rates on San Francisco travel with SPG Member Exclusive Rates.

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