50 Things to Do in San Francisco for the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, which occurred when about 100,000 people flocked to the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco in 1967. We know these free thinkers as hippies, and they’re responsible for one of the 20th century’s most transformative cultural movements. If you want to relive that summer of 50 years ago, take a look at 50 things to do in San Francisco in 2017.
1. Discover Tape Music
The San Francisco Tape Music Festival goes from January 6 to 8 and will kindle a new appreciation for music on tape. That's because the concert will feature the songs and unique sounds made just for this medium. Tape music gained traction during the 1950s and 60s, so attending this festival could be a great way to get acquainted with some of the music heard during the Summer of Love.
2. Witness the Evolution of Airline Uniforms
From now until January 8, the San Francisco International Airport is hosting "Fashion in Flight: A History of Airline Uniform Design." Just head to the International Terminal to get a glimpse at what flight attendants wore from 1930 to present, and be sure to pay close attention to the fashions of the 1960s while you're there! http://www.flysfo.com/
3. Understand the Hippie Movement
The Summer of Love 50th anniversary is the perfect time to view "Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia," an exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive. During its run from February 8 to May 21, the exhibit will focus on the art, design and architecture of the hippie counterculture. Loosely organized around Timothy Leary’s famous mantra, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out,” the exhibition charts the evolution of the movement, from pharmacological, technological, and spiritual means to expand consciousness and alter one’s perception of reality. http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/
4. Listen to Live Music and Watch Movies
The Summer of Love was filled with good music, and the 50th anniversary will be, too, thanks to the Noise Pop Music Festival from February 17 to 26. Here you can not only listen to dozens of indie bands play, but also watch indie films that have a connection to music and were crafted by up-and-comers on the film scene.
5. Feel the Vibe at PIER 39
PIER 39 gets into the Summer of Love mood with special events woven in with their 39th anniversary celebrations. Make sure to wear a flower in your hair and experience the power of flowers during Tulipmania, featuring over 39,000 tulips planted throughout the PIER, February 11 - 26. Check out the special far-out peace sign in the East Park made with the wildly colorful tulips. Return to hang-out and feel the love at PIER 39’s 60’s dance party featuring a Beatle’s cover band and more groovy stuff on Friday, June 23. And while in the rock mood, stop by the Hard Rock Café, where you can sit down, relax and look at memorabilia from the Summer of Love, including guitars on the wall, photos of musicians like Jerry Garcia and framed concert fliers from the 1960s. www.pier39.com and www.hardrock.com
6. Admire Artwork
From April 8 to August 20, the de Young Museum will be showing off rock posters, light shows, music and pictures from great musicians in Summer of Love: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll. The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane are just a few examples of the bands depicted at this museum. https://deyoung.famsf.org/exhibitions/summer-love
7. Be Weird
The 18th annual How Weird Street Faire: The Summer of Weird is just in time for the 50th anniversary! It will take place May 7 at Howard and Second Streets and will feature the usual interesting artwork, unique vendors and lots of dancing in the streets,
8. Flip Through Photos From the Summer of Love
Some of the best things to do during the 50th anniversary involve looking at pictures from 1967. You can do this at the California Historical Society from May 11 to September 8 with an exhibit called "Summer of Love: A Photographic Journey." www.californiahistoricalsociety.org
9. Get a Feel for Local Talent
San Francisco artists and musicians alike show off their skills every year at the Haight Ashbury Street Fair on June 11, where you can listen to live music, check out artwork and shop for clothes and housewares from local vendors.
10. Appreciate Art
Anytime from June 16 to October 1, you can head to the Asian Art Museum to see the "Flower Power" exhibit in person. It's here that you'll witness brightly colored artistic representations of what it was like to be involved in the Summer of Love. www.asianart.org
11. Enjoy the San Francisco Jazz Festival
This festival is hosted in the Miner Auditorium of the SFJAZZ Center and features one to two live jazz bands per day from June 7 to 19. So if you're into jazz music, be sure to attend at least one day of this festival during the Summer of Love 50th anniversary. www.sfjazz.org
12. Relive the Music of the Summer of Love
During the 50th anniversary, the Monterey International Pop Festival will be held on the same dates as it was in the Summer of Love: June 16 to 18. It will even be hosted on the same stage, which is the John Phillips Memorial Main Stage at the Monterey County Fair Grounds. So make plans to come watch a dozen bands on Saturday and another dozen on Sunday, with most being tribute bands playing songs of the 60s.
13. Celebrate the Solstice
Summer solstice is worth celebrating since it's when the sun gets to its highest point in the sky, resulting in a longer period of sunlight than usual. You can rejoice over the summer solstice by participating in artistic activities involving light on June 20 and 21. illuminatesf.com
14. Watch Free Concerts
If you want to enjoy amazing performances for free every Sunday from June 25 to August 27, Stern Grove Festival is for you. This outdoor concert series takes place in Sigmund Stern Grove and is meant to make it easy and affordable for San Francisco residents to witness the beauty of live music in-person. www.sterngrove.org
15. Head North to the Fair
The Marin County Fair: Let the Fun Shine In will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love and the spirit of 1967 with music, art, fashion and more featuring tie-dye and macrame competitions, Flower Power horticulture, Groovy/Psychedelic and Abstract art and photography, and daily '60s fashion parades. As always, there are carnival rides, free concerts and fireworks every night, June 30-July 4, 2017.
16. Hear More Jazz on Fillmore
If you’re a jazz fan, you’re in luck, since you can hear even more music of this kind at the Fillmore Jazz Festival. This outdoor event takes place on July 1 and 2, and most of the artists you hear will be playing songs to honor David Bowie, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra, Jr. and numerous other musicians we lost in the last year.
17. Sing at the Flower Piano Summer of Love Sing-Along
When you head to the 55-acre San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park you just might see several pianos located in the many smaller flower gardens if you're lucky. These pianos will be available for visitors to play and sing along to songs from 1967, making it easy to reminisce about the great tunes of the time. www.sfbotanicalgarden.org
18. Remember Jerry Garcia
What better way to celebrate the Summer of Love than with a day dedicated to Jerry Garcia? Held on August 6 at McLaren Park - at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, of course - the 15th Annual Jerry Day will allow you to listen to live music from bands that do great justice to Jerry's songs. His relatives are usually at this event to greet his many fans, and people who have attended in years past claim that Jerry Day offers a good idea of what Grateful Dead concerts felt like during the Summer of Love.
19. Stay Outdoors for the Weekend
The Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival features constant live music, food, beer, wine and more. There are even comedy performances, mini golf, arcade games and dancing, keeping you busy all weekend long. This popular festival goes from August 11 to 13 and is located outdoors at Golden Gate Park.
20. Spend a Night at the Symphony
The San Francisco Symphony’s 105th Season Opening Night Gala is scheduled for September 7, so get ready to listen to performances from some celebrated musicians. The excitement in the atmosphere of the gala tends to be infectious! www.sfsymphony.org
21. Delight in the Opera
Don’t miss the a quartet of famous operas evolving around the theme of love including La Boheme in the Opera's summer series and the San Francisco Opera Season Opening Night Gala in September during the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. It's the best time to not only view the first opera performance, but also enjoy appetizers and drinks, dance and socialize before and after the event. www.sfopera.com
22. Attend Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a free concert that takes place in October at Golden Gate Park. It features over 100 musicians, many of whom you've surely heard of, since the acts at past concerts have included KT Tunstall, Dropkick Murphy and Chris Isaak, to name a few. And since the venue has seven stages, you can expect to hear live music constantly during this concert.
23. Go to the Treasure Island Music Festival
At this concert, which has been traditionally held on Treasure Island but may move to a new location in 2017, you’ll hear dozens of musicians play live for three days in mid-October. Past performers include Ice Cube, The National and deadmau5, so expect to hear some of your favorites in 2017.
24. Check Out The Fillmore
The Fillmore is a ballroom with a long history of helping to launch the musical careers of major acts like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and more, which is probably why Hunter S. Thompson even mentioned it as an example of the 1960s counterculture in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. You can still listen to concerts there by big musicians today, including Ani DiFranco, Ziggy Marley and Ingrid Michaelson. thefillmore.com
25. Browse Love on Haight
This boutique, formerly known as Jammin on Haight, evokes the essence of the Summer of Love, tie-dye and all. It might be only a few years old, but this store will take you back with its bright, psychedelic vibe. It even showcases artwork by Jerry Garcia, as well as a great selection of bright tapestries and tie-dyed clothing.
26. Follow Detour’s Walking Tour
Peter Coyote -- an activist during the Summer of Love -- narrates this tour through the Haight. The Detour starts at the Panhandle and takes you down Haight, Ashbury, Page, Cole and other nearby streets that perfectly represent the hippie feel you would have gotten here during the Summer of Love. www.detour.com
27. Let San Francisco Love Tours Lead You
If you need a break from walking, you can hop on a hippie bus for a San Francisco Love Tour and explore the local landmarks during the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. The sightseeing tour includes attractions like Haight-Ashbury, the Castro, Mission Dolores, Golden Gate Park and Chinatown. You can also arrange for a private tour or even a tour at night, where the twinkling San Francisco skyline is the star. www.sanfranciscolovetours.com
28. Take a Flower Power Walking Tour
Once you're all rested up and can walk around town again, you'll want to take the Flower Power Walking Tour. This way, you can check out 12 blocks worth of sites that Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia and friends made famous during the Summer of Love. www.haightashburytour.com
29. Stroll Around With Wild SF Walking Tours
Choose from multiple tours exploring different San Francisco neighborhoods with Wild SF. The Haunted SF Ghost Tour goes downtown, while the Classic SF Route also checks out Chinatown. And of course the Free Love Tour goes through the Haight-Ashbury and even features music from the Summer of Love, so expect to hear a little Janis Joplin and Grateful Dead. wildsftours.com
30. Reserve a Summer of Love Experience with Extranomical Tours
Beginning April 1, Extranomical Tours will offer two Summer of Love experiences with multiple departures: City Treasures which includes landmarks and hidden gems and SF Parks and Coast tour which includes the hippie havens on the city's west side as well as Mission Dolores Prk, the Castro and Mission districts.
31. Gaze at Wax Figures
Sure, you'll never have a chance to see Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin in-person these days. But Madame Tussauds in Fisherman's Wharf at least attempts to come close with an impressive Summer of Love scene with wax figures of these musicians. www.madametussauds.com
32. Climb Aboard the Magic Bus
Thanks to the Magic Bus, you can catch a time machine to the Summer of Love with a two-hour tour around the city. This bus tour - which bills itself as more of a "trip" - meets in Union Square and goes through Chinatown, the Fillmore, Haight-Ashbury and other San Francisco landmarks you'll love. magicbussf.com
33. Laugh Along With Beach Blanket Babylon
Beach Blanket Babylon is a funny musical revue in North Beach that makes light of lots of San Francisco happenings, including the hippie counterculture. The characters included in the lineup change frequently with time, but they have included everyone from Bill Cosby and Kim Kardashian to Donald Trump and Oprah, so come have a laugh at the amusing depictions of your favorite - and least favorite - famous people! https://beachblanketbabylon.com/
34. Eat During Avital Food Tours
This delicious walking tour will take you to four local restaurants and tell you little-known secrets about each as you eat. Come prepared to eat a four-course meal in North Beach or the Mission District, or have a few drinks on the Union Square Cocktail Tour with Avital Tours. Either way, it's ok; you'll walk it off! http://avitaltours.com/san-francisco/
35. Catch a Giants’ Game
Head to AT&T Park to watch some baseball on Sunday June 25th, when the Giants take on the Mets on a special Summer of Love promotional day. Special event ticket holders can receive a Giants bus collectable, and enjoy in-game entertainment and music bringing you back 50 years to Haight-Ashbury! http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/sf/ballpark/
36. Have a Picnic in the Panhandle
Hanging out in the Panhandle is a great way to honor the “Love Pageant Rally” that was held on October 6, 1966, the day LSD was outlawed. On that day, thousands gathered to peacefully protest the new law by taking LSD and listening to Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead perform. Maybe you can't recreate the day exactly, but you can still gather with friends and create great memories by sharing good food and listening to the music of the 1960s.
37. Wander the Fillmore District
The Black Panther Party was established on October 15, 1966. You can pretend it's still that time when change was in the air by heading to the Fillmore district to walk the same streets this group once walked. Though most of the people and businesses that once inhabited the Fillmore district have moved, locals say you can still hear music as bands practice in the area.
38. Go to the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park
The Polo Fields have a special place in San Francisco's history, since it's the location of the Human Be-In that started the Summer of Love with a bang. On January 14, 1967, over 20,000 people showed up to Golden Gate Park to listen to speakers who urged them to question authority. Of course, they also took LSD and enjoyed live music from bands like Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead. You don't have the opportunity to do the same, but you can put in some headphones and listen to similar Summer of Love tunes while you lay in the grass.
39. Embrace Global Love Day
Global Love Day is on May 1, and it's the perfect time to participate in one of many events around the city celebrating the day. While the events for 2017 have yet to be announced, the organizers of Global Love Day encourage you to simply show some love, which might lead you to hug someone, write a loving poem or host your own love-themed event.
40. Head to the Library
The SF Public Library will open its Summer of Love exhibition on July 10. You can expect to see genuine artifacts from this time period, such as photographs and artwork as examples of the excitement surrounding that summer
41. Watch the San Francisco Mime Troupe Perform
The San Francisco Mime Troupe puts on fun satirical performances in local parks, all for free. Note that these mimes are not the silent type. Instead, they mimic and satirize the times by singing and talking their way through each performance.
42. Saunter Through SFMOMA
This museum is well-known for showcasing amazing art. And from now until January 22, 2017, one exhibition at the SFMOMA will focus on Bruce Connor, an artist who lived in the Bay Area for more than 50 years and whose work was especially big around the Summer of Love. www.sfmoma.org
43. Smell the Flowers
The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park is the perfect place to go if you love Scott McKenzie’s song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)." After all, it has over 2,000 flowers for you to enjoy, so go during the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, and don't forget to hum the song! conservatoryofflowers.org
44. Amble Around Town With Foot Tours
Take advantage of this city's close proximity to history by checking out the Flashback tour with Foot Tours! It goes around the Haight-Ashbury area to ensure you get a feel for the Summer of Love. Another great option is the San Francisco in a Nutshell Tour, which goes over 150 years of history on a two-hour walk around the city. www.foottours.com
45. View the Botanical Garden
Explore dozens of gardens and plants among the 55 acres nestled within Golden Gate Park, home to the Summer of Love! Visitors may experience events planned throughout the year. www.sfbotanicalgarden.org
46. Spend an Afternoon at Mission Dolores Park
There is no better way to get a sense of what it might have been like in 1967 than to spend an afternoon basking in the sunshine of Mission Dolores Park as you celebrate the Summer of Love's 50th anniversary.
47. Try Out a Drum Circle on Hippie Hill
A favorite of locals for years is the spontaneous drumming that you can often find at Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park. Pack a picnic and get ready to people watch and possibly hear some drumming just steps away.
48. Explore the Presidio
The Presidio is a national park in the middle of a major city bordering the famous Golden Gate Bridge, meaning it's definitely one of a kind. Start your visit with a trip to the Officers' Club, where you'll see exhibits showcasing the history of the area starting from 10,000 years ago. Another popular Presidio feature is the Walt Disney Family Museum, which focuses on the life of Walt Disney through interactive galleries and a theater that plays Disney classics. And who would have guessed that Jerry Garcia spent time in the Army? Once you visit the Presidio, you'll see the pictures that prove it! www.presidio.gov
49. Experience the Audium
Located just off Van Ness Avenue, this 49-seat theater is a bit off the beaten path, and so is its subject matter. In fact, it's so beloved by music fans because it offers an interesting take on music, as the space was created specifically for sound movement after the Audium's concept was developed in the 1960s. www.audium.org
50. Discover the Beat Museum
The famous Beat Museum provides a great spot for you to view memorabilia focusing on Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and other authors from the Beat Generation who influenced the attitude of the Summer of Love. You'll find this museum in North Beach, just steps from City Lights Bookstore, which is a historic landmark closely associated with the Beat Generation.