'the haight' where the hippies meet the panhandle
The first thing I learned on our trip to The Height (famous for the intersection of Haight-Ashbury) is that the strip of Golden Gate Park it sits adjacent to is called the 'pan handle' because it quite literally forms a pan-handle to the larger and wider Golden Gate Park.
The second thing I learned? That the streets of this neighborhood are unapologetically filled with clouds of marijuana smoke, countless vintage consignment shops and a 60's vibe kept alive with a disproportionate amount of peace signs (compared to other parts of the city... and also America), real-life hippies (dread-locks and all) and Jimi Hendrix murals.
We sat down at a cuban restaurant called Cha-Cha-Cha. If you're not paying attention (or reading the thousands of rave yelp reviews) you might pass by this garish entry, writing it off as a sleazy nightclub.
The front doors were propped open and a dark red curtain hung across the entryway, blocking the view into the establishment. Peeking out behind the curtain stood an oversized hostess stand covered with... wait for it... faux zebra fur. I can't make this stuff up! Despite the gag reflex that was triggered by the decor - the food was absolutely delicious. Fried plantains and a huge spinach empanada were two of the highlights.
Next, we wandered down Haight street, popping in and out of little boutiques and even strolled through a very high end consignment store (where the USED clothes cost more than what I like paying for something brand new). During our explorations through the city, we learned that every small neighborhood in San Francisco has an equally small and quaint bookstore. The Haight was no different. The Booksmith was deep and narrow, with shelves filled with colorful books and hand-written recommendations for various titles. I loved how personal each recommendation felt -- as if a good friend was sharing their favorite read.
*These fishnet lady-legs dangle from the second floor window of a victorian building, home to the Piedmont Boutique.
I did a little Haight-Ashbury recon before venturing to this famed neighborhood, and learned that it was one of the neighborhoods least effected by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires. Because of this, it has the highest density of these beautiful Victorian homes that San Francisco is famous for. Equipped with this tidbit of knowledge, we payed extra close attention to the beautiful architecture lining the streets - stopping to gawk at, and then photograph, the perfect rows of beautiful, intricately painted homes.
After 8+ weeks of exploring the city, my sister-in-law Patty and I had started somewhat of a tradition to close out each day in a new neighborhood (and if you've been following along, you know exactly what it is). Ice cream. We found The Ice Cream Bar, a couple blocks away, and knew we couldn't head home without making a stop. This throw-back creamery not only has delicious ice cream in lots of fun flavors, but is also equipped with a full bar which allows them to serve up 'adult fountain drinks,' including Red Ale Milkshakes and Sparkling wine over a seasonal fruit sorbet. YUM. We stuck with the alcohol-free ice cream this time around, but will be sure to circle back for a fun cocktail next time we are in town!