7 Ways to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco

From a big-deal exhibit to hotel deals, here’s how you can get groovy in the Bay Area this summer.

7 Ways to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco

San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers will be psychedelic at night.

Courtesy of the Conservatory of Flowers

Imagine a summer so epic that people will still talk about it—and even try to re-create it—half a century later. That actually happened in San Francisco in 1967, when approximately 100,000 people came to the Bay Area to celebrate expression and foster a hippie counterculture during what’s come to be known as the Summer of Love. Now, 50 years later, the Summer of Love has returned to the city via a number of anniversary activities and specials. Here’s where to wear some flowers in your hair:

Through August 20 | Exhibit
The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll
The de Young Museum’s ambitious retrospective should be at the center of any Summer of Love itinerary. The loving tribute features 300 major cultural artifacts that vividly illustrate through art, music, fashion, and visual effects what it was like back in the months leading up to and including the unprecedented infusion of youthful spirit and creativity into the Bay Area. Check out the museum’s event calendar for several related special programs, including guest lectures and film screenings, during the duration of the exhibit.

Times vary | de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., San Francisco | 415-750-3600| From $25 | website

Through August 20 | Hotel special
Summer of Love at Stanford Court
Nob Hill hotel Stanford Court hopes travelers and staycationers alike will consider booking its Summer of Love packages, which go a bit above and beyond what most area hotels are doing. The packages offer the choice of standard or deluxe rooms and include VIP tickets to the de Young Museum exhibit and mood-setting amenities like John Lennon sunglasses, bubble wands, and flash tattoos. More fun than that, however, are a map of Summer of Love attractions and former Beat hangouts that are still around, so you can set up your own self-guided adventure or crawl (because there will be alcohol, should you choose to imbibe).

Renaissance San Francisco Stanford Court Hotel, 905 California St., San Francisco | 855-968-3430 | From $100 | website

Through September 10 | Exhibit
On the Road to the Summer of Love
Although on a slightly smaller scale than the de Young’s show, the California Historical Society has also mounted an extensive exhibition about the Summer of Love that serves as a wonderful companion by providing earlier context to the movement. The “road” starts in the late 1950s with the Beat poets of San Francisco and includes CHS artifacts as well as loans from private collections that help build a more complete picture of this moment in time, which viewers will learn actually took a bit of time and action to create.

Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. | California Historical Society, 678 Mission St., San Francisco | 415-357-1848 | From $5 | website

Through September 27 | Exhibit
Lavender-Tinted Glasses: A Groovy Gay Look at the Summer of Love
A deep look at four iconic figures in San Francisco (rock star Janis Joplin, poet Allen Ginsberg, filmmaker Kenneth Anger, and philosopher Gavin Arthur) are this exhibit’s way to highlight how the city’s LGBTQ community crystallized in the Summer of Love. The exhibit’s photographs also help to show that a supportive (homophilic as opposed to homophobic) community of allies formed in conjunction.

Monday, Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m.- 7 p.m., Sunday 12-5 p.m. |GLBT History Museum, 4127 18th St., San Francisco | 415-621-1107 | Free | website

June 1-30 | Food special
Psychedelic City Ice Cream
San Francisco’s most adventurous ice cream empire Humphry Slocombe has created an official flavor for the Summer of Love called Psychedelic City. A trio of raspberry sorbet, orange ice cream, and matcha ice cream, it’s the company’s first foray into swirling different flavors together and is a labor of love that’s worth the extra effort. The combo produces a tie-dyed effect that’s highly Instagrammable and yet is surprisingly subtle on the tongue. Both locations will give away a pair of tickets to the de Young Museum’s exhibit each week for the month of June, after which this electric flavor will disappear.

2790A Harrison St. and One Ferry Building, San Francisco | website

June 21-October 21| Light show
Summer of Love Tribute at Conservatory of Flowers
Golden Gate Park was a prominent gathering place during the original Summer of Love and remains a great place to commune and imagine those vibes while creating some new ones. Try to time a visit so that you can watch one of the nightly Summer of Love-inspired light shows projected onto the Conservatory of Flowers between June and October, a collaboration among San Francisco Recreation and Parks, SF’s nonprofit arts group Illuminate, and Obscura Digital, the homegrown effects studio known for projecting stunning and mind-bending art in iconic places such as the Vatican and the Empire State Building.

Daily from sundown-midnight | Conservatory of Flowers, 100 John F. Kennedy Dr. (Golden Gate Park), San Francisco | 415-831-2090 | Free | website

June 23 | Party
Summer of Love Dance Party
Those trendy “new” John Lennon sunglasses you got at the hotel will come in handy at Pier 39’s free Summer of Love dance party. There cover band Mania! The Live Beatles Experience will highlight the Fab Four’s massive catalog of hits, and DJ Bart will spin tunes from the era for an official city celebration.

6-10 p.m. | Pier 39 Entrance Plaza, Beach St. and The Embarcadero, San Francisco | 415-705-5500 | Free | website

Tamara Palmer is a daily news writer, rapper confidante, DJ, and celebrity chef ghostwriter from San Francisco.
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