San Francisco Relives the Summer of Love... And You Can Too

This article originally ran in the August 2017 issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see the digital edition.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love.” In 1967 more than 100,000 people flocked to San Francisco to join the hippie “movement.” Although the “scene” was simultaneously happening in New York (Greenwich Village) and Los Angeles (Sunset Boulevard and Laurel Canyon), San Francisco had the biggest countercultural subculture. Since most people who resisted the mainstream culture were under 30, the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 30” was born. And it was that summer when the sexual revolution began …

According to those who were there, at one point thousands of people could be seen sprawled out on the streets of Haight-Ashbury, also known as “Hashbury.” Hippies were experimenting with cannabis, LSD, “free love” and loving the one(s) you’re with. If you weren’t there, you wished you were.

The Love Bus

Visitors to San Francisco can relive the spirit of 1967 this summer with the SF Love Tour. According to the company that offers the excursion, “San Francisco Sightseeing Tours aims to provide an enthusiastic and authentic way to get to know San Francisco. Hitch a ride for an experience that mixes both our love for modern-day living and our memories of San Francisco in days gone by. Our 1970s Volkswagen Buses, complete with neon blue seats, beaded curtains and shag carpets, foster a hippie vibe that celebrates Peace Love Freedom & Adventure. You will see breathtaking marvels such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Chinatown, the Castro and much more.”

The bus tours also hit the romantic Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, drives past the famous vintage rows of Victorian houses called the “Painted Ladies,” and cruises through the Castro District (the “gayborhood”).

“Travel down unique streets where other buses are forbidden,” the tour company boasts. “Visit the homes of San Francisco’s counterculture icons such as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, while grooving to the sounds of the ’60s and other San Francisco classics. In our little six-passenger vehicle, we pack tons of historic facts, interesting stories and good old fun.”

The bus also stops for group photos, selfies, belfies and “amazing picture opportunities to forever capture your adventure in San Francisco.” Among these is the legendary Coit Tower, affectionately known as “Coitus Tower.” The penis shaped Art Deco tower was built in 1923 by eccentric socialite Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who smoked cigars and dressed in men’s clothes to sneak into gambling joints where women were not allowed. The building was designed to look like the nozzle of a fire hose to honor the city’s firefighters, but to this day it is the subject of continued dick jokes. (And apparently, according to sex studies, a place where people say they’ve had secret sex in public.)

And if you want something more lovey-dovey, try the 90-minute night tour. The tour guides promise, “You will surely fall in love with San Francisco at night. The best time to fall in love is after the sun sets!” Visitors will see the San Francisco skyline set to the strains of Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”—and blankets are provided to aid with snuggling. Visit

Feelin’ Groovy (and Gay)

For the gay perspective on the Summer of Love, the GLBT Historical Society and Museum presents a new exhibition: Lavender-Tinted Glasses: A Groovy Gay Look at the Summer of Love.

“In San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District, young people were seeking a way out of what they saw as the soul-destroying alienation of materialism,” curator Joey Cain says. “They created new art, philosophies, politics, forms of self-expansion, music and relationships. The city already had a dynamic LGBTQ community, and many members saw the developments of the Summer of Love as opening the way to greater liberation.”

Lavender-Tinted Glasses tells this story by highlighting the roles of four queers in the making of the Summer of Love: gay poet Allen Ginsberg, gay filmmaker Kenneth Anger, bisexual philosopher Gavin Arthur and bisexual rock star Janis Joplin. All of them brought their perspectives as artists, visionaries and sexual outsiders to the uprising; all made a lasting impact on American culture. In addition, the exhibition documents the ways San Francisco’s homophile community responded.”

Located in the city’s Castro District, Lavender-Tinted Glasses: A Groovy, Gay Look at the Summer of Love runs through September 17.

The exhibit is curated by Joey Cain, a San Francisco-based community activist, researcher and historian who served for eight years on the board of directors of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade Committee. The museum is an interesting, fun visit for anyone interested in the history of sexuality and queer history. See for details.

Hey, It’s Jerry Day!

August 6 marks the day San Francisco celebrates the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. Three tribute bands will pay homage to the legendary musician, considered a god in San Francisco.

Jerry Day starts at 11.30 a.m. at the aptly named Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, and goes all day long. Deadheads can relive 1967 with other diehard fans, who can relive it with alcohol, weed, LSD and a bunch of Viagra. BYOB of course. Visit

The De Young Experience

The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll exhibit commemorates an “only in San Francisco” social and aesthetic movement, say the show’s curators, “and will remind museum visitors that the city played a vital role in changing society and amplifying the pulse of the nation.” We love that San Francisco loves its hippie history.

The Summer of Love Experience is “an exhilarating exhibition of interactive music and light shows, photographs, iconic rock posters, costumes, ephemera, and avant-garde films,” they say. It’s a “50th anniversary celebration of the adventurous and colorful counterculture that blossomed in the years surrounding the legendary San Francisco Summer of 1967. The exhibition will present more than 300 significant cultural artifacts of the time.”

The wall o’ protest buttons feature slogans of the era, including the iconic “Make love not war” and “Put a little love in your sex life.” We liked “If it feels good do it,” “Free acid, lick here,” “Be nice to each other,” “Member, Sexual Purity League” and “Orgies catered.”

The exhibit also displays anti-war posters, including one that says, “Girls say yes to boys who say no.”

The gift shop here is good, with a groovy museum catalog of the exhibit, posters, T-shirts, and a Summer of Love drinking flask for this Summer of Love’s (counter) cultural activities. The exhibit runs until August 20. For information, visit

Anka Radakovich is a legendary sex columnist who wrote a groundbreaking column for Details magazine. Currently she writes for British GQ and She is the author of three books, including her newest, The Wild Girls Club, Part 2. She has appeared multiple times on TV talk shows, including eight appearances with Conan O’Brien. She is also a certified sexologist. We are thrilled to have her as a contributor. Follow Anka Radakovich on Twitter: @ankarad.