The pub is frequented mostly by university students (of both Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University) and tourists. It is located down a narrow winding alley, St Helens Passage (originally Hell's passage), between Holywell Street and New College Lane, near the Bridge of Sighs. Running along one side of the pub is the only remaining section of the old city wall. Due to the mainly illegal activities of its original patrons the Turf sprang up in the area just outside of the city wall to escape the jurisdiction of the governing bodies of the local colleges.
Local legend has it that it was at the Turf Tavern where former U.S. president Bill Clinton, while attending Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, infamously "did not inhale". The Turf is still a frequent gathering place for the Rhodes community in Oxford as the site of Turf Tuesday every week during term.