120 Great Activities In The Bay To Put On Your Summer Bucket List

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

120 Great Activities In The Bay To Put On Your Summer Bucket List

Summer is in full force, and it’s time to make the most of it!

Happy summer, San Francisco! Yes, we know, summer here is just as foggy, if not more so, than the rest of the year… but that doesn’t mean we can’t get into the same summery vibes as the rest of the state! If you’re looking at your weekends and wondering what to do with them, scroll through this list to help make some epic summer plans. Now that we’re getting vaccinated, things are opening up and it’s an exciting time to get back into the swing of things. If an awesome activity catches your eye, don’t forget to click the link in its title for a full article with all the details. Stay safe, have fun, and cheers!

1. These wildly popular concerts by candlelight are happening in the Bay Area

Calm your mind and experience classical music in a new light with these sensational concerts in some of the Bay Area’s most magical outdoor locations. Coming in June, this concert series known simply as “Candlelight” invites everyone to relive the greatest works of classical music in an intimate atmosphere.

And after having enormous success around the world—in cities like Paris, New York and L.A.—the experience is finally making its way to the Bay! Buy tickets for San Francisco candlelight concerts here.

2. This top-rated wine tour takes you all over Sonoma in a vintage VW bus

If you’re a wine lover, this is the tour for you. Painted Ladies Tour Company has an adorable fleet of multicolored Volkswagen buses that can take you on a variety of tours around the city, but this one has really caught our eye! Their Sonoma Wine Country Tour is the #1 rated wine tour in San Francisco. Up to 8 people can take an intimate trip out to wine country and taste a variety of delicious wines, take beautiful photos, and make memories.

3. See the giant water lilies in bloom now at the Conservatory of Flowers

These enormous Victoria Water Lilies are a prominent fixture in the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers‘ Aquatic Plants Gallery. The Conservatory recently posted on Instagram that these impressive plants have just begun to bloom, producing massive white and pink flowers that typically stick around for just 2 days. The gigantic leaves float on top of the water, and they have now grown to their largest size between 4 and 6 feet across!

According to the post, these lilies typically blossom throughout the summer, so now’s a great time to book your next trip to the Conservatory. You can see which flowers are in bloom throughout the year here.

4. Stern Grove Festival is back for its 84th season, and free concerts are happening all summer long

Who’s ready to see some live music?! Stern Grove Festival, a free outdoor concert series featuring a wide variety of genres, is nearing the end of its 84th season. As always, the concerts will remain completely free, but attendees must reserve a spot in advance so as to comply with Covid regulations on outdoor venues. Tickets will be issued first-come, first-served, and they often sell out within 5 minutes, so set your alarm! There are only a handful of concerts left.

  • August 8: Thundercat, Cassowary, DJ Shortkut (reservations open 2pm July 27)
  • August 15: Fitz & The Tantrums, Devon Gilfillian, DJ Omar (reservations open 2pm August 3)
  • August 29: The Big Picnic featuring Tower of Power, Too $hort, DJ Shortkut (reservations open 2pm August 17)

5-9. Go for a gorgeous bike ride at these 5 local spots

When thinking about bikeable cities, San Francisco isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind. It might be that street with a 41% grade (Bradford above Tompkins, anyone?) or some of the sharp turns… but it turns out that there are some very beautiful spots to take your bike for a spin, and the City has some stellar infrastructure for cyclists! Especially if you’re a first-time cyclist in the City, consider planning your next outing at these 5 beautiful routes.

5. Golden Gate Park

6. The Wiggle

7. Golden Gate Bridge

8. Angel Island

9. Fort Funston

10-15. Check out these 6 wonderful museums and gardens offering free admission days

We love San Francisco for its vibrant culture, history, and resources, but it’s no secret that living here costs a pretty penny. Whether you’re a college student on a budget, or a bargain hunter wanting to see the sights, this list will certainly help you get started! Even though admission is free, don’t forget you still need to reserve your spot in advance on the museum’s website.


    • Free admission to Bay Area residents on the first Thursday of every month from 4-8pm

11. de Young Museum and Legion of Honor

      • Free admission for the general public on the first Tuesday of every month
      • Free admission to Bay Area residents every Saturday

12. Asian Art Museum

    • Free admission to the general public on the first Sunday of every month

13. San Francisco Botanical Garden

    • Free admission for the general public on the second Tuesday of every month
    • Free admission for the general public every day from 7:30-9am
    • Free admission for all SF City & County residents with proof of residency

14. Conservatory of Flowers

    • Free admission for the general public on the first Tuesday of every month

15. Japanese Tea Garden

    • Free admission for the general public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays if entered before 10:00am (garden opens at 9:00am)

16. You can see awesome kite surfing races at Crissy Field Beach every other Thursday

The Presidio’s Crissy Field Beach is a lovely place to visit under normal circumstances, but did you know that they host epic kite surfing competitions every other Thursday?

That’s right, the St. Francis Yacht Club organizes these fun races on the waves, which can bring out dozens of competitors for an exciting spectacle. The series is set to run through September 23.

The next Thursday Night Kite Series is this Thursday, June 8. You can catch it every other Thursday evening around 5:00pm at Crissy Field Beach. Keep an eye out for competitors wearing bright orange jerseys.

17-26. Eat your way through these10 excellent ice cream shops

The weather is warming up, summer is just around the corner, and we’re stoked to round up our favorite ice cream shops around the City! Listen, for a true ice cream fan, it doesn’t matter what season it is. But summertime sure gives us a good excuse to try out a new spot. Did your favorite ice cream shop make the list?

17. Smitten

18. Ice Cream Bar

19. Bi-Rite Creamery

20. Swensen’s

21. Mitchell’s

22. Humphry Slocombe

23. Polly Ann

24. Nieves Cinco de Mayo

25. Castro Fountain

26. Joe’s Ice Cream

27. This incredible new skywalk in Eureka puts you on the same level as the Redwoods

Eddy Alexander on behalf of the City of Eureka. Courtesy of Redwood Sky Walk

This incredible Redwood Sky Walk was just revealed in Eureka at the beginning of June, and it’s seriously blowing us away!  The breathtaking pathway is suspended from the redwood trees themselves, hanging at a whopping 100 feet above the ground at its highest point. At nearly 1/4 mile long, this is the longest skywalk in the western US. Not only is the giant pathway ADA-accessible, but there are no harnesses or helmets necessary! Visitors will stroll through the biggest and tallest trees in the world, about a third of the way up into the 250-foot canopy.

28-37. Book one of these10 beautiful highly-rated Airbnbs in NorCal

[Image: “Cosmo Beach Riverfront Sanctuary”]

Airbnb puts out wishlists of awesome spots to stay around the world. Their list of Bay Area Getaways has 55 options, but we’ve chosen the 10 most highly-rated stays (ordered from highest to lowest rating) to help you start planning. See the full list here.

28. “Architect cabin in the Redwoods”

29. “Treehouse in Vineyard Overlooking Monterey Bay”

30. “Ohana with Private Outdoor Shower and Hot Tub”

31. “Carmel Oceanview Charmer”

32. “Rustic retreat in Fairfax hills”

33. “Luxury Estate in the Redwoods w/ Hot Tub”

34. “Unique Modern Mountain Getaway”

35. “Cosmo Beach Riverfront Sanctuary”

36. “Estate Guest House on Vineyard”

37. “Modern Designer: Amazing Location”

38-43. Explore these 6 fascinating tide pools around the Bay Area

If you’re a California native lucky enough to live on the coast, then you know that tide pooling is an awesome way to enjoy the beach! We’ve put together a list of great tide pools to visit around the Bay Area, so put on your best waterproof shoes and get ready to explore. Tidepooling is a fun activity for kids and adults alike, but remember: you’re a guest in these critters’ habitat, so try not to disturb whatever you find and always watch your step! Be sure to visit at low tide, and watch out for sneaker waves. Check the tide tables here.

38. Duxbury Reef Reserve in Bolinas

39. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach

40. Bean Hollow State Beach in San Mateo

41. Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park in Pescadero

42. Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz

43. Davenport Beach in Davenport

44-53. Get a breath of fresh air on one of these 10 stunning local hikes

In the Bay Area, a beautiful view is always right around the corner. Whether you’re looking for a quick stroll in the city or a more strenuous day hike in Marin, you’ll love these incredible hikes for a chance to stretch your legs.

44. Land’s End Trail

45. Presidio Loop Trail

46. Golden Gate Park Loop

47. Mount Davidson Trail Loop

48. Gerbode Valley Loop Trail

49. Point Bonita Lighthouse Trail

50. Cataract Falls

51. Mori Point

52. Mission Peak

53. Mount Diablo

54-62. Enjoy a pint at one of these 9 lively beer gardens

The Bay Area is home to some of the best craft beer in the country, meaning that it’s cultivated an entire generation of beer lovers and aficionados. When it comes to breweries, we’re hard to beat, but SF’s beer gardens are also excellent places to kick back and try out a flight or sip on your favorite pils and watch the game.

54. SPARK Social SF

55. Zeitgeist

56. Southern Pacific Brewing


57. Finnegans Wake

58. Harmonic Brewing Thrive City

59. Anchor Brewing Public Taps

60. Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

61. Old Devil Moon

62. Black Hammer Brewing

63-72. Go on a date at one of these 10 romantic restaurants with outdoor patios

The perfect romantic date spot can take a variety of forms, but a night of upscale dining al fresco is a classic go-to. These 10 restaurants have magical outdoor patios to enjoy a variety of delicious food options, creative cocktails, and much more.

63. Fable (Californian)

64. Coqueta (Spanish)

65. La Mar Cebicheria Peruana (Peruvian)

66. Charmaine’s (Cocktail bar)

67. Foreign Cinema (Californian/Mediterranean)

68. Waterbar (Seafood)

69. Zazie (French)

70. 25 Lusk (American)

71. El Techo (Latin American Street Food)

72. Dirty Habit (New American)

73. Catch a free ride on one of San Francisco’s historic cable cars in August

Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash

San Francisco has really been missing its cable cars after SFMTA halted service in March of last year due to the pandemic. Well, it turns out these wheeled national landmarks will return to city streets at the end of the summer!

According to a press release, SFMTA will retrain operators and conduct mechanical inspections in July, so as to begin a “mock trial” period in August. During this time, the cars will run their usual routes intermittently and on no particular schedule as they work out kinks in the system and run tests. During this time, you can hop on for a free ride at any stop!

74. The formerTemporary Transbay Terminal site will soon host a beer garden, outdoor movies, and more

Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Happy summer, San Francisco! East Cut Landing Partners (ECLP)  has some new plans in the works starting soon at the former Temporary Transbay Terminal site. Plans include a wide spectrum of family-friendly activities including local food trucks, a beer garden, rotating food and retail stalls, soccer fields, a fitness space, an outdoor cinema with audio provided by headphones, and a children’s play area. They also propose additional attractions such as pickleball courts, public art, a dog run, and a versatile event space for the community. An opening date has yet to be set, although they’re projecting for mid-August. Check the ECLP website for project updates.

75-88. Enjoy a picnic at these 15 charming spots in San Francisco

San Francisco is home to some of the best parks and gardens in the world, so there’s no shortage of awesome picnic spots for you to enjoy a socially distanced meal with friends. Whether you want to support a local cafe and get some amazing food to go, or you prefer to pack your own delicious recipe to enjoy out in the sunshine, you’ll love all of these great options. Some are SF staples, and some are a little less well-known.

75. Conservatory of Flowers

76. Old Speedway Meadow

77. Pine Lake Park

78. Salesforce Park

79. Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers

80. Mission Dolores Park

81. Crissy Field

82. Fort Scott Community Garden

83. Yerba Buena Gardens

84. Bernal Heights Park

85. Kirby Cove Beach

86. Buena Vista Park

87. Stow Lake

88. Palace of Fine Arts

89-99. Take a day trip to one of these 11 spectacular destinations

We love San Francisco for its countless activities to enjoy everywhere you go. But anytime there’s a long weekend or a free day, we’re quite well-located to check out some neighboring California gems. Here are 11 spots to put on your list!

89. Pinnacles National Park

90. Alamere Falls

91. Sonoma wine tour

92. Filoli Estate and gardens

93. Muir Woods

94. Mount Tamalpais

95. Inverness Shipwreck

96. McWay Falls

97. Gerbode Valley

98. Cataract Falls

99. Wilder Ranch

100-109. If you’re a history lover, these 10 historical places in the city are outdoors, free, and super interesting

If you’re a history lover living in the Bay Area, you’ll know that it’s full of amazing stories that have fallen through the cracks over time. Although many historic sites have been built over or otherwise erased from the city’s landscape, some of these gems are still around, and you can visit them today! All of these exciting SF spots are outdoors and free to visit.

100. Fort Miley Military Reservation

101. Portals of the Past

102. Lotta’s Fountain

103. Sutro Baths

104. Battery Chamberlin

105. Mountain Lake

106. Buena Vista Park

107. John McLaren statue

108. Woods Division Carpentry Shop

109. Bison Paddock at Golden Gate Park

110. You can rent a tipi, fire pit, and more at this massive food truck park in Mission Bay

Parklab Gardens

We love this spot for the great environment and food options, but what’s really caught our eye are the giant tipis available to rent by the hour, complete with comfy couches and TVs! Parklab Gardens and SPARK Social SF are 2 different parks that have joined forces, just across the street from each other.

There’s a variety of spaces you may rent at this enormous park, including lawn areas, fire pits, Adirondack chairs, cabanas, and bungalows. There are also prices for renting larger sections of the park (i.e. 1 bungalow and 2 cabanas), or even the whole park in its entirety.

111. Take a slippery ride down these awesome neighborhood slides

For decades, thrill-seeking adults and children alike have enjoyed these legendary slides hidden near the Castro. The Seward Street Slides were designed by a 14-year old girl named Kim Clark, who grew up nearby.

The slides are located in Seward Mini Park, which is tucked away at 70 Corwin St in Noe Valley. Park hours are from 6am-10pm, and slide hours are from 10am-5pm. The park and slides are closed on Mondays.

112-120. Climb these 9 stunning staircases in the city

There’s no shortage of stunning public art pieces in San Francisco, and visitors and residents alike love San Francisco’s iconic staircases. But have you seen them all? Check our list to find out!

112. 16th Ave tiled steps

113. Hidden Garden Steps

114. Lincoln Park Steps

115. Lyon Street Steps

116. Arelious Walker Stairway (Flights of Fancy)

117. Alta Plaza Park Stairs 

118. Embarcadero Center Staircase

119. Avalon Greenspace Steps

120. Musical Stairs


Featured image: @mrbrandonmiguel via Instagram

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