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 feels 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 in and around SF.
1. Stern Grove Festival is back for its 86th 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 about to launch its 86th season. As always, the concerts will remain completely free, but attendees must reserve a spot in advance. Tickets will be issued first-come, first-served, and they often sell out within 5 minutes, so set your alarm!
- June 18: Snarky Puppy, Isaiah Sharkey (Reservations open May 18 at 2pm)
- June 25: Indigo Girls (with Full Band), Neko Case (Reservations open May 25 at 2pm)
- July 2: Santigold, Ogi (Reservations open June 2 at 2pm)
- July 9: Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Andrew St. James (Reservations open June 9 at 2pm)
- July 16: Angelique Kidjo, Jupiter & Okwess (Reservations open June 16 at 2pm)
- July 23: SF Symphony with Special Guest Lettuce (Reservations open June 23 at 2pm)
- July 30: Bob Moses, Neil Frances (Reservations open June 30 at 2pm)
- August 6: Buddy Guy Damn Right Farewell Tour, Eric Gales (Reservations open July 6 at 2pm)
- August 13: Patti Smith, Bob Mould (Reservations open July 13 at 2pm)
- August 20: The Big Picnic Featuring The Flaming Lips, Alan Palomo (Neon Indian DJ Set) (Reservations open July 20 at 2pm)
2. Experience a breathtaking classical concert by candlelight
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. This concert series known simply as “Candlelight” invites everyone to relive the greatest works of classical music in an intimate atmosphere. Buy tickets for San Francisco candlelight concerts here.
3. See the giant water lilies in bloom at the Conservatory of Flowers
These enormous Victoria Water Lilies are a prominent fixture in the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers‘ Aquatic Plants Gallery every summer. These impressive plants produce massive white and pink flowers that typically stick around for just 2 days. The gigantic leaves float on top of the water, and they will soon grow to their largest size between 4 and 6 feet across!
4. Go for a gorgeous bike ride
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 beautiful routes.
5. Don’t miss out on free admission days at SF museums and gardens
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
- 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
- Asian Art Museum
- Free admission to the general public on the first Sunday of every month
- And more
6. 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? The St. Francis Yacht Club organizes these fun races on the waves, which can bring out dozens of competitors for an exciting spectacle. 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.
7. Live it up at X Games California 2023 in SoCal
Now’s the time to snag tickets to see the best athletes in Skateboarding, Moto X, and BMX at X Games California 2023 in Ventura. This 3-day event promises the exciting return of Tony Hawk as he competes against skate icons including Sky Brown and Nyjah Huston. Get tickets now!
8. Eat your way through SF’s best ice cream shops
Summer is almost here 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?
9. Explore these 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.
- Duxbury Reef Reserve in Bolinas
- Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach
- Davenport Beach in Davenport
10. Get a breath of fresh air on a gorgeous local hike
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.
11. Enjoy a pint at one of SF’s 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.
12. 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.
13. Enjoy a picnic at these 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 an outdoor 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.
- Old Speedway Meadow
- Crissy Field
- Mission Dolores Park
- And more
14. Check out a lively Flamenco show starring Amador Rojas in San Francisco
Authentic Flamenco will be going on a world tour and San Francisco is one of the lucky stops on the itinerary. On its San Francisco stop, the stunning show brings passion and talent from notable Flamenco dancer Amador Rojas. Get tickets now and check it out at the Taube Atrium Theater in SF this July.
15. Take an unforgettable day trip around the Bay Area
16. You can rent a tipi, fire pit, and more at this massive food truck park in Mission Bay
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.
17. Don’t miss out on free outdoor film screenings from Sundown Cinema
San Francisco Parks Alliance has brought back the popular Sundown Cinema series, which presents awesome FREE movies on a giant screen in various parks around the city. Here’s the summer lineup:
- Thursday, June 8 @ Alamo Square Park – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
- Friday, June 30 @ Presidio – Top Gun: Maverick
- Friday, July 21 @ Crane Cove Park – Moana
- Friday, August 18 @ Dolores Park – Mamma Mia (sing along)
- See the rest
18. Cheer on our home teams at this summer’s major league sports events
Bay Area sports fans are lucky to enjoy a year-round rotation of top-tier sporting events with 6 local major league teams. This summer look out for the SF Giants and the Oakland A’s during baseball season, the San Jose Earthquakes during soccer season, and the SF 49ers during football season starting in August.
19. Enjoy free concerts at Noise Pop’s new Summer of Music series
Get ready for a summer of free music in SF because legendary music promoter, Noise Pop, is partnering with the newly-formed nonprofit organization, Civic Joy Fund, to launch a free concert series, Summer of Music. The live music series will take place from 2-5pm, every Saturday this summer between June 17th through mid-September.
20. Get tickets to the best upcoming local music festivals
It’s hard to beat the SF arts and culture scene, especially when it comes to Bay Area music festivals. Here are all the festivals on our radar this summer.
- Re:SET – June 2-4, 2023 – Frost Amphitheater, Stanford
- San Francisco Jazz Festival – June 7-18, 2023 – San Francisco
- San Francisco International Arts Festival – June 8-18, 2023 – San Francisco
- Free Live Music on the Colonnade – June 15-Aug 10, 2023 – Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz
- Sierra Nevada World Music Festival – June 16-18, 2023 – Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville
- Country Summer Music Festival – June 16-18, 2023 – Sonoma County Event Center, Santa Rosa
- Healdsburg Jazz Festival – June 17-25, 2023 – Healdsburg
- San Francisco Pride – June 24-25, 2023 – Market St, San Francisco
- Stern Grove Festival – June-Aug, 2023 – Stern Grove, San Francisco
- Huichica Music & Wine Festival – *canceled for 2023*
- Fillmore Jazz Festival – July 1-2, 2023 – Fillmore District, San Francisco
- Mosswood Meltdown – July 1-2, 2023 – Mosswood Park, Oakland
- Festival Napa Valley – July 8-23, 2023 – Meritage Resort, Napa
- SFJAZZ Summer Sessions – July 13-Aug 20, 2023 – San Francisco
- Blue Note Jazz Festival – July 28-30, 2023 – Silverado Resort, Napa
- Petaluma Music Festival – July 29, 2023 – Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, Petaluma
- Golden Gate Jazz Festival – July (2023 dates TBA) – Presidio Theatre, San Francisco
- Midsummer Mozart Festival – July (2023 date TBA) – Saratoga
- Art + Soul Oakland – July (2023 date TBA) – Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland
- Stanford Live – July-Aug, 2023 – Frost Amphitheater, Stanford
- People in Plazas – July-Sept (2023 dates TBA) – San Francisco
- Jerry Day – Aug 5, 2023 – Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, San Francisco
- San Jose Jazz Summer Fest – Aug 11-13, 2023 – Downtown San Jose
- Outside Lands – Aug 11-13, 2023 – Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
- Bay Area Latin Jazz Festival – Aug 19, 2023 – Rowell Ranch, Castro Valley
- Concord Jazz Festival – Aug (2023 date TBA) – Concord
21. See which film festivals are coming up in the Bay
San Francisco is home to the second-largest film market in the country, meaning that local cinephiles have an exciting lineup of film festivals to enjoy all year round. We’ve outlined a running list of nearly 40 film festivals happening in San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area cities — here’s what to look for this summer.
- SF Documentary Festival – June 1-11, 2023 – San Francisco
- Queer Women of Color Film Festival – June 9-11, 2023 – San Francisco
- Frameline: San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival – June 14-24, 2023 – San Francisco
- SF Silent Film Festival – July 12-16, 2023 – San Francisco
- SF Jewish Film Festival – July 20-Aug. 6, 2023 – San Francisco, Albany
- Cinequest – San Jose Film Festival – Aug. 16-29, 2023 – San Jose
- Brainwash Film Festival – Aug. 25-27, 2023 – Oakland
22. Check out all the free activities happening at Salesforce Park
San Francisco’s Salesforce Park is an amazing modern marvel in the Financial District. The verdant oasis rests 70 feet above the street atop the Salesforce Transit Center, and it’s completely free and open for the public to visit at any time. It also hosts a collection of free events every week, including yoga classes, bootcamps, live music, bird walks, garden tours, drum circles, and much more.
23. Don’t miss out on free concerts at the Golden Gate Park Bandshell
The Golden Gate Park Bandshell has announced its 2023 season ofIlluminate Live, which begins on March 1st and runs all the way through mid-November. These weekly free and family-friendly concerts are some of the most beloved events in the park. Catch over 100 performances in a variety of genres including R&B, soul, jazz, funk, big band, strings, indie, rock, reggae, salsa, electronic, and EDM.
24. …and the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival is back in action for 2023! The independent nonprofit organization is dedicated to presenting accessible cultural events from May-October, including world-class music, theater, dance, and more. Every week, guests can enjoy a series of free recurring performances and events.
25. See what flowers are in bloom around the Bay
Did you know that “America’s Best Rose Garden” is here in the Bay Area? Thousands of visitors are flocking to the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, which in May exploded into a vibrant spectrum of pinks, reds, oranges, and yellows. The expansive 5.5-acre garden has over 3,500 plantings in 189 different varieties, and it’s completely free to visit.
You’ll also want to keep an eye on the Dahlia Garden in Golden Gate Park, which begins blooming in June and reaches peak bloom in August and September. The vibrant blooms are especially prominent in San Francisco because they thrive in the cool summers. In fact, the dahlia was established as the Official Flower of San Francisco back in 1926.
26. Enjoy the view at one of SF’s best rooftop bars and restaurants
Everyone knows that rooftop restaurants and bars in San Francisco are few and far between, but we managed to round up some stellar spots to try out when you’re looking to grab dinner or drinks with a view.
27. Check out this free pop-up circus making the rounds in SF and Oakland
When’s the last time you went to the circus? Let Circus Bella come to you with a lineup of exciting free pop-up performances at Bay Area parks. The one-ring show will come to outdoor locations in San Francisco, Oakland, Reno, and Laguna Beach between June 8-July 16, 2023. It’s a captivating performance that’s great for kids and will surely add some excitement to any afternoon in the Bay Area.
28. Take a scenic road trip to one of CA’s most iconic destinations
San Francisco is well-located for some of best road trips in California. We’re lucky to live near countless beautiful small towns and natural wonders, whether you’re just going for a short day trip or an extended vacation. Read on for some of our favorite road trip destinations from San Francisco.
29. Sip your way through the best margaritas in the city
An ice-cold margarita is just about the best drink we can think of on a summer day. Here are some of our favorite bars and restaurants for margaritas in San Francisco.
30. Explore the most eclectic tiki bars in the city
Tiki bars take us out of our foggy city, to a far-flung tropical paradise–for the simple cost of a Mai Tai or Piña Colada. At its best tiki offers a brief reprieve from reality, dropping you into an imagined vacationland with extravagant drinks and good vibes. Here are a few terrific tiki bars in San Francisco.