Another month, another round of awesome activities in the Bay and beyond!
Somehow, we’re already at the beginning of a new month, which means plenty of new things to do in the city. It seems like just yesterday we wrote our article about things to do in July… make sure to give it a read, since a lot of that stuff is still going on!
In any case, Secret San Francisco is ready to bring you a fresh round of awesome activities for the month of August. And what fun activities they are! Whether you’re a foodie looking to try out a new spot, or an outdoorsy type with a hankering for fresh air, these ideas will definitely get the ball rolling. Scroll down to start planning your month!
1. Enjoy classical music by candlelight at this popular concert series
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. Even better, they have a special new Halloween series in the works for October, which is absolutely not to be missed. Buy tickets for San Francisco Candlelight concerts here.
2. This self-guided tour takes you through 11 glowing light art installations in SF
San Francisco is absolutely stunning day and night, but some truly incredible art lights up as soon as the sun goes down. SF Travel put together a great map marking 11 of the best light art installations in the city, reaching from the Bay Bridge to the Castro. It will take a few hours to get through the whole thing on foot, but it’s not a bad bike or car ride if you want to hit all 11 stops in one night. You can also scoot around fairly well on public transportation. Learn more here!
3. Grace Cathedral’s captivating yoga series is back on Tuesday evenings
Grace Cathedral’s incredibly popular series ‘Yoga on the Labyrinth’ is back in business! The session is a gentle Hatha yoga practice that’s open to all ages and abilities. As you lay down your mat on one of Grace Cathedral’s characteristic labyrinths, you’ll realize that this is not your typical yoga experience! Keep in mind that Covid precautions are in place (picture is from pre-pandemic times), and you need to reserve in advance. Learn more here.
4. The legendary Tonga Room tiki bar is back open, and we’re all overdue for a visit
The beloved Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar is one of the longest continually running tiki bars in the states. It’s basically everything a tiki bar should be; an explosion of deliciously kitsch tropical décor with all the themed, lethal cocktails and Polynesian-fusion dishes you could hope for. Tonga Room is currently only open on Fridays and Saturdays at 950 Mason Street in San Francisco. Be warned: you can’t make reservations, so be prepared for first-come, first serve dining and bar service. Learn more here.
5. Stern Grove Festival’s free Sunday concerts will run through the end of August
Who’s ready to see some live music?! Stern Grove Festival, a FREE outdoor concert series featuring a wide variety of genres, is coming to the end of its 2021 season. We couldn’t be more stoked about the rest of the lineup! Learn more here.
- August 1: Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (SOLD OUT)
- August 8: Thundercat, Cassowary, DJ Shortkut (waitlist available)
- 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)
6. Anthony Bourdain called this local restaurant “the best restaurant in the world”
Anthony Bourdain was a beloved celebrity chef, author, and documentarian for many reasons, and the recent documentary Roadrunner has many fans revisiting his early-2000s TV series A Cook’s Tour. A popular 2002 episode features The French Laundry, a three-Michelin-starred French restaurant in Yountville run by legendary chef Thomas Keller, who Bourdain calls “the most exciting chef in America.” In another episode, Bourdain says, “[Keller’s] Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry is in my opinion the best restaurant in the world. Period.”
If you’re a fan of fine dining, consider making a reservation at The French Laundry. You can find this magnificent restaurant at 6640 Washington St in Yountville, which is about an hour north of San Francisco. Learn more here.
7. This hiking trail in the Marin Headlands is full of adventure
We all know the Marin Headlands are home to some of the best hiking in the state, and if you haven’t been to this popular spot, you’re missing out! The Coastal Trail is an easy hiking loop with plenty of opportunities for exploring, from the rock labyrinth to the WWII bunkers. Learn all about it here.
8. Free Sunday concerts return to Golden Gate Park in August
San Franciscans have been treated to wonderful free Sunday concerts in Golden Gate Park for 139 years. We’re stoked to hear that the Golden Gate Park Band is back for their 2021 season, running from August 1 through October 3! The concerts begin each Sunday around 1pm and end between 2:30pm and 2:45pm. You can find them at the Spreckles Temple of Music in the Music Concourse, which is next to the CA Academy of Sciences. See the lineup here.
9. A series of free, live performances is happening on Wednesdays in Downtown SF
San Francisco just launched SFWednesdays, a new summer performance series that’s completely free to enjoy! Each Wednesday, you can find 3 different performances happening in iconic outdoor places downtown. Here’s the lineup for August:
Learn more here!
10-19. Sip your way through these 10 superb wine bars
An excellent glass of wine can turn a bad day into a good day, or a good day into a better day! We’re lucky to live right near wine country, meaning that Bay Area wine bars have their pick of some of the best wineries in the world. Whether you’re looking for a classy ambience with a highly curated selection, or a laid-back environment where you can find a perfect bottle to take home, we’ve got you covered! Here are 10 wine bars you’ve got to visit, listed in no particular order. See full descriptions of list items here.
- Press Club
- High Treason
- 20 Spot
- Ruby Wines
- Mission Bay Wine & Cheese
- William Cross
- Scopo Divino
- Arlequin Wine Merchant
20-24. Enjoy a cocktail at these 5 secret speakeasies
When Prohibition went into practice during the 1920s, San Francisco was one city that played by its own rules. Speakeasies were relatively easy to find back then, often serving up spirits brought in from Canada. That era of American history ended nearly 90 years ago, but there are a handful of local bars that mimic the secretive, back-door façade of those 1920s-era speakeasies. Learn about each spot here.
- The Linden Room
- The Remedie Room
- Smuggler’s Cove
- Cold Drinks Bar
25. This beautiful hike in Oakland is home to hidden labyrinths and an extinct volcano
Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve is a popular hiking destination in Oakland, but it might have flown under the radar for those living in other parts of the Bay. The stunning landscape was born from volcanic activity in the region, and you can hike right to the center of where the volcano use to be. Over the years, visitors have also made large labyrinths using rocks from the surrounding landscape, similar to the famous one at Lands End. Clearly, this is not your average hike! Learn all about it here.
26. This peaceful outdoor yoga series is back on at SF Botanical Garden
We’re thrilled to see that SF Botanical Garden’s popular outdoor yoga series, Yoga in the Garden, has returned! You can now book a spot at these lovely monthly yoga classes, where you will breathe deeply while doing sun salutations, heart openers and more while surrounded by SF Botanical Garden’s majestic landscape. These monthly vinyasa yoga classes cost $15 general admission and take place on the first Thursday of every month at 12pm. Learn more here.
27. This whimsical restaurant serves a cotton candy cocktail under a canopy of flowers
Sometimes a restaurant doesn’t only deliver on its food, but rather an entire experience. That’s the case with Son & Garden, a lovely restaurant with locations in Menlo Park and San Francisco. Here, you’ll get to enjoy a traditional American brunch crossed with Asian ingredients under a stunning canopy of flowers. One menu item that’s really caught our eye is the Cloud 9 Cocktail, a delicious drink featuring lillet blanc, dolin blanc, pineapple and sparkling wine. It’s made unforgettable with the addition of a floating cotton candy cloud and an edible butterfly! Learn all about this magical restaurant here.
28-37. Catch a lovely Bay Area sunset at these 10 essential viewing spots
There’s truly no shortage of excellent places to see a sunset in the Bay, but we wanted to get to the bottom of where locals love to watch the sky light up. That’s why we posted an Instagram poll asking for our followers’ best recommendations! They didn’t disappoint, and we have almost 30 different places to tell you about. Here are the 10 most essential ones in no particular order, but see the full list here.
- Mori Point
- Lands End
- Mount Tamalpais
- Palace of Fine Arts
- Twin Peaks
- Baker Beach
- Ina Coolbrith Park
- Fort Funston
- Muir Beach Overlook
- Ocean Beach
38. Try this limited-edition summer pizza from Chef Samin Nosrat and Square Pie Guys
Award-winning chef, cookbook author and TV host Samin Nosrat is a huge name in the nation’s cooking scene. Lucky for us, she has a special summer treat in store for the Bay Area! Square Pie Guys, a neighborhood favorite for Detroit-style square pizza, just announced an awesome collaboration with the famous chef. “Samin’s Summer Pizza” will be available through the rest of the summer season, and you can pick it up at both their Oakland and San Francisco locations. Learn all about it here.
39. 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. You can catch it every other Thursday evening around 5:00pm. Keep an eye out for competitors wearing bright orange jerseys, and learn more here.
40. Giant water lilies are in bloom at the Conservatory of Flowers through the summer
These enormous Victoria Water Lilies are a prominent fixture at the Conservatory of Flowers, and they’re in bloom now through the summer! When the massive flower first blooms in the evening, it is white and emits a pineapple scent to attract pollinators such as scarab beetles in the wild. On the morning of the next day, the flower closes, trapping the beetle inside while it changes into a male flower and turns pink. In the evening, the flower opens to release the beetle covered in pollen, which goes off to pollinate a new flower. These fascinating blooms last only 2 or 3 days at a time, and the gigantic leaves floating in the water are at their biggest size yet – between 4 and 6 feet across! Learn more here.
41. This lesser-known street in San Francisco is actually more crooked than Lombard Street
We all know Lombard Street. It’s that beautifully landscaped, crooked red-brick street that receives 2 million tourists a year (or per day, it seems!) But did you know that it’s not actually the so-called “crookedest street in the world,” or even in San Francisco? Vermont Street in Portrero Hill is a little rougher around the edges, but yes, it is still in fact “crookeder!” It’s also the site of the annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel (BYOBW) race, a neighborhood favorite! Learn more here.
42-47 These wonderful SF museums and gardens offer monthly free admission days
This list shows museums and gardens currently offering free admission days each month. As we roll into August, it’s a good time to see the fresh batch of free days coming up on the calendar! See more detailed descriptions of each museum’s free days here.
- SFMOMA: 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 for Bay Area residents every Saturday.
- Asian Art Museum: Free admission for the general public on the first Sunday of every month.
- SF Botanical Garden: Free admission for the general public every day from 7:30-9am, and all day on the second Tuesday of every month. Free admission for all SF City & County residents daily with proof of residency.
- Conservatory of Flowers: Free admission for the general public on the first Tuesday of every month.
- Japanese Tea Garden: Free admission for the general public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays if entered between 9-10am.
48-62. Enjoy a meal at one of these charming local picnic spots
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.
- Conservatory of Flowers
- Old Speedway Meadow
- Pine Lake Park
- Salesforce Park
- Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers
- Mission Dolores Park
- Crissy Field
- Fort Scott Community Garden
- Yerba Buena Gardens
- Bernal Heights Park
- Kirby Cove Beach
- Buena Vista Park
- Stow Lake
- Palace of Fine Arts
- Cupid’s Span
63. SF’s historic cable cars will give free rides during mock service in August
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! Learn more here.
64-73. Reserve a weekend away at one of these 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.
Right, so many of these spots are likely booked out this weekend, but we wanted to leave these here in case you’re looking for a great gift for a future date. Browse this list and get inspired!
- “Architect cabin in the Redwoods”
- “Treehouse in Vineyard Overlooking Monterey Bay”
- “Ohana with Private Outdoor Shower and Hot Tub”
- “Carmel Oceanview Charmer”
- “Rustic retreat in Fairfax hills”
- “Luxury Estate in the Redwoods w/ Hot Tub”
- “Unique Modern Mountain Getaway”
- “Cosmo Beach Riverfront Sanctuary”
- “Estate Guest House on Vineyard”
- “Modern Designer: Amazing Location”
74-83. 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? Learn more about each spot here.
- Ice Cream Bar
- Bi-Rite Creamery
- Humphry Slocombe
- Polly Ann
- Nieves Cinco de Mayo
- Castro Fountain
- Joe’s Ice Cream
84. A beer garden, outdoor movies and more are coming to the former Temporary Transbay Terminal site in August
Previously planned to kick off in July, the opening is now slated for mid-August. 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 plans such as pickleball courts, public art, a dog run, and a versatile event space for the community. Learn more here!
85-95. Take a day trip to one of these 11 spectacular destinations
- Pinnacles National Park
- Alamere Falls
- Sonoma wine tour
- Filoli Estate and gardens
- Muir Woods
- Mount Tamalpais
- Inverness Shipwreck
- McWay Falls
- Gerbode Valley
- Cataract Falls
- Wilder Ranch
96-105. Visit one of these bountiful weekend farmers’ markets
If you live in the Bay Area, you know that we have access to some of the best produce in the country. That’s why farmer’s markets are a must for countless SF residents who enjoy getting their food from local sources. Be sure to stop by these 10 fantastic farmer’s markets, located all around the city and bringing new, fresh produce to you every weekend. Learn more about each market here.
- Alemany Farmers’ Market
- Noe Valley Farmers’ Market
- Fillmore Farmers’ Market
- Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market
- Heart of the City Farmers’ Market
- Clement Street Farmers’ Market
- Stonestown Farmers’ Market
- Inner Sunset Farmers’ Market
- Outer Sunset Farmers’ Market and Mercantile
- Fort Mason Center Farmers’ Market
106. Registration opens August 14 for fall activities including Zumba, sewing, and kayaking
San Francisco is full of amazing activities and resources for just about any hobby you can think of – and SF Rec & Parks knows it! If you’re looking to try a new sport or learn a new skill, they’ve lined up some excellent programming that will kick off this fall, and registration opens at 10am August 14. The programs will be available to browse starting July 30, so stay tuned for more details. Member registration for the Friends of Sharon Arts & Randall Museum open at 10am on August 7. Learn more here.
Featured image: @cookdog77 via Instagram