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Secret Guides Things To Do

111 Awesome Things To Do This July In San Francisco

By Jamie Ferrell

111 Awesome Things To Do This July In San Francisco

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 June… 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 July. 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. 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.

2. View over 800 Frida Kahlo artifacts and artworks in this stunning online exhibit

What if you could experience all of your favorite Frida Kahlo works in just one place and without even leaving your couch? Thanks to the Google Arts & Culture online exhibit “Faces of Frida,” you’ll get to experience over 800 pieces by and of the artist in what might be her most epic exhibition yet!

The site has partnered with 33 museums and other institutions from across seven countries to bring you an expansive exhibit that not only includes the works of Kahlo herself, but also items from private collections and rare artifacts that aren’t usually displayed at exhibits including her journals, letters, clothing and other personal possessions.

3. These wildly popular concerts by candlelight are coming to the Bay Area this summer

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.

4. An exciting exhibition of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is coming to SF, and tickets are on sale.

Ready for a chance to get an up close and personal look at one of history’s greatest works of art? Explore the Sistine Chapel like you’ve never seen it before. Coming in September, you can explore the stunning details of Michelangelo’s iconic work at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition, produced by the LA-based SEE Global Entertainment (SEE™), a family of companies that specialize in global touring exhibitions. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition showcases the awe and wonder of arguably one of mankind’s greatest artistic achievements, while allowing its visitors to experience this art from an up-close, life-sized, and never-before-seen perspective.

5. These tiny yellow cars provide an amazing unconventional tour of the city.

San Francisco is an exciting place to check out on your own two feet, but driving around in these fun open-air cars really ups the ante! Get around faster, see more landmarks, and make unique memories on this unconventional tour of SF. Enjoy up to 7 hours of rental time to explore sights such as the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Crissy Field and more. Each car is equipped with a GPS guide that will give you instructions, crack jokes, and tell stories about each stop on your tour. Your reservation also comes with helmets and a full tank of gas.

6. 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.

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

Who’s ready to see some live music?! Stern Grove Festival, a free outdoor concert series featuring a wide variety of genres, is in the middle of its 2021 season. The festival will run each Sunday this summer until August 29.

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! Here’s the lineup for the rest of the summer, along with reservation signup dates:

  • July 4: San Francisco Symphony (sold out)
  • July 11: Thievery Corporation, Dessa, DJ Shortkut (reservations open 2pm June 29)
  • July 18: St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Dip, DJ Omar (reservations open 2pm July 6)
  • July 25: X, The Avengers, DJ Omar (reservations open 2pm July 13)
  • August 1: Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (reservations open 2pm July 20)
  • 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)

8-14. 7 free fireworks shows to enjoy in the Bay Area on July 4th

Keneva Photography via Shutterstock

After countless fireworks displays were canceled last year due to Covid and wildfire season, it’s been a very long time indeed since any of us got to enjoy a brilliant fireworks show. This year we’ll see slightly fewer fireworks shows than usual, but there are a handful of displays still happening around the Bay Area to keep an eye on! Remember that we are still in a drought, so it’s best to leave the firework wrangling to the professionals, and most cities have outlawed private firework use. But if you’re hoping to catch a show, here’s a list of what’s still going on this year!

San Francisco

  • Pier 39 at 9:30pm

North Bay

  • Sonoma at dusk (no on-site viewing)
  • Petaluma at 9:30pm from Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds (no on-site viewing)

East Bay

  • Downtown Antioch at 9:20pm over the San Joaquin River
  • Pleasant Hill at 9:15pm from College Park High School (no on-site viewing)

East Bay

  • Gilroy at 9:30pm from Gilroy High School (no on-site viewing)
  • Morgan Hill at 9:45pm from 16500 Condit Rd

15-20. 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.

  • SFMOMA
    • Free admission to Bay Area residents on the first Thursday of every month from 4-8pm (July 1)
  • de Young Museum and Legion of Honor
    • Free admission for the general public on the first Tuesday of every month (July 6)
    • Free admission to Bay Area residents every Saturday
  • Asian Art Museum
    • Free admission to the general public on the first Sunday of every month (July 4)
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden
    • Free admission for the general public on the second Tuesday of every month (July 13).
    • Free admission for the general public every day from 7:30-9am.
    • Free admission for all SF City & County residents with proof of residency.
  • Conservatory of Flowers
    • Free admission for the general public on the first Tuesday of every month (July 6)
  • Japanese Tea Garden
    • Free admission for the general public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays if entered before 10:00am (garden opens at 9:00am).

21. 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.

22. San Francisco’s famous Exploratorium to reopen July 1

The Exploratorium is finally reopening for this summer after closing their doors last March due to the pandemic. The general public will be able to enjoy their exciting, interactive exhibits starting July 1!

In order to make your Exploratorium visit as safe as possible, the museum has put numerous precautions in place including required face coverings inside, a 50% capacity limit, timed ticketing, sanitizing stations, social distancing, and frequent disinfection.

The Exploratorium isn’t your average museum experience – in fact, they’ve been making their own interactive exhibits since 1969! Explore and play with over 650 fun exhibits including the “Anti-Gravity Mirror,” where you can create gravity-defying illusions; “Bacteriopolis,” a colorful wall made out of a living terrarium; and “Disagreeing About Color,” which compares individuals’ different perceptions of colored lights.

23-60. 38 excellent Bay Area coffee shops recommended by locals

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If you’re a coffee fiend like 90% of Bay Area residents, you’ll know that there is no shortage of high quality coffee in San Francisco and beyond. We wanted to get to the bottom of where locals love to get their buzz, so we posted a poll on Instagram asking for go-to coffee shops. Our followers did not disappoint, and here we have a bullet list of the best coffee shops in the Bay, recommended by locals! Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for a detailed map showing exactly where to find your next cup. Whether you’re interested in a quick espresso shot or a fun, colorful drink, these coffee shops are definitely worth putting on your list. See the full list here, or click around on our interactive map!

61-66. 6 fascinating tide pools to explore 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.

67. The former Transbay Temporary Terminal will host a beer garden, outdoor movie nights, and more this July

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 this July for 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-July. Check the ECLP website for project updates.

68-70. Check out these 3 exciting exhibits now at SFMOMA

Diego Rivera’s Pan American Unity

This enormous mural, which usually resides at City College of San Francisco, was just moved to SFMOMA in preparation for a major Diego Rivera exhibition coming to the museum in 2022. Rivera painted Pan American Unity on Treasure Island in 1940 at the Golden Gate International Exhibition’s “Art In Action” exhibit, where artists work live in front of an audience. The mural measures 74 feet wide by 22 feet tall, covering a total of almost 1,800 square feet. The museum will display this legendary mural in its Roberts Family Gallery space, which is free and unticketed, until at least 2023.

Olafur Eliasson’s One-Way Colour Tunnel

One-Way Colour Tunnel is a long arched walkway sculpture created by Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. It’s been installed on SFMOMA’s Oculus Bridge on the fifth floor, and the semi-transparent walkway reflects the crystalline patterns of the tunnel. The tunnel is constructed from acrylic glass and mirrors. These materials are arranged in triangular panels throughout the archway, some jutting out from the ceiling and others stretching up from the sides. As visitors walk through the tunnel one way, they see this triangular pattern in more of a dark gray color. When they turn around to walk the other way, a brilliant spectrum of colors appears, in a range of purples, blues, pinks and yellows. It’s scheduled to run as part of the Contemporary Optics exhibit until March 27, 2022.

Nam June Paik Exhibition

An important trailblazer in the art world (and the world in general), Nam June Paik (1932–2006) is considered the father of video art, having been the first to incorporate both TVs and video into his quirky installations. He predicted the significance of mass media in a major way, and even coined the term ‘electronic superhighway’ in 1974 to describe the future of communication in the internet age. Set to feature more than 200 of his most iconic works, this exhibition will give visitors a thorough look into the artist’s extensive career, which spanned five decades. See it now through October 3.

71. Enjoy incredible panoramic views at newly-reopened Coit Tower

Coit Tower, an essential San Francisco landmark rising high above Telegraph Hill, is finally open! Visitors can once again travel to the top of the 210-foot-high tower and marvel at 360-degree views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, and much more.This simple white tower has embellished San Francisco’s skyline since its construction in 1933, and its 26 frescoes depicting the Great Depression are a must-see. The tower was named after Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who left a bequest upon her death in 1929 “for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city I have always loved.”

72-84. 13 excellent Queer-owned businesses recommended by San Franciscans, for San Franciscans

June was Pride month, but we’re excited to keep the Pride going all year long! Last month, we asked our Instagram followers for recommendations about Queer-owned businesses that they love supporting in the Bay Area. Y’all didn’t disappoint, and below you’ll find a variety of businesses that proudly represent the Bay Area’s LGBTQ+ community, all while providing stellar service and products. These are all listed here in no particular order.

San Francisco:

  • Pentacle Coffee
  • Twin Peaks Tavern
  • Local Brewing Co.
  • Casements Bar
  • SF Plants & Flowers
  • Arcana

Oakland:

  • Lion Dance Cafe 
  • Understory
  • Gay4U Vegan Eats

SF Bay Area:

  • Alexander Nurseries 
  • Empawthy 
  • Alfajores Narciso
  • Blaví

85. See the powerful new Juneteenth sculptural installation at Golden Gate Park

On Juneteenth, sculptor Dana King honored this vital holiday with a profound and unforgettable installation at Golden Gate Park. Monumental Reckoning comprises 350 figures, representing the first 350 kidnapped Africans to be brought to the US as slaves in 1619. They encircle the plinth that once held a statue of Francis Scott Key, outspoken racist and writer of “The Star Spangled Banner.” The solemn circle of Black bodies has unmistakable traces to the origins of slavery in the United States, the progression of a tiered society based on skin color, and the nationwide reckoning and protests following George Floyd’s murder in May of 2020. The exhibition works to expressively connect today’s society with that of our nation’s beginnings, finding relevance both in today’s events and those of 1619.

86-90. 5 of the most unique gardens in San Francisco

San Francisco is home to plenty of memorable gardens, but the most unique ones can take some digging to find. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of interesting and unforgettable spots for you to get a breath of fresh air.

  • Living Roof at the California Academy of Sciences
  • Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park
  • Ancient Plant Garden at SF Botanical Garden
  • Garden of Fragrance at SF Botanical Garden
  • Shakespeare Garden at Golden Gate Park

91. Find this big crack in the ground, which is actually a work of art hidden in plain sight!

Credit: Phil Dokas via Flickr

Have you seen this long crack running through the de Young Museum’s courtyard?  No, really, bear with us – this is actually a meticulously planned, symbolic art piece by legendary English artist Andy Goldsworthy called “Drawn Stone.” This large man-made crack cleaves 8 large stone blocks in half, which are a special kind of sandstone that was hauled to SF from Goldsworthy’s native Yorkshire, England. Goldsworthy, who loves to blur the lines between natural and man-made elements, was inspired by California’s tectonic topography and fault lines.

92-100. 9 lively beer gardens where you can enjoy your next pint

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.

  • SPARK Social SF
  • Zeitgeist
  • Southern Pacific Brewing
  • Finnegans Wake
  • Harmonic Brewing Thrive City
  • Anchor Brewing Public Taps
  • Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
  • Old Devil Moon
  • Black Hammer Brewing

101. Check out this taffy place in Santa Cruz, which is viral on TikTok

@scwillywonkaAll the sours rolled into one!!!! Grape, blue raspberry, green apple, lime, orange and cherry. #fyp #foryoupage #mariniscandies #candyman #candy♬ Better Off Alone – Alice DJ

Who here loves watching taffy pulling videos? If you’ve spent any time on the Instagram explore page or TikTok, you might’ve come across some of these mesmerizing videos from Marini’s Candies, a legendary candy shop in Santa Cruz, California. This family-owned business has churned out millions of delicious sugary treats since 1915 for people all across the country. They’re definitely worth a follow, and a visit!

102-111. 10 romantic restaurants with outdoor patios in San Francisco

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.

  • Dirty Habit
  • Coqueta
  • La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
  • Charmaine’s
  • Foreign Cinema
  • Waterbar
  • Zazie
  • 25 Lusk
  • El Techo
  • Fable

 

Featured image: Keneva Photography via Shutterstock