104 Exceptional Things To Do This May In San Francisco

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

104 Exceptional Things To Do This May In San Francisco

SF is getting vaxxed, activities are opening up, and summer is just around the corner!

Somehow, we’re 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 April… 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 May. 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!

This is a pretty enormous list, so we’ve organized it into 5 categories:

  • Things to put on your calendar
  • Things to put on your to-do list
  • Cool spots inside the city
  • Cools spots outside of the city
  • Food and drink spots to try out

Things to put on your calendar

1. Enjoy a laugh at this awesome Drive-In Drag Show

The contestants from season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race are here to save 2021! The fabulous lineup of performers includes Aquaria, Naomi Smalls, Violet Chachki, and many more. Drive & Drag Saves 2021 will be coming to San Francisco on May 7, 8, and 9 at the Southland Mall in Hayward, but be sure to reserve your tickets now to make sure you don’t miss out on all the fun!

2. Get tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, opening this month

Ocean lovers, rejoice! The fascinating Monterey Bay Aquarium, located just 2 hours down the coast from San Francisco, has announced reopening dates in May. The aquarium has been closed since March 13, 2020, but it will now open at 25% capacity since Monterey County entered the California’s red tier several weeks ago.

Members may visit the aquarium starting May 1, with ticket sales opening April 26 at 9am PST.

The general public may visit starting May 15, with ticket sales opening May 5 at 9am PST.

Tickets cost $49.95 for adults, $39.95 for youth and seniors, $34.95 for children 12 and under, and there’s free entrance for children 4 and under.

3. See SFMOMA’s awesome new Nam June Paik exhibit

Photo by Andrew Dunkley, courtesy of SFMOMA

SFMOMA’s newest exhibition will be the first major presentation of legendary artist Nam June Paik’s work in the U.S. in over two decades.The exhibition will be on view from May 8 through October 3 and, according to a press release, will be exclusive to SFMOMA in the U.S.

Set to feature more than 200 of his most iconic works, the exhibition will give visitors a thorough look into the artist’s extensive career, which spanned five decades. 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.


4. Check out the total lunar eclipse on May 26

Photo by Yu Kato on Unsplash

We were treated to a supermoon on April 26,  but we’ll see a second supermoon on May 26. It will appear blood-red in the sky as it’s obscured by the Earth’s shadow.

According to TimeAndDate.com, this event will be visible in the skies above San Francisco between 1:47am and 6:01am, with maximum visibility at 4:18am.

5-9. Check out these 5 local museums 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! Here are the dates of free admission days this month for the general public. Check our full list for information about free admission days for select groups.

  • de Young Museum and Legion of Honor – Tuesday, May 4 (free for Bay Area residents every Saturday)
  • Asian Art Museum – Sunday, May 1
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden – Tuesday, May 11 (free for SF city/county residents every day, and free for all every day before 9am)
  • Conservatory of Flowers – Tuesday, May 4
  • Japanese Tea Garden – all Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays before 10am

10-17. Take a swim in one of these newly opened indoor pools

Dive into a new era of Covid-compliant swimming in San Francisco! If you’re a swimmer looking to get back into the pool as we move into the spring season, SF Recreation and Parks has announced that the following indoor pools are opening up for reservations.  You may reserve a lane at Sava Pool in the Sunset District or Martin Luther King Jr. Pool in the Bayview District.

  • Sava Pool – now open
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Pool – now open
  • Garfield Pool  – May 1 (recently renovated!)
  • North Beach Pool – May 17
  • Coffman Pool – May 17
  • Balboa Pool – June 1
  • Hamilton Pool – June 7
  • Rossi Pool – mid-June (undergoing renovations)

Learn more and reserve your swimming spot starting April 16 at SFPark.org/register!

18. Take a stroll down Chinatown’s Grant Avenue, free of cars every weekend

Remember, way back before COVID, when San Francisco used to open up some streets on weekends for easy strolling? It was an awesome way for kids to play, neighbors to meet, and businesses to connect with customers.

Walkway Weekends in Chinatown will consist of a car-free Grant Avenue, between California to Washington Streets. Every Saturday and Sunday from 11am-4pm, you can stroll through San Francisco’s historic Chinatown for some shopping, a refreshing cup of boba, delicious dumplings, and much more. Expect Walkway Weekends to last through June!

Things to put on your to-do list

19. Get vaxxed! (and claim a free donut at Krispy Kreme)

Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash

20. Donate to one of these 20 local Asian and Pacific Islander community organizations

Recent attacks on the Bay Area’s elderly Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander populations have led to national outcry against anti-Asian racism. Demonstrators outside SF’s city hall called for unity, solutions and education. If you’re looking for ways to help, consider donating or getting involved in one of your local AAPI community nonprofits. Here are 20 local organizations to get you started:

  • APA Family Support Services
  • Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco
  • Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
  • Donaldina Cameron House
  • Asian American Donor Program
  • East Bay Asian Youth Center
  • Chinatown YMCA
  • Asian American Recovery Services
  • Asian Pacific American Community Center
  • Asian Women’s Shelter
  • Bayanihan Equity Center
  • Chinatown Community Development Center
  • Chinese Newcomers Service Center
  • Filipino Community Center
  • Japanese Community Youth Council
  • Kimochi, Inc
  • Kokoro Assisted Living
  • Southeast Asian Community Center
  • Korean Center, Inc.
  • Stepping Stone


21. Apply for your dream job at this Sonoma winery

[Image: @murphygoodewine via Instagram]

Murphy-Goode winery recently posted an incredible job listing for those looking to get into the wine industry, or as they call it, “A Really Goode Job.” They’re offering a $10,000 a month salary and free rent for a year in Healdsburg, where you can jumpstart your career in winemaking under the leadership of Murphy-Goode winemaker Dave Ready Jr. If that weren’t enough, you’ll also get 30 cases of wine!

To apply, the winery simply requests an application video (creativity and humor encouraged). Be sure to submit your video application no later than June 30, 2021.


Cool spots inside the city

22. Check out this new Filipino-inspired oasis in SoMa

On the weekend of April 16-17, Kultivate Labs celebrated the grand opening of Kapwa Gardens, a parking lot now converted into a lively art and wellness space for the community. It took 5 years to develop this beautiful new space!

At the moment, the garden is offering cocktail nights, yoga classes, self-defense classes, martial arts classes, free COVID testing, and more. See the full calendar here.

Visit Kapwa Gardens Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm.


23. Take a gander at these enormous pencils in the Mission District

These parking posts are tucked away on a street in the Mission District, painted to look like Ticonderoga, Staedtler, and other classic brands of pencils. The designs carefully recreate the classic look of their real-life counterparts, complete with gold and silver leaf for the metal and meticulously painted logos.

Local artist Anthony R. Brown started painting these pencils with Manny Fabregas and Bruce Aguirre. They aptly titled the pencil series, “I Did A No. 2 On The Street.” Brown has since continued the series on his own for subsequent rounds of pencils.

You can follow Brown on Instagram at @fligga_, or follow his new page profiling the pencil series at @ididano2onthestreet. Find these awesome pencil posts at the corner of 19th and Lexington in the Mission!


24-33. Visit these 10 awesome dispensaries around the City

It’s no secret that California is home to some of the best medical and recreational marijuana products in the world. As such, we feel we wouldn’t be doing our civic duty if we didn’t round up the best dispensaries in the city.

These dispensaries are some of San Francisco’s most highly-reviewed spots, so they’re sure to provide stellar customer service and superior products.

  • Apothecarium
  • Bloom Room SF
  • The Green Cross
  • Stiiizy
  • Mission Organic
  • Elevated SF
  • Purple Star MD
  • Vapor Room
  • Authentic 415
  • Barbary Coast Dispensary

34. Take your IG pics up a notch at this music-inspired selfie playground

Well, the new Musiquarium at the Westfield San Francisco Mall’s Selfie Market wants help you up your photo game!Stop by and take some spectacular pics in their enormous 6,000 square foot space, with 10 rooms displaying over 30 different art installations all inspired by music. This storytelling experience lets all visitors freely roam across the space and conduct their own photoshoots. You’ll find everything from disco to hip-hop scenes where you can interact and show your personality.

Visit the Selfie Market Thursday and Friday from 11am to 6pm, Saturday from 11am to 7pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 6pm! The experience is closed Monday through Wednesday.

35. Listen to haunting ocean-generated music from the Wave Organ in the harbor

In the Marina district of SF, you’ll find a unique outdoor installation that’s more than just a cool-looking art installation. The Wave Organ, created by artists Peter Richards and George Gonzalez in 1986, is an acoustic sculpture activated by the waves of the San Francisco Bay. Its haunting  music comes from 25 different organ pipes placed at different levels around the sculpture, changing with the rise and fall of the tides.

Listen closely and make sure you go at high tide to experience the Wave Organ at its best. Check the tides here!

Find the Wave Organ in the San Francisco Harbor at 83 Marina Green Drive.

36. Check out this newly renovated adventure playground in Diamond Heights

San Francisco Recreation & Parks

San Francisco Mayor London Breed recently announced the reopening of the George Christopher Playground in Diamond Heights, which underwent a $5.2M renovation starting in 2019. The new play area is designed with both younger and older kids in mind, including swings, a whirl, and several exploration areas. Kids can play in a garden meant to spark their imaginations, complete with stepping stones, a bridge, a playhouse, and a dry riverbed.


Be sure to check out this incredible nature-inspired park at 5210 Diamond Heights Blvd in San Francisco!

37-42. Get close to nature at these 6 beautiful spots in the City, recommended by San Franciscans, for San Franciscans

We wanted to hear your favorite spots to get close to nature, so we asked our Instagram followers for their best local outdoor escapes. They certainly didn’t disappoint, and these 6 places inside of the City come highly recommended!  See the other 4 spots outside of the City further down the list at #68-71.

  • Dolores Park
  • Golden Gate Park trails
  • Land’s End
  • Ocean Beach
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Presidio


43. 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.


44-58. Enjoy a picnic at these 15 charming spots in the City

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 lawn
  • 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 lawn
  • Cupid’s Span


Cool spots outside of the city

59. See this breathtaking lupine flower superbloom at Folsom Lake

Who’s up for a roadtrip?! The lupine flowers are exploding across Folsom Lake in areas that are normally underwater, and thousands of visitors have overwhelmed the area in order to catch the bloom before it ends. The park’s busiest entrance is the Granite Bay one, but you may find other ones through Salmon Falls, Folsom Point or Shadow Glen. See the park website for a full list of entrances and updated regulations.

60-69. Book one of these 10 highly-rated Airbnbs in NorCal

[Image: “Cosmo Beach Riverfront Sanctuary” via Airbnb.com]

Lucky for us, Northern California is a world-famous travel destination that we’re lucky enough to enjoy every day! Whether you want to plan a staycation in the City, or drive out a few hours to a neighboring town, these Airbnbs will certainly inspire your next plans.

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!

70. Visit this historical country estate and its gorgeous gardens

If you haven’t heard of Filoli, you have got to add this spectacular historical estate to your list. According to its website, the Filoli property covers 654 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The house and garden themselves cover 16 immaculate acres, having been beautifully maintained for over a century.

Filoli’s gardens are unique in that they bloom all year round, thanks to seasonal planting and carefully planned maintenance by the estate’s 14 full-time horticulturalists. Over 75,000 spring bulbs are planted each year.

You may visit Filoli at 86 Cañada Road in Woodside, CA with prior reservation from 10am-5pm daily. General admission costs $25 and there are reduced prices available for children, seniors and students.


71. Find these breathtaking cliff views just an hour out of the City

Wilder Ranch State Park, just a few minutes south of Davenport, is a 7,000 acre ranch from the late 1800s converted into a museum and nature preserve. This historic site sits along the Santa Cruz County coastline and is home to spectacular views, hikes, and wildlife.

There are several hiking trails you can take at Wilder Ranch. The Old Landing Cove Trail, Pacific to Redwoods Loop, and Wilder Ridge trails will give you up-close views of the breaking waves and access to some of the hidden beaches. The Englesman, Long Meadow, Eucalyptus and Enchanted Loop trails will give you more views of the green countryside, with a dazzling ocean backdrop. Be sure to visit Wilder Ranch State Park for an amazing weekend getaway from the city!

72-75. Get close to nature at these 4 beautiful spots outside of City, recommended by San Franciscans, for San Franciscans

Right, here’s the other half of our list of nature spots, this time outside of San Francisco. These 4 nearby spots provide a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of City life, and they come highly recommended by fellow SF residents from our Instagram poll.

  • Tiburon
  • Hawk Hill
  • Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Mt. Tamalpais State Park


Food and drink spots to try out

76. Enjoy a delicious boba tea from this new sparkly food truck

You can now order your favorite drink from a spectacular, glittering food truck called Virtual Teakup, located in SPARK Social SF. The Mission Bay food truck park is already a local favorite, but this new sparkly addition has really caught our eye!

SPARK is located at Parklab Gardens, at 601 Mission Bay Boulevard North in San Francisco. Stop by or make a reservation from Monday through Saturday, 11am – 9pm, or on Sundays 11am – 5pm.


77-86. Sip your way through these 10 unbeatable craft breweries

Heads up, craft beer aficionados! Your favorite local spots have been brewing up a storm, and with both indoor and outdoor dining options opening up, it’s the perfect time to try some awesome new draughts straight from the barrel. This was a pretty ambitious task, to say the least, but we’ve done our best to round up our 10 favorite breweries in the City.

  • Laughing Monk Brewing
  • Anchor Brewing Company
  • Woods Beer & Wine Company
  • Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
  • 21st Amendment Brewery
  • Black Hammer Brewing
  • Barebottle Brewing Company
  • Local Brewing Company
  • Seven Stills Brewery & Distillery
  • Standard Deviant Brewing


87-92. Try these 6 new food stalls at La Cocina’s enormous multicultural marketplace

La Cocina is a nonprofit organization in San Francisco that works to solve inequality for business owners who are women, immigrants and people of color. Their latest project, the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace, was announced nearly 5 years ago as a massive food market for the Tenderloin. Construction had nearly finished on the 7,000 square foot space when the pandemic struck last year, so after another year of delay, La Cocina finally opened in April.

The marketplace will feature 7 eateries in a variety of different cuisines, all run by women of color. Six of them are currently open:

  • BougCali (Creole bodega)
  • Estrellita’s Snacks(Salvadorian)
  • Kayma (Algerian)
  • Los Cilantros (Mexican)
  • Mi Morena(Mexican)
  • Teranga (Senegalese)
  • OPENING SOON: Bini’s Kitchen (Nepalese)

93. Enjoy the nation’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal at this SF restaurant

You can get a 3-course meal for about $45 at State Bird Provisions, a local American restaurant helmed by Chef Proprietors Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski. It has an exquisite, ever-changing selection of unique American cuisine including roasted quail, a pork belly “salad,” and other luxurious treats.

Find State Bird Provisions at 1529 Fillmore Street in San Francisco. Note that State Bird Provisions does not currently offer takeout or delivery options! Enjoy a Michelin meal al fresco Wednesday through Friday from 5pm to 9:30pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 4pm to 9:30pm.


94-103. Enjoy a romantic meal out of the house on one of these 10 magical 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.

  • Fable (Californian)
  • Coqueta (Spanish)
  • La Mar Cebicheria Peruana (Peruvian)
  • Charmaine’s (Cocktail bar)
  • Foreign Cinema (Californian/Mediterranean)
  • Waterbar (Seafood)
  • Zazie (French)
  • 25 Lusk (American)
  • El Techo (Latin American Street Food)
  • Dirty Habit (New American)


104. Enjoy a luxurious high tea at this fairytale cafe in San Jose

Enjoy high tea under a canopy of pink roses, gold chandeliers, and twisting vines in this show-stopping San Jose gem. Whether you’re an Instagram fiend trying to get the perfect shot, or you just want to treat yourself to an unforgettable café experience, you have got to put K Café Patisserie & Tea House on your list.

Find K Café Patisserie & Tea House at 923 S Bascom Ave in San Jose. They are open Wednesday through Sunday from 9am to 8pm.


[Featured Image: @hiker.hustle via Instagram]

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