Summer is upon us. And for some reason, even though it happens every year, the summer season — much like the holiday season, which also happens every year — always feels like a big occasion, something to celebrate and start making resolutions around (e.g., “This summer, I’m really gonna use that National Parks Pass that I bought”). It’s an optimistic sort of celebration because we often don’t even get to enjoy summer weather for most of the time it’s the summer season in San Francisco. But that doesn’t stop us from pursuing all kinds of outdoorsy, summer-typical activities to ring in the months of June, July, and August.
We’ve compiled a big, by-no-means-exhaustive, in-no-particular-order list of activities to go big this summer in San Francisco (and surrounding environs). You could treat it as a literal checklist or just as a bunch of ideas to kickstart your own ideas around what constitutes a summer list of must-dos.
Happy summer from us to you, fellow fair-weather-summer San Franciscan.
75 THINGS TO DO IN (& AROUND) SAN FRANCISCO THIS SUMMER:
- Slather on the sunscreen and participate in a traveling party on two wheels, from Golden Gate Park to the Mission District, courtesy of the Bicycle Music Festival.
- Observe the solstice at the non-pagan-friendly pagan Summer Solstice Celebration at Ocean Beach.
- March, dance, advocate, and celebrate with pride at SF Pride and at the smorgasbord of accompanying parties and events happening all weekend long, including the Dyke March, The House of Babes party, Big Gay Birthday, and in Oakland, Mugsy Pride Weekend Pop-Up Wine Bar.
- Celebrate a literary landmark — and find your summer reading while you’re at it — at City Lights’ 60th Birthday Party. You can also continue to celebrate City Lights Bookstore all summer long with poetry readings and more at Sundays in Kerouac Alley.
- Attend film screenings and events put on by the currently-running 37th annual Frameline festival, the largest LGBTQ film festival in the nation.
- Learn something new about design at a San Francisco Design Week event.
- Bring a blanket, a couple of bottles of wine, and a picnic to at least one Stern Grove Festival concert this summer.
- Indulge in one big boozy (but classy!) wine weekend at The Golden Glass Slow Food fundraiser on June 29 and Pinot Days at Fort Mason on June 30.
- Find your new favorite summer outfit and/or vinyl at the Score! Pop-Up Swap.
- Buy an instant camera and film at Photobooth and document the rest of your summer with instant film.
- Alternatively or in addition, make it a goal to take photo booth strips at every opportunity. It’s wedding season, after all.
- Make a scavenger hunt checklist of knickknacks (the more obscure, the better), and cross them off one by one at the Treasure Island Flea.
- Attend Outside Lands — full stop. Sir Paul McCartney. Nine Inch Nails. Kaskade. Hall & Oates. Anuhea. Pretty Lights. Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Head and the Heart. Young the Giant. D’Angelo. The National. Willie Nelson. All in our collective backyard.
- Go to a drive-in movie.
- Do some old-fashioned summer bowling at the newfangled Mission Bowling Club.
- Kick off a summer music season at one of the best live venues in the Bay Area, The New Parish in Oakland, starting with thePeople Oakland.
- Find your flow every Saturday morning from August 3 – September 14 as Yoga Rocks the Park takes over the Great Lawn at Fort Mason.
- Let your inner child roam free in the closet-sized participatory art space that is Frankenart Mart. On their Hot Dog Days, you can fuel your creativity with a free hot dog or two; summer and hot dogs go together like Christmas and eggnog.
- Pet farm animals, stroll the Carnival Midway, eat fried stuff, ride the Ferris wheel, and bet on a horse at the 101st annual Alameda County Fair.
- Practice the time-honored skill of creating the perfect mixtape and bring your submission to the next San Francisco Mixtape Society event — look out for announcements about their next yet-to-be-scheduled event.
- Catch a screening of Jaws at the Castro Theatre on July 3rd. Is there anything that screams “summer” more than screaming at the grandaddy of all summer blockbusters?
- Plan a great white shark cage expedition on the Farallon Islands (about 30 miles off of the coast of San Francisco) if you feel so inspired after all of the carnivorous teeth-gnashing in Jaws. The cage diving season begins in September, and you don’t need to be a certified diver to participate. A milder alternative: go whale- and bird-watching or take an eco-tour instead, which is available year-round.
- Holler yer lungs out for your favorite team on the flat track as the Bay Area Derby (B.A.D.) Girls have a double-header bout (Richmond vs. Berkeley and San Francisco vs. Oakland) on July 13 and gear up for the B.A.D. Championships on August 17.
- Show your support all summer long to Virginia Ramos, a.k.a. The Tamale Lady, whose 15-year tamale business is now in the process of getting up to code after she recently got shut down by the Health Department for using a non-commercial kitchen. Pending updates, you’ll shortly be able to find her where you always did: vending her wares at Zeitgeist.
- Enjoy some fluffy herbed scrambled eggs with some stately breakfast companions at the San Francisco Zoo’s Breakfast with the Big Cats.
- Learn to make cheese, brew beer, pickle things, cultivate mushrooms, and more with 18 Reasons, the Institute for Urban Homesteading, and Happy Girl Kitchen.
- Bring your own booze to a summertime farm-to-table pop-up dinner at Happy Girl Kitchen, where Chef Matt Millea highlights seasonal ingredients and local farms.
- Have a full-on tourist’s day at Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf: devour some clam chowder bowls, tip a busker, buy a stupid hat, and get the shit scared out of you by the Bushman.
- Boogie down at SF IndieFest’s last Roller Disco Party of the summer before the shindig relocates to the Black Rock Desert.
- Visit Paxton Gate and Flora Grubb Gardens to pick up plants and inspiration for a green-thumb season.
- Take a walk in Muir Woods and then sit down to a Hobbit meal at the Tudor-style Pelican Inn.
- Go crabbing. And then crab-feasting.
- Celebrate the summer, German-style, at the not-to-be-missed Tourist Club SF’s Sommerfest. (If you can’t make it to Sommerfest, journey to the Tourist Club on another guest weekend; though the Tourist Club is, in fact, an exclusive clubhouse for members, it becomes a public German beer garden on at least one weekend per month.) The Tourist Club is accessible via an easy one-mile hike through the woods and vistas of Mt. Tamalpais State Park, making the Tourist Club about both the journey and the destination.
- Take off on a weekend road trip. San Francisco is within half a day’s drive from Pinnacles National Park, Harbin Hot Springs, Mt. Shasta, Lake Tahoe, Point Reyes, Monterey, Bishop and the Buttermilks, Yosemite, Big Sur, rafting on the Yuba River or swinging on a rope swing at Bass Lake.
- Wander out to the Wanderlust Festival, where yoga retreat meets rock concert at Squaw Valley.
- Have a leisurely day featuring a fresh loaf from Tartine, a scoop of ice cream from Bi-Rite, and a sunny patch of grass in Dolores Park.
- Celebrate SF’s independent music and food scenes at the Phono del Sol Music and Food Festival.
- Make this the summer of making things. You can get started by making things at Workshop SF, courtesy of DIY queen Kelly Malone, who’s back in business organizing workshops after a brief hiatus.
- Malone is also back to organizing Indie Mart events, artisan markets where you can drink Pabst and buy things that other people made.
- The Renegade Craft Fair is another great opportunity to buy things that other people made.
- Find further artistic and DIY inspiration with Brooklyn Art Co-Op’s traveling Sketchbook Project 2013 Tour.
- Go fly a kite at the visually spectacular and generally baby-pleasing Berkeley Kite Festival.
- Make a reservation, pack a picnic, and shuck your own oysters at the Hog Island Oyster Co. farm in Marshall.
- Rock out at the inaugural Mount Tam Jam, the first major concert event to be held on the slopes of Mt. Tam in decades.
- Design your own San Francisco brewery tour; our city’s list of breweries extends far beyond Anchor and Speakeasy. To guide you in your brave quest, turn to the San Francisco Brewers Guild.
- Mingle with celebrated chefs, brewers, mixologists, chocolatiers, and more at the SF Chefs food, wine, and spirits festival.
- And let’s not forget street food. The beloved SF Street Food Festival returns on August 17 with all of the street food you can fit into your face.
- Put on your dancing shoes and swing your night away at the Summer Swing Spectacular.
- Enjoy some very fine jazz for free at the Fillmore Jazz Festival, billed as the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast.
- Get down to Redd Kross, Jonathan Richman, and Shannon & the Clams as Burger Records throw their biggest Burger Boogaloo yet at Oakland’s Mosswood Park Amphitheater.
- Catch Sonny and the Sunsets performing their “doo-wop laden, beach-ready tunes” at The New Parish on July 12.
- Have a Golden Gate Park day. Encompassing a whopping 1,017 acres, there is much to explore in this mini-city of an urban park, including the Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden, buffalo paddock, and Strawberry Hill. End the day at NightLife at the Academy or Friday Nights at the de Young.
- Explore a darker side of the summer season with Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy, in which the filmmaker explores three unsettling, interrelated stories about sex tourism on Kenyan beaches, a summer vacation spent doing missionary work, and a summer diet camp in the Austrian countryside.
- Take in a warm summer night in the Mission with beer, sticky bar tables, and Classical Revolution.
- Take a jaunt down to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Don’t bother with breath mints. Just embrace the full sensory experience of Garlic with a capital G.
- Bring your harmonica and an air of soulful reflection to the AmericanaramA Festival of Music featuring Bob Dylan and Wilco.
- Head to Monterey to see Modest Mouse, Passion Pit, Neko Case, MGMT, and 30 other bands at the two-day First City Festival.
- Participate in the National Night Out campaign on August 6 by hosting a block party, neighborhood cookout or get-together.
- Grab a sandwich from Molinari’s and have a North Beach picnic at Washington Square Park.
- Cuddle up at Film Night in the Park outdoor screenings. This season’s offerings include Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Princess Bride, Singin’ in the Rain, and Moonrise Kingdom.
- Learn to identify wild local edibles on a wild food walk with forageSF.
- Go to Giants games all summer long. Baseball, booze, sunshine.
- Have a nocturnal adventure with the good folk of the San Francisco Midnight Mystery Ride, where nothing is guaranteed except that you start the journey at 12 a.m. on your bike.
- Become intimately familiar with the good eats to be had at SOMA StrEAT Food Park.
- Savor summer fruit to its fullest at Mission Pie, then take a weekend pie/cobbler getaway to Pescadero’s Pie Ranch and Watsonville’s Swanton Berry Farm.
- Embark on a San Francisco ice cream tour, beginning at Humphry Slocombe and ending where you will.
- Bring your bike aboard the ferry and take a ferry ride from the Ferry Building to Jack London Square for Pedalfest.
- Go on an early morning jog from Land’s End along the Great Highway to a well-earned brunch at Outerlands.
- Get lost on purpose. Reserve a spot in the Exploratorium‘s brand-new Tactile Dome at Pier 15, and fully explore Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze at Pier 39.
- Introduce some heat into a foggy evening with Dita Von Teese’s legendary burlesque show at the Fillmore.
- Do a romantic or platonic date amidst the wonders of the Musée Mécanique.
- Monkey around on the climbing walls at Mission Cliffs or at the brand-new Dogpatch Boulders bouldering-only gym.
- Enjoy a cup of Mexican hot chocolate at La Oaxaqeña as the fog rolls in.
- Catch Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z at Candlestick Park.
- Reminisce big time as New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees, and Boyz II Men make two mid-July tour stops at HP Pavilion (OMG!!!). The Backstreet Boys are playing at Concord Pavilion, too, but you’ll have to wait ’til September for that one.
Any suggestions of summer activities you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments!