We at the SFhotlist Collective do not want you to be bored this summer. To make sure that doesn’t happen, we’ve put together some San Francisco summertime fun ideas you can do by yourself, with kids and family, or as a couple if you’re looking for a little romance.
Summertime in San Francisco may be filled with fog instead of sunshine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in on some traditional summertime fun. Not at all! A beach day may be rare here in SF, but there are activities so fabulous that a day on the beach might seem almost boring in comparison (Besides, since it’s San Francisco, you may be able to squeeze in an extra beach day or two come February.).
Let’s hop to it! Some of our favorite San Francisco summertime fun activities:
With its rolling green lawns, leafy trees, and waterfalls, Yerba Buena Gardens is an oasis in downtown San Francisco. People can be found picnicking there all year long, but this local hot spot gets extra festive in the summertime with its free weekly performances. Showcasing everything from clowns to opera, the festival has something for everyone.
Weekend showtimes vary, but there is a guaranteed performance every Thursday during lunch. Some of the acts in the lineup this year include the Okinawan Folk Ensemble, Kally Price Old Blues and Jazz Band, and a variety of world fusion music performances. Simply pack a lunch, spread out a blanket on the grass, and enjoy!
Another weekly treat is the Stern Grove Music Festival, which is currently in its 78th year. The seating fills up fast, so go early if you want to grab a good spot, although there is something kind of magical about sitting up on the hill underneath the eucalyptus trees.
Stern Grove is a fairytale-like forest that should be on the top of everyone’s sightseeing list anyway, but this far flung gem–it’s out by the zoo–is even more enchanting with music filling the air. The festival runs until August 16th and there are some great performances to see, such as the San Francisco Ballet and the gifted lyricist Talib Kweli. Admission is free and you can a performance every summer Sunday at 2 p.m.
San Francisco has a farmers market every day of the week all year-round, but there is an even greater selection in the summer. It’s also when you’ll find the greatest variety of fruits and veggies. Tomatoes, strawberries, and cherries, oh my! There’s free admission, of course, and plenty of entertainment to be had by local musicians busking for change. These aren’t ordinary street performers either–the farmers markets curate their entertainment so that you’ll only be serenaded by the best guitarists, drummers, and vocalists while you’re shopping the stands.
Going to the farmers market is a great way to do some sightseeing while you’re buying your groceries for the week, too. Peruse the little shops and take in the vistas of the Bay Bridge at the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market, enjoy a stroll by the Marina and watch the sailboats glide across the bay at the Fort Mason market, and pop in at the San Francisco public library on your way to the Heart of the City Farmers Market at the Civic Center. Of course, one of our favorite farmers markets is the Noe Valley Farmers Market, with its great kid-friendly vibe.
San Francisco’s libraries have dozens of free events offered in their summer activities. There are reading programs for kids that include prizes, literary readings for adults, and curated acts (like lasso performers) that you won’t find anywhere else. Families can especially take advantage of story times geared towards babies and toddlers, but there are also events and classes offered to teens and adults. The main library website contains a list of activities offered at every library in the city. A visit to the library is also a good excuse to pick up a book to cozy up with when the summer fog makes you want to stay inside.
A stroll through the lush and vibrant San Francisco Botanical Garden in the heart of Golden Gate Park might make you feel summery even on the foggiest of days, especially if you’re snuggled up with someone else. Admission is free for locals and $7 for out of town visitors.
The gardens are a great place to see some wildlife, too. You can watch the turtles sunbathing on the rocks at the main pond, see the ducks and geese meandering along the waterways, or catch a glimpse of butterflies and hummingbirds. Squirrels and chipmunks abound, as well, but don’t give into their adorable begging; the garden warns against feeding the animals.
In addition to the usual favorites, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is also hosting an art exhibit featuring Ernest Clayton wildflower images in the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture until August 31st. The collection showcases prints of watercolor images of California native plants.
Move over bar hopping, ice cream hopping is where it’s at on a summer day! Some of the best ice cream in the world can be found in San Francisco. Most creameries are hip to the summer weather, too, and offer indoor seating so you can enjoy your cone without catching cold.
Some recommended stops on your hop are Three Twins in the Lower Haight, Bi-Rite Creamery right off Dolores Park, Humphry Slocombe on 24th Street, DeLise Dessert Cafe by Fisherman’s Wharf, and Xanath Ice Cream on Valencia, or the newly-opened Smitten at Fillmore on California. Of course, if you’ve got your heart set on an adults-only vibe, check out The Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley and indulge in one of their ice cream float libations.
The above summer activities are some of our top recommendations, but San Francisco has plenty more to offer. The famous quote “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco” is really only partially true. Warm days do happen! When a hot summertime day strikes San Francisco, drop what you’re doing, grab a friend, and get out to one of the many beaches. Sunbathing in the parks is a favorite pastime for locals, too. What could be better than getting a locally sourced, organic ice cream creation, heading out a few steps to Dolores Park, and taking in the views?
Fog or shine, San Francisco is a great place to be.
If you’re looking for something more serious to do this summer–like buy or sell a home–reach out. I’ll be glad to help!