10 Things to Do in San Francisco in Summer

Are you thinking of visiting San Francisco in summer? You won't regret it, it is one of the best times to visit this pearl on the West Coast of the United States.

Nicolas Reffray

Nicolas Reffray

10 min read

10 Things to Do in San Francisco in Summer

San Francisco | ©Athena

With its steep streets, beautiful Victorian architecture and myriad attractions, San Francisco is a city not to be missed. There is truly so much to see and do in San Francisco. If you add to that touring the bay, Golden Gate Park and Chinatown with one of the best temperatures you could ask for, the result is unbeatable.

In this article I will tell you what are the best activities to do in this beautiful city in summer. San Francisco is full of activities to do outdoors and the weather is amazing to tour it on foot, or aboard its picturesque streetcars.

1. Take a bike tour

Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge| ©Roland Tanglao
Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge| ©Roland Tanglao

There's nothing like touring a city by bike. The pleasant summer weather invites you to enjoy the green spaces, and believe me, San Francisco has some of the most beautiful ones. Can you imagine crossing the Golden Gate Bridge by bike?

I recommend it, and then you can also get to Golden Gate Park, one of the most incredible green lungs of the city that you can't miss.

It is one of the largest parks in the United States, even bigger than Central Park in New York. Here you will find some pleasant surprises, such as the Conservatory of Flowers, the California Academy of Science or the Deyoung Museum of Art, beautiful places that you can not miss.

Note that, during the summer, some of the best museums in San Francisco are absolutely free, reason enough to pay them a visit.

If you're in good shape, you can bike to the bay itself and enjoy some of the best views of San Francisco, or ride to the town of Sausalito and take a break to rest. As you can see, everything in San Francisco is much better in the summer.

Book a San Francisco Bike Tour

2. See the San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants| ©Travis Wise
San Francisco Giants| ©Travis Wise

Another good opportunity to enjoy the city in summer is to go see the San Francisco Giants, the local baseball team.

If you have never seen a baseball game in the United States, you cannot miss a visit to Oracle Park stadium, where you will feel part of the fervor that invades its thousands of fans. You will be able to live the experience of watching live one of the most typically American sports.

Baseball, along with basketball , ice hockey and soccer, are the favorite sports of Americans, and having the chance to spend an afternoon out doors watching a game and savoring a classic hot dog is truly unparalleled.

Summer is the ideal time for this activity, since temperatures are optimal and very occasionally it rains.

This is an ideal plan to enjoy with the whole family.

Reserve San Francisco Giants tickets

3. Enjoy the LGBT Pride Parade and Festival

LGBT Parade, San Francisco| ©Scarlet Sappho
LGBT Parade, San Francisco| ©Scarlet Sappho

San Francisco is one of the forerunner cities of the LGBT equality movement and that's why you can't miss the incredible Pride Parade that takes place every year, during the last weekend of June.

In this colorful party you can celebrate diversity while enjoying various performances, live music, street stores and much more. The parade starts at Market and 2nd and goes all the way to 8th.

Believe me, experiencing the LGBT Pride Parade in San Francisco is a truly unique experience, where the party takes over the streets to shout loudly that we are all equal and different at the same time.

Book a tour of San Francisco's Gay District

4. Experience the Sausalito Art Festival

Sculpture at the Sausalito Art Festival| ©Ralphman
Sculpture at the Sausalito Art Festival| ©Ralphman

Enjoy one of the most important outdoor art events in the United States: the Sausalito Arts Festival. For two days artists from all over the country and the world come together in an unprecedented event.

Here you can enjoy art exhibits, great food, drink and music shows, all in a truly beautiful setting. Take advantage of the day to tour Sausalito, this charming seaside town.

In addition to the open air show, there have recently been several art shows in the Sausalito Center for the Arts building downtown. It is well worth a visit.

Useful information about Sausalito

  • Location: 2400 Bridgeway, Sausalito
  • Price: free
  • Date: Labor Day weekend

Book your Sausalito tour

5. Visit the traditional Chinatown

Chinatown, Grant Avenue, San Francisco| ©Ken Lund
Chinatown, Grant Avenue, San Francisco| ©Ken Lund

Visiting this charming neighborhood in summer is an excellent idea, since you will be able to enjoy its streets, parks and stores to the fullest with the pleasant temperatures that San Francisco offers at this time of the year.

It is one of the most traditional and historic neighborhoods of Chinese culture in the United States. It has often been compared to New York's Chinatown, but it must be said that both are truly beautiful and picturesque.

Its streets and alleys, its typical architecture, the spicy smell in the air and the thousands of Mandarin signs are part of that beautiful chaos impossible to miss.

Ross Alley and its traditional charm

I assure you that walking through places like Spofore Alley or Ross Alley in summer will make you feel transported to Beijing. Ross Alley is the oldest alley in the neighborhood, extremely narrow, its walls are covered with incredible murals that portray the life of the Chinese community in the city. It has been perfectly preserved since the times of the famous gold rush.

Also, in this alley is the classic fortune cookie factory, where for a few dollars they can make personalized cookies, with the message you want.

Visit the Cathedral

There is a lot to see and do in San Francisco's Chinatown. Here you will find, for example, California's first cathedral, Old Saint's Mary Cathedral, which survived the successive earthquakes that hit the city.

Its neo-Gothic style is truly beautiful, and is crowned by large crucifixes. One of the most striking details is the inscription on the clock tower, which reads: Son, observe the time, and fly from evil.

Visit the Tin How temple

Another must-see, which won't take you more than a few minutes, is the Tin How Temple, the oldest temple in the city.

It is a beautiful Taoist temple dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu, whose name in Cantonese is Tin How.

Although the place does not allow you to take pictures, I can assure you that walking around it is like being in China, its decorations and the feeling of peace that is perceived in its interior are something truly unmissable.

Walk around Portsmouth Square

With the pleasant summer temperatures, parks are always a good option. In Chinatown I recommend you head to Portsmouth Square, where you will see a multitude of people gathered playing a variety of games.

From Go to Xiàngqí or Mahjong, here in this small China, board games are a social event. Don't be surprised to find a group of more than ten observers discussing a game that is taking place right there, as if they themselves were part of the game.

6. Fillmore Jazz Festival

Fillmore Festival| ©Stephen
Fillmore Festival| ©Stephen

If you are one of those who enjoy good jazz, San Francisco has one of the best festivals of the genre, the Fillmore Jazz Festival. Since 1986 it has been held in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, and each year it welcomes more than 100,000 jazz enthusiasts who come to enjoy two days of pure jazz.

It is the most important jazz festival on the West Coast, with performances by some of the most renowned figures in jazz, and where you can also enjoy good drinks and good food, as well as various art exhibitions and jam sessions completely free of charge.

The festival always coincides with the weekend of the Independence Day of the United States (July 4th), so if you are in San Francisco on these dates, you can not miss this traditional event.

It takes place on Fillmore Street (hence its name), along 12 streets, between Eddy Street and Jackson Street.

7. Run in the San Francisco Marathon

San Francisco Marathon| ©Jun Seita
San Francisco Marathon| ©Jun Seita

San Francisco has something for everyone, gastronomy, beautiful green spaces, art, music and, of course, sports. The San Francisco Marathon has been held every year since 1977.

With a total of more than 42 kilometers (26.2 miles), you can get a great workout while enjoying some incredible views of the entire bay.

The San Francisco Marathon is a highly anticipated event for sports lovers, so you will see that it brings together many enthusiasts. In its route you will pass by the bay, Sausalito, see the imposing Golden Gate Bridge, and visit some of the most interesting points of San Francisco.

Do not worry if you are not in your best physical condition, you do not need to complete the route, since there are also shorter sections for those who want to join for 5 or 10 kilometers.

This is a highly recommended experience, to feel part of the community and enjoy a day of healthy living outdoors. You can register through the official website of the race. The event is completely free.

8. 4th of July Celebration with fireworks in the bay

Independence Day View of San Francisco| ©Marcin Wichary
Independence Day View of San Francisco| ©Marcin Wichary

Join one of the main celebrations for Americans: Independence Day.

Celebrated on July 4th, every year throughout the country there are a lot of festivities and celebrations.

I recommend spending the day outdoors in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, where you can enjoy entertainment, musical shows, food and drink.

But of course, in San Francisco, the crown jewel is the traditional fireworks show that takes place over the bay. I advise you to get a blanket and some food and drink to improvise a picnic, and enjoy one of the most American events of all.

You will get tired of seeing flags everywhere. And the American people are one of the most patriotic.

9. Enjoy the North Beach Festival

North Beach Festival| ©Jill Clardy
North Beach Festival| ©Jill Clardy

The North Beach Festival is the oldest street festival in the United States. It takes place in the North Beach District, known as Little Italy because of the large amount of Italian immigration it received in the past. It is one of San Francisco's most historic neighborhoods.

Here flourished the so-called Beat Generation, with figures such as Allen Ginsberg or Jack Kerouac, transcendental not only in the panorama of American literature of the twentieth century, but also of all subsequent world literature.

An ideal event to visit with children, as it is two days full of shows, fun, good weather, a festive and cheerful atmosphere, several stages with musical numbers of various styles, and much more.

The festival takes place mainly in Columbus and Grant Avenue, although it extends to several streets around.

10. Outside Lands Music Festival

Outside Lands Music Festival| ©Steve
Outside Lands Music Festival| ©Steve

One of the largest and most important music festivals that take place in San Francisco during the summer. The Outside Lands Festival takes place over three days in the huge Golden Gate Park.

With artists such as Mumford & Sons, Elton John, Weezer, Post Malone or Green Day, this event takes place every year, gathering a huge crowd of music lovers. You can enjoy the most incredible national and international stars, delicious food and drinks, fairs and stalls.

The event has different stages with the most varied musical styles, including a sector with dj's and the most select of electronic music. This is an excellent event to enjoy alone, with friends or family.

Useful information

  • Location: Golden Gate Park
  • Hours: 12pm to 10pm
  • Price: 175 U$S per day or 409 U$S for three days
  • Date: early August

Some tips for your summer trip to San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge| ©Pom
Golden Gate Bridge| ©Pom

Before I say goodbye, I would like to leave you with some useful tips to keep in mind when organizing your trip to San Francisco.

What kind of weather can I expect in San Francisco in the summer?

The weather in San Francisco in summer is extremely pleasant, with an average of 20 degrees Celsius and almost no rain. It is the ideal time to visit this beautiful city on the west coast of the United States. The days are quite long, so you will be able to enjoy them to the fullest.

What should I pack to visit San Francisco in the summer?

With such a mild climate, you won't need to bring warm jackets or sweaters, that's for sure. You could include some light jackets, t-shirts, jeans and some shorts or light dresses, if you are a woman.

Of course, include comfortable shoes, you may have already noticed that in San Francisco it is best to walk everywhere, so if you don't have comfortable shoes, you are going to be in trouble.

What is the best way to get around San Francisco?

San Francisco is a walking city. Although if walking is not your thing, there are many means of transportation, from buses and cabs, to cable cars and the traditional streetcars.

I recommend mainly the latter for a different and very picturesque experience. Check out the map of the San Francisco streetcar network to find out how to get around the city aboard these charming vehicles. Ticket prices start at 2.50 U$S and there are several lines.

Is it expensive to stay in San Francisco in the summer?

San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, so yes, staying in this West Coast city will cost you a few bucks.

However, let me tell you that there are always options for every budget. You may have to move a bit away from Downtown or stay in a hostel instead of a hotel. It's all about finding a way to adapt your budget.

Keep in mind that summer is considered high season, so I recommend that you book your accommodation well in advance, since during the months of June, July, August and September is quite saturated.