Summer Bucket List: 15 Must-Do Activities in San Francisco

Including secret rooftop parks, a Ghirardelli Chocolate festival, and the coolest cocktail/coffee bar you could ever imagine.

summer things to do smitten ice cream

photography by PHUONG NGUYEN


Can’t get out of the city? Never fear: Consider this your go-to guide for getting the most out of the season. As part of our 100 Days of Summer package, we'll be giving you tips on how to have the most fun in the sun in five cities across the country. We’ve already brought you the best of NYC, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, but don’t worry–we haven’t forgotten about you, San Francisco.

1. Get your licks at the latest Smitten Ice Cream outpost in Valencia for a made-to-order liquid nitrogen treat.

2. Soak up the tropical vibes at the new Liholiho Yacht Club, or day-trip out to the oft-overlooked Farallon Islands via Boatbound (the Uber of yachts).

3. From June 29 to August 20, don’t miss out on Sophie Calle’s site-responsive show featuring five of her most prominent projects—including “Take Care of Yourself” and “Voir la Mer”—that explore the central narrative around loss and absence. The event will be held at the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture.

4. Eat until your heart’s content at San Francisco’s many food festivals, such as the Gilroy Garlic Festival from July 28-30, the Zucchini Festival from August 19-20, the legendary Eat Drink SF event from August 24-27, and the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival on September 9-10. 

summer things to do secret rooftop parks

photography by SMITH & SMITH LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS


5. Discover one of the city’s many secret rooftop parks that are open to the public, like 150 California Street, 343 Sansome Street, and 100 First Street. 

6. For the perfect date night, head to the Conservatory of Flowers to enjoy their nightly light art installation that celebrates San Francisco’s 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love.

7. Shop for homegoods, contemporary fashion, and jewelry by local artists in the Mission District–San Fran’s trendiest neighborhood. Be sure to check out Reformation, Little Paper Planes, and The Voyager Shop.  

8. Get your brunch on at San Francisco’s best spots, including the famous sliced rye bread at Tartine Bakery & Cafe, the “eggs in jail” entree at Outerlands, and the organic “pop-tarts” at Foreign Cinema.

summer things to do the interval at long now

photography by THE INTERVAL AT LONG NOW


9. The Interval at Long Now is a must if your goal is to scout out the coolest places in San Fran. This quirky bar/coffee shop/event/library in disguise is teeming with creative visuals and hipster decor.

10. Craft lovers, unite: The American Craft Show will be held August 4-6 and feature more than 230 jewelry, clothing, furniture, and home decor artists from across the country. 

11. Stroll through the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden and get a photo op in front of the five-story “Treasure Tower’ Pagoda. Admission is free Monday, Wednesday, and Friday if you enter the park by 10am.

12. Dress in Prohibition-era attire and transport yourself to 1923 for an immersive theatre experience at The Speakeasy. Enjoy old-timey cocktails and casino games like blackjack and roulette with the cast. Make your reservations here.

summer things to do cafe reveille

photography by CAFE REVEILLE


13. Feast on avocado toast, burgers, and/or housemade granola at Cafe Reveille and snap an obligatory photo on their Insta-famous millennial-pink cafe table

14. Dance under the stars at Jack London Square. Every Friday night at 8:30pm, professional dance instructor Bradley Montoya will host a new dance class that’s free to the public. Don’t miss out on happy hour or dinner before lessons begin. 

15. Enjoy a free outdoor movie as a part of SF’s Film Night in the Park Series. See the full schedule of dates and movies here.

Let us know what you're doing this summer in the comments below.

Related reading:
This San Francisco Dream Home Was Designed in 20 Hours
This Office Will Make You Want to Work at Yelp
This is New: This Michelin-Starred Restaurant Uses iPads as Plates

Published on July 13, 2017 - 10:15am EDT

Next Story

DIY a Beaded Chandelier for Less Than $50

Turn a hanging basket into a low-cost, high-impact light fixture.

Read Next Story
from around the web