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What To Do in San Francisco in May

Updated: January 23, 2024
 By Britt

This post covers the best things to do in San Francisco in May, including nighttime, free, as well as family-friendly events and activities, updated for 2024.


This section features our top 10 activities to enjoy in San Francisco throughout May. Be sure to check out our master post, Things to Do in San Francisco, for even more ideas.

For tips on the most popular activities in San Francisco, check out our other popular posts: 

1. Catch a Concert

The Bay Area has some of the most popular venues in the world.

It attracts many music artists which means you'll have plenty of shows to choose from in May.

Rock/Pop Concerts

Classical/Opera Music Concerts

Music Festivals

Music, Arts, and Food Festivals

Check here for even more concerts in the Bay Area this May.

2. Attend a Sports Event

In May, baseball is in full swing, and basketball and hockey are also in their playoff seasons.

If you are looking for an evening activity or a family-friendly event, seeing a game may be the solution for you.





Find out what other sporting events are taking place in the San Francisco Area when you are in town.

3. Attend a Performance

The San Francisco area hosts a number of productions with talented people.

You are sure to find a number of musicals, plays, comedy shows, and more being performed in May.




See if there are other performances in the San Francisco area this month.

4. Take a Mother's Day Cruise

Mother's Day is on May 12thy, 2024. Take mom out onto the water for a Brunch Cruise for nice food and an even nicer view.

If you are on a budget, you might want to consider heading to the Bay Area Book Festival which is taking place on Mother's Day weekend.

Alternatively, you might also want to visit the Conservatory of Flowers or perhaps even the Japanese Tea Garden to enjoy some of the beautiful plant life that is surely in bloom at this time of year.

5. Consider a Tourist Pass

If you want to get the most bang for your buck in San Francisco, you might consider purchasing a tourist pass.

These passes are so value-packed that once you’ve done a couple of activities, everything else on the card doesn’t cost you a dime!

The following attractions are included on most of the tourist attraction passes in this city:

  • California Academy of Sciences
  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
  • Walt Disney Family Museum
  • California’s Great America
  • Golden Gate Bay Cruise
  • Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • San Francisco Zoo
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Oracle Park Tour
  • Exploratorium
  • And more!

Depending on which pass you choose and how you use it, you should be able to save at least 20% – 50% off or more.

For more information, please read our post covering San Francisco tourist attraction passes.

6. Carnaval San Francisco

On May 25th & 26th, 2024, experience global cuisine, arts & crafts, international dance and music, and more at the 46th Annual Carnaval in San Francisco.

This event is free to attend. For more free activities and events, see the free section below.

7. Go On a Walking Tour

May's nice weather makes it an excellent time to take a walking tour. We offer a number of pay-what-you-wish walking tours in San Francisco.

Free San Francisco Walking Tours

Here are a few of the tours you may want to consider during the spring:

We also offer self-guided walking tours and GPS-enabled audio tours for those who want to save even more money or just explore the city at their own pace.

Check our list of San Francisco walking tours for even more excellent options to consider.

8. Enjoy a Night of Live Comedy

There will be a handful of notable comedians performing in the San Francisco area throughout the month of May.

Comedy Shows

Check here for tickets to May comedy shows with the following comedians:

  • Ronny Chieng | May 11th
  • Daniel Sloss | May 12th
  • Jim Jefferies | May 30th

Comedy Clubs

9. Visit Alcatraz

One of San Francisco's most famous attractions, this historic high-security prison can be visited by taking a tour.

Read our full post on Alcatraz tours and tickets.

If you are planning on going to Alcatraz as well as visiting other popular attractions in San Francisco, you can save money on your Alcatraz ticket by getting a tourist attraction pass.

10. Take a Food Tour

San Francisco has a diverse food scene and you may find it hard to narrow down the options of where and what to eat.

Taking a food tour gives you the opportunity to taste several cuisines. Secret Food Tours offers an outing you’ll enjoy.

During their food tour, you’ll have a chance to sample a variety of great dishes including a Mission-style burrito, clam chowder, lumpia, pupusa, locally made ice cream, and more.

This tour is 3 – 3 ½ hours long and they keep it to a maximum of 12 guests, ensuring that everyone gets a chance to try the food and it’s never too crowded.

Purchase tickets or learn more.

For even more ideas on how to spend your time in San Francisco, see our in-depth post on things to do in San Francisco all year round.


Below is a list of some things you can enjoy at night in San Francisco in May.

Check out the other sections in this post for items that also take place in the evening, like sports events, concerts, and theater performances.

For suggestions on other nighttime activities, see our post on things to do at night in San Francisco

Take a Nighttime Bus Tour

San Francisco is beautiful during the day and is more so at night. A bus tour at night is perfect if you have spent all day on your feet.

Just sit back and let someone else do the work while you take in the views of the city, lit up and shimmering.

Go to a Museum with Late Hours

There are several San Francisco museums that stay open as late as 10 pm on certain nights. Many have a DJ and bars to make it a party atmosphere

For example, the California Academy of Sciences has NightLife events on Thursdays from 6-10 pm. They hold lectures and play live music.

See our full list of museums with late hours.

Critical Mass

On the last Friday of each month, a free nighttime bike ride is held by Critical Mass.

Need a bike? You can rent bikes all over the city. We recommend rental companies we think have great deals and that get rave reviews in our post on the best San Francisco bike tours.

Be sure to look at our post on things to do at night in San Francisco for many more ideas.


It’s relatively easy to find free activities in San Francisco--just walking around the city and taking in the sights is one of them!

For even more free activities, see our guide to free things to do in San Francisco.

Tour a Fortune Cookie Factory

At San Francisco's Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown, you can take a free tour of the facility to see how these unique cookies are made. At the end of the tour, you can grab a free sample! 

If you want to see more of Chinatown, take our pay-what-you-wish Chinatown walking tour.

Hear a Free Concert in the Park

Every Sunday in May, enjoy a free concert at the Spreckels Temple of Music in Golden Gate Park.

May concerts will include a variety of music including Polish, Armenian, and a patriotic theme for Memorial Day.

Concerts begin at 1:00 pm and typically end between 2:30 pm and 2:45 pm. 

Memorial Day at the Presidio 

Every Memorial Day, the Presidio Officers' Club honors the one million American soldiers who lost their lives during their military service with a Memorial Day ceremony.

If you do go, why not spend some time after the ceremony exploring the area? 

Our post on things to do in the Presidio can help guide you.

Looking for more suggestions? See our post on free things to do in San Francisco.


San Francisco is very family-friendly and welcoming to all. Below are a few more kid-friendly activities for May.

You might want to check out our master guide on things to do with kids in San Francisco for ideas for any time of year.

Children’s Day Festival in Japantown

Early in May, bring the whole family to Japantown’s Peace Plaza for a day of cultural performances, arts & crafts, bounce houses, games, prizes, and more!

The festival usually takes place from 11 am - 4 pm and is free to attend.

Musée Méchanique

Tucked into a warehouse in the back of Fisherman’s Wharf is the Musée Méchanique, a large penny arcade hall with gaming equipment that dates back to the early twentieth century.

It’s a great place for kids (and adults!) to visit after eating lunch at the wharf. Admission is free.

See the Golden State Park Bison

If your kids love animals, you can visit the Bison Paddock in Golden State Park. 

A small herd of bison has been in the park since the 1800s as part of conservation efforts for the breed.

Now, bison are no longer in danger of becoming extinct but are still a great feature of the park.

See their website for information.

Visit the Cable Car Museum

At this free museum, you and your family will see many historic cable cars, mechanical exhibits, and photographs.


It is a kid-friendly museum, as they will be able to see cable cars work and even ring one of the famous cable car bells.

See the museum's website to plan your visit. 

Visit the Sea Lions!

Catch the sea lions at Pier 39 before they head out to sea near the end of the month for their annual mating period.

Sea Lions Pier 39 San Francisco

The sea lions rest near J dock at Pier 39 at all hours of the day. Be warned--they’re pretty stinky!

Our post on things to do with kids in San Francisco has many suggestions for all times of the year.


About The Author


Britt is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and has spent 25 years in this magical city. He has traveled to over 30 countries, and has never found a place he loves as much as this one! If you come to San Francisco, you might join one of Britt's tours of the city. A graduate of the University of Maryland and University of Southern California, he has been leading tours for Free Tours by Foot since 2015.
Updated: January 23rd, 2024
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