This post covers the best things to do in San Francisco in August.
We include free, family-friendly, as well as things to do at night, all updated for 2023.
This section features our top 10 activities to enjoy in San Francisco throughout August.
For tips on the most popular activities in San Francisco, check out the following posts:
Also, many of the items listed in our top ten sections are included for free with the purchase of several tourist attraction discount passes.
1. Take a Walking Tour
Our guided walks are free to join and operate on a pay-what-you-like basis, which means you decide what a tour was worth or what you could afford when the tour is over.
2. Enjoy a Concert
San Francisco is one of the most popular destinations for music lovers, and there are always musical artists performing in and around the city.
- Alicia Keys | August 1st | Oakland
- Lil Baby | August 6th | Oakland
- Rod Stewart/Cheap Trick | August 8th | Mountain View
- Greta Van Fleet | August 8th | Oakland
- Lynyrd Skynyrd/ZZ Top | August 10th | Mountain View
- Donny Osmond | August 12th | San Jose
- Drake/21 Savage | August 18th, 19th | San Francisco
- Boy George | August 20th | Concord
- Zach Bryan | August 21st | Oakland
- Foreigner | August 24th | Mountain View
- Boz Scaggs | August 25th, 26th
- Sam Smith | August 27th, 28th
- Chicago | August 29th, 30th | Saratoga
- Beyonce | August 30th | Santa Clara
- Outside Lands | August 11th-13th | Golden Gate Park | Featuring: Lana Del Rey, Megan Thee Stallion, Maggie Rogers, and more
Click here for a complete list of concerts in San Francisco in August.
3. See a Sporting Event
August is a great time to get out, enjoy the sun, and take in the atmosphere of a game!
During August, baseball season is in full swing and American football is beginning its pre-season games.
Note that most of the baseball games take place in the evening.
- San Francisco 49ers | dates TBD
- Hot Wheels Crash Zone Pre-Party | August 5th, 6th
- Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live Glow Party | August 5th
- Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live Glow Party | August 6th
For more nighttime activity ideas, check out our things to do at night section.
If you'd like to see something on the stage, whether that be a theatrical performance or a stand-up comedy show, you'll be able to find it in and around the San Francisco area.
Theatre or Musicals
- Beetlejuice | August 1st-6th | San Jose
- A Chorus Line | August 1st-30th | San Francisco
- TINA - The Tina Turner Musical | August 1st-27th | San Francisco
- Aladdin | August 2nd-13th | San Francisco
- TINA - The Tina Turner Musical | August 29th-30th | San Jose
- Dustin Nickerson | August 2nd | San Jose
- Tiffany Haddish | August 4th-6th | San Jose
- Felipe Esparza | August 10th-13th | San Jose
- Michelle Wolf | August 17th-19th | San Francisco
- Nurse Blake | August 18th-19th | San Jose
- Cirque du Soleil: Corteo | August 23rd-27th | San Francisco
For even more comedy shows in August, check the Stubhub website.
5. Attend a County Fair
There are a number of county fairs taking place in the San Francisco area in August.
These family-friendly events provide a variety of entertainment, from food and drink to music, and often amusement park rides.
- Watsonville Strawberry Festival | August 4th-6th
- Sonoma Country Fair | August 3rd-13th
- Napa Town and Country Fair | August 10th-13th
- Yolo County Fair | August 16th-20th
- Butte County Fair | August 24th-27th
- Monterey County Fair | August 31st-September 4th
6. Attend a Music Festival
If you're a fan of music, and like the energy of crowds, there are a few music festivals taking place in the San Francisco area in August.
Laurel Street Fair World Music Festival | August 12th
This free annual street fair and music festival, taking place on MacArthur Boulevard, celebrates cultural diversity.
Attendees, which average around 15,000 people, will find live music, local craft vendors, food and drink, and information from community organizations.
Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival | August 11th-13th
One of the city’s biggest annual events, Outside Lands comes to Golden Gate Park.
Passes are on offer for 1, 2, or 3 days of music, food, beer & wine, and art & comedy. Tickets can be purchased here.
7. Attend an Arts Festival
If you're looking to start or add to your art collection, there are a few festivals taking place in the San Francisco area.
You can potentially find art at reasonable prices.
Palo Alto Festival of the Arts | August 26th-27th
This festival brings the work of hundreds of artists together in one place. You'll find booths with photography, painting, ceramics, sculpture, and more.
There's also music, drinks, and kids crafting activities. Events take place on University Avenue.
Scotts Valley Art, Wine, and Beer Festival | August 19th-20th
This festival also brings the work of hundreds of artists, covering a number of mediums, together.
There are children's activities, music performances, and food and drink vendors as well. Events take place at Skypark.
8. Attend an Ethnic Celebration
A few celebrations are taking place in and around San Francisco in August that you might want to stop by.
Pistahan Parade and Festival | August 12th-13th
Over two days in August the best of the Philipines is celebrated in Yerba Beuna Gardens.
This event is free and celebrates art, music, food, innovation, sports, and much more.
Nihonmachi Street Fair | August 5th-6th
Head over to Japantown for the “melting pot of all street fairs."
Over 150 small businesses celebrate Asian-Pacific American culture, tradition, dance, art music, and food.
9. Celebrate Jerry Day
San Francisco comes together to celebrate hometown boy, and founding member of the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia.
This event brings together artists who understand Jerry's spirit and are able to bring his music to the crowd.
Activities are free although they do accept donations. There will also be food and drinks for sale.
The celebration takes place on August 5th in McLaren Park, in the Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre.
Click here for more information about Jerry Day.
10. Save Money with a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass
Save time and money with a sightseeing pass to San Francisco!
Several of the items above are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist attraction discount pass.
Tourist passes work by combining several popular San Francisco attractions and tours into one discounted price, up to 55%.
They also can save you time by giving you skip-the-ticket-line privileges to many of these attractions.
Some attractions included with tourist passes:
- Bay Cruises
- Historic Cable Car Transportation
- Muir Woods Tour
- Tour of Sausalito
Be sure to read our post that compares each option available to you.
11. Fringe Theatre Festival
Attend the largest grassroots theatre festival in the Bay Area! This Fringe Festival is the second-oldest Fringe in the country and has been presenting performances since 1992.
The festival will host dozens of independent theatre performances at various venues throughout the city.
Some tickets start as low as $5, and each show lasts no longer than 60 minutes.
100% of the ticket sales are returned to the performers, so this is a great way to support community theatre in San Francisco.
Performances take place August 10th-26th, and tickets can be purchased on the San Francisco Fringe Festival website.
In this section, we will be covering a variety of fun activities in San Francisco this month that won’t cost you a thing to enjoy.
For additional suggestions for free activities, see our guide to free things to do in San Francisco.
Enjoy Free Live Events
No matter when you choose to visit San Francisco, chances are that you’ll have the opportunity to see a live event for free.
Some of these events are seasonal, but others take place on a monthly or weekly basis.
Here are a few locations you may want to visit to see if they’ve got any free live events planned:
- Amoeba Music
- SVN West
- Pier 39
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Union Square Park
- Fillmore Mini Park
- San Francisco Public Library
- And More!
For other things, you can enjoy when you visit, make sure to check our post about things to do in San Francisco.
Take a Drive Down Lombard Street
This is one of the most unique roads in San Francisco. Full of twists and turns, this one-way street is almost like a roller coaster.
The road is lined with beautiful bushes, flowers, trees, and more, and can be walked or driven.
You can also get here by taking either the cable car or other public transport available in the city.
Most hop-on-hop-off bus tours also provide a stop close to this notable site.
For more details on how to get here, read our post about Lombard Street.
Enjoy Washington Square
Located in the heart of North Beach, Washington Square is an excellent place to take a break and enjoy an afternoon respite while you people-watch.
Don’t miss the Benjamin Franklin time capsule in the park, which will be opened in 2979!
See the Painted Ladies
Anyone familiar with the hit television show Full House will want to consider a visit to the Painted Ladies. The Tanner family is depicted as living in one of these houses.
These are arguably some of the most beautiful houses in all of San Francisco, and you are free to come and see them for yourself.
Sadly, you can’t actually enter any of these buildings because they are privately owned, but let us show you a great photo spot and how to get here.
Free Museum Days!
Some museums in the San Francisco area offer free admission.
The particular days and hours differ so it's important to check the website for each museum's offering.
The following museums are known to have had free days or hours at various points during the year.
- Asian Art Museum
- Berkeley Art Museum
- California Academy of Sciences
- Conservatory of Flowers
- Contemporary Jewish Museum
- De Young Museum
- GLBT Historical Society Museum
- Japanese Tea Garden
- Legion of Honor
- Museum of Craft and Design
- San Francisco Botanical Gardens
- San Francisco Maritime Park
- Yerna Beuna Center for the Arts
In addition, some museums are always free:
If you want to know more about each of these options and more, read our full post about museums in San Francisco.
For even more free activities, see our guide to free things to do in San Francisco.
Below is just a short sampling of the many things to do at night in August.
For additional suggestions on other nighttime activities, see our post, Things to do at Night in San Francisco.
The Exploratorium After Dark is a fun, 21+ night out that features exhibits, live music, and a bar.
The space is transformed for the 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm Thursday events, so even if you've already visited, don’t hesitate to come back on a Thursday night.
Asian Art Museum
You'll be able to purchase drinks at a cash bar and listen to a live DJ.
Evening Sunset Sail
Get out on the San Francisco Bay as the sun is setting!
Adventure Cat offers a sunset sail on a catamaran that will take you on a narrated journey past Alcatraz Island, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and back to Pier 39 where the boat departs from as well.
It’s fun for both adults and children!
Dine at Pier 39
One of the most popular attractions in San Francisco, Pier 39 really comes alive at night!
Filled with specialty stores and restaurants, the attraction also offers a carousel, access to the sea lions who dock here, and a variety of street performers on any given evening.
For more ideas, be sure to take a look at our post Things to Do at Night in San Francisco.
San Francisco is full of family-friendly activities and events in the month of August!
Here are a few more family-friendly activities.
Visit the San Francisco Zoo
Most kids love going to the zoo, and San Francisco has one of the best zoos in California.
Visitors can expect to see a lot of notable animals such as African lions, chimpanzees, kangaroos, giraffes, bald eagles, gorillas, and more.
The San Francisco Zoo also has a garden which they actually use to feed some of the animals.
If you’re looking to save money on this activity, don’t forget that admission is included with at least one San Francisco tourist pass.
Go to the Aquarium of the Bay
Located in the heart of Pier 39, the Aquarium of the Bay holds a collection of over 20,000 marine life animals including sharks, jellyfish, octopuses, and river otters among many other creatures!
Even if you don’t have the money for tickets, you may still want to head to this pier just to see the sea lions that gather in the area.
That said, you don’t have to pay full price for admission to this attraction, because it is actually included with a San Francisco tourist pass.
The Aquarium is open Monday-Sunday from 11 am - 6 pm.
TIP: If you’re going to be in the area, you may want to think about taking our pay-what-you-want Fisherman’s Wharf walking tour.
Check out the Bison Paddock in Golden Gate Park
Located next to Spreckels Lake, the Bison Paddock in Golden Gate Park has hosted American bison since the 1890s.
A nod to the “Wild West” of the 19th Century, the paddock is one of the most loved spots in the park.
TIP: For more ideas of things to do with kids in San Francisco, see our post Things to do in San Francisco with Kids.
Play Vintage Games at Musee Mecanique
If you’re planning on visiting Fisherman’s Wharf, make sure to drop into this popular museum which includes hundreds of historic coin-operated games.
Many of these machines still function, and you can have a full day of fun without breaking the budget.
Admission is entirely free, but you should plan on bringing some change along for gaming.
TIP: Don’t forget that we offer a pay-what-you-want Fisherman’s Wharf walking tour!
Take a Movie Walking Tour
There have been a lot of famous and popular movies shot in the San Francisco area.
From classic films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo to modern favorites like Ant-man and the Wasp, there are quite a few filming locations to see.
If you need help finding all of the best movie sights, consider taking a San Francisco movie tour.
Alternatively, you can go on a self-guided tour by using this guide of the top places in San Francisco for movie buffs!
You can find even more ideas for family fun in our full post covering things to do with kids in San Francisco.