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What to Do in San Francisco in July

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This post covers the best things to do in San Francisco in July and has been updated for 2021. It includes a top 10 list, nighttime activities, free and family-friendly things to do. 

 

 


TOP TEN EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN JULY

This section features our top 10 activities to enjoy in San Francisco throughout July.

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

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

Be sure to check out our master post, Things to Do in San Francisco, for even more ideas.


1. Take a Sightseeing Tour

Summer is the best time to see all of the sites in and around San Francisco, and there are a lot of different sightseeing tours available.

 

 

One of the easiest and most affordable options is to take one of our pay-what-you-want walking tours. We currently offer the following outings:

We also have self-guided tours and GPS-enabled audio tours of neighborhoods that you will likely visit as a tourist in the city.

Alternatively, you may also want to consider either a hop-on-hop-off bus tour or a boat tour which will take you around the San Francisco Bay.

There are also daily tours of Alcatraz, and they are incredibly popular; if you’re interested, make sure to get tickets well ahead of time!


2. Attend a Great Concert

San Francisco is one of the most popular destinations for music lovers, and there are always at least a handful of great artists performing in this city each month.

 

 

With several historic and notable musicians performing in July, there will be plenty of great concerts to choose. 

There will be the Audiotistic Music Festival which will feature a variety of hip hop, dubstep and dance music.

NOTE: Some of these concerts may still be canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, but they are currently still scheduled for July of 2021.


3See a Sporting Event

Now that the summer is officially here, there will be a lot of great baseball games to attend.

The Bay Area has two great teams to watch: the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics.

 

 

The MLB has plans to welcome fans back to the ballpark this summer, but they will only be offering limited seating. As a result, it will be important to get your tickets ASAP!

NOTE: Tours of Oracle Park (home of the San Francisco Giants) are included with the Go San Francisco Card.


4. Take a Virtual Tour of Fisherman's Wharf

The pandemic has changed a lot about the way we live our lives, but it shouldn't keep you from experiencing the world and seeing some of the best sites in San Francisco.

That's why we made this virtual walking tour of Fisherman's Wharf!

 

Virtual Tours

If you've ever wanted to see what this historic location is like, this is an excellent alternative that allows you to practice social distancing at the same time!

Much like our traditional pay-what-you-wish walking tours, you can also offer a tip to your tour guide if you enjoy this virtual outing.


5. Visit Golden Gate Park

Even if a lot of activities and events have been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, there are still several ways to have fun in San Francisco. 

 

 

Golden Gate Park has some of the best things to see and do in the entire city, including the following fun ideas:

Although some of these locations may only be offering limited access or even be closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19, you can still go for a walk through the park and enjoy the gardens, playgrounds, and Bison Paddock.


6. Take the Kids to the Berkeley Kite Festival

Whether you feel like flying a kite or you just want to watch other people performing incredible aerial maneuvers, head to the Berkeley Kite Festival on July 27th - 28th.

 

 

Not only is this event entirely free to attend, but they also offer free shuttles from Golden Gate Fields.

There will be free kite making tutorials, kite lessons, a candy drop activity, bounce houses, a petting zoo, face painting, pony rides, live music, fantastic food and more.

Alternatively, you can find even more great things to do with your kids in our family-friendly activities section.

NOTE: The Berkeley Kite Festival was canceled in 2020, and they have not announced their plans for 2021 as of yet. That said, you can still fly a kite on the beaches of San Francisco!


7. Celebrate Independence Day

Come out to celebrate America’s 243rd birthday at San Francisco’s Pier 39.

There will be live entertainment throughout the day and a spectacular fireworks display starts at 9:30 pm.

 

 

You can see the fireworks from several locations in Fisherman’s Wharf. If it’s a bit too crowded where you are, consider heading to Pier 40, Pier 45 or Aquatic Park.

In addition to these options, most of the boat tour companies in San Francisco offer special fireworks cruises on Independence Day.

However you choose to celebrate, this is an excellent family-friendly and free activity that takes place after dark.

If you’re looking for more things to do when the sun goes down, check our section covering things to do at night in San Francisco this July.

NOTE: The fireworks might be closed off to the public in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but they have yet to announce their plans for this event in 2021.


8. Go to the Lamb Jam Festival

Lamb lovers unite on July 21st as sixteen of the city’s best chefs compete for the title of Lamb Jam San Francisco Champion!

In addition to voting for the winning chef, guests will be able to enjoy a complete gastronomic experience with plenty of food, drinks, and entertainment.  

 

 

This is an excellent opportunity to try some of the most unique food in San Francisco. The Lamb Jam is a 21+ event. Tickets are available now.

If you want to try some more traditional food in the city, consider taking one of our pay-what-you-want walking tours.

Our Chinatown tour includes stops at locations like the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and the Golden Gate Bakery.

Alternatively, you may also want to take our Fisherman’s Wharf tour to discover great seafood and some of the best sourdough in the world!

NOTE: This event was canceled in 2020 and they have not yet announced their plans for 2021.


9. Attend Union Square Live

Enjoy multiple free performances featuring a variety of music, cultural dance, theatre, comedy, and film in the heart of historic Union Square.

There will be a total of 10 events to attend throughout the month of July, and none of them will cost you a dime.

 

 

Each performance will take place on either Wednesday or Sunday, with some shows starting in the afternoon and others beginning at night.

To find out more about the events taking place this month, please check the Union Square Live calendar.

This is just one of the many free things to do this month in San Francisco.

NOTE: There is currently no schedule for this event in 2021, and there is a chance it will not be held due to the pandemic.


10. Look Into Getting a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass

If you’re trying to save money on some of the best summer activities in San Francisco, a discount pass might be worth considering.

These services provide discounts of 50% or more on general admission prices, and they’re particularly great if you plan on visiting a lot of attractions.

In addition to the potential savings, these passes usually offer skip-the-line tickets on some of the more popular activities.

 

 

Here are a few of the more notable locations included with various tourist passes in the Bay area:

  • San Francisco Bay Cruise
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
  • San Francisco Zoo
  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
  • Angel Island Round-trip Ferry
  • UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
  • California’s Great America
  • Oracle Park (SF Giants) Tour
  • San Francisco Bike Tour

Most of these services allow you to pay one low price for access to dozens of different attractions, but there are some that give you the opportunity to select only the activities you want.

For more details and to figure out which option works best for you, please read our post covering San Francisco tourist passes.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO

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.

Take a look at our other sections for even more great ideas like Union Square Live, Berkeley Kite Festival, Independence Day fireworks, the AIDS Walk, self-guided tours and more.

 

 

If you’re looking for even more affordable fun, make sure to read our full post covering free things to do in San Francisco.


Watch a Few Innings of Baseball

Oracle Park is one of the only ballparks in the Major Leagues which actually provides a viewing area for outsiders to enjoy the game for free!

 

3 free innings San Francisco Giants

 

Although tickets are usually pretty affordable (as low as $5-$10), visitors who don’t intend to stay for the whole game may want to consider this option.

Visitors can expect to catch at least a few innings of a home game at the free, standing room along McCovey Cove. We have a post explaining how to take advantage of this opportunity.

Just keep in mind that employees at the park will likely move people along if they’ve been standing in the area too long.

Anyone interested in learning more about the team and their stadium may want to consider taking the Oracle Park tour, which is included with the Go San Francisco Card!

NOTE: Access to this area might be limited or just completely cut off to the public to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but their plans for 2021 have yet to be announced.


Attend the AIDS Walk

Benefitting a number of AIDS service organizations throughout San Francisco, the annual AIDS Walk is a fundraising event that covers a 10k through Golden Gate Park on July 14th.

While you don’t have to pay anything to show up and cheer on the athletes, you can make donations and there will likely be some food trucks in the area where you can grab a bite to eat.

This is a great way to support AIDS research and it promotes a healthy lifestyle as well!

In addition to this activity, there will also be a 12k race from Sausalito to the Aquatic Park on the same day.

If you can’t make it out on the 14th, don’t forget that the San Francisco Marathon is taking place on July 28th!

NOTE: Plans for this event have not been announced in 2021.


Get Crafty at the Renegade Craft Fair

Head over to the Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion for a lovely afternoon strolling the booths of some of the country’s best contemporary homemade crafts and art.

There will be over 280 different vendors at the Renegade Craft Fair selling various items and holding special workshops to help visitors learn how to make their own artwork.

In addition to the various crafting items available for purchase, there will also be music, food trucks and other entertainment on hand.

The annual fair will be taking place on July 13 & 14 from 11 am - 6 pm.

NOTE: This event was canceled in 2020, and has not yet been scheduled for 2021.


Go to the Fillmore Jazz Festival

This annual music festival will be returning to Fillmore Street once again on July 3rd & 4th from 10 am - 6 pm.

Visitors can expect a wide range of live jazz from dozens of different performers throughout both days.

In addition to the music, there will also be dancing lessons, contests and other fun activities.

The Fillmore Jazz Festival is entirely free to attend and it will be held rain or shine.

NOTE: This event is still scheduled to take place in 2021.


See a Show at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

Every summer, the Yerba Buena Gardens holds a special festival spanning several months – including July!

There will be several live performances throughout the month, including music, dancing, poetry, choreography, children’s programming and more.

There will be more than a dozen different shows to see, giving you plenty of opportunities to enjoy some live entertainment – and it’s all free!

To find out what’s on while you’re visiting San Francisco, make sure to check the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival calendar.

NOTE: Plans for the 2021 festival have yet to be finalized.


Watch Across the Bay 12K

During Across the Bay 12k, athletes will be running across the Golden Gate Bridge to reach their destination.

Although you have to pay to participate in the event, it’s entirely free to come and cheer on the runners as they compete for a first-place finish.

Proceeds from the race will benefit the Edgewood Center for Children and Families.

Make sure to read our post about walking across the Golden Gate Bridge for a closer look at one of the most historic sites on this route.

NOTE: Plans for 2021 have yet to be confirmed.


See a Show at the Stern Grove Festival

Now that summer is here, you can expect a free concert every Sunday!

The first show of the month (July 7th) will feature the San Francisco Symphony performing a variety of classical favorites including Tchaikovsky.

On July 28th, visitors will have the opportunity to see the San Francisco Ballet performing highlights from a variety of popular shows.

In addition to the music and other performances during the Stern Grove Festival, there will also be a KidStage and a free yoga class in the West Meadow at noon.

Each performance will begin at 2 pm and run for at least 1-2 hours.

NOTE: This event was canceled for 2020 and plans have yet to be announced for 2021.


Attend Menlo Summerfest

Located just south of San Francisco, Menlo Park will be celebrating their own festival on July 20th - 21st.

In addition to a free concert, there will also be a kids fun zone with face painting, bungee jumping, rock climbing, and several thrill rides.

Parents can also look forward to “Artsplash,” an art showcase featuring more than 200 booths full of unique arts & craft items.

Needless to say, there will be plenty of food vendors on hand selling popular snacks such as kettle corn and hot dogs.

While the food, art, and other activities aren’t free, admission to Menlo Summerfest won’t cost you a thing!

NOTE: This event is still scheduled to take place in 2021.


Go to the Alameda Art & Wine Faire

If you’re looking for a more adult activity that won’t set you back, this event might be right up your alley.

Visitors can expect plenty of great local wines for sale, several artists with a variety of creative work, live music and even a kid’s area with games and thrill rides.

While the event itself is free to attend, you may want to bring some extra cash for food and other interesting items.

The Alameda Art & Wine Faire will take place on July 27th & 28th from 10 am - 6 pm each day.

NOTE: This event is not scheduled to take place in 2021.

If you’re looking for even more affordable fun, make sure to read our full post covering things to do for free in San Francisco.

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

The following section will provide a great selection of activities you can enjoy after the sun goes down in San Francisco this month.

Don’t forget to check our other sections for even more things to do like going to a sporting event, concert or musical, celebrating Independence Day with fireworks and more.

 

 

For suggestions on other nighttime activities, see our post, Things to do at Night in San Francisco.  


Take a Cruise in the Evening

Sunset is one of the best times to see the San Francisco skyline from the water, and it’s even more beautiful after dark when the Golden Gate Bridge lights up the night sky!

Some of the boat tour companies in the Bay area offer either a sunset cruise or a nighttime cruise.

There are also dinner cruises which typically include live music and a 4-course meal, making for an excellent date night.

If either of these activities sounds fun, make sure to read our full post covering San Francisco cruises for more details.


Visit Alcatraz After Dark

In addition to all of the tours that are offered during the day, Alcatraz Cruises also provides two different outings after dark.

The Alcatraz night tour starts at either 5:55 pm or 6:30 pm and visitors are allowed to stay until the last boat back at 9:30 pm.

This is an excellent and limited opportunity that you might want to consider if you’re interested in creepy or eerie experiences.

On your way back to the mainland, you’ll enjoy excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge as it lights up the night sky.

Tickets can be difficult to obtain, so you might want to plan this activity out well ahead of time.

Please read our post about Alcatraz night tours for more details.

NOTE: This activity is currently not available, but they may bring it back in time for the summer months.


Go to the Polk Street Summer Wine Walk

If you’re looking for a new favorite wine, head to this event on July 19th for the 4th annual Polk Street Summer Wine Walk.

From 4 pm - 8 pm, dozens of local merchants and wineries will be providing several different wines to sample.

Participants will receive a wine glass and a map with each tasting location.

Free cable car shuttles will be offered from 5 pm - 8 pm, making it much easier to get around.

Tickets are $25 online or $30 on the day of the event.

Snacks may be provided by some vendors, but there are also a lot of great restaurants in the area that you might want to try.

NOTE: If you’re interested in wine, you might want to consider taking a Napa Valley wine tour as well!

COVID-19 UPDATE: This event has yet to be confirmed for July 2021.


Check Out NorCal Night Market

Every year, the Bay Area celebrates community and culture with night markets at various fairgrounds and parks.

One of these special NorCal Night Markets will be held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds from July 26th - 28th.

Visitors can expect a variety of food, artwork, games, live music and plenty of opportunities to do some shopping!

While the market is free to attend, you should probably plan on bringing some cash to spend.

The NorCal Night Market will be open from 3 pm - 11 pm each night.

NOTE: All 2020 events were postponed and we don't yet know when NorCal Night Markets will return.


Attend the Frozen Film Festival

Film buffs visiting the bay area this month might want to think about going to this film festival which is taking place from July 14th-18th.

The purpose of this festival is to promote independent filmmaking from all over the world, and they will be screening a wide variety of movies.

Although some of these films will be screened during the day, a lot of them will begin after dark.

Check the Frozen Film Festival website for more details or to purchase tickets.

NOTE: This event is still scheduled to take place in 2021.

We also have a full post covering things to do at night in San Francisco.

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

The following section will cover some of the best things to do with your children in San Francisco this July.

 

 

 

Please make sure to look at our other sections for additional family activities such as going to a baseball game, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, Berkeley Kite Festival, Menlo Summerfest, the Stern Grove Festival and more.

You can find even more ideas for family fun on our full post covering things to do with kids in San Francisco.


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.

NOTE: Advance reservation is required and tickets are limited to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.


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, octopus, 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 10am-6pm.

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.

NOTE: All tickets are timed and they require you to purchase them in advance. This is done to prevent the spread of Covid-19.


Take the Kids to the SF Anime & Cosplay Festival

If any of your kids are anime fans, you might want to take them to this awesome festival at the Japan Center Malls.

Visitors can expect notable artists, voice actors, and other industry names to show up and potentially even sign a few autographs!

In addition to special guests, there will also be plenty of shops offering a variety of anime merchandise.  Expect to see plenty of great cosplayers at this event!

Admission to the SF Anime & Cosplay Festival is free, but you might want to bring some cash for merch, food, and autographs.

NOTE: Plans for this event in 2021 have not been announced.


Attend the Sommerfest German Food Festival

This event celebrates German culture and food with a variety of fun activities and a menu full of great dishes.

There will be a live band playing both folk and popular music, as well as entertainers performing traditional dances like the Schuhplattler.

The Sommerfest German Food Festival will take place on July 21st at the Mt. Tamalpais alpine lodge just above the Muir Woods, so you might want to consider this activity as part of a day trip to the area.

Tickets are only $20 for adults and admission is entirely free for kids.

NOTE: Check our full post covering day trips from San Francisco for more details on how to visit Muir Woods.

COVID-19 UPDATE: There are tentative plans to bring this festival back for 2021, but they have yet to determine when it will take place.


Go to the Orchids in the Park Summer Show

If any of your kids love flowers, this could be the perfect place to take them during a trip to San Francisco.

The Orchids in the Park show welcomes local growers to display their best flowers.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to purchase plants and gardening supplies from a variety of vendors.

This event will take place on July 20th - 21st from 10 am to 5 pm at the San Francisco County Fair Building.

Tickets are $5 for adults and free for kids 16 and under.

NOTE: 2021 plans for this event have yet to be announced.


Go Shopping at the Junk in the Trunk Bay Area Market

From July 20th - 21st, the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds will be hosting a special vintage market called Junk in the Trunk.

Vendors from throughout the region will be offering a variety of interesting items for sale, including antiques and unique artwork.

In addition to the shopping, there will also be free live music and local food trucks providing plenty of refreshments.

Early bird tickets (gates open at 8 am) will set you back $20, but if you’re willing to wait an hour, you can get admission for only $8 on both days.

Children under 12 get in for free and there is a discount for military families.

NOTE: This event was postponed in 2020, and plans for its return in 2021 have yet to be announced.


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!

NOTE: This location was forced to temporarily close due to the pandemic, and there is no information about whether or not it will return in 2021.


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 on our full post covering things to do with kids in San Francisco.

 


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About The Author

Britt

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: September 27th, 2021
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