This post covers the best things to do in San Francisco in July and has been updated for 2023.
It includes a top 10 list, nighttime activities, free and family-friendly things to do.
- Top 10
- Free Things to Do
- Things to Do at Night
- Family-Friendly Activities
- How is the Weather?
- Free Tours By Foot
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:
- Downtown San Francisco
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Lombard Street/Little Italy
- San Francisco in One Day
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!
San Francisco is one of the most popular destinations for music lovers, and there are always musical artists performing in and around the city.
- Fall Out Boy | July 5th
- Charlie Puth | July 6th
- Nickelback | July 9th
- Dead & Company | July 14th, 15th, 16th
- Sublime/Rome | July 14th
- Train | July 21st
- Luke Bryant | July 22nd
- Paramore | July 22nd
- Tori Amos | July 26th
- Taylor Swift | July 28th, 29th
- Hot Summer Nights | July 9th | Concord Pavilion | Featuring: Sean Kingston, Shaggy, En Vogue, and more
- San Francisco Symphony | July 1st
Now that the summer is officially here, there will be a lot of great baseball games to attend.
- NHRA Sonoma Nationals | July 28th - 30th
NOTE: Tours of Oracle Park (home of the San Francisco Giants) are included with the Go San Francisco Card.
4. 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!
5. Visit Golden Gate Park
A lot of activities and events were canceled or postponed over these past few years due to the pandemic, but there were and 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:
- The de Young Museum
- The Japanese Tea Garden
- San Francisco Botanical Garden
- California Academy of Sciences
- The Conservatory of Flowers
- Koret Playground
- Bison Paddock
- And more!
6. Attend a Festival
There are a number of festivals to attend in July in the San Francisco areas.
Stern Grove Festival | June 12-August 14th
This summer music festival has been taking place since 1938!
This family-friendly outdoor festival takes place amongst giant eucalyptus, redwood, and fir trees, as all exciting artists perform for the crowds.
In addition to the performances, there is a KidStage.
Bastille Day Festival | July 15th
The festival celebrates the friendship between France and America and the French Revolution.
There's live music, French foods, cultural activities, dance, and more. There's also a Bastille Day dinner-dance on July 8th.
The San Francisco Free Folk Festival | July 8th
This free live music event sees thousands of visitors attend to hear loads of talented musicians, dance, attend workshops, and purchase items from various vendors.
It's the perfect family-friendly event.
The 2023 schedule will be uploaded here. Note that you need to register for your ticket.
The Yerba Gardens Festival | May - October
This is a free outdoor no-assigned-seating concert series, something all ages would enjoy.
There are several live performances throughout the month, including music, dancing, poetry, choreography, children’s programming, and more.
Events occur on weekends and over lunchtimes. Visit their calendar for more information on concerts and other activities.
The Fillmore Jazz Festival | July 1st-2nd
This two-day street festival in the Fillmore District is a celebration of all things jazz.
It pulls over 100,000 visitors who attend to hear local and international jazz musicians.
You'll also find food and drink, children's activities, arts and crafts, and more.
Silent Film Festival | July 12th-16th
Silent films from 7 countries are accompanied by international musicians.
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 around 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.
8. 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.
This event will take place on July 29th - 30th at the San Francisco County Fair Building.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to purchase plants and gardening supplies from a variety of vendors.
9. Attend a Free Concert
The Golden Gate Park Band puts on concerts each Sunday. They've been doing these free concerts since 1882!
Concerts begin at 1 pm and usually last for an hour and a half.
They take place at the Spreckels Temple of Music at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park.
As of the time of this posting, the final schedule hasn't been finalized, but check back here for updates.
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.
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!
Although tickets are usually pretty affordable (as low as $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.
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 16th.
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 24th, 2023!
Free Museum Admission Days/Hours
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 Botanitcal 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.
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.
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.
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.
See The Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge
The Bay Bridge is one of the most iconic sites in San Francisco and there's no prettier time to visit it than at night!
There is a spectacular light show every night from dusk until dawn.
Leo Villareal, one of the most well-respected light artists designed and orchestrated The Bay Lights.
We have 50 more ideas for free things to do in San Francisco for you to discover, many of which can be enjoyed in the evening
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 Santa Anita Park July 7th-9th.
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 4 pm - 11:59 pm each night.
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, 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.
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.
Get Free Chocolate at Ghirardelli Square
Just a few blocks away from Fisherman's Wharf was once a famous chocolate factory has now become the home of an entire shopping center.
At the center of this square is a Ghirardelli chocolate store where you can actually get a free piece of chocolate just for visiting.
NOTE: In addition to the chocolate, families may also be interested in visiting the nearby Cartoon Art Museum. Admission isn’t free, but kids are sure to love all of the amazing and memorable artwork on display
Visit the Fortune Cookie Factory
Located in Chinatown, Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory offers visitors a free tour to see how fortune cookies are made, and at the end of the tour, you’ll receive a free sample!
A variety of different fortune cookies are also available for purchase in their store
Read our full post about visiting San Francisco’s Fortune Cookie Factory.
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!
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.