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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 2022. 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 2022, there will be plenty of great concerts to choose. 

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

The San Francisco Symphony will also have a number of shows.


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

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:

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 29th - 30th.

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.


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 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. Visit a Peter Pan Pop-Up Bar

The bar was designed to be the ulimate Peter Pan experience.

With a Blue Lagoon, a Boy's Hideout, Captain Hook, pirate flags, and a ticking crocodile, you will feel fully immersed in Neverland.

Sea shanties play over speakers, guests drinks out of skill-shaped glasses, and Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, and Peter Pan make their way around the space.

The dates for the Peter Pan Pop-Up are May 18 - August 22, 2022

Tickets are $45 which includes a welcome drink, two themed cocktails, and the potential for prizes. Tickets can be purchased here.


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.

The performances have been slow to return since the 2020 in which there were 10 concerts, but there is still at least one show planned for July 2022.

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.


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.


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 $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!


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 17th/

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, 2022!


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.

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.


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.


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.


See a Show at the Stern Grove Festival

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

One of the first shows at the Stern Grove Festival in July will feature the Old Crow Medicine Show with Molly Tuttle and DJ Walkin' Love.

On July 24th, country crooner Leann Rimes will be appearing with Amythyst Kiah and DJ LadyRyan.

On July 31st, visitors will have the opportunity to see the San Francisco Symphony perform the works of composers like Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Rimsky-Korsakov.

For a list of additional shows, click here. Each performance will begin at 2 pm and run for at least 1-2 hours.


Bastille Festival

This festival, now in its fourth year, is a celebration of the French culture, food & wine, arts and business.

It's is also a celebration of 244 years of freindship between France and America.

Come along and enjoy delicious foods, French musicians and artists, Tahitian dance performances, A Citroen car show, a Pétanque tournament, a French waiters race, and more!

This is truly an event the entire family would enjoy and it's completely free.

The event takes place on July 16, 2022 at Embarcadero Plaza. For a schedule of events, click here.


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.


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.


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 the Alameda County Fairgrounds from July 29th - 31st.

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.


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 13th-17th.

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.


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, 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, 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-fpm.

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.

NOTE: The Fortune Cookie Factory is included as a stop in both our pay-what-you-wish Chinatown walking tour and our self-guided tour.


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 30th - 31st from 10 am to 5 pm at the San Francisco County Fair Building.

Tickets are $8 for adults and free for kids 16 and under.


Evening Sunset Sail

Get out on the San Francisco Bay as the sun is setting! 

Adventure Cat offer 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!


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 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: May 30th, 2022
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