Things to Do in San Francisco this July
You’re halfway there, folks. As of July 1, you have 182 more days to make this the best year ever! We’ve got a few ideas for how to make it memorable in San Francisco.
Fourth of July Fireworks
Watch a spectacular fireworks display at the iconic San Francisco Maritime Museum Building this Fourth of July. Individual tickets include a casual buffet dinner with complimentary wine and beverages, not to mention a stellar view of the fireworks show right on the waterfront. PIER 39 will also have their annual Independence Day celebrations. From 3-6 p.m., enjoy live music and entertainment, then grab a spot on the Pier for their spectacular fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.
This summer, hundreds of thousands of visitors will walk through the doors of the Exploratorium to tinker with more than 650 exhibits investigating sciences, art, and human perception. Don't miss Moon Month, the July-long celebration of all things lunar. Celebrate milestones like the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary and witness a broadcast a total solar eclipse live from Chile.
Wine Country Adventures
If you haven't enjoyed wine tasting on the Napa Valley Wine Train yet, summer is the perfect time to do so. The wine train is made up of restored vintage 20th century Pullman cars that journey through Napa Valley, stopping at celebrated wineries on the way. Sit back and savor delicious wine, bites, and scenery.
Comedy at SHN
Having made comedy history by performing in 45 countries, all 50 U.S. states, and in four languages, Eddie Izzard brings his comedic talent to the SHN Orpheum Theater, July 8-10. "Wunderbar" is about everything from humans to talking dogs and animal superheroes.
Cruise Aboard the California Spirit
It's never too early to plan for a special holiday party on Giants Enterprises' yacht, California Spirit. This luxury vessel can accommodate up to 130 guests and is equipped with two full bars and a modern sound system, making for a perfect space to host events on the water. Spaces for private events fill up quickly, so be sure to book this unique experience now.
Back for its sixth season, San Francisco's largest campfire features a wide selection of local vendors and new lantern-lit communal lawn domes (available to all on a first-come, first-served basis) that offer a cozy place to enjoy the summer nights at the Presidio. Presidio Twilight takes place every Thursday evening through Sept. from 5-9 p.m. on the Main Parade Ground.
All that Jazz
The annual Fillmore Jazz Festival, the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast, takes place July 6-7, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fillmore St. between Jackson and Eddy streets. Kicking off the festival is Lumama with the California Jazz Conservatory, with appearances from the Marcus Shelby Orchestra, New Blue Soul Jazz, and many more.
Musical Notes with San Francisco Symphony
Summer brings a series of musical treats from the San Francisco Symphony. In addition to a free performance on July 7 at Stern Grove, the San Francisco Symphony’s summer concert schedule includes performances of George Lucas’ original "Star Wars" trilogy, with the orchestra performing John Williams’ scores live as the films are projected onto a large screen at Davies Symphony Hall, and a Fourth of July concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre. In honor of the 10th anniversary of this Disney and Pixar classic, San Francisco Symphony will perform a world premiere of "Up" with live orchestra on July 26 and 27.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" Sing-Along Movie Night
Screen and sing along to the tunes of "Bohemian Rhapsody" on Oracle Park's brand-new 4K scoreboard on July 13 for the first-ever, non-game day public movie night. Queen fans will have the exclusive opportunity to sit on the field and see a special cut of the Academy Award-winning film. General admission tickets are $15.
Music in the Air
Another one of the city’s most delightful summer experiences returns July 11-22, when Flower Piano transforms the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park into an alfresco concert hall. For 12 days, everyone is invited to play a dozen pianos tucked away among the garden’s 55 acres. Professional pianists and a whole host of other musicians will be performing, as well. The full schedule is here.
Bay Area Brew Festival Returns to Fort Mason Pavilion, July 20
This sudsy salute includes 70 breweries, hundreds of beers, food trucks, a DJ and much more. Admission includes unlimited beer samplings. Hours are noon-4 p.m. and 5:30-8:30 p.m.
First Thursday Galleries
The San Francisco Art Dealers Association offers “First Thursday,” a downtown tradition since 1993. On every first Thursday of the month (on July 11 this month because of the Fourth of July holiday), many galleries remain open to welcome visitors after normal hours. Galleries in the burgeoning DoReMi neighborhood (Dogpatch, Potrero Hill) are open until 7 p.m. The Association recommends that you call ahead first to confirm hours if you are making a trip to see a specific gallery.
Summer Film Festivals
Check out the San Francisco Frozen Film Festival, July 17-21, a tongue-and-cheek nod to the distinct chill of a San Francisco summer. Films from American and international filmmakers showcase the diversity and vitality of Jewish culture at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, July 18-Aug. 4. The festival is the first, oldest and most prestigious celebration of its kind in the world.
The Art of Peace at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA)
Art of Peace is a collaborative exhibition that brings together three organizations - Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Robby Poblete Foundation, and United Playaz to raise awareness about senseless gun violence in our country. This powerful exhibition focuses on the stories of the artists who have been affected by gun violence, with hopes to offer viewers a sense of resilience, strength, and peace. See this free exhibition beginning Jul. 23-Aug. 25 at YBCA.
50th Year Jubilee for Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church
This year marks the 50th year of the Church of St. John Coltrane. Gather at Grace Cathedral on July 20 from 6-8 p.m. for a free service commemorating those that were killed in the 1963 Sixth St. church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.
SFJAZZ Summer Sessions
From July 11 to Aug. 18, SFJAZZ’s Summer Sessions presents Monsieru Perine, Sun Ra Arkestra, Groegory Porter, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Mary Halvorson, Jackie Ryan and more. The theme of this year's Summer Sessions programming is based on the concept of the "Great American Songbook".
ODC/Dance Summer Sampler
ODC/Dance, San Francisco's world class contemporary dance company, presents its annual summer event, Summer Sampler, July 26-27 and Aug. 2-3. Inviting the audience to experience the dynamic ODC dancers up close in the company’s intimate Mission District theater, this year's Summer Sampler expands to two weekends, and features work by all of the ODC choreographers, including Founder & Artistic Director Brenda Way, ODC Co-Artistic Director KT Nelson, Associate Choreographer Kimi Okada, and Resident Choreographer Kate Weare.
Bay Area Playwrights Festival
The 42nd Anniversary Bay Area Playwrights Festival runs July 19-28, at Potrero Stage (1895 18th St.). Six plays were selected from 700 submissions. This year's theme, "Witness the Power of Truth," will stage shows that are transformative, inspirational, and provocative, presented by a new cohort of fiercely talented playwrights like Terence Anthony, Jeensun Choi, Candrice Jones, and many others.
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival
The 2019 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, the largest and most comprehensive world dance and music event of its kind in the U.S., celebrates its 41st anniversary this year. The festival opens on the weekend of July 6-7 at Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley, followed by another weekend of inspiring performances on July 13-14. There will be performances by 28 dance and music ensembles showcasing traditions from around the world—and a few surprises to be announced.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will open five new and exciting exhibitions this July, all of which are accessible with general admission:
- On July 6, see the many faces of April Dawn Alison, the female persona of an Oakland-based photographer who lived in the world as a man. Upon her death in 2008, Alison left an archive of over 9,000 Polaroid photographs that will be displayed.
- See abstraction through the eyes of Agnes Martin and Mark Bradford in their exhibition "On a Clear Day", opening on July 17.
- Discover the beauty of mistakes on July 20 in "Don't! Photography and the Art of Mistakes," a collection of photographs that used techniques such as double exposure, lens flare, and motion blur. Works by photographers like Man Ray, Florence Henri, and Lisette Model will be showcased.
- Also opening on July 20 is "Far Out: Suits, Habs, and Labs for Outer Space," which celebrates the visionary ideas from architects, artists and designers from the space industry. See a number of space suits, designs for space travel and much more.
- In her first U.S. solo museum presentation on the West Coast, Erin Shirreff will show a selection of sculptures and photographic works based on JPEGs that are rendered in foamboard and bronze. "New Work: Erin Shirreff" opens July 20.
"Ordinary Objects / Wild Things" continues at the de Young Museum through July 14. At its sister museum, the Legion of Honor, "Small Inventions: Artist's Books" by Charles Hobson also ends on July 14.
At the Contemporary Jewish Museum, discover Daria Martin's multimedia exhibition, "Tonight the World," which artfully combines computer gaming technology and film to explore the memories of Martin's grandmother through original dream diary entries. On view through Feb. 19, 2020.
Uncover the interplay between ink on paper and ink on skin at the Asian Art Museum's exhibition, "Tattoos in Japanese Prints". Prints by Utagaza Kuniyoshi featuring tattooed heroes and warriors will be displayed. On July 13, there will be live tattooing demonstrations at the Asian Art Museum, free with museum general admission.
Bonfire on the Beach
You don't need an excuse to walk along the beach, but July 16, should be especially bright and beautiful with a full moon above. Build a bonfire at Ocean Beach and toast some marshmallows. Ghirardelli Chocolate squares are perfect for variations on the classic s’mores recipe. Use clean wood, above ground only. Collect and remove all debris and do not bury coals. The fire must be located between stairwells 15 and 20 and only in designated fire rings. No alcohol permitted. If your group size exceeds 25, a permit is required. Learn more about complete bonfire guidelines and restrictions here.
On July 28, the streets of San Francisco will fill with more than 27,500 runners for the 42nd running of the San Francisco Marathon (Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K and Ultramarathon). Runners will enjoy waterfront scenery along the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf and Crissy Field. Runners can also still register for the San Francisco Giant Race, Sept. 8.
Come Play with Us
It’s summer and the Children’s Creativity Museum has a ton of activities lined up for the little ones. Geared for ages 2-12, the museum offers innovative art and tech experiences. Head up the ramp near the historic carousel for classes and activities that range from BuildSF, whose centerpiece exhibition is Sketch Town, an immersive digital experience, to the Animation Studio, which invites adults and kids of all ages to learn the basic skills of stop motion animation.
What's cheaper than a fitness center and just as historic as a cable car? The answer is stairway walks, one of the city's oldest and most scenic (albeit hidden) attractions. With more than 300 stairways scattered throughout the city, visitors only have to don walking shoes and grab a camera to explore the secrets of San Francisco. The city's stairways range from the local flights of steps hidden by trees and small gardens to the dramatic, carefully landscaped stairs found in more widely traveled places such as the famously "crooked" Lombard St.