Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
Photograph: Courtesy Barak SharmaYerba Buena Gardens Festival

The best things to do in San Francisco this weekend

Check out the best things to do in San Francisco this weekend and have the best time ever!

Erika Mailman

Here in the City by the Bay, there’s always something cooking, whether it’s a jaunt across the elevated playspace of the 14-acre Presidio Tunnel Tops, taking an urban hike across the Golden Gate Bridge, celebrating gay culture in the Castro neighborhood, dancing yourself into a frenzy or chilling to incredible music. There’s always a festival of some sort unfolding, and one of the best things is that many of these events are free. We’ve put together our picks for the best things to do in San Francisco this weekend (you can check the website for each event for further details). Now: Grab that weekend by the horns!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in San Francisco

Things to do in San Francisco this weekend

Mrs. Doubtfire
Orpheum Theatre
July 2–28

The beloved movie with Robin Williams playing a nanny in San Francisco returns to its home, now in musical format. For bonus hijinks, Instagram yourself first in front of the Victorian house used in the movie at the corner of Steiner and Broadway.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
Yerba Buena Gardens
Until Nov 2

It’s pretty much impossible to encapsulate all of the revolving events included in this six-month festival in a single sentence, but this weekend’s YBG Choreofest 2024 is a showcase of the Bay Area’s vibrant dance companies. The festival events are all free, outdoors, ADA accessible and family-friendly.

Sundown Cinema
Various city parks
Select Fri through Oct

Bring a blanket (or a low camp chair) and settle down to watch a movie with this series of free outdoor screenings projected onto inflatable screens. On July 12, it’s David Bowie shaking his booty and tossing a baby in Labyrinth. There’s always pre-show entertainment tied to the movie’s theme plus food and beverages for sale. If you’re a Parks Alliance member, you can access the members-only seating area. You’re encouraged to RSVP in advance for the chance to win prizes or reserved seating.

San Francisco Hash Week
Various licensed lounges
July 10–17

Don’t invite grandma to this first-ever roundup of California’s elite hash-makers displaying their wares for seven days at multiple drop parties. We’re guessing the Dab-E-Oke (dabs and karaoke) party on Sunday will lead to hilarity; it’s invite-only but maybe you can wrangle one. All events 21 and up.

Bhangra and Beats Night Market
Battery and Clay streets
July 12

This free street party takes place to the beat of South Asian bhangra music and other Bay Area music genres, with local and international performers. Sample street food, sip cocktails and shop artisanal merchandise throughout three city blocks quarterly (it happens again September 13 and November 15).

SailGP final event
San Francisco waterfront
July 13, 14

With sails billowing and the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop, teams from 10 nations compete on 50-foot catamarans in the last event of the SailGP championship, going as fast as 60mph. The official ticketed viewing area is at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, but since the race is between Alcatraz and the bridge, you can find other waterfront spots to watch for free.

Summer Stride Activity Tracker
San Francisco Public Library
Through Aug

This is a summer reading program for kids and adults that gets you on your feet! With a beautifully painted tracker map of the city, you “move forward” each time you attend a library event or read for 20 minutes. The prize is a tote bag designed by local artist Sendy Santamaria. This weekend there are more than a dozen adult events across the city: art making, yoga, movies, lectures, book clubs, language lessons, and music and dance performances, all free.

Pier Party at the Wharf summer concert series
2820 Taylor St
Sat through Oct

Each Saturday afternoon, wedge yourself between locals and visitors at Fisherman’s Wharf for a free outdoor concert, everything from a Rolling Stones cover band to singer-songwriter Michelle Lambert, who plays this Saturday. Park yourself at the base of the giant crab wheel sign after having lunch nearby and paying a visit to the Pier 39 sea lions—there are more of them than have been seen there in 15 years!

Chinatown Night Market
Grant Avenue between Jackson and Sacramento
Second Fri

Come out under the red glowing lanterns to enjoy the offerings of street vendors on five blocks of entertainment (like DJs and lion dancers) and food open only to foot traffic. At activity booths you can learn to do calligraphy or have your fortune read.

Summer of Music concert series
Various sites
Sat, Sun through Sept

This free summer series brings musicians of all genres to play outside local businesses in six neighborhoods across the city. This Saturday and Sunday, there are 54 different three-hour performances! It’s all to support artists, promote economic growth and bring happiness to communities, brought to you by the Civic Joy Fund ( and Noise Pop.

Bastille on Belden block party
Belden Place
July 12

It’s almost Bastille Day—celebrate French culture on Belden Place, a one-block alley once home to French settlers in the Gold Rush. Said to be the largest Bastille Day celebration in the country, the free Bastille on Belden event includes complimentary berets, live accordion music and restaurant specials. While the actual holiday is Sunday, on Quatorze Juillet, this July 12 celebration takes advantage of a Friday night.

San Francisco Free Folk Festival
Golden Gate Park, on the concourse by the DeYoung
July 13

Happening for the 48th time, this popular festival is approaching its golden anniversary. Between noon and 6pm there are four workshops and three performances at the bandshell per hour. The workshops run the gamut from Turkish singing and a Quebecois tune jam to “come sing rounds” and traditional English Morris dance performances. All events are free.

The Festival of Chariots
Golden Gate Park, Robin Williams Meadow
July 14

Back in 1967, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada organized San Francisco’s first Jagannātha Ratha-yātrā festival in the Haight, and 57 years later it’s still going strong in the park. This spiritual festival relates to picturing Jagannātha, the Lord of the Universe, on his chariot, which makes the rest of us think about birth and death cycles. Pull a chariot, feast with friends, tour exhibits on reincarnation, watch dance performances and more: all free.

“Grace Window” laser light show
Grace Cathedral
July 11–14

Visit this Gothic cathedral atop Nob Hill any day for its architectural beauty—it resembles Paris’s Notre Dame—but this weekend, there’s an extra element of wonder. A laser show will send light streaming from the nearby Fairmont Hotel through the cathedral’s rose window, an art installation visible from both inside and outside, from sunset to sunrise. The cathedral itself will be open from sunset until midnight; come inside for live music that gently coordinates with the laser display. Registration recommended as capacity may be limited.

Japan Week
July 14

Catch the first day of Japan Week on Sunday; it continues on until July 20. Set in the heart of historic Japantown, this festival celebrates Japanese art and culture with free workshops and performances. Master artists hail from Japan, Chicago and Brazil.

Disney in Concert: The Sound of Magic
Davies Symphony Hall
July 12, 14

Let’s face it, we’re all still obsessed with Disney movies, no matter our age. The San Francisco Symphony’s Disney in Concert: The Sound of Magic lets you hear those beloved animated film soundtracks again. Tickets for the G-rated concert start at $19.50.

Italian flyover
Crissy Field
July 12

Love the Blue Angels and their daring aerial feats? The Italian version, the Frecce Tricolori, will fly over San Francisco—for the first time in North America in 30 years. Watch the skies between 2 and 3pm to see the planes trailing red, white and green smoke to create an Italian “flag.” Sergio Strozzi, consul general of Italy, welcomes folks to Crissy Field a little early for an Italian community get-together at 1:30pm.

Sunset Fridays After Hours Concerts
San Francisco Zoo & Gardens
Fri through Aug 30

Your day at the zoo just got better. When the San Francisco Zoo closes on Fridays, you can stay for a sunset concert on the Playfield Lawn, with live music, outdoor bars for the adults, activities for the kids and up-close encounters with ambassador animals. If you started your zoo visit earlier in the day, you can stay for the after-hours event for free, otherwise tickets cost $12 (and kids under 12 and zoo members are free).

Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style
DeYoung Museum
Through Aug 11

We’ve heard amazing things about this exhibition of women’s clothing, from Japanese avant-garde designers to French couturiers to radical local dressmakers. Some of the designs have never been on exhibit before. An augmented reality mirror lets you “try on” a few looks.

“Get Rolling” All Ages Open Skate
Fulton Plaza, Fulton Street at Larkin
July 13

It’s not summer unless you roller skate, right? So join the free open skate all day at Fulton Plaza, in sight of City Hall, tucked in between the Asian Art Museum and the San Francisco Library’s main branch.

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