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Things to do in San Francisco in Summer for Free

Updated on June 23, 2011

Beautiful San Francisco

Alamo square, SF
Alamo square, SF | Source

There's no city as lovely as San Francisco -- when the sun is shining

San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world - when the sun is out. When the fog lifts and the sun glints on the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate bridge arches over the expanse, there is an immediate lift of heart and emotions. In the summer months, and way into September and October, there are a multiple ways of enjoying the city - for free or for very little expense. Below are a few of my favorite ways:

Stern Grove

Ballet at Stern Grove
Ballet at Stern Grove | Source

Stern Grove Festival

Stern Grove is San Francisco's best-kept insider secret. For the past 74 years, the non-profit organization has been organizing concerts series in a magical eucalyptus grove, complete with picnic areas and extraordinary music. Easily accessible by public transit, this concert welcomes kids, picnic food, and donations, should you be inclined. Held on Sunday afternoons, from June to August, this concert routinely features the SF Symphony, SF ballet and other extraordinary musicians. In 2011, the line-up will feature the Jazz Mafia Symphony, AfroCubism, Neko Case, Sharon James and the Dap Kings, and many others.

City views from Dolores Park


Picnic in Dolores Park

Sunny even when the rest of the city is covered in desparing fog, Dolores Park is the place to head for a picnic. The center of urban culture, the park is often a spontaneous performance venue for jugglers, musicians, and artists. Pick up a picnic from Byrite, or some great pastries from nearby Tartine, and head over to Dolores Park for some summer living in the city. For public transit, the park is accessible both by BART (get off at 24th Street) or by the very slow bus number 33. Parking is a pain in this area, so it's really best to take the transit.


The SF MOMA from Yerba Buena Gardens
The SF MOMA from Yerba Buena Gardens | Source

Free admission to museums

Summer in San Francisco may be unpredictable. For days when the fog is getting you down, fear not. Your day is not ruined if you know about the very generous free days at the museum. Each of SF's best museums - the MOMA, the Asian Art, the DeYoung, the Cartoon Art Museum have a free day every month and a discounted day each week. Same holds for the Legion of Honor and the Exploratorium. Check out the sites, and drop in for some free culture.

Free on the first Tuesdays of every month:

  1. SFMoma
  2. The Cartoon Art Museum
  3. The DeYoung Museum
  4. Legion of Honor

Free on the first Wednesdays of every month:

  1. The Exploratorium

Free on the first Sunday of every month:

1. The Asian Art Museum

View of Angel Island from the Golden Gate bridge


Hike Angel Island

A short ferry ride from Pier 41 (round trip ferry price is $16) Angel Island is a perfect getaway if for a hike, bike ride or for generally admiring city views. With stunning views of the city, and a number of hikes under 6 miles or so, its a perfect way to spend a weekend. Take a picnic, lots of water, and enjoy the exercise.

show route and directions
A markerDolores Park, San Francisco -
Mission Dolores Park, Dolores St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA
get directions

B markerAngel Island, San Francisco -
Angel Island, California, USA
get directions

C markerStern Grove, San Francisco -
Sigmund Stern Grove, 2750 19th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA
get directions

D markerSF MOMA -
Museum Store, 151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
get directions

E markerCartoon Museum, SF -
Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA
get directions

F markerExploratorium, SAn Francisco -
Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA
get directions

G markerAsian Art Museum, San Francisco -
Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
get directions


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