What to do now in San Francisco

Things to Do in San Francisco This Weekend

What to do this weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area
(©San Francisco Travel Association) What to do this weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area

Here are our top picks for making the most of the weekend, September 22-24, 2017. 

For more ongoing events and exhibitions check our calendar


Bernstein at 100

San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and Leonard Bernstein

San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, a dear friend of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein and a champion of his orchestral works, leads the orchestra in "Chichester Psalms” and the Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story." Davies Symphony Hall, Sept. 22-24. 

Fall Beer Pour at PIER 39

Fall Beer Pour at PIER 39, San Francisco

Grab your friends and head to the pier for an evening of beer, music and fun at the PIER 39 Beer Pour.  Stroll the pier and stop by participating businesses to enjoy beer tastings, exclusive discounts, and live music and entertainment from 4-8 pm. Attendees will receive beer tastings, discounts at participating businesses, a commemorative beer glass and more. Tickets are $20 online and $25 at the event (cash only).  The Fall Beer Pour is just one of PIER 39’s 39th Anniversary Celebration events. Sept. 22. 

Candy Palooza at Jelly Belly

Candy Palooza  Jelly Belly

Enjoy the sweet life at Jelly Belly’s free candy festival. The event offers carnival rides, candy tastings and performances on the Jelly Belly stage. Those 21 and over can enjoy the Jelly Belly Chocolate and Wine Experience. Sept. 23-24, 9 am-5 pm.

Treasure Island Flea

Treasure Island Flea

Rain or shine, this weekend is the open-air indie market’s celebrates fall. Each month the market brings together vintage and antique finds, wares from local artisans and food and fashion trucks. Live music, workshops for all ages and a dog-friendly policy create a community atmosphere. And with a $3 entry fee, it’s a bargain. Take the Muni 108 line from the city. (This is a good chance to visit the wineries and brewery on the island too!) Sept. 23-24, 10 am-4 pm.

Harvest Celebration at the Press Club

Enjoy unlimited tastings of over 50 varietals of wine with cheese pairings from Press Club’s delectable fall menu. Representatives of California wineries from the Santa Ynez Valley to Mendocino will be present. Sept. 24, 2-5 pm.

Eat Real Festival at Jack London Square

 Eat Real Festival at Jack London Square, Oakland

In its ninth year, this festival combines a state fair, a street-food festival, and a block party to create a celebration of good food. It include a wide selection of street food—from regional food trucks to street food vendors—for purchase, priced at $10 or less. Free to attend. Sept. 22-24.

Berkeley Playhouse 2017-2018 Season

“Sister Act” at Berkeley Playhouse

The Berkeley Playhouse celebrates its 10th anniversary season. It season kicks off this fall with the East Bay Premiere of the heavenly musical comedy, “Sister Act.Sept. 22–Oct. 22.

“An American in Paris” at SHN

“An American in Paris” at SHN , San Francisco

The classic musical featuring songs from George and Ira Gershwin won more awards than any other musical in the 2015 season. SHN Orpheum Theatre,  Sept. 12-Oct. 8.

San Francisco Opera Season

San Francisco Opera fall season opens

The opera's 95th season includes performances of Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot” (through Dec. 9) and premieres of “Elektra” (Sept. 9-27) and “La Traviata” (Sept. 23-Oct. 17). 

“BigPicture” at California Academy of Sciences

“BigPicture” at California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

The fourth-annual “BigPicture” exhibit presents the best nature and conservation photography of the year—and reveals the boundlessness of Earth's beauty. “BigPicture” focuses a visual lens on the wonders of the natural world and critical environmental sustainability issues facing our planet. This exhibit shows the finalists of each category, and is included with general admission. Academy’s Piazza through Oct. 29.

San Francisco Portal at Crissy Field

San Francisco Portal at Crissy Field

Gold shipping containers allow visitors to interact face-to-face with someone in an identical portal elsewhere in the world. Since launch in December 2014, Portals have connected more than 30,000 people across 20 countries in one-on-one dialogues. FreeJuly 20 - September 24.

“Fantasy Life” By Tabitha Soren

“Fantasy Life” By Tabitha Soren

Bay Area-based artist Tabitha Soren (ABC, NBC and MTV News) has spent the past fifteen years exploring baseball and the American dream. Soren takes us into intimate and thoughtful territory, creating a complex and epic portrait that celebrates the game we think we know. Tabitha Soren's “Fantasy Life” looks behind the scenes and through the hype of professional baseball. City Hall through Dec. 15.

“Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed” at SFMOMA

Edvard Munch at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

The Norwegian Expressionist best known for painting “The Scream” was one of the most celebrated and controversial artists of his time. The exhibition features 45 works by Munch (1863-1944) about art, love, mortality and the ravages of time. Six of the paintings on display have never been exhibited in the United States. June 24-Oct. 9.  

Summer of Love Illumination at Conservatory of Flowers

Summer of Love Illumination at Conservatory of Flowers

A light art installation projected on the landmark Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love. Nightly from sundown to midnight. June 21-Oct. 21.

“Flower Power” at Asian Art Museum

“Flower Power” at Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

During the Summer of Love, flowers became a powerful symbol of peace — a concept plucked from Buddhist art. In fact, botanical imagery has been used in Asian art to convey ideas from the refined to the revolutionary for thousands of years. This summer, uncover this hidden language of flowers at the Asian Art Museum. June 23-Oct. 1. 

“Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle”

 The Art of Eyvind Earle”

On view this month at the Walt Disney Family Museum, “Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle” explores the life and work of Earle, best known as the lead stylist for “Sleeping Beauty” and for concept art for both “Lady and the Tramp” and “Peter Pan.” The first-ever Eyvind Earle museum retrospective features more than 250 works, large-scale concept artworks, elaborate landscapes, scratchboards, sculpture, poetry and commercial illustrations. May 18-Jan. 8, 2018. 

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, San Francisco

The annual festival presents more than 100 free performing arts programs from music, poetry and dance to theater, circus and children’s activities. Performances feature artists from around the world, including the Grammy award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, led by Arturo O'Farrill, which will kick off the festival on May 7. Through Oct. 29 

Off the Grid: Presidio Picnic

 Presidio Picnic, San Francisco

Hosted by The Presidio Trust and Off the Grid, Presidio Picnic is back at the Main Parade Ground Lawn of The Presidio. Open every Sunday from 11 am-4 pm.  Bring a blanket and enjoy food trucks, drinks, games and music. Make it a party picnic with pre-orders. Sept. 24.

Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center

 Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

Bay Area’s street food market returns to Fort Mason Center. Off the Grid open its seventh season with a diverse selection of food vendors and live music that distinguishes this Friday night. This expanded weekly event will have a rotating lineup featuring 13 food trucks and 15 open-air kitchen vendors, 2 bars and popular local bands and DJs. September 22 from 5-10 pm.










What to Do in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sept. 22-24, 2017.

An Insider's Guide to Outside Lands, San Francisco's Major Summer Music Festival

Outside Lands takes over Golden Gate Park every August.
(©Tom Tomkinson/Outside Lands) Outside Lands takes over Golden Gate Park every August.

The foodie music festival Outside Lands returns to Golden Gate Park in 2017 (Aug. 11-13) with a packed lineup of performers and about as many local food and drink vendors. Headliners include Metallica, The Who, Gorillaz and Lorde, who will share the stage with countless other big-name acts, local bands, comedians and artists. Now in its tenth year, Outside Lands attracts more than 200,000 fans and has become one of the most popular and successful festivals in the country. Here’s what to expect this year.  

Nighttime crowd at Outside Lands in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park


The festival is known for its diverse lineup of established and emerging acts spanning a variety of genres. Beyond headliners, other top draws include A Tribe Called Quest, Solange and Cage the Elephant. Catch local artists including Kamaiyah, The She's and Oliver Tree. If electronic dance music is your thing, head to the giant white igloo known as the House by Heineken. In addition to four main stages, there’s a dedicated comedy and improv tent, The Barbary, featuring Nick Kroll and Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. And if you’re on a budget or can’t get enough live music, catch one of the Outside Lands Night Shows at venues around town.  

Food at Outside Lands in San Francisco

Food + Drink

Featuring 78 local restaurants, 40 wineries and 30 breweries, Outside Lands is as much a destination for foodies as it is for music fans. Bourbon Cake floats, donut cheeseburgers, crab rolls and pork belly burgers are just a few of the more than 200 menu options served up at six separate venues: A Taste of the Bay Area, Wine Lands, Beer Lands, Choco Lands, Cheese Lands and GastroMagic—a stage dedicated to food and drink themed performances. Food trucks like Curry Up Now and The Chairman along with a host of popular eateries like Namu, 4505 Meats and Proposition Chicken are joined by upscale restaurants like Marlowe, Rich Table and Stones Throw.

Crowd at Outside Lands in San Francisco


Navigating Outside Lands isn’t easy, so here are a few tips and resources to help you prepare. First, rent a bike. Buses are packed, taxis are scarce, rideshares are overpriced and parking is nonexistent. There’s even a bike valet at the festival where they’ll wash your ride gratis 10 am-8 pm. Past years have been notoriously chilly, windy and sometimes wet, so be sure to bring layers. And be sure to claim a locker early to stash those layers once the sun comes out. The Outside Lands app has you covered with features like personalized schedule sharing, a friend finder, maps, showtimes and news. If your phone dies, there’s a charging station and convenience store selling essentials like lip balm, blankets, ear plugs and more.  

What to expect at the three-day celebration of music, food and art.

What You Need to Know About SF Pride

San Francisco Pride Parade
(©SF Travel/Scott Chernis) San Francisco Pride Parade

The SF Pride Celebration returns to downtown San Francisco June 24-25, attracting hundreds of thousands of revelers for the annual parade and festival. Now in its 47th year, SF Pride is the largest LGBT gathering in the nation, and this year the theme is "A Celebration of Diversity." In addition to the main celebration, dozens of events kick off in neighborhoods around town, including, of course, the city’s historic Castro District, home to SF’s queer community since the 1960s.

San Francisco Pride Parade

Civic Center Plaza Park at the foot of City Hall will host the main festival (noon-6 pm Saturday, 11 am-6 pm Sunday), where you’ll find over 200 exhibitors and more than 20 stages and venues. Sunday’s parade of more than 240 contingents and floats will make its way from the Embarcadero through the heart of downtown San Francisco to the Civic Center festival. Dykes on Bikes, a longtime parade staple, celebrates its 41st anniversary this year with a fleet of nearly 400 riders. This year also features the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus as well as local activists recognized for their contributions to the LGBT community as the parade’s grand marshals.

Rainbow float at the SF Pride Parade

The Castro District, the historic home of San Francisco’s LGBT movement, will be celebrating Pride all month with a variety of special events. The GLBT Museum is the only one of its kind in the U.S., and is home to a must-see collection of posters, photographs and artifacts, including a display of Harvey Milk’s personal belongings. Speaking of Harvey Milk, be sure to stop by the Human Rights Campaign Action Center & Store at 575 Castro St. The building is the former site of Milk’s Castro Camera shop, where he also lived and organized his political campaigns. As you walk the streets of the Castro, you’ll notice the Rainbow Honor Walk, a series of bronze plaques honoring LGBT heroes. You can follow the sidewalk tribute from the heart of the Castro down Market Street, and on the way, rainbow crosswalks adorn the intersection of Castro and 18th streets.

San Francisco’s LGBT movement

The Castro is home to some of the city’s top eateries and bars. Twin Peaks Tavern, known as the “gateway to the Castro,” was the first gay bar in the country to feature huge glass windows, an important first step in bringing the gay community out of the closet. The Lookout is the Castro’s most popular bar and features an almost always packed balcony overlooking the intersection of 16th and Market streets. Perhaps the most acclaimed Castro restaurant, Frances is a neighborhood gem serving up modern California cuisine that changes with the seasons. Another neighborhood gem, the Michelin-recommended Anchor Oyster Bar has been a top seafood destination since 1977.

The Lookout balcony crowd


-Frameline, The SF International LGBT Film Festival

The historic Castro Theatre and other Bay Area venues host the longest-running and largest LGBTQ film event in the world. June 15-25

-SF Gay Men’s Chorus Presents “The Gay Kitchen Sink”

The SF Gay Men’s Chorus performs LGBT anthems from across generations, including Holly Near's "Singing for Our Lives" and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" at the Nourse Theater. June 16-17.

-Annual Pink Triangle Installation and Commemoration

Volunteers install a giant pink triangle on top of Twin Peaks starting at 7 am, followed by a commemoration ceremony at 10:30 am. June 24.

-LGBT Night at AT&T Park

Tickets to the game include a special LGBT-themed Giants scarf and admission to a pre-game party from 5-7 pm. June 26.


How to navigate the largest LGBT celebration in the nation.

Celebrate All Things Chinese in San Francisco

The 268-foot golden dragon at the Chinese New Year Parade
(©Knight Lights Photography) The 268-foot golden dragon at the Chinese New Year Parade

It's 2017, the Year of the Rooster and the perfect time to visit San Francisco—home to one of the world's largest Chinese New Year celebrations. The festivities culminate in February with the annual Grand Parade, starting at the corner of Market and 2nd streets. The streets sparkle with glittering floats, red lanterns, colorful flags and giant dragons stretching for blocks. 

Chinese New Year Parade

Whenever you visit, don't forget to pass through North America's only authentic Chinatown Gate—the giant green guardian of Grant and Bush adorned with dragons and lions. And that's just for starters. From downtown to the Mission District, the treasures and curiosities of Chinese culture await explorers. But you'd better start practicing using those chop sticks now.

Sweet Start

Golden Gate Bakery

No trip to Chinatown is complete without a taste of Golden Gate's world-famous $2 egg tarts. The only problem with this local landmark is you never know when it will actually be open.

Fancy Wheat Field Bakery

Fancy Wheat Field is unquestionably the most pristine bakery in Chinatown and decidedly less authentic, offering classic Chinese pastries like pineapple buns and pork sung buns. Check out the additional locations if you're around Excelsior or the Outer Sunset.

Mister Jiu's

Chow Down

House of Nanking

Situated at the cusp of North Beach, House of Nanking is one of the most popular and appetizing spots in San Francisco, featuring complex flavors, affordable prices and no frills service. You can't miss the sesame chicken, chili eggplant and the stunning wild blossoming tea.

Mission Chinese Food

Many locals swear this is the best Chinese-inspired food in town despite being in the heart of the Mission. The sign on outside says Lung Shan Restaurant, but nobody calls it that, so it’s easy to miss. The tea smoked eel, thrice cooked bacon and kung pao pastrami are crowd favorites.

Lai Hong Lounge

This expansive dining room is as authentic as it gets. In addition to the heavy rotation of dim sum, other popular dishes include the baked pork buns, shrimp noodle rolls and crispy duck buns.

Chef Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu's

Mister Jiu's

Mister Jiu's sets the bar for elevated Cantonese cuisine. Every dish is a work of art with inventive twists on Chinese classics. The impeccable service lends to the romance and helps justify the sizable check.

Truck Stop

The Chairman
This cult favorite originated as a food truck and expanded into a brick and mortar location in the Tenderloin. The Chairman is renowned for their signature bao. Imagine exotic proteins like Coca Cola braised pork and miso cured tofu stuffed in a chewy bun—available baked (more substantial) or steamed (cheaper).

Steamed bao bun at The Chairman


Li Po Cocktail Lounge

Li Po is a hot spot among hipsters and locals alike. It's known for having funky decor, a relaxed vibe and arguably the city's best Chinese Mai Tai. This quirky dive bar is endorsed by Anthony Bourdain, which just about sums it up.

Buddha Lounge

Just across the street from Li Po is Chinatown's second coolest bar, complete with a signature beer that comes in a green Buddha-shaped bottle. The service is consistently solid with knowledgeable, friendly bartenders.

Right Up Your Alley

Ross Alley

Recognized as the oldest alley in San Francisco, Ross Alley was once notorious for brothels and gambling houses. Check out the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and get a free sample fresh off the press.

Chinatown Gate

Waverley Place

Stroll down this picturesque alley into another era, seemingly another country. Waverley Place is lined with temples and brightly painted balconies adorned with ornamental iron railings. It's most notably featured in the Amy Tan novel “The Joy Luck Club.”

See the Sights

Chinese Cultural Center

This extensive visual arts and community center offers an evolving array of modern art exhibitions. They also offer a popular two-hour democracy walking tour through Chinatown.

Chinatown tea house

All About Chinatown Tours

Get an insight into the city's rich Chinese heritage on this two-three hour excursion with an optional dim sum lunch. The tour departs from Old St. Mary's Cathedral, which was the first Asian church constructed in North America.

Down to an Art

Chinese Historical Society of America

For a deep and intimate perspective on American Chinese culture, check out the extensive historical archives and impressive art museum.

Asian Art Museum Entrance

Asian Art Museum

Located in the heart of the Civic Center, the Asian Art Museum boasts a wealth of Chinese art in its permanent collection. A new exhibition called “Tomb Treasures” opens on Feb. 17, showcasing recently unearthed artwork from the Han Dynasty.

Travel Tip

Invest $21 in a one-day Muni Pass to hop on the cable cars and buses all day. Otherwise, it's $7 per cable car ride—no transfers. 

Exploring San Francisco's deep Chinese heritage