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 to make it memorable.
Go Forth on the Fourth
The Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday this year, but there’s no reason why you can’t tap into some of those unused vacation days. Let’s have some fun and take a few days off! Need a little traveling music? Be sure to check out the annual Fillmore Jazz Festival, June 30-July 1, 2018.
The high octane School of Rock shreds the SHN Orpheum Theater through July 22, 2018. Fourteen new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber plus all the original songs from the movie make this a summer must. Based on the international best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns, is at the A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, July 17-29, 2018. The epic story of three generations of Afghan women who are bound together by marriage, family and a secret past unfolds amid the war-torn streets of modern-day Kabul. Performed by the New Conservatory Theatre Center’s summer teen ensemble, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory revisits the world of Mr. Wonka for a short but sweet run, July 25-28, 2018.
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 22, 2018 at Stern Grove Festival, the San Francisco Symphony’s summer concert schedule, July 3-Aug. 3, 2018, includes the long-awaited 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. On Aug. 1, hip hop artist, actor and activist Common joins the Symphony to perform selections from his album, Black America Again.
Music in the Air
From July 5-Oct. 3, 2018, the People in Plazas (PIP) summer music festival will produce more than 125 live music concerts in 14 different venues in downtown San Francisco. Most concerts take place at noon and include a variety of musical styles from bluegrass to zydeco. Another one of the city’s most delightful summer experiences returns July 5-16, 2018, 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. Stern Grove Festival, now in its 81st season, continues through Aug. 19, 2018.
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival
The 2018 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, the largest and most comprehensive world dance and music event of its kind in the U.S., celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The festival opens on July 6, 2018, with a free performance at City Hall, followed by two weekends of inspiring performances, July 14-15 and July 21-22, 2018, at the San Francisco Opera House. There will be performances by 21 Bay Area-based groups and a few surprises to be announced in conjunction with 40th anniversary festivities.
Stroll Through History
Among regularly scheduled tours of historic buildings in San Francisco, many of which are offered by City Guides, there are docent tours of the Old U.S. Mint, 88 Fifth St. by the California Historical Society. The tours ($10) are offered on July 10 (noon), July 14 (1 p.m.) and July 27 (3 p.m.), as well as other dates in 2018. Journey through 150 years of history with a trained CHS docent who will share unique stories, discuss the architecture, and answer questions about the Old U.S. Mint. Visit San Francisco’s French Renaissance-style City Hall on free docent-led tours. The building spans two city blocks in the Civic Center area and is considered one of the finest examples of Beaux Art architecture in the United States. Designed in 1915 by Arthur Brown, Jr. and John Bakewell, the interior features a sweeping marble staircase, and south and north light courts which feature rotating exhibits. Please arrive five minutes before tour departure. For more information on this and other scheduled tours, telephone 415-554-6139.
Speaking of Walks …
The San Francisco Art Dealers Association offers “First Thursday,” a downtown tradition since 1993. On every first Thursday of the month (on July 12 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 if you are making a special trip to see a specific gallery that you call ahead first to confirm hours. On the first Saturday of every month (July 7 this month), galleries at Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St. welcome visitors.
Calistoga Uncorked Tasting at the Presidio
Winemakers and owners from 30 Calistoga wineries are bringing the best of Napa Valley down to San Francisco for an opportunity to taste and purchase hard-to-find Calistoga AVA wines. Most of the wineries that will be pouring at Calistoga Uncorked are not open to the public, so this is your chance to discover them at the picturesque Golden Gate Club in the Presidio on July 12, 2018. Light bites will be served to complement the outstanding wines.
Not a month goes by without some sort of reel fest in San Francisco. Modern Cinema returns to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 12-29, 2018. This season explores the work of African-American filmmakers navigating the Hollywood machine and in some cases, operating outside its border. “Black Powers: Reframing Hollywood” features work from pioneers such as Melvin Van Peebles, Gordon Parks and Bill Gunn. Check out the San Francisco Frozen Film Festival, July 19-22, 2018, 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 19-Aug. 5, 2018. The festival is the first, oldest and most prestigious celebration of its kind in the world.
SFJAZZ Summer Sessions
From July 12-Aug. 19, 2018, SFJAZZ’s Summer Sessions presents Philip Glass Festival, Dustbowl Revival, Hot Club of Cowtown, David Grisman, Del McCoury & The Travelin’ McCourys, Sam Bush, Paris Combo, Zoë Keating, Chucho Valdés & Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Taj Mahal, DakhaBrakha and more. SFJAZZ will also present an exclusive performance with two-time Grammy winner Gregory Porter, singing the timeless songs of Nat “King” Cole, accompanied by the Magik*Magik Orchestra, under the direction of arranger Vince Mendoza, at Davies Symphony Hall on Aug. 18, 2018.
Bay Parade Saves the Bay
On Sunday, July 15, 2018 swimmers, kayakers and boaters will come together for the annual Bay Parade, a fundraiser for Baykeeper’s work to defend San Francisco Bay from pollution. The grand Bay Parade finale will be broadcast live from McCovey Cove on the San Francisco Giants Jumbotron. Festivities will continue on-shore at the Bay Parade after-party.
Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 Is Here!
A free-to-the-public event at 5 p.m. on July 19, 2018 at Embarcadero Plaza (formerly Justin Herman Plaza) will officially welcome the competing countries and their representative teams for the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, July 20-22, 2018 at AT&T Park. The first Rugby World Cup on American soil, Rugby World Cup Sevens is the foremost stand-alone competition in international rugby sevens. Drawing the best teams from around the globe — 24 men’s and 16 women’s — the competition will feature the USA taking on Olympic champions Fiji and Australia, defending World Cup Sevens champions New Zealand, along with England, Samoa, South Africa, Brazil, China, Mexico and many others. Single-day tickets and three-day passes are still available for purchase. Book your hotel room now and get ready to cheer your lungs out.
3rd Thursdays at Civic Center Commons Features Zak Ové’s Art Installation
For the next Civic Center Commons 3rd Thursdays Block Party event on July 19, 2018, from 5-9 p.m., the public is invited to experience internationally renowned artist Zak Ové’s temporary public art installation, Invisible Man and the Masque of Blackness. On view through early November, the monumental installation of 40 identical figurative sculptures is the artist’s first exhibition of this important body of work in the United States. During the event, the public will have an opportunity to hear from the artist while enjoying food, drinks, music, and other free family-friendly activities under the lights of City Hall.
ODC/Dance Summer Sampler
ODC/Dance, San Francisco's world class contemporary dance company, presents its annual summer event, Summer Sampler, July 20-21 and July 27-28, 2018. 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 41st Anniversary Bay Area Playwrights Festival runs July 20-29, 2018, at Potrero Stage, 1895 18th St. This year, six plays were selected from 700 submissions nationally. Echoing the times, all of the plays explore turning points in history, moments when worlds shift and rules change. In addition to 12 staged readings, the festival will offer a Theater Professionals weekend and special events, including a kickoff fundraiser on July 15, 2018.
“Run, don’t walk” is the advice of one museum insider when it comes to the Magritte exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) through Oct. 28, 2018. René Magritte: The Fifth Season, an exclusive special exhibition at SFMOMA, looks at the works of the famed surrealist during the latter stages of his career from the 1940s to 1960s. The Fifth Season features more than 50 oil paintings and a dozen gouaches across nine galleries. Many pieces within the exhibit are rarely-seen treasures from museums around the world and private collections. Cult of the Machine continues at the de Young Museum through Aug. 12, 2018. At its sister museum, the Legion of Honor, Julian Schnabel: Symbols of Actual Life ends on Aug. 5, 2018. At the Contemporary Jewish Museum, an original exhibition, Lew the Jew and His Circle: Origins of American Tattoo, opens on July 26, 2018. Also opening on the same date is In That Case: Havruta in Contemporary Art — Oxossi Ayofemi and Risa Wechsler, in which Ayofemi and Wechsler present “Black Matter,” an installation that explores the concept of dark matter and dark energy in physics.
By the Light of the Moon
One probably needs little excuse to walk along the beach, but July 27, 2018, 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 ($50) is required. Telephone 415-561-4300 for complete guidelines and restrictions (subject to change).
On July 29, 2018, the streets of San Francisco will fill with more than 27,500 runners for the 41st 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. 9, 2018.
Lift Your Spirits
This summer, hundreds of thousands of visitors will walk through the doors of the Exploratorium to discover gigantic, fantastical, air-filled art works inspired by the natural world. The renowned San Francisco museum is partnering with art, design and visual culture blog Colossal to present something huge: Inflatable: Expanding Works of Art, on view through Sept. 3, 2018.
Come Play with Us
It’s summer and the Children’s Creativity Museum is open an extra day, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., through Sept. 2, 2018. Geared for ages 2-12, the museum offers innovative art and tech experiences atop The Moscone Center. While construction to expand the Center is underway, just 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.
The California Academy of Sciences new exhibition, Giants of Land and Sea, allows visitors to step inside an immersive fog room to feel the chill of this natural air conditioning and hear the sounds of fog horns. They’ll learn how fog helps to create a cool climate that nourishes coastal redwoods and their forest environments and watch a mesmerizing time lapse of coastal fog rolling across the Golden Gate Bridge and blanketing the San Francisco Bay in its daily ebb and flow. The Exploratorium answers the question, “Why are San Francisco’s summers so foggy?” in a short video on their home page and Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Bridge #72494 is a permanent installation at the museum.
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 find out why. San Francisco's myriad 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 Street. Stop in at the San Francisco Visitor Information Center and the pros at the counter will tell you where to go take a hike.