Things to Do in San Francisco this June
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” We’re in complete agreement with Henry James. And just for the record, Mark Twain never said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
Not a month goes by without some sort of reel fest in San Francisco. Check out the SF Doc Fest through June 14, 2018 at the Roxie, Brava and New People theaters. Cinematheque celebrates works of aesthetically radical cinema in Crossroads, which showcases new film/video works by emerging and established filmmakers, June 7-10, 2018, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. From June 8-10, 2018, the Queer Women of Color Film Festival showcases new films reflecting the lives of queer women of color. The “Game Has Changed” at the San Francisco Black Film Festival, June 14-17, 2018, as it marks its platinum year. Frameline42, the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, is slated for June 14-24, 2018.
Top Block of Mason Street on Nob Hill Becomes Tony Bennett Way
San Francisco has two tunes that are “official”: the rousing “San Francisco,” made famous in the 1936 movie, San Francisco, and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” the ballad Tony Bennett first sang in 1961 in the Venetian Room of the Fairmont San Francisco. Now the 900 block of Mason Street, located “halfway to the stars” in front of the Fairmont, is being renamed Tony Bennett Way. Bennett will be on hand to dedicate the street on June 2, 2018, and attendees are encouraged to honor the singer with heart-shaped hand gestures (#tonybennettway) as part of the celebration. Ceremonies begin at noon.
It’s Going to Be a Clusterfest
Returning to Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and Civic Center Plaza is Clusterfest, a three-day comedy and music festival, that will bring the likes of Jon Stewart and Amy Schumer to San Francisco, June 1-June 3, 2018. The Lonely Island, in their first ever live concert performance, and Trevor Noah are also part of the diverse lineup, which includes established and emerging artists. Full details are at www.clusterfest.com. Explore more of the funny side of San Francisco here.
Heralded by The New York Times as “The Best Play of the Year,” Stephen Karam’s The Humans at SHN Orpheum, June 5-17, 2018, takes place over the course of a family dinner on Thanksgiving. Uproarious, hopeful and heartbreaking, The Humans is all too human in its examination of our modern age of anxiety. Also coming to SHN Orpheum is School of Rock, June 27-July 22, 2018, with 14 new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Start practicing your air guitar moves now. At the New Conservatory Theater, When Pigs Fly wraps up on June 10, 2018. Six Characters in Search of a Play is Del Shores’ (Sordid Lives) new one-man show. Meet six real-life characters who Shores has met in this limited engagement, June 6-10, 2018. Based on the award-winning film, the new musical, A Walk on the Moon, makes its world premiere at the American Conservatory Theater’s Geary Theater, June 9-July 8, 2018. Revisiting the summer of 1969, the play captures a journey of self-discovery and the thrill of a generation in revolution. Talk Story returns to EXIT Theatre, June 6-9, 2018. After a successful inaugural year in 2017, EXIT Theatre brings a treasure trove of storytellers together to present a diverse slate of stories, spoken straight from the heart.
Day for Night Public Art Installation Debuts atop Salesforce Tower
On the top of the new 1,070-foot Salesforce Tower, San Francisco artist Jim Campbell has created a public art installation that is the tallest in the U.S. Called Day for Night, the piece debuted on May 22, 2018 as part of opening ceremonies for the Salesforce Tower, currently the tallest building west of the Mississippi. According to Campbell, he was inspired by “the city itself … this piece is a soft dreamscape that subtly floats on the night skyline.” As cameras throughout San Francisco capture daily activity, scenes will be played back at night on the top of the tower. Visible for approximately 20 miles around the San Francisco Bay Area from vantage points such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks, Alamo Square and the Top of the Mark, the piece is part of the San Francisco Arts Commission’s commitment to public art. San Francisco has a “one percent for art” program that requires at least one percent of the total construction cost of large projects in the city be dedicated to public art funding. Day for Night was commissioned through the joint efforts of Gallery Wendi Norris and Keehn On Art, co-curators of Salesforce Tower’s public art program. Campbell is represented by the Hosfelt Gallery. San Francisco has more than three dozen light art installations throughout its 47 square miles and its annual Illuminate SF Festival is held annually from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day.
San Jose Giant Race
The seventh annual San Jose Giant Race on June 2, 2018 features five-mile and 5K races at the San Jose Municipal Stadium. The scenic routes cut through Kelley Park, Happy Hollow Zoo and Historic San Jose before finishing on the field at Municipal Stadium. All participants receive a shirt, finisher medal and free San Jose Giants baseball ticket. Be sure to put the San Francisco Giant Race Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, Kids Race & Family Relay coming up on Sept. 9, 2018 on your calendar, too.
Fair Weather Fare
Weekend street fairs are perfect for exploring a new neighborhood and enjoying some local entertainment. Now in its 42nd year, the Union Street Music Festival, June 2-3, 2018, brings the sound of summer to historic Union Street. This festival features local bands, arts and crafts booths, food and beverage gardens, community groups and unique sponsors. The 41st anniversary of the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair is June 10, 2018. Be sure to include a stop at Love on Haight for some custom tie-dyed apparel, and The Haight Street Art Center, a first-of-its-kind poster print shop and gallery that supports a collective of poster artists. As San Francisco's oldest street fair, the North Beach Festival, June 16-17, 2018, features more than 125 arts and crafts booths, dozens of gourmet food booths, live entertainment, Italian street painting, kids’ chalk art area, blessings of the animals at The Shrine of St. Francis Assisi, beverage gardens and other surprises. Leave time to linger at Schein & Schein; their antique maps and prints might be just the perfect souvenir.
Union Street Music Festival
In its 42nd year, the Union Street Music Festival, June 2-3, 2018 is one of San Francisco’s largest annual free events. For the second year in a row it will feature over 24 live bands sprinkled throughout the five blocks of the festival. The entertainment areas will showcase five different genres: jazz, blues, country, bluegrass and local bands. The festival will also include arts and craft exhibitors and food vendors. Full pours of beer and wine will be served in each of the beverage gardens.
Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Now in its 38th year, the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon on June 3, 2018 will draw 2,000 triathletes from 40 countries for a 1.5 mile-swim from Alcatraz, home to one of America’s most notorious prisons, to the shore near the St. Francis Yacht Club. Followed by an 18-mile bike ride to Golden Gate Park and an eight-mile run through the Presidio, this race is considered one of the most difficult triathlons in the sport. There will also be a weekend-long Fitness Festival and Expo at Marina Green, June 2-3, 2018.
All That Jazz
For more than 30 years, SFJAZZ presented the San Francisco Jazz Festival in venues around the Bay Area. With the opening of the SFJAZZ Center in 2013, the festival is now concentrated in the Center and the surrounding Hayes Valley neighborhood, offering more than 30 shows from June 5-17, 2018. Headliners include Ahmad Jamal, performing at Davies Symphony Hall on June 6, 2018, and a historic gathering of piano greats at Herbst Theater on June 9, 2018, paying tribute to Oscar Peterson.
SF Design Week Offers More Than 200 Events
Designing a better future has never felt more urgent or important. Come be inspired by designers whose work is reflected in the transformation of underserved neighborhoods, such as 826 Valencia’s immersive literary program for children. Learn from thought leaders like IDEO or Pinterest’s “Right the Ratio” campaign. These are some of the threads woven into AIGA’s annual Design Week, June 7-15, 2018. With Friday studio crawls and 225 events, there are lots of ways to connect with others who want to make a change.
World Oceans Week
With the Pacific Ocean on its western edge, San Francisco has a daily reminder of the wonders of the deep blue sea. Celebrate World Oceans Week at Aquarium of the Bay, June 8-10, 2018. Find out what makes the ocean so special and how we can all do our part to keep it that way. Free admission will be offered for children 12 and under on World Oceans Day, June 8, 2018. If you feel like some fresh air, join volunteers at Aquatic Park on June 9, 2018 from 10 a.m-1 p.m.
Inflatable: Expanding Works of Art
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. During the month of June, visitors to the Exploratorium will also be able to experience Refik Anadol’s Infinity Room, a 12-by-12-foot room fitted with seamless doors, mirrored floors and ceilings, and four projectors that together create the experience of standing—or floating—in an infinite digital space. This immersive artwork will be on view at the Exploratorium for an extended period, and is one of many installations comprising the one-day event, Lightplay: Festival of Light, on June 9, 2018. Visitors to Lightplay will find the museum’s indoor and outdoor space filled with immersive and innovative light artworks.
Yerba Buena Art Walk
Here’s a novel way to burn off a few calories. On June 9, 2018, from 3-6 p.m., the annual Yerba Buena Alliance Artwalk visits eight locations and nine institutions in the Yerba Buena Gardens area. Bracketing the event are a pre-event reception from 2-3 p.m. at the California Historical Society and a post-event party at the American Bookbinders Museum, 6-7:30 p.m. Entrance to all the institutions is free, including 111 Minna Gallery, the American Bookbinders Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (limited to admission-free areas of SFMOMA until 5 p.m.), California Historical Society, Museum of the African Diaspora and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Arrive at 1 p.m. and enjoy a performance of traditional Balinese music and dance by Gamelan Sekar Jaya as part of the summer-long Yerba Buena Gardens Festival.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum
Ten years ago this this month, The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) opened the doors to its stunning Daniel Libeskind-designed building on Jessie Square. Since then, CJM has hosted and organized more than 70 exhibitions and welcomes tens of thousands each year to its huge array of public programs for all ages and abilities. On Sunday, June 10, 2018, the museum celebrates with a Community Free Day of live music, gallery performances, art-making and more, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Summer Wine Walks
With a Walk Score of 86, San Francisco is the second most walkable large city in the U.S. Combine that with its proximity to the vineyards of Sonoma and Napa, and it should come as no surprise that many neighborhoods in the city boast a wine walk (or two) during the year. Coming up in June: Wine Walk at the Wharf on June 10, 2018. Put on those walking shoes and wind (and wine) your way through the city.
Put A Ring On It!
We know a presentation of Wagner’s Ring cycle is serious stuff, but we couldn’t resist. From June 12-July 1, 2018, the San Francisco Opera will present the Ring cycle. This vast musical and dramatic spectacle is “titanic in scope” and includes four operas lasting 17 hours, performed over the course of a week. Lectures, exhibitions, film screenings, musical programs and opportunities to hear from artists, production team members and Wagner experts are also on the schedule. To accommodate curtain times, local restaurants will open early for dinner and, within the Opera House, a variety of new beverage and food options will be offered.
Giants Among Us
Life at the edge of land and sea is a dynamic, ever-changing place where fog rolls in, tectonic plates shift, and rocky coastlines trace the majestic outline of California’s rich natural history. Beginning June 15, 2018, visitors to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park will discover the giant wonders that make Northern California like nowhere else in the world at Giants of Land and Sea. In this brand new exhibit filled with larger-than-life interactives, visitors will experience the grand scale of the state’s iconic landscape, a place of constant change where people and climate are shaping the future. Giants of Land and Sea also celebrates California’s rich cultural diversity and will be translated in several different languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese and Filipino.
Nature’s Music Box Tunes Up
Free concerts—hundreds in fact—are a hallmark of San Francisco summers. One of the most renowned free concert series is the Stern Grove Festival, which began in 1938. This year, the season opens on June 17, 2018, with The Big Picnic: A Benefit and Concert, featuring Peabo Bryson and Jeffrey Osborne. Following the ticketed benefit party, the 2 p.m. concert is free. Every Sunday thereafter at 2 p.m., until Aug. 19, 2018, “nature’s music box” in the Sunset District will hum to the sounds of performers and groups ranging from Ziggy Marley (June 24) to the San Francisco Symphony (July 22).
Pride with a Capital “P”
June is Pride month. Rainbow flags line Market Street and folks in the Castro will be shopping at Cliff’s Variety Store for that special tiara or boa. The 42nd edition of Frameline’s San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival runs from June 14-24, 2018. With an expected attendance of 65,000, the 11 days of Frameline42 will draw film buffs, media artists and LGBTQ communities from the Bay Area and across the globe to see the best in queer cinema. On June 22-23, 2018, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus debuts a new musical, Unbreakable composed by and starring Tony Award-nominee Andrew Lippa at Nourse Theater. The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and Parade, June 23-24, 2018, is the largest LGBT gathering in the nation, with more than 200 parade contingents, 300 exhibitors, and more than 20 venues and stages. This year’s celebration is honoring more than a dozen community leaders. Make sure to include a visit to the GLBT History Museum on 18th Street, too. On June 21, 2018, join the San Francisco Giants in celebration of the Bay Area’s rich LGBTQ culture with a baseball game. Each special event ticket package includes a pre-game party, a ticket to the evening's Giants game, and a limited-edition gift, with partial proceeds supporting local LGBTQ-focused non-profits.
Juneteenth in the Fillmore District
Commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S., Juneteenth on June 16, 2018, is the oldest known celebration among African-Americans across the U.S. It has been a tradition since the late 19th century. The event usually draws some 75,000 people to the Fillmore District for the parade, a health and wellness pavilion, a traditional African Uhuru village and other activities.
Kites at the Presidio
Memo to kids: on Saturday, June 16, 2018, from noon to 5 p.m. on the Main Parade Ground of the Presidio, all things kite will unfurl at the family-friendly Presidio Kite Festival. The free event features a build-your -own kite booth, hands-on learning from kite experts, a kite art exhibition, giant kites, mega team flying, Taiko drummers and food trucks.
Picnic Pleasures and Off the Grid
We love holidays no matter what the pretext, so International Picnic Day on June 18, 2018, is an immediate favorite. A number of locations in San Francisco are picnic perfect, including the Presidio of San Francisco and China Basin Park. Opposite AT&T Park, it offers spectacular views of the ballpark and the bay. Grassy picnic areas and a 1,200-foot-long seawall are perfect for a midday break.
Fillmore Jazz Festival
The 2018 Fillmore Jazz Festival returns to the historic Fillmore District, June 30-July 1, 2018. Celebrating the culture of jazz that flourished during the 1990s, this year’s theme pays tribute to the San Francisco music scene during that time and will feature musicians and bands playing everything from jazz and hip-hop to Latin and funk. The Fillmore Jazz Festival was founded in 1986 and is the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast. During the two-day event, visitors can groove to the sounds of live music from multiple stages on Fillmore Street, between Jackson and Eddy Streets.
According to the San Francisco Department of the Environment, there are almost two dozen farmers’ markets in San Francisco. A new one has just cropped up in North Beach and will be open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 699 Columbus Ave. until Dec. 1, 2018.