Come samba in the streets of San Francisco, run with the locals at Bay to Breakers and enjoy music in the meadows in the merry month of May.

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May 1, 2019

Things to Do in San Francisco this May

Come samba in the streets of San Francisco! Celebrate 41 years of Carnaval, run with the locals in Bay to Breakers, and enjoy music in the meadows in the merry month of May.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

Beginning May 4, 2019 and continuing throughout the summer, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival will present over 100 free programs of music, theater, dance, and more by artists from around the world. The festival kicks off at 1:00 p.m. on May 4 with a tribute to Charlie Palmieri, a progressive force on the New York Latin music scene. Program highlights include the Children's Garden Series, Thursday Lunchtime Concert Series, Poetic Tuesday, and much more. The festival will close with the 19th Annual Halloween Hoopla on Oct. 27.

San Francisco's First SailGP

Don't miss the U.S. debut of SailGP, a new annual global sports championship featuring the world's fastest race boats, taking place in San Francisco Bay on May 4-5. Red and White Fleet is the exclusive provider of on-water experiences for families, individuals and corporate guests for San Francisco SailGP.


20 Years of Weirdness

This year's How Weird Street Faire will celebrate 20 years on May 5 from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. along Howard and Second streets. Dress in your most colorful costumes to spread love, peace, creativity, and weirdness! There will be nine stages of electronic music, along with delicious foods, unique vendors, and visionary art.

Bay to Breakers Race

Of all of San Francisco’s unique traditions, none captivates the entire city the way Bay to Breakers does. This year’s race is May 19, 2019. It’s an annual testament to the creativity, community, and resilience that make San Francisco such a popular destination. The race began in 1912 and is now recognized as the longest consecutively run foot race in the world. It is also one of the most creative. Whether it’s a pink gorilla or a cadre of runners dressed as Wonder Woman, participants try to outdo one another by crafting some truly outrageous costumes every year. Need some inspiration? Here are a few of our favorites. These are some of the best areas to stay in San Francisco for Bay to Breakers.

Carnaval San Francisco Sambas Through Mission District

Bursting with music, dance, cuisine, and arts and crafts from the many countries that celebrate Carnaval, Carnaval San Francisco will be celebrated in San Francisco’s Mission District on Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26, 2019. With 400,000-plus attendees, the Carnaval San Francisco outdoor cultural festival and Grand Parade is the largest such multicultural celebration on the West Coast. VIP parade seating on May 26 is available. These are the best areas to stay for Carnaval San Francisco.

Memorial Day Commemoration & Parade at the Presidio

Commemorate those who served in the U.S. Army and connect with military personnel, veterans, and their families for a Memorial Day celebration on May 27. The commemoration begins with a Flag Raising Ceremony at 9:45 a.m. at the Presidio's Main Post, followed by a parade with veterans. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at the Main Parade Ground with a community picnic.



MUTEK.SF returns to San Francisco after a successful first year of arts and music. This festival takes place May 2-5, across a diverse set of venues and features global artists and local visionaries. Experience artful audiovisual and multi-sensory works in electronic arts and music. On the final day, the festival will conclude with an all-day genre-bending extravaganza.

Do You Believe in Magic?

Come see magic from Kevin Blake, a finalist of NBC's "America's Got Talent". His magical talent is so impressive that he's rejected every Hogwarts acceptance letter he ever received. Attendees can expect mind-blowing visual illusions, audience mind-reading, and hilarious interactions. Don't miss him at The Speakeasy's Palace Theater on May 2 and 5.

2019 Cinco de Mayo Festival

Join thousands of others in a celebration of Mexican and Latin American cultures, food, music, and dance. The festival will takeover Valencia St., between 21st and 24th streets, on May 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Ice Hours at the Exploratorium

This summer, the Exploratorium will take hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Antarctic in a special film showing now through May 9, 2019. Crafted from over a decade of video footage, "Ice Hours" offers a glimpse into the Antarctic landscapes that captures nature's fragility. Learn about the endangered features of our changing planet and the interdependence of humans to care for our planet.


Get Competitive with The SF Hunt

Explore San Francisco by foot, bike, or public transit while solving riddles in this city-wide scavenger hunt with The SF Hunt. Band together with up to five of your closest friends or hunt solo. If you finish in the top three, you and your friends can win up to $5,000 in prizes! Come with your coolest costumes and a fully charged phone (you'll need the app to collect points along the way) and get hunting. Even locals will be surprised at what you can discover in San Francisco. Find your treasures on May 11, 2019.

Mother's Day in the Bay

There's no better day to shower your mom with only-in-San-Francisco experiences than on Mother's Day. On May 12, 2019, the Exploratorium is offering a free community day for everyone to visit the many exhibits for free. Show Mom some appreciation with a nice Brunch on the Bay with Hornblower Cruises. Cap off your day at Golden Gate Park for the annual Mother's Day Rose Show at the Hall of Flowers.


"Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World"

The Walt Disney Family Museum’s newest special exhibition, "Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World," will be on view May 16, 2019-Jan. 6, 2020. This unique exhibition celebrates Mickey's influence on art and entertainment over the past nine decades. More than 400 original objects will be part of this exciting exhibition, including rare and never-before-seen sketches, concept artwork, character model sheets, and more. During the opening week of the exhibition, guests will see an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the process of curating such a comprehensive exhibition.


Wine Pour at PIER 39

Grab your friends and head to The PIER to enjoy the season with an evening of wine, beer, music and fun at the PIER 39 Spring Wine Pour on Friday, May 17, 2019. Stroll The PIER and stop by participating businesses to enjoy tastings, exclusive discounts, live music, and entertainment from 4 to 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $25 until May 16; a limited number of tickets will be available day-of at the PIER 39 Entrance Plaza for $30 (cash-only). A portion of ticket sales will benefit the Aquarium of the Bay's conservation education program for Bay Area children.

San Francisco International Arts Festival

Forty different artist ensembles and companies will present their work exclusively at the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, May 23-June 2, for the San Francisco International Arts Festival. The 2019 festival's theme this year is "The Path to Democracy" and also spans topics including women’s leadership, artificial intelligence, and comedy.

Summer Fun at the Presidio

Keep the kids entertained in the Presidio all summer long. Go geocaching to find some surprisingly awesome hidden treasures throughout the Presidio's parks or check out a Presidio Explorer Backpack at the Visitor Center to explore the lesser-known parts of the Presidio. The Explorer Backpack is packed with an adventure map and cards that guide you to fun discoveries all over the park. Feeling really adventurous? Check out 10 more ways to experience the Presidio.

Sunny Day Activities in Tri-Valley

Nicknamed "The Sunny Side of the Bay," Tri-Valley is nestled in the East Bay, just a 35-minute drive from San Francisco. In addition to its proximity to wine country, a world-class culinary scene, and the Bay Area's only ice cream trail, Tri-Valley is home to some of the best outdoor activities. Hike to Murietta Falls, paddle-board at Lake Del Valle, and witness incredible 360-degree views at Mt. Diablo State Park.

It’s Showtime!

Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" brings its world of pure imagination to the stage of the SHN Orpheum Theater now through May 12, 2019. It's the perfect chance to see the wonders of Willy Wonka like never before—and you might just find the golden ticket. "The View Upstairs" begins on May 10, 2019, at the New Conservatory Theatre Center. "Vanity Fair" continues at the American Conservatory Theater's Geary Theater and "Weightless" at A.C.T.'s The Strand, both through May 12. Also, "Rhinoceros", a wicked comedy about power, conformism, and mass culture, debuts on May 29.

May Museum Picks

Several new exhibitions and interactive exhibits land in San Francisco this May. Here are some to note:

  • The Museum of the African Diaspora will premiere a few new exhibits in May. "Coffee, Rhum, Sugar & Gold: A Postcolonial Paradox" looks at the legacy of European colonialism in the Caribbean. Featuring works from 10 contemporary artists, this exhibition examines the relationship between power structures, those who are oppressed, and those who actively seek to liberate themselves. "Still Here" explores stories of migration, displacement, and survival. It highlights cultural rituals and traditions through a series of films and videos. Another newly commissioned exhibition is "Dignity Images: Bayview-Hunters Point by American Artist," a collection of photographs referred to as "dignity images," which represents what is recovered by withholding one's images from social media.
  • Dozens of specially-curated interactive exhibits, artifacts, and artworks make up the Exploratorium's newest exhibition, "Self, Made: Exploring You in a World of We." It's designed to change your view of you and gives you the freedom to re-imagine yourself. Journey through these amazing layers of your personal identity beginning on May 23, 2019.


  • At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, "JR: The Chronicles of San Francisco" also opens on May 23. "JR", presented free to the public during the museum's open hours in the Roberts Family Gallery on Floor 1, celebrates the voices of our unique city. The artist JR interviewed close to 1200 people from all walks of the city's life, and presents an interactive experience of their stories through a large-scale digital mural and kiosks for guests to explore further.


  • "Monet: The Late Years" continues at the de Young through May 27. Explore dozens of paintings by Claude Monet from the early 18th century. His bold works is widely known to have redefined impressionism as a forebear of modernism.


Curb Appeal

The West Coast’s top designers have transformed 465 Marina Blvd. in the heart of the Marina District for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, which continues through May 27, 2019 (closed Mondays except Memorial Day). Originally built by architect George McCrea in 1930, the house offers uninterrupted views of San Francisco Bay from its location opposite Marina Green. More than two dozen interior and landscape designers, along with artists and photographers, have been selected to transform the rooms and outdoor spaces in this three-level residence.

Burlesque, Drag, and Comedy

Every Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m. all throughout May, swing by The Stud for "Qtease - A Queer Burlesque & Cabaret Experience." Performers put on an absolutely hilarious and entertaining night full of burlesque, drag, and comedy.

Special Events at Oracle Park

Summer also means it's time for baseball season at Oracle Park! There are nine special events on the calendar for May. From university nights (Stanford, UC Davis, and Santa Clara University), to "Game of Thrones Night" and "#BayAreaUnite Night", special events games are an opportunity for fans to score some great San Francisco Giants freebies. There's also no better way to start baseball season than with a behind-the-scenes tour, available daily.


The New Sprinkle Spectacular at Museum of Ice Cream

Since its arrival in the fall of 2017, the Museum of Ice Cream has become a permanent fixture in San Francisco. With Sprinkle Spectacular, a new theatrical immersive experience, the Museum of Ice Cream welcomes a brand new ice cream parlor and cafe, new and tasty sweet treats, and its famous Sprinkle Pool that's now 4x larger! The Sprinkle Spectacular ends on May 27, 2019. Tickets are on sale now.


Find the Best San Francisco Hotel Deals This May


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