Each summer the kids are out of school, the fog (usually) rolls in along with thousands of tourists, and we all begin the hunt for fun new ways to spend our days. Luckily, in the Bay Area, there is no shortage of activities to get out the wiggles and induce the giggles. Here’s a list of my favorite free summertime activities (and a few I haven’t yet tried but hope to check off my list this summer).
1] Catch a flick!
It’s no secret that the Bay Area is famous for hosting outdoor movies throughout the summer, but that doesn’t make watching a movie in Dolores Park or Jack London Square any less fun. Whether it’s date night or family night, there’s bound to be an outdoor screening room to suit the occasion. Other options include: Film Night in the Park and Starlight Movies in the Park.
2] Take in some tunes.
The Bay Area has a plethora of free concerts. You’re sure to find a beat to suit every member of the family. Throughout the summer, some of the Bay’s best hangouts turn into concert venues. Check out these three spots for concerts throughout the summer: In San Francisco, hit up Stern Grove to hear concerts from entertainers like the San Francisco Symphony, in Oakland climb up to Kaiser’s Roof Garden to take in some Friday afternoon jazz, pop, or zydeco, and in Richmond, head to Point Richmond for everything from country to latin music. For the young ones, don’t miss the JamBand Family Festival.
3] See what the Mime’s have to say.
From Mill Valley to Palo Alto, Oakland to San Francisco, the San Francisco Mime Troupe will be performing free shows around the Bay Area. Given that it’s an election year, it’s the perfect summer to take in a show. Pull up a blanket and prepare to be hilariously informed. If the family is more into puppets, clowns, or acrobats check out the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival.
4] Dance! Dance! Dance!
Everywhere you turn, there’s a place to twirl. Whether you’re fancy-footed or have two left feet, moving to the music is great fun. At these outdoor dance parties, there’s room for everyone on the dance floor, and there are free dance lessons for newcomers. Learn the Lindy or Salsa the night away.
5] Learn about our community.
Everyday we pass by places like the Port of Oakland or Golden Gate Park. Go take an evening tour of the Oakland harbor or a morning nature walk and learn more about them. How did the Japanese Tea Garden come to be, or the Ferry Building, or the Golden Gate Bridge? Go find out.
6] Hit the beach.
Just because we’re in the middle of a metropolis doesn’t mean we don’t have great beaches. No need to trek to Santa Cruz or Stinson for some sand and sun. Hop on a train or bus and head to Ocean Beach, China Beach, Baker Beach, Fort Funston (take your dog!) or Crown Memorial State Beach.
7] Discover & Go!
First off, our public libraries are amazing places to spend some summer hours, so take some time to check out your local branch. Secondly, they just got even better with the Discover & Go pass. And whether you’re a member of the San Francisco, Oakland or Berkeley or [you name it] Public Library, you can get free access to places like the California Academy of Sciences, the Oakland Zoo, and so much more.
8] Engage in a family competition.
What better way to get some mental energy out than at a friendly family competition? See who can identify the most constellations at Chabot Space and Science Center, who in the family has the smallest carbon footprint at the EcoCenter’s Science Saturdays, or who can build the biggest sand castle or tie the best knot at the Festival of the Sea. Home Depot will help you to decide who the best builder in the family is at their kids workshops! And, the Exploratorium has endless contests.
9] Give back.
What better way to spend a day out door than bettering and beautifying our community. Take a day to volunteering. The options are abundant. Be a gardener for a day, and join in “greening” Alamo Square Park or a “workparty” at Kezar Triangle. Test out your cooking skills and prepare food for the Prevention Center community on Tuesday nights, a soup kitchen or senior center. The opportunities are endless.
10] What are your favorite summer family activities?
Tell me @sfcpac or below.