May in San Francisco is warm, sunny, and a lovely time to visit. During the month, you will find dozens of things to do and plenty of events to keep you busy.
Spoil your mom this Mother's Day with several fun activities planned just for her and the family. You will also discover a variety of colorful and memorable events over Memorial Day weekend. In addition, you can sample local wines at the annual Uncorked Wine Festival in Ghirardelli Square, show off your favorite costume during the Bay to Breakers race, and savor a variety of dishes at the Taste of Potrero.
This month, you can step inside the theater to see a performance of Hamilton. You'll also get the chance to explore the city on one of the free walking tours offered by SF City Guides & the Public Library and attend one of almost a dozen festivals.
Read on for more details on the top San Francisco events in May 2017.
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Today's most popular Broadway play is showing in San Francisco! This clever musical based on a biography of founding father Alexander Hamilton is sure to entertain. Enjoy the incredible costumes and scene design, which transport you back in time to 18th century America, and a creative score that combines jazz, blues, pop, and hip-hop. Tickets are in high demand, so act quickly!
Dates: March 10 - August 5
Tickets: On sale for all dates
Some of the best San Francisco events in May take place by the water at the ballpark. Head over to AT&T Park this May to catch the SF Giants in action. This month, they have 13 home games in San Francisco, where they play host to the Reds, the Dodgers, the Braves, and the Nationals.
Dates: Several in May
Catch one of the last performances of the SF Ballet the 2017 season. From May 1 through 7, see a performance of Cinderella. All shows are at the War Memorial Opera House near City Hall in the Civic Center neighborhood.
Dates: May 1 - 7
If you're going to visit San Francisco for about a week, it's worth getting an SF CityPASS to save money. You'll get free admission to the Cal Academy of Sciences, the Aquarium of the Bay, and either the de Young Fine Arts Museum or the Exploratorium.
You'll also get a free ticket to a cruise on the SF Bay, and many more discounts. In addition, this pass enables you to get around town with a breeze by riding the cable cars, buses, and light rail for free for several days.
Dates: Any day in May
Every day of the year, you will find five to six wonderful tours offered by SF City Guides. Supported by the SF Public Library, all walks offer the history and fun facts about a specific district or attraction. You can stroll over the Golden Gate Bridge, walk the historic alleys of Chinatown, and learn more about how the Palace of Fine Arts came to be. All walks are free and last for around two hours.
Dates: Every day of the month
Enjoy an evening of high-class food and drink at Pier 70, brought to you by SF's best bars and restaurants, including Almanac beer, Layer Cake, Piccino, Souvla, The Homestead, and many more. All proceeds benefit Daniel Webster Elementary School.
Date: May 4
It is a tradition for SF's Latino community in the Mission District to hold a large, festive Cinco de Mayo celebration every year on Valencia Street between 21st and 24th Streets. Because May 5 falls on a Friday this year, the festival will take place May 6. Enjoy Mexican and Latin American cuisine, music, dance, and art, as well as activities for the kids and the whole family. Don't miss out on one of the most colorful cultural San Francisco events in May!
Date: Saturday, May 6
One of those unique, only-in-San-Francisco type of festivals, the 17th annual "Weirdest Show on Earth" is fun for everyone. At this street fair, dancers, DJs, artists and other performers come together on 10 music stages to celebrate the eclectic beauty of the community.
Dates: Sunday, May 7
Don't miss out on the Heritage BBQ, a unique culinary experience offered by Cochon555, an organization dedicated to educating chefs and diners about the importance of using locally sourced ingredients, especially heritage breed pigs and old world livestock. Here, you will taste amazing creations by chefs honoring BBQ traditions from all over the world. In addition, you will taste craft cocktails, artisanal brews, and boutique wines.
Dates: May 7
Save money and visit SF's top museums during their free admission days. Each month, several museums offer free entrance to their permanent collections. You can see dozens of artifacts at the Asian Art Museum, enjoy fine arts at the de Young Museum, or discover new plants and flowers at the Conservatory of Flowers.
Dates: Several at the beginning of the month
Kicking off May 7, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival is an ongoing event that offers free programming every week through October. Live outdoor performances include music, dance, and theater, and feature both well-known and emerging artists.
Dates: May 7 - October 29
Don't book your room before checking out the great discounts online. There are a variety of deals available including discounts off your room rate, free parking, and more. Click the links below to check out the latest offers on San Francisco hotels during your stay.
During the Uncorked Wine Festival at Ghirardelli Square, you can sample new local wines, talk to winemakers, and attend a seminar to learn more about the wines on hand. You can also listen to live music, sample local goodies, and watch live cooking demonstrations.
Date: May 13
Now in its 24th year, the Bay Area's biggest Taiwanese American celebration is expecting over 10,000 people to come and enjoy delicious traditional food, music, art, and other vibrant parts of Taiwanese culture. Head over to Union Square on Saturday, May 13 from 10am to 6pm for this family-friendly event and connect with this beautiful ethnic group.
Celebrate your mom on Sunday, May 14 in San Francisco. You will find a wide range of things to do to make the day extra special. You can head out on a champagne cruise in the morning, do a little shopping in the afternoon, and enjoy a sunset cruise in evening. You can also make your way over to Alcatraz for the day or spend time exploring the Golden Gate Bridge. There are plenty of wonderful places for the entire family to enjoy a lovely brunch or lunch to celebrate.
Date: Sunday, May 14
Another fun Mother's Day activity is to head out on a special sunset bay cruise. This 3-hour cruise on the San Francisco Spirit features spectacular views of the SF Bay Area, live entertainment, dancing, and a no-host bar. It leaves on Sunday evening at 4pm from Pier 3.
Date: Sunday, May 14
This month, you will find several performances on the theater calendar. One of the biggest shows is Roman Holiday at the Golden Gate Theater (5/24 - 6/18). Other San Francisco events in May include Noises Off at the SF Playhouse, Battlefield at ACT's Geary Theater, and The Roommate at the SF Playhouse.
Dates: Several shows this month
Save money on these popular tours in Goldstar. They offer hundreds of tickets to SF tours, events, and more. Below are a few of their most popular options in May.
*Small service fee at checkout.
Come join thousands of people who love to tinker with, discover, and make things. Try out their inventions—everything from handmade teas to open sourced digital pianos—and find out what they've learned in the process. If you are not already one of these innovators, you will surely be inspired to become one!
Dates: May 19 - 21
Are you short on time for your stay in SF? Do you want to see as much as possible during your visit? If so, then check out my self-guided three-day tour of SF. It offers you the chance to visit as many attractions and see as much as you can in just 72 hours. You will visit the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Coit Tower. You will also get a chance to explore top districts such as Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, and North Beach.
Dates: Any day in May
All year round, San Francisco's world-renowned museums host excellent exhibits that you won't want to miss. May is the last month to enjoy In That Case at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Frank Stella at the de Young, and The Future of the Past at the Legion of Honor.
Dates: All throughout the month
Enjoy free live performances in Union Square throughout the spring and summer. They offer a variety of dance, music, circus, and theater performances, as well as movies and more. The 2017 season of Union Square Live continues every week from now to October.
Dates: Several from May 5 - October 7
Each month, SF offers a variety of laugh-out-loud performances, including stand-up at the Punch Line and Cobb's comedy clubs, improv by companies like BATS, and musical comedies like Beach Blanket Babylon and Foodies, the Musical. Check the schedule for upcoming performances of your favorite visiting and local comedians, which this month include Christina Pazsitzky, Australia's Thunder from Down Under, Maz Jobrani, and Russell Howard.
Dates: All month long
Race through the city in your most comfortable and colorful costume. The Bay to Breakers run is a unique experience with more than 100,000 people running in costume from the Bay, on the eastern side, to the Breakers, out on the western coast of the city. This 12k run is not for the faint of heart, however, as many people are challenged by the number of hills on this course. It's fun to run, but also fun to watch along the sidelines.
Date: Sunday, May 21
This festival aims to foster a global community of artists who come together to present a variety of top quality collaborative projects in music, dance, theater, and more. Catch the performances at the Fort Mason Center and enjoy the contributions of artists from France, Japan, Lithuania, Ireland, Serbia, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the US.
Dates: May 25 - June 4
Make the most of your visit to San Francisco on the Helicopter & Alcatraz Combo Tour. Your day starts with an amazing 15- to 20-minute helicopter ride over the city and the bay. You will see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the SF Skyline from above.
Once you land, you will be taken over to Pier 33 to pick up your ferry to Alcatraz. You will get the chance to spend 2 to 3 hours on this interesting island. Your visit includes a self-guided audio tour and plenty of time to explore on your own.
Dates: Every day in May
One of the most colorful celebrations each year is Carnaval in the Mission District. Every year, it's held the Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day. This two-day event celebrates Latin and South American cultures. Sample traditional foods, dance salsa in the streets, and meet new friends. The popular parade is on Sunday morning and features traditional dress and music from places such as Peru, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, and more.
Dates: May 27 - 28
Spend Memorial Weekend with us and enjoy dozens of fun activities. This weekend, you can head out on the water on a special holiday cruise, attend the Carnaval Festival in the Mission, or attend a theater, symphony, or other cultural performance. You can also honor those who have died for our country at one of the Memorial Day events. Click the link below for a full list of activities for this weekend.
Dates: May 27 - 29
SF's beloved and unique concert venues, including the Fillmore and the Warfield, host great performances all year long. You'll also find large concerts by the best bands in rock and pop at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and the Masonic. This month, you can catch Willie Nelson and At the Drive In at these popular venues, in addition to local talent at a variety of smaller cafes and theaters.
At larger venues in the greater Bay Area this month, you have the chance to see John Legend in Berkeley; Chris Brown, 50 Cent, OT Genasis & Fabolous in San Jose; and Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini & Brett Young in Mountain View.
Dates: All throughout the month
Head over to Davies Symphony Hall for some amazing performances this month. The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra performs on May 14. Other highlights include Berlioz's Requiem (5/4 - 5/6), Emanuel Ax plays Mozart (5/10 - 5/13), and Shostakovich with Matthias Goerne and Tchaikovsky's Fifth (5/25 - 5/27).
Dates: Several in May
The largest Memorial Day event in San Francisco is at the National Cemetery in the Presidio. The event starts at 10:30am with a parade. It's followed by a formal ceremony that starts at around 11am. Many local politicians and military personnel will speak. At the end, the US Army's 75th Pacific Division will honor those we've lost with a 21-gun salute.
Date: Monday, May 29
In addition to these special San Francisco events in May, check out my tips for what to wear and other fun things to do at this time of year, including the best day trips, guided tours, nighttime events, and free events in May.
Are you unsure what you need to pack for your stay? If so, then check out my page that will give you advice about the weather and tips on what to wear while you are here.
The following events that took place in May 2016 have not yet been confirmed for 2017. I'll update them as soon as details are ready for this year.
This annual festival is free to the public and offers live entertainment, specialty foods, arts & crafts, and more. The event brings the community together and represents a diverse group of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures.
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