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japanese tea garden san francisco Photo by torbakhopper

21 places to celebrate spring in San Francisco

Get your fill of longer days and colorful blooms

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San Francisco is known as a city that does not play by the rulebook when it comes to traditional seasons. Still even with the perpetual presence of fog, there are telltale signs around the city that spring is in the air with the days getting longer, and Golden Gate Park showing off its best floral arrangements.

To celebrate the end of winter, here are some springtime activities to enjoy around the city.

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1. Bay Area Brew Festival

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1454 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 274-0400
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Nothing hails the end of winter better than raising a glass of beer to surviving those post-holiday months in January and February that seem to last forever. This festival at Pier 35 on March 24th offers international and domestic beers samples and all proceeds go to the Copper Dream Animal Rescue organization.

#bayareabrewfestival

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2. Off the Grid Fort Mason Center

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Landmark Building C, 2 Marina Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 339-5888

This giant gathering of all things mobile and delicious commenced once more in early March at Fort Mason Center. An offering of 30-plus of the Bay Area’s best food trucks, guest DJs, and a central beer garden promises plenty of nighttime fun. Just make sure to bring your down jacket, since that waterfront wind is no joke.

3. Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

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201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 561-3000
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Whether you fancy weeding a garden on what was once San Francisco’s most dangerous prisoners island or help create hospitable environments for rare plant species in the Presidio, spring is the perfect time to go outside and get your hands dirty. A simple sign-up is all you need to become a volunteer.

golden gate national parks conservancy Photo by Maza

4. Opening Day on the Bay

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Celebrate the start of boating season on April 22, by watching from shore as hundreds of historic fireboats, towboats, and workboats show off their stuff. The boat parade begins at the Palace of Fine Arts and ends at Pier 39.

5. Macy's Flower Show

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170 O'Farrell St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 397-3333
Visit Website

Lose yourself in a floral wonderland, where the city’s iconic downtown Macy’s is transformed into a fairytale fantasy world with thousands of colorful blooms, and lush greenery for this year’s theme Once Upon A Springtime. Brighten up your own home by purchasing the flowers and plants at the Macy’s Flower Show Plant Sale at Pier 39 on April 9, where all proceeds go to the Delancey Street Foundation.

macy’s flower show san francisco Photo by dsleeter_2000

6. Cherry Blossom Festival

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Japantown
San Francisco, CA 94115

Nothing ushers in spring quite like this massive festival in Japantown that features delicious food, a Grand Parade (complete with a Queen), martial arts demonstrations, and live music. This festival is held in mid-April and has free entry.

cherry blossom festival san francisco Photo by kishisaka

7. San Francisco City Guides

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Inner Richmond
San Francisco, CA

For those wanting more insight into the history of a city that has gone through many transformations, take a stroll on a warm spring day with some of the city’s most informed individuals. Take advantage of tours given in May, that include the Inner Richmond, Diego Rivera Mural, and the Bungalows of Westwood Park.

8. San Francisco Ballet

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301 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 865-2000
Visit Website

For a modern interpretation of ballet, Alonzo King, Christopher Wheeldon and Justin Peck explore where this classical dance form is headed with jazz, pop, and electronic music as the soundtrack for the performances. The Unbound series is presented in four parts and runs from April 20 - May 6.

san francisco ballet Photo by Ed and Eddie

9. McCovey Cove

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McCovey Cove
San Francisco, CA 94158

Hop into a kayak and join the legions of aquatic baseball fans at McCovey Cove (the area of the Bay right behind the right field wall of AT&T Park), with a cooler of cold beer, plenty of snacks, and a radio for a memorable afternoon on the water. If you are lucky and it’s game day, you might even catch the elusive home run known fondly as a “splash hit.” 

mccovey cove san francisco Photo by Victor Lee

10. Biergarten

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424 Octavia St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 252-9289
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Outdoor seating is not something that is synonymous with San Francisco weather, but on those rare sunny days it is advisable to head over to Biergarden in Hayes Valley. Nothing beats an afternoon mingling with other beer enthusiasts at communal picnic tables, while enjoying delicious German-inspired food to soak up all the alcohol.

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11. John McLaren Memorial Rhododendron Dell

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This vibrant garden pays homage to John McLaren, who was a longtime superintendent of Golden Gate Park and had a soft spot for rhododendrons. Initially, there were over 850 types of rhododendrons planted in the early 1950’s and they still continue to impress visitors during the spring with their bright hues.

12. Stow Lake Boathouse

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50 Stow Lake Dr E
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 386-2531
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Take advantage of the longer days by renting a boat for a few hours and make your way around the lake for a front seat to all the springtime blossoms. Spring is also the time when ducklings and goslings are born, and witnessing these little balls of fluff waddle behind their mothers is an instant happiness booster.

stow lake san francisco Photo by Aaron Hockley

13. Japanese Tea Garden

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75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr
San Francisco, CA CA 94118
(415) 752-1171
Visit Website

If a trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms is not in the cards, the next best thing is a visit to this tranquil garden that boasts its own collection of stunning cherry blossoms. As the oldest Japanese garden in the country, it has been providing visitors a sanctuary since 1894. Take advantage of the longer hours starting March 1st.

japanese tea garden san francisco Photo by Carole Waller

14. Easter in the Park

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The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence host Easter festivities with a twist, with the usual family-friendly egg hunt and adult-friendly events like the Foxy Mary Contest and the Hunky Jesus Contest. Trust us this is not your typical Easter Sunday.

easter in the park Photo by gamal_inphotos

15. San Francisco Botanical Garden

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1199 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 661-1316
Visit Website

This natural wonderland of over 8,000 species of plants puts on one of nature’s best shows during springtime when everything is in bloom. Take a free docent-led tour if you want to learn more about all the flora blooming around you. Best of all the park is open until 6 p.m. starting on the second Sunday in March.

san francisco botanical garden Photo by Michael Welch

16. San Francisco International Film Festival

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429 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-6120
Visit Website

One of the longest running film festivals in the U.S., this display of global cinematic masterpieces was started by Irving “Bud” Levin in 1957 who was inspired by the film festivals in Europe. Each film is 50 minutes long and fall under the following categories: documentary, narrative, new visions (experimental films), and animation. The festival runs from April 4 - 17.

san francisco international film festival Photo by MANYBITS

17. Cesar Chavez Day

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Dolores St & 19th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 554-9521
Visit Website

In honor of one of California’s most prominent labor and civil rights leaders, a parade and street fair is held on April 14 featuring traditional Mexican dancing, live music, and classic cars. The parade starts in Dolores Park, and slowly makes its way to the Mission, where the street fair takes place between Treat and Bryant.

cesar chavez day san francisco
 
Photo by throgers

18. Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race

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Vermont St
San Francisco, CA

What better way to take advantage of SF’s famously steep hills than race on toy bikes with hundreds of other like-minded daredevils? Head over to Vermont Street on Easter Sunday, dressed up in your most creative costume. If you are not into this rough-and-tumble sport, cheering from the sidelines is equally as fun, maybe even more so.

bring your own big wheel race san francisco Photo by Bhautik Joshi

19. Bay to Breakers

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Ocean Beach
San Francisco, CA

Nothing marks the end of spring quite like this race that is really a street party. This event includes costumes galore, and the best people-watching opportunity of the year. Don’t worry if you’re not a runner, since most people walk this 12K race which winds its way through the city, before ending at Ocean Beach.

bay to breakers san francisco Photo by Bhautik Joshi

20. Carnaval

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Mission St
San Francisco, CA

Join in the festivities in the Mission, where this two-day festival on May 26 - 27 promises bright costumes, richly decorated floats, international cuisines, and plenty of family friendly activities. This city tradition enters its 40th year and shows no sign of stopping.

carnaval san francisco Photo by Thomas Hawk

21. Sunday Streets

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Mission St
San Francisco, CA

Inspired by the Ciclovía (cycleways on a street open only to bicyclists and pedestrians) in Bogota, Columbia, these Sunday events feature different streets beginning in March and ending in October. Immerse yourself in a new neighborhood each time and mingle with your fellow San Franciscans in a way that gives new meaning to block parties. This year’s lineup includes the Mission, the Excelsior, Bayview/Dogpatch, Tenderloin 1, Sunset/Golden Gate Park, and Western Addition.

1. Bay Area Brew Festival

1454 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94133

Nothing hails the end of winter better than raising a glass of beer to surviving those post-holiday months in January and February that seem to last forever. This festival at Pier 35 on March 24th offers international and domestic beers samples and all proceeds go to the Copper Dream Animal Rescue organization.

1454 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94133

2. Off the Grid Fort Mason Center

Landmark Building C, 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94123

This giant gathering of all things mobile and delicious commenced once more in early March at Fort Mason Center. An offering of 30-plus of the Bay Area’s best food trucks, guest DJs, and a central beer garden promises plenty of nighttime fun. Just make sure to bring your down jacket, since that waterfront wind is no joke.

Landmark Building C, 2 Marina Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94123

3. Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

201, Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA 94123
golden gate national parks conservancy Photo by Maza

Whether you fancy weeding a garden on what was once San Francisco’s most dangerous prisoners island or help create hospitable environments for rare plant species in the Presidio, spring is the perfect time to go outside and get your hands dirty. A simple sign-up is all you need to become a volunteer.

201, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123

4. Opening Day on the Bay

San Francisco, CA 94129

Celebrate the start of boating season on April 22, by watching from shore as hundreds of historic fireboats, towboats, and workboats show off their stuff. The boat parade begins at the Palace of Fine Arts and ends at Pier 39.

5. Macy's Flower Show

170 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102
macy’s flower show san francisco Photo by dsleeter_2000

Lose yourself in a floral wonderland, where the city’s iconic downtown Macy’s is transformed into a fairytale fantasy world with thousands of colorful blooms, and lush greenery for this year’s theme Once Upon A Springtime. Brighten up your own home by purchasing the flowers and plants at the Macy’s Flower Show Plant Sale at Pier 39 on April 9, where all proceeds go to the Delancey Street Foundation.

170 O'Farrell St
San Francisco, CA 94102

6. Cherry Blossom Festival

Japantown, San Francisco, CA 94115
cherry blossom festival san francisco Photo by kishisaka

Nothing ushers in spring quite like this massive festival in Japantown that features delicious food, a Grand Parade (complete with a Queen), martial arts demonstrations, and live music. This festival is held in mid-April and has free entry.

Japantown
San Francisco, CA 94115

7. San Francisco City Guides

Inner Richmond, San Francisco, CA

For those wanting more insight into the history of a city that has gone through many transformations, take a stroll on a warm spring day with some of the city’s most informed individuals. Take advantage of tours given in May, that include the Inner Richmond, Diego Rivera Mural, and the Bungalows of Westwood Park.

Inner Richmond
San Francisco, CA

8. San Francisco Ballet

301 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102
san francisco ballet Photo by Ed and Eddie

For a modern interpretation of ballet, Alonzo King, Christopher Wheeldon and Justin Peck explore where this classical dance form is headed with jazz, pop, and electronic music as the soundtrack for the performances. The Unbound series is presented in four parts and runs from April 20 - May 6.

301 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102

9. McCovey Cove

McCovey Cove, San Francisco, CA 94158
mccovey cove san francisco Photo by Victor Lee

Hop into a kayak and join the legions of aquatic baseball fans at McCovey Cove (the area of the Bay right behind the right field wall of AT&T Park), with a cooler of cold beer, plenty of snacks, and a radio for a memorable afternoon on the water. If you are lucky and it’s game day, you might even catch the elusive home run known fondly as a “splash hit.” 

McCovey Cove
San Francisco, CA 94158

10. Biergarten

424 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Outdoor seating is not something that is synonymous with San Francisco weather, but on those rare sunny days it is advisable to head over to Biergarden in Hayes Valley. Nothing beats an afternoon mingling with other beer enthusiasts at communal picnic tables, while enjoying delicious German-inspired food to soak up all the alcohol.

424 Octavia St
San Francisco, CA 94102

11. John McLaren Memorial Rhododendron Dell

San Francisco, CA 94118

This vibrant garden pays homage to John McLaren, who was a longtime superintendent of Golden Gate Park and had a soft spot for rhododendrons. Initially, there were over 850 types of rhododendrons planted in the early 1950’s and they still continue to impress visitors during the spring with their bright hues.

12. Stow Lake Boathouse

50 Stow Lake Dr E, San Francisco, CA 94118
stow lake san francisco Photo by Aaron Hockley

Take advantage of the longer days by renting a boat for a few hours and make your way around the lake for a front seat to all the springtime blossoms. Spring is also the time when ducklings and goslings are born, and witnessing these little balls of fluff waddle behind their mothers is an instant happiness booster.

50 Stow Lake Dr E
San Francisco, CA 94118

13. Japanese Tea Garden

75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA CA 94118
japanese tea garden san francisco Photo by Carole Waller

If a trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms is not in the cards, the next best thing is a visit to this tranquil garden that boasts its own collection of stunning cherry blossoms. As the oldest Japanese garden in the country, it has been providing visitors a sanctuary since 1894. Take advantage of the longer hours starting March 1st.

75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr
San Francisco, CA CA 94118

14. Easter in the Park

San Francisco, CA 94122
easter in the park Photo by gamal_inphotos

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence host Easter festivities with a twist, with the usual family-friendly egg hunt and adult-friendly events like the Foxy Mary Contest and the Hunky Jesus Contest. Trust us this is not your typical Easter Sunday.

15. San Francisco Botanical Garden

1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
san francisco botanical garden Photo by Michael Welch

This natural wonderland of over 8,000 species of plants puts on one of nature’s best shows during springtime when everything is in bloom. Take a free docent-led tour if you want to learn more about all the flora blooming around you. Best of all the park is open until 6 p.m. starting on the second Sunday in March.

1199 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122

16. San Francisco International Film Festival

429 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114
san francisco international film festival Photo by MANYBITS

One of the longest running film festivals in the U.S., this display of global cinematic masterpieces was started by Irving “Bud” Levin in 1957 who was inspired by the film festivals in Europe. Each film is 50 minutes long and fall under the following categories: documentary, narrative, new visions (experimental films), and animation. The festival runs from April 4 - 17.

429 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114

17. Cesar Chavez Day

Dolores St & 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
cesar chavez day san francisco
 
Photo by throgers

In honor of one of California’s most prominent labor and civil rights leaders, a parade and street fair is held on April 14 featuring traditional Mexican dancing, live music, and classic cars. The parade starts in Dolores Park, and slowly makes its way to the Mission, where the street fair takes place between Treat and Bryant.

Dolores St & 19th St
San Francisco, CA 94114

18. Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race

Vermont St, San Francisco, CA
bring your own big wheel race san francisco Photo by Bhautik Joshi

What better way to take advantage of SF’s famously steep hills than race on toy bikes with hundreds of other like-minded daredevils? Head over to Vermont Street on Easter Sunday, dressed up in your most creative costume. If you are not into this rough-and-tumble sport, cheering from the sidelines is equally as fun, maybe even more so.

Vermont St
San Francisco, CA

19. Bay to Breakers

Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA
bay to breakers san francisco Photo by Bhautik Joshi

Nothing marks the end of spring quite like this race that is really a street party. This event includes costumes galore, and the best people-watching opportunity of the year. Don’t worry if you’re not a runner, since most people walk this 12K race which winds its way through the city, before ending at Ocean Beach.

Ocean Beach
San Francisco, CA

20. Carnaval

Mission St, San Francisco, CA
carnaval san francisco Photo by Thomas Hawk

Join in the festivities in the Mission, where this two-day festival on May 26 - 27 promises bright costumes, richly decorated floats, international cuisines, and plenty of family friendly activities. This city tradition enters its 40th year and shows no sign of stopping.

Mission St
San Francisco, CA

21. Sunday Streets

Mission St, San Francisco, CA

Inspired by the Ciclovía (cycleways on a street open only to bicyclists and pedestrians) in Bogota, Columbia, these Sunday events feature different streets beginning in March and ending in October. Immerse yourself in a new neighborhood each time and mingle with your fellow San Franciscans in a way that gives new meaning to block parties. This year’s lineup includes the Mission, the Excelsior, Bayview/Dogpatch, Tenderloin 1, Sunset/Golden Gate Park, and Western Addition.

Mission St
San Francisco, CA