31 of the Best Things to Do in July in the Bay Area

Fun Events in the Bay Area in July

From outdoor concerts and dance festivals to ’80s parties, glow-in-the-dark fun runs, and “Star Wars” symphonies, July is packed with options for long summer days.

Now through July 22: “School of Rock”

This musical journey of an unemployed musician turned substitute teacher at a prestigious school is a charming and funny story of innovation, creativity, and being a bit of a renegade. Orpheum Theater (San Francisco), shnsf.org

July 4: Fourth of July at Fisherman’s Wharf

Family fun events in the Bay Area: 4th of July fireworks at Pier 39
Photo courtesy of Pier 39.

While there’s no shortage of events, parades, and fireworks displays all over the Bay Area on the Fourth of July, Fisherman’s Wharf is an all-day experience with street performers, bands, and attractions during the day and fireworks at dark at Aquatic Park and Pier 39. Various locations throughout Fisherman’s Wharf (San Francisco), visitfishermanswharf.com

July 6: That Big 80s Party

Dust off your tubular Madonna-esque outfits and head out for a night of dancing away to all the 80s genres — new wave, R&B, pop, glam rock and more. Public Works SF (San Francisco), publicsf.com

July 6 – 7: Stroll Down Penny Lane

Paul McCartney fans won’t want to miss this multimedia tribute to the musical legend’s career. The show highlights McCartney’s music from The Beatles through his solo career, performed by Bay Area musicians. Bellevue Club (Oakland), strolldownpennylane.com

July 6 – 22: San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

Fun Events in the Bay Area: Dance Performances
Photo Courtesy to RJ Muna

Now in its 40th year, this dance festival offers a series of global dance performances by hundreds of artists, showcasing genres of clogging, flamenco, Mexican folklore, Chinese dragon dancing and much more. San Francisco City Hall and San Francisco Opera House (San Francisco), worldartswest.org

July 7: Foam Glow 5K

Fun Things to Do in the Bay Area: Glow Run

Douse yourself in glowing foam and run or walk on a black light-enhanced racing course after dark. Santa Clara County Fairgrounds (San Jose), foamglow.com

July 7: Taste of Oakland

This signature event celebrates Oakland’s unique culture of independent and iconic musicians, culinary talents and innovation in technology. The event will feature live music, dancing, gaming, local vendors, and eats. Proceeds will benefit Youth Aid. Jack London Square (Oakland), tasteofoakland.com

July 7: Wine Country Big Q

At this nationally sanctioned barbecue festival and competition, some of the best pit masters around will serve up authentic barbecued meats. There  also world class wines, award-winning brews, craft cider and spirits to enjoy while listening to live rock and blues music. Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds (Petaluma), winecountrybigq.com

July 7 – 28: Summer Nights Outdoor Music Festival

Once again, the Osher Marin JCC presents its popular summer outdoor music series on Saturday evenings in July. Musical performers range from Afro-Cuban to folk artists. Guests can bring a picnic or purchase dinner and drinks on site. Age 17 and under are free. Osher Marin Jewish Community Center (San Rafael), marinjcc.org

July 8: Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters

As part of its newly launched U.S. tour, the band performs tunes from their new album, Speck, engineered by a former producer for The Beatles. The Independent (San Francisco), theindependentsf.com

July 12: WildCare and Wine

Meet Vladimir the turkey vulture and Mohave the desert tortoise at this free happy hour event at WildCare’s headquarters, where you can sip wine and learn about all the fascinating animals expertly cared for by this organization. WildCare (San Rafael), discoverwildcare.org

July 13 – 21: The Wiz

Go on a funky journey down a familiar brick road in this kid-performed musical twist on the beloved story of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. CMT San Jose (San Jose), cmtsj.org

July 14: Bastille Day

For nearly 140 years, the French-American community in San Francisco has organized a Bastille Day celebration. Francophiles will find lots of French food, live music, a vintage car show and games of pétanque. Embarcadero Plaza (San Francisco), bastilledaysf.org

July 14: Breastfest

Breastfest is a long-standing annual beer festival that raises funds to support alternative medical treatments for low-income women diagnosed with breast cancer. Marin County Fairgrounds (San Rafael), thebreastfest.org

July 14 – 15: Renegade Craft Fair

Local artists sell their wares at this expansive arts & crafts show. Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion (San Francisco), renegadecraft.com

July 14 – 15: Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival

The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival showcases the distinctive works of artists and craftspeople from more than a dozen states. It also features select vintages from local wineries as well as a wide variety of foods including Thai, Chinese, Mexican and All-American favorites. Enjoy free concerts from performers such as Long Train Runnin’ and The Houserockers. Downtown Los Altos, downtownlosaltos.org

July 15: AIDS Walk

Join thousands of supporters at Northern California’s largest AIDS fundraising event. Since 1987, this yearly event has raised $90 million for HIV programs and services. Golden Gate Park (San Francisco), sf.aidswalk.net

July 15: Baykeeper Bay Parade

Photo Courtesy to Drew Bird

Hundreds of costumed swimmers, paddlers and boaters take to the San Francisco Bay in a colorful water parade designed to raise awareness and money for the San Francisco Baykeepers. The parade ends at McCovey Cove outside of AT&T Park and will be broadcast on the San Francisco Giants’ jumbotron. Golden Gate Bridge to McCovey Cove (San Francisco), baykeeper.org/bayparade

July 15: Sommerfest

Head to the iconic Tourist Club on Mount Tamalpais for this German-centric festival featuring beer, sausage, dancing and lots of lederhosen. San Francisco Tourist Club (Mill Valley), touristclubsf.org

July 17 – 29: A Thousand Splendid Suns

Photo Courtesy to A.C.T.

Based on the international best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns is the epic story of three generations of Afghan women who are bound together by marriage, family and a secret past, amid the war-torn streets of modern-day Kabul. American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco), act-sf.org

July 18: Star Wars at the San Francisco Symphony

Fun Things in the Bay Area: Star Wars Film

Go to a galaxy far, far away in San Francisco’s iconic symphony hall, with live classical music set to intergalactic battles on the big screen. The SF Symphony will perform the musical score of three different films — Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Series ends August 3. Davies Symphony Hall (San Francisco), sfsymphony.org

July 20 – 29: Festival Napa Valley

The festival pairs world-class performances with culinary and wine pursuits staged in Napa Valley. Through its year-round programming, the festival has transformed Napa Valley into a cultural destination. Various locations throughout Napa Valley (Napa), festivalnapavalley.org

July 21: Tour de MALT

Supporting the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), this 53-mile bike ride winds amongst more than 40 MALT-protected ranches. Finish the route with a tasty lunch, cold beer and a sweet treat in MALT farm-to-table style. Nicasio Valley Farms (Nicasio), malt.org

July 27: The Decemberists

Portland-based band brings its unique mix of sound to the Greek, performing songs from their new album, I’ll Be Your Girl. Greek Theatre (Berkeley), thegreekberkeley.com

July 27 – 29: Gilroy Garlic Festival

Pack your mouthwash and head to this world-famous event, featuring every garlic-laden food imaginable, including garlic ice cream. Also features arts and crafts, live music, cooking competitions and more. Christmas Hill Park (Gilroy), gilroygarlicfestival.com

July 28: Pedalfest

Fun Things to Do in the Bay Area: Bike East Bay
Photo Courtesy of Bike East Bay

Now in its eighth year, this annual event features pedal-powered food, a pedal-powered sound stage featuring live music, daredevil stunts, a kid’s bike rodeo, safety training and an extensive showing of bicycles from vintage and hand-built bikes to high-end customs, sturdy commuters, and creative art bikes. Jack London Square (Oakland) bikeeastbay.org

July 28 – 29: Alameda Art & Wine Faire

Take a stroll through Alameda’s downtown district during this popular event and check out the variety of arts and crafts booths, food and beverage vendors, live music and special kids’ zone. Park Street between Encinal and Buena Vista Aves (Alameda), downtownalameda.com

July 31: Rúckatan

As part of its free Tuesday evening music series in July, Santana Row presents Rúckatan Latin Tribe, a Latin and Reggae fusion band consisting of members hailing from three different continents. Santana Row (San Jose), santanarow.com

Ongoing: San Francisco Walking Tours

These free tours are offered by San Francisco City Guides, an all-volunteer organization consisting of many long-time locals. Each tour focuses on a district in the city, major attraction or time period. Donations welcome; groups of 8 or more require advance reservations. Various locations (San Francisco), sfcityguides.org

Tuesday Night Live Comedy

Each week the Throckmorton Theatre showcases several different comedians at the top of their game, featuring fresh talent on the rise, alongside veteran comics from around the world. Throckmorton Theatre (Mill Valley) throckmortontheatre.org

Julian Schnabel: Symbols of Actual Life

Since 1977, Julian Schnabel has captured people’s imagination with paintings that speak to his incessant appetite for sculptural physicality, material diversity and pictorial symbolism. Ends August 5. Legion of Honor (San Francisco), legionofhonor.famsf.org


Check out more fun activities to do in the Bay:

Donna Berry Glass

Donna Berry Glass is the editor of the Bay Area Better Letter, and the online editor at Marin Magazine. When she’s not writing and editing, she enjoys spending time with her family exploring the natural beauty of Marin County, snuggling with her Cavalier King Charles and tackling her never-ending list of DIY home and garden projects. Donna is a supporter of the California Academy of Sciences, a world class science museum and research institution, and SF CASA, which provides court-appointed advocates for foster youth.



  Who We Are       NFP Support       Magazine       Programs       Donate