The Best Things to do in San Francisco in May

The 11 Best Things to Do in San Francisco in May (2024)

There’s a lot to love about visiting San Francisco in May. First off, the month of May brings about holidays like Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day, as well as annual San Francisco events and festivals like Bay to Breakers and Carnaval San Francisco. 

Plus, this is the shoulder season, and while San Francisco is still a popular destination in spring, you will miss the massive summer crowds. The weather in San Francisco in May is another huge perk. 

You’ll get pleasant sunny days in the 60s, brisk evenings in the 50s, and blissfully few rainy days. With such mild weather, you can spend your days picnicking in the city’s best parks, enjoying movies under the stars, and drinking and dining at rooftop restaurants. 

Are you visiting San Francisco in late spring and wondering what to do? We’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in San Francisco in May to help you navigate this sprawling city!

The 11 Best Things to Do in San Francisco in May

1. Don Your Best Costume for Bay to Breakers

Best Things to do in San Francisco in May: Bay to Breakers

Held on the third Sunday of May, Bay to Breakers is one of the biggest San Francisco May events. This historic 12K run has been going strong for over 100 years and takes runners from the Embarcadero across the city to the “breakers” of Ocean Beach. 

But this isn’t your average footrace – in true San Francisco spirit, Bay to Breakers is all about letting loose and having fun! You’ll find most participants and onlookers dressed in costumes (or naked!), drinking, dancing, running, walking, centipede-ing, and everything in between. Be prepared for a wild and fun time!


2. See the Giants Play at Oracle Park

Cool Things to do in San Francisco in May: Oracle Park

Catching a Giants game at Oracle Park is easily one of the most fun things to do in San Francisco in May for baseball fans. By May, the baseball season is in full swing, and you’ll love cheering on the Giants at one of the coolest baseball stadiums in the country. 

Even if you’re not a huge baseball fan, you’ll love taking in the sweeping bay views, spotting the giant Coke bottle and the massive baseball glove behind the left-field bleachers, and having the chance to witness a rare “splash hit,” a home run that lands in the water. 

And then there’s the gourmet ballpark food. Try a Crazy Crab sandwich with Dungeness crab and Boudin bread and a Ghirardelli World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae!


3. Attend Free Events During the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco in May and you’re looking for free things to do, head over to the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. This annual event starts back up in May each year and goes through October. 

During the festival, you can expect to catch performing artists spanning an array of cultures, ethnicities, and artistic genres. From jazz and world music concerts to traditional dance, theater, and circus performances, there’s always something going on at Yerba Buena Gardens during the month of May!


4. Have a Picnic in Alamo Square Park

Unique Things to do in San Francisco in May: Alamo Square Park

On Sunday mornings, locals and visitors alike make a beeline for the Divisadero Farmers’ Market on Fell Street. This is a great place to pick up picnic supplies from the many stands and food vendors. From bread and cheese to fruits and veggies to bao buns and tamales, you’re bound to find something to tempt your taste buds.

After you’ve finished putting together your perfect locally sourced picnic basket, take a short stroll over to Alamo Square Park, lay down a blanket, and have a leisurely picnic while basking in the spring sunshine. Plus, you’ll love taking in the views of the famous “Painted Ladies” and the city’s skyline from this hilltop park.


5. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

San Francisco in May Bucket List: Cinco de Mayo

If you happen to be in town over the Cinco de Mayo holiday and you’re in the mood to have a debaucherous time, partake in the San Francisco Cinco De Mayo Bar Crawl!

When you arrive, you’ll get a pub crawl map and a wristband that gives you access to all the bars’ cocktail, shot, and beer specials, as well as free entry to each place. After that, you’re off on your boozy journey!

Alternately, if you’d rather keep things a bit more mellow, you can always celebrate the occasion with a dinner of Guanajuato-style dishes at El Pipila, a margarita or two at El Techo, or tequila and mezcal cocktails at Mosto!


6. Go to a Friday Night Food Truck Party 

Fun Things to do in San Francisco in May: Friday Night Food Truck Party

Starting in April each year, dozens of gourmet food trucks gather in the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture’s parking lot every Friday night courtesy of Off the Grid. In years past, options have included Bacon Bacon, Curry Up Now, Fresh Catch Poke, Al Pastor Papi, Satay by the Bay SF, Capelo’s Barbecue, Vegan Mob Inc., and many more. 

This is California’s largest weekly food truck event, so in addition to all the gourmet eats, expect live music and a full bar. If you’re planning to be in San Francisco in May, these Friday night food truck parties are always a fun idea!


7. Watch an Alfresco Film at the Fort Point Beer Garden

Last year, the Fort Point Beer Garden hosted its first-ever Ferry Flicks series. Every Friday evening, movie-goers gathered outside in front of a 20-foot screen. The $5 ticket included popcorn, while the $12 ticket got you a hot dog. You can also enjoy $5 draft pours before and during the show during Fort Point’s Happy Hour from 5-8 pm. 

The San Francisco-centric movies in the first iteration included “Vertigo,” “Bullitt,” “It Came from Beneath the Sea,” and “Sister Act!” 


8. Attend the Carnaval Festival & Parade

Must do things in San Francisco in May: Carnaval San Francisco

If you’re planning to be in town for Memorial Day weekend, Carnaval San Francisco is one of the most fun San Francisco May events. Last year, the two-day event took over 17 blocks of the Mission District with five stages, 50 performing artists, and over 400 vendors. And the best part is it’s totally free to attend!

Come hungry because vendors will be hawking all sorts of Latin American and Caribbean eats – from Chilean to Haitian and everything in between. On Sunday morning, be sure to check out all of the colorful floats and cultural performances at the extravagant Grand Parade.


9. Experience the Taiwanese American Cultural Festival

What to do in San Francisco in May: Taiwanese American Cultural Festival

The Taiwanese American Cultural Festival (TACF) is also held every May in San Francisco. This is the West Coast’s largest Taiwanese American celebration and it’s another one of the best free things to do in San Francisco.

Head over to Union Square, and you’ll get to experience Taiwanese culture, food, entertainment, and activities at this family-friendly event. From vendors selling beef noodle soup and pearl milk tea to lion dances and kid-friendly activity booths, the TACF is fun for the whole family!


10. See New Films at CAAMFest

San Francisco in May Things to do: CAAMFest

If you’re a cinephile and you’re planning to travel to San Francisco in May, you’ll want to add CAAMFest to your to-do list. Held since 1982, this festival showcases over 100 new Asian American and Asian films each May in San Francisco and Oakland.

Most films are screened in San Francisco at the Sundance Kabuki in Japantown and the Castro Theatre. But CAAMFest is about much more than just film. It’s a celebration of Asian and Asian American film, food, music, and more! So, in addition to the film screenings, expect all sorts of culinary experiences and live performances during CAAMFest.


11. Enjoy Mother’s Day Brunch at Fable

Best Things to do in San Francisco in May: Fable

The second Sunday of May brings about Mother’s Day. If you’re looking to celebrate the mom(s) in your life, why not make reservations for brunch at one of the many excellent San Francisco restaurants? 

If you have no idea where to go, Fable is a fun option. Set in the Castro, you’ll absolutely love dining in the restaurant’s covered outdoor patio, surrounded by all manner of plants, including birds of paradise and banana trees! 

The menu changes with the seasons, but expect California-style brunch fare like their Cured Salmon Eggs Benedict, Fried Rocky Jr. Organic Chicken Sandwich, Little Gem Cobb Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette, and Fable’s Sweet Baguette French Toast!

There you have it! The 11 best things to do in San Francisco in May. What are your favorite San Francisco May events? Let us know in the comments! 


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Author

  • Justine Lopez

    Justine is a writer and editor who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust!

    In 2013, she left her hometown in California and set off on a yearlong round-the-world journey with her now-husband – they never looked back. Since then, she’s lived the expat life in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, and now Dubai. Along the way, she's written and edited for magazines, newspapers, and websites in Asia and beyond.

    When she's not stoking her wanderlust by working on travel articles for Wandering Wheatleys, Justine is busy caring for her many foster cats in Dubai, seeking out all the delicious vegetarian food, and taking every chance she gets to explore a new corner of the world!

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