SAN FRANCISCO IN THE SUMMER
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The very first thing to know about summer in San Francisco? It’s not very… Summery. While most places in North America enjoy sunshine and warmth from June through August, San Francisco’s unique climate actually features fog during those months. (Some of us even call August 'Fogust', when we’re feeling punny.) You can expect temperatures ranging from the low 20s (high 60s) during the day and around 10 at night — so bring a jacket.
But who wants to visit a city when it’s super hot out, anyway? Instead, come to San Francisco, and take advantage of our perfectly temperate, rain-free weather for some excellent urban exploring.
Here are five things you can’t miss during your San Francisco summer visit.
San Franciscans love our parks and probably no park better exemplifies that fact than Dolores. On any sunny day (and despite what I said earlier, they do happen sometimes!) you’ll find the park packed with young and young-ish people hanging out on a hodgepodge of picnic blankets, playing games, and enjoying some tasty adult beverages. Grab your favourite brew or wine, some delicious snacks at Bi-Rite down the street, and join the fun.
One note: While drinking is technically not allowed in Dolores, it’s not a rule that anyone follows. Just please don’t bring glass into the park and clean up after yourself when you’re done.
While many of the factory buildings in SF have been converted to tech company offices, there are still a few stalwarts of industry hanging on! Two particularly delicious ones are Dandelion Chocolates and Anchor Brewery, which are conveniently located about 10 minutes apart by car and 30 minutes if you want to hoof it. Both companies offer tours (including samples!) and both require a reservation beforehand. Why not make a delicious day of it?
Even if you’ve been to a million Chinatowns, San Francisco Chinatown is something special. It’s the oldest one in the country and not only does it look like a movie set, the style it’s built in has been imitated by Chinatowns around the world.
During the day, Chinatown can get hot and crowded with tourists, even during the foggy summer months. For a much more magical experience, explore the neighbourhood at night. Pop into a food place that catches your eye. Stroll down Grant Avenue, admiring the lanterns hanging over the street. Grab a drink at LiPo, an amazing dive bar that’s been there since the 1930s. It’s a truly unique, gorgeous experience.
The Presidio is the original military site of San Francisco but these days it’s a beautiful national park spotted with old army barracks, a military graveyard, and even a pet cemetery! The views from the hills include the Golden Gate Bridge, while the tall California trees provide cover for a range of lush foliage.
After your hike, head down to Presidio Twilight, which is held every Thursday evening through early September on the lawn of what used to be officer’s quarters, in front of the Presidio Visitor Center. Featuring local food trucks and geodesic domes that light up at night, the event couldn’t be more SF. Just be sure to bring a jacket to keep you cosy and a picnic blanket to sit on!
Brunch is a serious activity in San Francisco. On nice weekends, you’ll see lines stretching around blocks as people queue for hours to get into their favourite spot. With that in mind, show up early to Nopa, which opens at 10.30am. It’s known for fresh local ingredients and delicious food at a decent (by SF-standards) price. Get in line by the door around 10.15am to guarantee a spot — and don’t miss the french toast. (Pro-tip: one piece is more than enough for one person.)
Emma McGowan is a freelance lifestyle writer covering startups, sex education, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA+ issues, and gender politics. She's Bustle's sexual health columnist at Sex IDK. She's a SFSI-certified sex educator and her byline has appeared in Mashable, Bustle, Broadly, The Daily Dot, Mic, and The Bold Italic. She's also the editor at the sexual health site Sexual + Being