5 Must-Do Summer Events in San Francisco

A cadre of octopi-themed kites take to the skies at the Berkeley Kite Festival.
A cadre of octopi-themed kites take to the skies at the Berkeley Kite Festival. May Wong
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Though there’s been a fair bit of June gloom (and even a bit of rain!) in San Francisco as of late, summer still beckons with an undeniable appeal. The festival season officially kicks off this weekend, and summer race and events abound, no matter how you like to enjoy the outdoors. Here, five must-do summer events in San Francisco to put on the calendar.

1. For the Fam: Berkeley Kite Festival , July 25-26

Join the 25,000 kite fans who attend the Berkeley Kite Festival  every year for a weekend of kiting craziness, including demos, kite-making, and diehard battles from expert teams around the Bay Area and as far as Japan. Live music and food and drink vendors add to the fun. Don’t be surprised if you go home with a sore neck from all the gazing into the magic in the sky.

2. For the Music Lover: Stern Grove concerts, through Aug. 16

Get to Stern Grove early for seats for its free summer concert series.
Get to Stern Grove early for seats for its free summer concert series. -e.t

Starting June 14, this magical grove will ring out with the sound of music every Sunday afternoon, starting with the groove-tastic Doobie Brothers kicking off the 2015 series . Pack a picnic lunch, gather a group of friends, and head over (bike if you can, as parking is limited), keeping in mind that booze is permitted as long as you can haul it down that windy path into the park. Arrive early, as this is one of the most popular (and free) events on SF’s summer calendar, now in its 78th season.

3. For the Road Runners: San Francisco Marathon, July 26

The San Francisco Marathon event also includes two half-marathons and a 5K.
The San Francisco Marathon event also includes two half-marathons and a 5K. Burt

Registration is still open (though prices increase on June 19) for one of the country’s most scenic races, which just happens to be in our backyard. The San Francisco Marathon  also features two half-marathons a 5K in addition to its signature 26.2-miler, all of which draw more than 25,000 runners. Like the city itself, the race is unique because it offers two half-marathons, the first of which (whose 5:30-6:30 wave start times are good for the early birds), at the Embarcadero and ends at Golden Gate Park, the second doing the reverse of that. Whatever option you choose, you’ll wind through quintessential SF ‘hoods to get a real spirit of the city.

4. For the Foodie: Tour d'Organics, Aug. 9

Forget the bark-like protein bars and gross gels: This quintessentially California ride, now in its tenth year, features locally sourced fare along the way from Sonoma farms. Choose from four routes, from 16 miles all the way up to a century, all with incredible food stops at organic farms overflowing with fruits, vegetables, fresh juices, spreads, breads, and all sorts other amazing bounty. The ride starts and ends in Sebastapol, and the post-ride party also includes a meal for all participants, as well as live music and food vendors.

5. For the Water Lovers: Alcatraz Challenge, June 21 and Aug. 16

It's a long swim from Alcatraz to the mainland, which is the premise of this grueling event.
It's a long swim from Alcatraz to the mainland, which is the premise of this grueling event. Derek Key

Don’t let the chilly waters of the Bay Area deter you from this brag-worthy event, which happens on two dates this summer. You’ll be ferried out to the world’s most famous prison, where you’ll jump into the frigid waters and fight the current for 1.5 miles to shore (insider tip: Try not to think about the inmates whose bodies were never found while attempting their prison breaks this way).

Once you reach terra firma, you’ll quickly warm up with a seven-mile round-trip run along Crissy Field and over the Golden Gate Bridge and back. With the strong currents in the Bay and swarms of tourists on the bridge, forget about chasing a PR for this one—just enjoy the views and the experience.

And if one isn't torturous enough, complete both dates of the Alcatraz Challenge and you’ll get a souvenir Chawel (a hybrid hooded towel/costume in a pinch) to make changing out of those sweaty clothes much easier.

 

 

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