Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is not exactly the best place where you can find low housing costs. On top of being the top five media market in the country, the Bay Area is in the top three of high cost of living. So how does one find ways to enjoy themselves frugally in a metropolitan area especially an expensive one? Well you come to the right place. As a life-long SF resident, here are places and events that are free and fun for everyone to go to.
1. Sunday Streets – A nonprofit program by the city of San Francisco where streets are closed and used for fun free activities that are provided by small businesses and community organizations. Activities include workout demos, tips to stay healthy, youth park for kids, free bikes to use within the event route, and local musical artist performing throughout the route. This event is held one Sunday a month from March to October and it is held at a different neighborhood throughout San Francisco each month. Basically every community in the city gets to experience this event. We went to the one in our neighborhood last month and it’s a fun event for all ages.
2. The Library – Libraries have evolved within the last 20 years and the branches in San Francisco are no exception. Besides all the nice stuff like borrowing books, movies, online and app features for putting things on hold the library holds various workshops, sing-a-longs for kids, and movie watching. A couple years ago me and Mother with Cents attended financial workshops where they brought in a financial firm to discuss ways to handle your money. I already knew most of the topics they were lecturing about but MWC did not have detailed knowledge and it helped her know more about how investing works, and opening up an IRA. Other workshops the library provides are gardening, cooking, yoga, and health.
3. Free Day at the SF Zoo – The zoo holds a free day for the residents of San Francisco a few times a year. There are over 1000 animals at the SF Zoo so there is plenty to look at.
4. Outdoor Movie Night – A handful of parks around San Francisco hosts this fun event. The movies they play are mainly for kids since it attracts families but there are some movies that attract the young adults in their 20s. Free popcorn, water, on occasion pizza are provided along with sponsors giving out free items to promote their company. Movies nights are held on Friday or Saturday right after the sun goes down throughout the whole summer. A couple of places extend it to the fall since the weather in the SF is pretty descent. Bring your lawn chairs and blanket so you can get warm and comfy. Also get there about a hour or two before they start because it can get crowded. And getting there right before the movie starts can result in searching for a spot and getting a not great view of the screen.
5. Summer Concerts in Stern Grove – The summer weather in San Francisco can be foggy but that does not mean you can enjoy a free outdoor concert. Every Sunday from June until August, Stern Grove hosts concerts of all genres of music. They have VIP seating but most of the crowd sets up picnic areas and chow down on some food while enjoying the concert. Me and MWC volunteered a couple of times when they had the symphony performing and it was a good time helping out the host and sponsors of the event set up listen to some great music.
6. Free Juggling Club – Never got a chance to juggle before? Well the circus center in San Francisco will give you chance to do that. Every Friday night, the center provides free lessons for beginners and novices to know the basics of juggling. They provide all types of juggling toys like balls, scarves, feathers and more. It’s a fun low pressure environment for everyone to learn and enjoy their night at the circus. Me and MWC went a few years back and the instructors were very friendly and patience with us trying to learn how to juggle and made it fun. We will definitely go back there again.
7. Museum Visits – The first weekend of every month, anyone that has a Bank of America credit or debit card can go to several museums for free. Various museums not only in San Francisco but the Bay Area participate in this program.
8. Walking Tours of San Francisco – City guide volunteers lead free walking tours throughout the city. The volunteers research, develop and organize these tours that looks at the artifacts and history of San Francisco. These walks last about a hour or two and it is offered throughout the whole year. There are close to 30 different tours all over the city. People who want to go on the tour can go where the tour starts on the schedule where the volunteer will be. The tours takes place on San Francisco’s most famous neighborhoods as well as hidden ones where it’s less touristy. We are planning to do one of these tours sometime this fall for the Coit Tower tour.
9. Fortune Cookie Tour Factory Tour – In the historic Chinatown, the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory produces freshly made fortune cookies. Once you enter you will see the fortune cookies being made in front of you. The process is done very quickly and you will be amazed how fast the fortune cookies are made.
10. Catch a baseball game at AT&T Park – That’s right, you can watch a free professional baseball game at the ballpark. Over in the right field portion of the park, there is a section under the arches of the 24 foot wall where fans can watch three innings for free. Its standing room only and they limit to 75 fans for every three innings. After the third inning, security ushers the fans out and bring in another set of fans for the next three innings. When there’s an afternoon game during the week, I would stop by sometimes since I work nearby and check out a few innings. It’s good view of the game and not really crowded although weekend and playoff games maybe a different story. It’s a good experience for nonetheless at no price.
What are some free events where you reside? Feel free to comment.