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Spring into Summer: What's New and Noteworthy in San Francisco

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Spring into Summer: What's New and Noteworthy in San Francisco

San Francisco Travel's latest roundup features updates on attractions, entertainment, tours, art exhibits, hotels, and San Francisco's culinary scene.



New Perspectives

The 150-foot-high SkyStar Wheel offers never-before-seen perspectives of San Francisco from its new location in Fisherman's Wharf. Moved from Golden Gate Park to the Wharf, the SkyStar Wheel's views span from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge, taking in the San Francisco Bay, Presidio of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island, North Beach, Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, and the downtown skyline.

Visitors can climb “halfway to the stars” on a cable car recently dedicated to Tony Bennett. The newly refurbished cable car 53 carries special plaques and unique markings to commemorate Bennett, who passed away in 2023. The legendary singer premiered “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in 1961 in the Fairmont Hotel's Venetian Room, and the hotel's lobby recently became the permanent home of a hand-painted heart sculpture by Bennett. Visit the sculpture and more on a self-guided tour of Tony Bennett's San Francisco via Local Getaways' free guide.

A new Behind-the-Scenes Tour explores restricted, non-public areas of the 175-year-old Grace Cathedral. Led by trained docents, the Behind-the-Scenes Tour includes the opportunity to climb nearly 100 stairs to the South Tower's observation level and scale across a catwalk for a vertical view and an insider's perspective. The French-inspired neo-Gothic church features 90-foot-high vaulted ceilings and sixty-eight intricate stained-glass windows covering over 7,200 square feet. Visitors on the tour will enjoy interior vistas of the massive cathedral and its arches from the Gallery overlooking the labyrinth; step through secret doors and glimpse hidden passageways of the Ambulatory and historic rooms, which store some of the cathedral's oldest treasures; and gain access to the restricted Chapel of Grace that houses historic furnishings, circa 1400s and 1500s. 


New Parks  

The revitalization of San Francisco's southern waterfront continues with the April opening of the five-acre China Basin Park, part of San Francisco's newest neighborhood, Mission Rock. The park is located just across from Oracle Park (home of the San Francisco Giants) and McCovey Cove and features extensive recreational areas, including a one-acre Great Lawn, a Gathering Grove, and the Shoreline Sands – a stretch of sand along the shoreline designed to bring visitors closer to the water. China Basin Park also extends the 350-mile Bay Trail, now connecting downtown and SoMa to the revived southeastern waterfront.

An array of new parks and public spaces is taking shaping in the middle of San Francisco Bay on Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island. These include new picnic spots in the protected seal colony area of Clipper Cove, which boasts spectacular views of San Francisco, Alcatraz, and the East Bay, and “the world's most beautiful dog park.” Opening in May is Panorama Park, which features dramatic 360-degree views radiating from the 69-foot-tall Point of Infinity sculpture by Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. Point of Infinity is the renowned artist's first large-scale permanent installation in the U.S. The islands are now reachable by a new, 10-minute ferry ride from downtown San Francisco.

In the city's Financial District, an expanded Transamerica Redwood Park will partially reopen in May before its grand opening in September as part of a revitalization of the iconic Transamerica Pyramid.


Play Time

Skateboarders can experience the city's new 13,000-square-foot urban skate plaza—the first of its kind in the U.S. Located in U.N. Plaza within sight of City Hall, the skate plaza was designed by local professional skateboarders and skate park advocates. It features street curbs, concrete benches, and brick walkways for urban skateboarding.

America's first destination municipal short course, the nine-hole, par-3 Golden Gate Park Golf Course, completed a redesign and renovated its clubhouse earlier this year. Also in Golden Gate Park, visitors can now rent in-line or roller skates on weekends and join roller-skaters at Golden Gate Park's Skatin' Place, which is located on the park's car-free JFK Promenade near 6th Avenue.

With the rise of pickleball, San Francisco's Recreation and Parks department increased the number of places to play pickleball to over 90 courts. Among the new locations are pickleball courts at the historic Palace of Fine Arts. Last year, San Francisco also debuted the first padel courts in Northern California in the Embarcadero and on Treasure Island. The game combines tennis and squash into a sport played by 10 million people around the world.



All of San Francisco is a Stage

SF Live, a new free outdoor concert series kicks off in May, bringing arts and culture into the city's parks and plaza. The series will feature live music curated by entertainment venues and showcase local, national, and international talent. Each concert offers a diverse lineup of artists, ranging from rising indie bands to well-established jazz ensembles and high-energy pop acts. Over the next six months, SF Live concerts will be held at iconic open spaces and locations such as the Golden Gate Park Bandshell, Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, Union Square Plaza, Civic Center Plaza, Crane Cove Park, Fulton Plaza, and Eagle Plaza. A who's who of San Francisco entertainment and music venues is curating the entertainment lineup, including Mr. Tipple's, The Great Northern, Monarch, Madrone Art Bar, Bottom of the Hill, El Rio, Neck of the Woods, Great American Music Hall, Rickshaw Stop, The EndUp, Pandora Karaoke, Kilowatt, Cafe Du Nord, The Chapel, and The SF Eagle.

The SF Live music series in Union Square will encompasses four free happy hour concerts every second Thursday starting from June 13, plus three free large concerts on June 15, Sept. 21, and Oct. 12.

The Illuminate Live series in Golden Gate Park at the historic Golden Gate Bandshell runs through mid-November. The free concert series, held every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, features over 125 diverse concerts and genres.

Fisherman's Wharf will host a Pier Party at the Wharf with free performances every Saturday from May 25 and through the end of October.

A monthly Downtown First Thursdays (DFT) all-ages dance party in SoMa with seven entertainment zones will launch May 2 and run every first Thursday through April 2, 2025. DFT boasts an outdoor discoteca; an “Art Car Stage” with drag, DJs and more, a dance hall; bands and live music on Jessie; two outdoor bar areas, food trucks, retail vendors, and free kid's activities. DFT takes place on Second Street between Market and Howard streets.

The new Chinatown Night Market on Grant Street takes place every second Friday evening of the month through November. The Chinatown Night Market features traditional foods along with music, performances, and activities for all ages.

Back for a second year, the popular Bhangra & Beats Night Market brings South Asian Bhangra and popular Bay Area music, street food, cocktails, and local artisans to downtown. The night market will take over three city blocks on May 10, July 12, Sept. 13, and Nov. 15.

Hip Hop on the Plaza, a series of free, all-ages events celebrating the rich history and diverse artistry of hip hop dance in San Francisco, returns this year. Running through September 2024 on UN Plaza, the series' dynamic lineup of programming includes weekly dance workshops and bi-monthly dance battles. 

Civic Center Soundtrack, a free concert series between the San Francisco Main Library and the Asian Art Museum, brings diverse performances every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons throughout the summer.

The Golden Gate Park Band, San Francisco's oldest musical organization, returns to the park for its 142nd season with free weekly performances showcasing San Francisco Bay Area cultural organizations and heritages every Sunday through Oct. 6. Visitors will also find permitted buskers playing in Golden Gate Park and on Market Street in the Mid-Market district.

The nation's longest-running free music festival, Stern Grove Festival, is a free ticketed concert series taking place on Sundays in June, July, and August. In early October, the free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass returns to Golden Gate Park with a lineup of country, soul, folk, and more performers across stages.


All That Jazz

A number of jazz and jazz-inspired venues have opened recently, including Stookey's Club Moderne's sister venue The Blue Room—a new bar and cabaret venue with a post-Prohibition theme featuring live music; The Dawn Club, which evokes a historic 1930s jazz club; Keys Jazz Bistro in North Beach, and GeeLou in the Marina. These complement classic jazz spots like Mr. Tipple's Recording Studio and the Black Cat supper club.

SFJAZZ, the largest non-profit jazz presenter in the world, will feature over 100 concerts across the 41st Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival (June 11 to 23), and the SFJazz Summer Sessions series. The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Festivalthe largest free jazz festival on the West Coast—will take place from July 6 to 7.

In the 1950s, San Francisco's Fillmore District was known as the “Harlem of the West” and was home to over 70 jazz clubs along with record stores and other Black-owned businesses. The Fillmore Eclipse, a new immersive theater production, aims to transport audiences to the height of the '50s Bebop Jazz era and explores the Fillmore's history of Black art and entrepreneurship and the enormous disenfranchisement the community went through during Urban Renewal. Held at the intimate Honey Art Studio, the production is modeled after Bop City, an after-hours jazz joint and a confluence point for San Francisco's thriving African American community and Japanese Americans rebuilding their lives after internment. The family friendly experience features a house band, a range of actors, cocktails, and hidden artifacts to explore. Thirteen performances are scheduled from April 26 to May 12.

Boxcar Theatre relaunched its hit immersive theater experience set in a Prohibition-era nightclub: The Speakeasy: Age of Scofflaws (playing through June 23). The show transports audiences back to the Roaring 1920s inside an intricately designed space complete with a two-story cabaret, three bars, a casino, secret passageways, and disguised entrances.



Glam Libations

The long-awaited rebirth of the former Harry Denton's Starlight Room was realized with the opening of the Starlite in February. Beacon Grand's glamorous revisioning of the iconic venue was inspired by the city's icons—gold, fog, cable cars, and a celebration of the city's flavors. Boasting 360-degree views from the 21st floor, Starlite is decked out in a deep emerald and golden jewel tone palette reminiscent of the Art Deco Era. Velvet upholstered banquettes with fringes and opulent print as well as Venini glass chandeliers elevate the design.

Also opened in February, the Dark Bar in the LINE SF celebrates the rich Asian culture and history of San Francisco with a spirit list sourced from Asia and Southeast Asia. Service features a table-side highball cart, and a cocktail menu spotlighting fresh seasonal elements as well as preserved and fermented ingredients.

Designed like a chic friend's city apartment, RTB Wine Lounge on Fillmore Street brings together exquisite wines, Champagnes, and sakes with a menu designed by Chef Rodney Wages, whose resume includes The French Laundry, Benu, Atelier Crenn, and Saison.

The Harlequin opened in the historic Mosser Building last year, with a design all decadent 1920s glamour. The Harlequin features an opulent copper-clad Gold Bar and a great room lit by a flowing gingko leaf chandelier. The intimate Left Door began welcoming guests to its bedecked Cow Hollow setting in 2023. The chic hideaway cocktail lounge serves classics in a lush setting decorated with bold floral wallpaper and plush velvet and leather chairs.


Sweet Treats

A proliferation of bakeries and cafes is catering to crowds with creative, mouthwatering treats, joining stalwarts like Arsicault, Breadbelly and Tartine.  In Union Square, Miller & Luxe Provisions' soft-serve croissant cone has gone viral while Butter & Crumble in North Beach is channeling a flaky, buttery heaven with its pistachio cardamom sugar and mortadella pistachio pesto croissants.

Magic Donuts & Coffee in Potrero Hill uses sourdough yeast and serves such creations as crème brûlée, taro cheesecake, and blood orange donuts. And opening this summer in West Portal is  George's Donuts & Merriment, an elevated and whimsical donut café. Menu highlights will include a flight of fried-fresh donut holes with dips and 'drunken' donuts.

For those who prefer dessert before dinner, Bellaria Dessert Studio serves an all-dessert tasting menu from noon to 4 pm on Sunday. The sit-down menu includes cakes, cookies, parfaits, and desserts created by virtuoso pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez.

Even mixologists are paying homage to the sweet trend. Causewells' debuted the '30-minute Soufflé' cocktail this year made of 'skrewball peanut butter whiskey, oloroso sherry, banana, oat milk, nilla wafer').


Third-Wave Coffee

San Francisco's coffee scene is second to none, with numerous artisanal coffee roasters, cafes, and baristas dedicated to perfecting the craft of brewing.

The scene's next iteration is third-wave coffee culture. Hot drinks and spots include Yemeni coffee at Delah, Indonesia coffee at Kopiku, Vietnamese coffee at Telescope, and Ethiopian coffee at Sextant Coffee. Shops like Pixlcat give a creative hat-tip to Asia (think ube or black sesame dopo panna lattes), as does Outset, which claims to venture where no barista has gone before, with fruit-flavored coffee drinks like Thai durian and toasted banana lattes on the menu.


Starry Nights

San Francisco could be counted among the “coolcation” destinations, but its rooftop bar scene is sizzling. New venues include the Chotto Matte, a rooftop restaurant with a wraparound terrace in Union Square, and The Jay Hotel's The Third Floor.

Other elevated spots include Latin American bar Cavaña atop the LUMA hotel in Mission Bay (recently named the “Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar” in the U.S. West category by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation), Shelby's Rooftop at the Canopy by Hilton in SoMa, and Rise Over Run, a bar and restaurant solarium at the LINE SF featuring cocktails and southeast Asian-inspired street fare.

Hidden away at the Sunset location of Fiorella is the intimate Bar Nonnina, a rooftop patio with a small, curated list of drinks. Near Oracle Park, Kaiyo Rooftop atop Hyatt Place Hotel in SoMa is contemporary Peruvian Nikkei bar designed as an “Amazonian” oasis. And the rooftop destination that launched the trend in 2017, the Kelly Wearstler-designed Charmaine's at San Francisco's Proper, is still going strong with curated events frequently taking place. Additional rooftop bars can be found here.


Endless Seafood

Recently opened seafood restaurants include Popi's Oysterette in the Marina. Popi's serves items like the Dungeness Crab Roll firebrand brioche and other seasonal seafood sourced from some of California's top purveyors. Broad Street Oyster Co. debuted its first Northern California outpost in Ghirardelli Square last month, dishing up seafood towers and lobster rolls in a décor drenched in color. Fisch & Flore took over the space of former longtime Castro favorite Café Flore with the goal of keeping the former restaurant's neighborhood hangout vibe. It serves fresh seafood and zesty drinks. In Pacific Heights, the bright, light-filled Little Shucker has become a chic destination for oysters, wine, and more since its opening last year.


New Restaurants

San Francisco's dining scene continues to welcome new restaurants to the scene, adding to the city's vibrant diversity of culinary options.

  • Chef Lijun Han, owner of Chinatown's premier Szechuan dining destination Z&Y Restaurant, debuted a sister restaurant, Z&Y Peking Duck, in early 2024. Chef Han's menu focuses on authentic Peking Duck along with a selection of contemporary Beijing-inspired dim sum small plates in a recently renovated building on Jackson Street near the original restaurant.
  • Il Parco, an Italian-inspired cafe and pizzeria, opened in the Presidio of San Francisco this year with a fresh take on Italian classics reimagined with California's seasonal bounty. Guests can enjoy salads, focaccia pizzas and more at nearby public picnicking locations. Il Parco is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner.
  • Featuring a Cantopop soundtrack, Four Kings opened to fanfare in Chinatown, serving elevated and reimaged dishes inspired by the cafes and street food of Hong Kong and Guangzhou and the Cantonese food the two chefs, alums of Mister Jiu's, grew up eating.
  • Husband-and-wife chef duo David Fisher and Serena Chow Fisher, formerly at Marlena, opened 7 Adams in the Fillmore. The restaurant features a 5-course tasting menu ($87) celebrating the nuanced seasonal moments of California. The restaurant steps away from the traditional tasting menu format and creates an experience with a distinctive cadence. Some courses are set while others are chosen, and some are served individually while others are shared. In a matter of months after opening, the restaurant was added to Michelin's California Guide.
  • The Post Room, a Mediterranean-inspired bar and lounge, opened inside the historic Beacon Grand. The restaurant takes guests through a coastal culinary journey from the northern Italian city of Genoa, through southern France and on to Barcelona in northern Spain and features a robust cocktail program. The Post Room serves breakfast through supper daily. Its name was inspired by the property's original glass-front mail chute, which stretches from the 20th floor to the basement.
  • Early to Rise in NoPa (north of the Panhandle) marks Chef Andrew McCormack's first full-service restaurant and brunch haven. The restaurant celebrates high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and simple homestyle meals made from scratch. After operating as a successful pop-up for six years, the new dedicated space provides a bright and inviting modern diner atmosphere.
  • KAIYŌ Restaurant & Bar opened on the ground floor of the Hyatt Place Hotel, where acclaimed cocktail bar KAIYŌ Rooftop is perched. The restaurant features an all-new elevated menu of Nikkei dishes by Chef Alex Reccio, KAIYŌRestaurant Group's Executive Chef, and some guest favorites from their Cow Hollow location.
  • Saluhall, a plant-forward incubator for enticing takes on more sustainable and good eating opened in April as part of Ingka Centres' the Meeting Place. (Ingka Centres is the real estate sister company to IKEA, and the centre is home to San Francisco's first IKEA store.) The 450-seat food hall highlights local and independent traders and includes a beer bar, cocktail bar, the Burgare Bar, Snöberg soft serve, Smörgåsland (a bakery/eatery), Curry Up Now, Puerto Rican Casa Borinqueñ, MOMO Noodle, vegan Mexican La Venganza, and Skola, a cooking school.


Urban Foraging

One of the best ways to explore San Francisco is through its diverse foods and neighborhoods, and there are food tours to suit all flavors.

  • Dylan's Tours recently introduced the Dylan's Infamous Tour, a culinary journey through the city's vibrant streets and neighborhoods featuring food tastings and a cocktail pairing.
  • Flora & Fungi Wild Food Adventures' Urban Foraging: Wild Food & Medicinals tour in Golden Gate Park educates attendees about the park's trees, flowers, history, and urban foraging ethics and how to identify seasonal edibles, like springtime's miner's lettuce, chickweed, and magnolia blossoms. It finishes with a tasting of wild foods.
  • Edible Excursions offers tours of Japantown, the Ferry Building and Farmer's Market, and a Mission District tours.
  • Avital Food Tours features North Beach and Mission District food tours as well as Michelin a Food tour.
  • Local Tastes of the City Tours offers Chinatown, North Beach, or a combination of the two neighborhoods tours.
  • Sidewalk Food Tours combined the unique tastes of San Francisco with cultural context, historical architecture features and more, with tours of the Mission District, Chinatown, and North Beach neighborhoods.



That's San Francisco

Five new exhibits showcase different eras and aspects of life in the City by the Bay.

Fashioning San Francisco at the de Young chronicles how style in the Bay Area has evolved over generations and spans a century of high fashion and haute couture. The exhibit presents the work of over 50 fashion designers, from Balmain to Miyake, Valentino to McQueen, with the majority of the over 90 ensembles on view for the first time. On view through Aug. 11, the exhibit also features an interactive augmented reality installation enabling visitors to “try-on” three fashions.

San Francisco On Stage explores the city's long and colorful tradition of performing arts, which date to the Gold Rush. The exhibit features historical artifacts from the worlds of dance, music, and theater, including costumes, programs, videos of performances, and other unique memorabilia. Presented by the San Francisco Historical Society in collaboration with San Francisco's Museum of Performance + Design, the exhibit is on view until Aug. 15.

The massive Art of Noise exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (from May 4 to Aug. 18) covers over 100 years of music's visual aesthetics. It features an immersive floor-to-ceiling installation of 700 works of graphic design including concert posters (mainly drawn from the 1960s and '70s), album covers, music advertising, and fliers for shows, many highlighting Bay Area concerts, and performances. The exhibition also has an interactive seating environment designed by Stockholm-based studio teenage engineering with custom-designed devices for audio playback embedded.

Beyond that are nine tables displaying industrial designs for listening to music dating from the early 1900s to 2023. Cutting-edge listening experiences are featured in two dedicated galleries, including teenage engineering's Choir, a set of sonic sculptures programmed to sing as a choral group, and the immersive “HiFi Pursuit Listening Room Dream No. 2” audio installation by Devon Turnbull (OJAS). His functional sculpture facilitates super high-fidelity music playback and will be activated through a series of performances with renowned record collectors, musicians, and music labels, drawing heavily on the Bay Area's robust music culture and history. Arborhythm by Yuri Suzuki is also part of the new exhibition. The commissioned project can be experienced on the publicly accessible Floor 2 terrace and on the Floor 7 terrace. Composed of tree-like sculptures of yellow, orange, and green metal tubes, Arborhythm is a seating structure and sonic landscape, remixing sounds of San Francisco's natural and urban surroundings together into an ambient soundtrack.

RetroBlakesberg: The Music Never Stopped showcases Bay Area artist Jay Blakesberg's photographs of legendary musicians. It captures San Francisco's music scene, evolution, and widespread impact. The exhibition, on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum through July 28, includes images of artists like the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Soundgarden, and others.

new permanent exhibit  at Fort Point National Historic Site provides an immersive experience of the fort's unique history, featuring Civil War era artifacts and weaponry, contemporary and archival images and projections, and interactive elements. The exhibit highlights individuals from all backgrounds who contributed to Fort Point's construction and operation. Built in the 1850s as a coastal defense point by the US Army, Fort Point never fired its guns during wartime.



Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in San Francisco hotels in the last few years. Newly built properties such as the LINE SF, LUMA Hotel, and CitizenM Union Square are neighbors with dozens of renovated and rebranded hotels, including The Jay, Beacon Grand, 1 Hotel SF, and Kimpton Alton Hotel. While other properties such as The Clift Sonesta, St. Regis San Francisco, and Hyatt Regency San Francisco have completed major renovations.

The most recent to undergo renovation include Inn at the Presidio and Hotel Drisco.  Meanwhile, The Westin St. Francis, which celebrated its 120th anniversary in March, will unveil a new lobby, restaurant, bar and terrace later this year. In March, the historic property unveiled the St. Francis Museum, which showcases iconic artifacts, including the world's only coin cleaning operation (introduced in 1939 to preserve the cleanliness of guests' white gloves.) The museum opening followed the unveiling of six renovated luxury suites in fall 2023.



San Francisco Travel is the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. The city is one of the top tourism and meetings destinations in the U.S., attracting over 23 million visitors annually. In 2023, total visitor-related spending contributed $9.3 billion into the San Francisco economy and supported nearly 63,000 jobs.

For information on reservations, activities and more in San Francisco, visit www.sftravel.com

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SFO is excited to welcome travelers back to the skies with an airport experience featuring seamless access, thoughtful amenities, sustainable design and inspiring artwork and exhibits.

For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit https://www.flysfo.com/. Follow us on twitter.com/flysfo and facebook.com/flysfo.


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