Best Things to Do in San Francisco This May

Best Things to Do in San Francisco This May

It’s not even summer yet, and San Francisco is filled with exciting festivals, markets and outdoor events. May not only holds Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day, but it’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. In San Francisco — where Asian communities have contributed so much to the city’s culture — that means there’s plenty to celebrate. 

Suffice it to say, we’ve done the deep research for you on the best things to do in San Francisco, including museums, cultural events, food tours and more. Speaking of food, we also have an extensive list of our best restaurants in San Francisco, and if you’re planning a weekend, the best places to stay. 

Featured photo by Andres Acosta. 

Pink and white teacups with flower decals for sale at the Asian Art Museum's Spring Artisan Market in San Francisco, California.
Photo courtesy of Asian Art Museum.

Spring Artisan Market

May 4–5

Looking for a unique gift for Mother’s Day? The Asian Art Museum’s annual Spring Artisan Market presents beautiful gifts and goods from skilled craft makers. Pick up hand-carved earrings from a local jeweler. Or, spruce up your pantry with specialty food items. After browsing the museum’s best wares, you could even check out its new exhibit of Chinese archaeology, Phoenix Kingdoms: The Last Splendor of China’s Bronze Age (on view starting April 19). On view at that exhibit: a 2,000-year-old wine fridge, among other relics. 

More info:

Film still from "A Great Divide," featuring actor Ken Jeong — part of the lineup of films for the Center of Asian American Media's annual film festival
Film still from A Great Divide. Photo courtesy of CAAMFest 2024.


May 9–19

The Center for Asian American Media supports the advancement of Asian American media, and every year its film festival highlights over 100 films about these communities’ diverse experiences. With shorts, documentaries and feature-length narratives, viewers can choose to view a range of films. Theaters across the city (and even some in Oakland and Berkeley) screen films and hold events throughout the ten-day festival. 

More info:

Lanterns light up a crowd of people and vendor tents below in San Francisco's Chinatown Night Market.
Photo courtesy of BeChinatown Facebook.

Chinatown Night Market

May 10

An event that started during last year’s Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference, the Chinatown Night Market is now a monthly recurrence every second Friday on Grant Ave. Vendors and crowds gather at 5:30 p.m. for a night of great food and community gathering. Put together with love by the nonprofit BeChinatown, the night market celebrates local businesses and the culture of one of San Francisco’s most iconic neighborhoods.

More info:

Runners begin race at the starting point of Bay to Breakers half marathon in San Francisco, California
Photo by Andres Acosta.

Bay to Breakers

May 19

Pink gorillas, naked people, groups of 13+ runners tied by a bungee cord — it must be Bay to Breakers! San Francisco’s favorite footrace attracts both serious runners and serious partiers. The half-marathon treds from downtown San Francisco to the Great Highway on Ocean Beach (hence it’s the eponymous route: “from the Bay to the Breakers”). Bay to Breakers began in 1906 after the Great Earthquake and fire decimated the budding city. Now rebuilt several times over, San Francisco still holds onto the tradition, and tens of thousands participate every year. 

More info:

Carnaval performer in gold costume with feathers at Carnaval parade and festival in San Francisco, California
Photo courtesy of Art Market.

Carnaval San Francisco

May 25–26

Five performance stages, dozens of musicians, hundreds of vendors, 17 blocks worth of street party and one grand parade: San Francisco’s Carnaval festival is BIG. And feathered! This year’s parade theme is “Honor Indigenous Roots,” highlighting the celebration’s pre-Colombian history and the many native influences within Carnaval traditions. Moreover, the festival celebrates the Mission in all its glory and the diverse Latin American, Caribbean and African cultures within it. 

More info:

Sketch of a Dutch colonial mansion made of bricks with crawling ivy, which will be decorated at the San Francisco Decorator Showcase
Photo courtesy of SF Decorator Showcase.

SF Decorator Showcase

Through May 27

Wander through the halls of a massive Dutch Colonial and see the handiwork of 28 interior and landscape design firms from across California. In this yearly fundraiser for San Francisco University High School, the rooms of an impressive SF building are divided among different firms. Each decorates their space to show their style on a gorgeous blank canvas (AKA a five-floor mansion in Pacific Heights). 

More info:

Oracle Park San Francisco Giants Baseball
Photo by Mick Haupt via Unsplash.

San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park

Thirteen home games bring fans to the stadium this month when the Giants go up against the Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. 

More info:

Concert Hall at SF Symphony
Photo courtesy of SF Symphony.

San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall

Various Dates

There are more than a dozen performance dates throughout the month of May. Performances include chamber music, solo recitals from musicians like Yuja Wang and several live accompaniments to films such as The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Encanto and more. 

More info:

Event Venues

Looking to see what’s happening right now in SF? Our comprehensive list of venues across the city below will help you find what you need to know what’s going on.

Looking for more things to do in the area?

Visit our What to Do in San Francisco page!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top