Just when you thought you couldn’t take the suspense anymore it happened. Summer has finally landed. It’s all sunshine, beach time, hikes and museums for the next six weeks so slather on the SPF and get ready because you’re not going to want to miss a moment of this summer kick-off lineup.

By Chantal Lamers



San Francisco

Light Up Your Summer of Love
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of San Francisco’s Summer of Love, the Conservatory of Flowers is lighting up each and every night through June 21 through Oct. 21. Developed in partnership with San Francisco Recreation and Parks by Illuminate, the nonprofit arts group behind The Bay Lights, and Obscura Digital, a world-renowned creative studio specializing in large scale light-based art, the installation uses gobo projectors to transform the all-white landmark with a series of exquisitely illuminated scenes inspired by the rare tropical flowers within and the legacy of San Francisco’s flower children. The lights go up when the sun goes down. Fri.-Sun. Event details. 

Get in the Ring for this Spectacular Act
Circus Bella, San Francisco’s favorite one-ring circus, returns with an entirely new production conceived and directed by Bella-founder Abigail Munn and international clown, Joel Baker. Set to original music by the ingenious composer/accordionist Rob Reich, who leads the stellar Circus Bella All-Star Band, the action-packed 60-minute show features static trapeze, rope walking, hula hoop, juggling, contortion, clowning, family foot juggling and more. Circus Bella partners with Prescott Circus Theatre, a youth development and performing arts program based in West Oakland, as a pre-show and opening act. Fri.-Sat. Event details.

March in the SF Pride Parade and Play in the Children’s Garden
On Sunday bring the kiddos and their scooters, wagons, strollers, backpacks, tricycles and any other form of transport for the littles and march in the Pride Parade. Join the Our Families Coalition (register and get meet up info by clicking here).Then head to the 13th Annual Family Garden for a party featuring art, face painting and a playground. Let the kids play and chill out with other Pride families. The Family Garden opens at 11 a.m. (The map in this listing is for the garden). Or join the celebration all weekend at Civic Center from noon to 6 p.m. on Sat. and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sun. The parade starts at 10:30 a.m. Sun, on Market Street from Beale to 8th. Sat.-Sun. Event details.

East Bay

Soar to New Heights at the Oakland Zoo
Head to the Oakland Zoo, where the California Trail is officially underway. California native animals are expected to arrive next year, including grizzly bears and buffalos. In the meantime you can float over the future exhibit space via the zoo’s brand gondola cars. The cars drop visitors at the hilltop cafe, where you can enjoy lunch paired with sweeping views of the bay. The $80 million expansion project, which will double the size of the zoo, will also include a new visitor center. Daily. Event details.


Shine at Drag Queen Story Time
Get dressed up for Drag Queen Story Hour for Kids. Check. From fairy tales about boy princesses to classics like “Goodnight Moon,” the programming for the story times feature themes of inclusion, and the hostesses will often ask kids to think about how they should treat people who are different. And beyond the children, who are typically instantly comfortable with the feather boa-donning queens, this is also an opportunity for parents, many of whom may not have much connection to the queer community, to take away a new perspective and learn tools for discussing inclusion with their kids. Sat. Event details.

Get Your Craft On at the Patchwork Show
Shop handmade and independent goods from more than 150 local makers, crafters, designers and food artisans alongside DIY craft workshops, food trucks and indie music at Patchwork Show in Oakland. The event is free to attend and it’s family and dog friendly. Sat. Event details.

South Bay

Revvv Your Engine for A Hot Date With Lightning McQueen
Meet Lightning McQueen and other racers (well, life sized character look-alikes anyway!) and see previews of the upcoming movie! Thurs.-Fri. Event details.

Go Coastal on Your Next Hike
Lunch, snacks, binoculars, water bottle, SPF, all check! You’ll want to pack all these goodies for Wilder Ranch Coast Nature Walks. On these two hour natural history excursions you will explore the plants, animals, and geology of the spectacular coastal bluffs. Meet at the Wilder Ranch Interpretive Center. Sat. Event details.


Get in on Some Kite-Flying Fun at the Brisbane Marina
Join the fun at the inaugural Kite Festival at the Brisbane Marina where everyone can bring their own kite and get soaring. The event will feature kite demonstrations, food, and plenty of fun for people of all ages. Ribbons will be awarded for best homemade kites, highest flyers, biggest kite, etc. We hope you’ll join for some kite-flying fun! Sat. Event details.

Lace Up for the 7th Annual Summer Scamper
Join the run at Stanford on Sunday, June 25 for the 7th annual Summer Scamper 5k, 10k, and kids’ fun run, benefiting patients and families at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. The community is counting on you for help. Register to race, join a team, form a team, volunteer, or donate today at summerscamper.org. Sun. Event details.

North Bay

Catch Up With Lightning mcQueen at the Sonoma Raceway
Meet Lightning McQueen and other racers (well, life sized character look-alikes anyway!) and see previews of the upcoming movie! The event is at the Sonoma Raceway (so you’ll see a real live race, too) and a ticket to the races is required. Sat.-Sun. Event details.

Take Your Mimi Madonnaris to Paint the Streets
Watch the streets of downtown San Rafael come alive with art at the Italian Street Painting Marin. This year’s theme is Eternal City of Rome, and the fine art of street painting at Ciao Bella Roma. There’s live entertainment throughout the day, and there’s even an entire Children’s Avenue where kids 2-12 can get their own 2 x 2 ft. square and a box of chalk ($10) to be part of the fun! Sat.-Sun. Event details. 

It’s the summer of love! Tell us what you’re loving this summer in the comments below!

–Chantal Lamers