Skip to main content
Arts & Entertainment

Mother’s Day 2023: Where to celebrate for free in San Francisco

Visitors take in art at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. | Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Your mother deserves the world, but if San Francisco is putting a strain on your wallet, you can still show her lots of love with these thoughtful, fun and free activities over Mother’s Day weekend.

A Day at the Museum

If your mom is the artsy type, Saturday is the perfect opportunity to take her to some of San Francisco’s fine art museums. The Legion of Honor and de Young offer free admission on Saturdays for Bay Area residents year round (just be sure to reserve your spots ahead of time to skip the lines), and the Museum of the African Diaspora’s free community day for May is Saturday.  

The de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park offer free admission to Bay Area residents on Saturdays. | Courtesy the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Mother’s Day on Sunday is also pay-what-you-wish at the Exploratorium this year. Learn about the wonderful world of Indigenous plants, learn how cacao is processed from bean to bar, make paper flowers and take home a plant-inspired print or glowing greeting card from this community day—which is specially dedicated to Latina mamas this year. Museum entry is first-come, first-served.

🗓️ Saturday | 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
🔗 Legion of Honor | de Young Museum | MoAD

🗓️ Sunday | 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
🔗 Exploratorium

Stop & Smell the Roses

Getty Images

Stop and smell the roses with mom at the San Francisco Rose Society’s annual Mother’s Day Rose Show. The County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park will be transformed into a Hall of Flowers featuring a range of blooms—including some with roots stretching as far back as the 19th century. Admire an array of arrangements from award-winning gardeners as well as rose photography. Admission is free, but if you’d like to take a bouquet away, arrangements are available for a donation after the show (typically $5-$10). Bring your mother and your camera for this beautiful floral display. 

🗓️ Sunday | 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
📍 Hall of Flowers/County Fair Building (near Ninth Avenue & Lincoln Way), SF
🔗 sfrosesociety.org 

Music for Mama

Golden Gate Park Band

If your mum is into showtunes, Golden Gate Park’s free Mother’s Day concert is a great option for some no-cost fun. The performance will feature the music of Broadway and Gershwin. Works by Verdi and Chaminade round out the program. 

🗓️ Sunday | 1 p.m.
📍 Spreckels Temple of Music Bandshell, 50 Hagiwara Dr., SF
🔗 goldengateparkband.org

Chamber Music at Mission Dolores

If classical music is your mom’s jam, then head to the Mission Dolores Basilica, which hosts a program of classical works featuring cellist Emil Miland and pianist/organist Jerome Lenk. The Mission Dolores Basilica will also stream the performance live on its Facebook page for those who can’t attend IRL. Free, but donations are accepted.  

🗓️ Sunday | 4 p.m.
📍 Mission Dolores Basilica, 3321 16th St., SF 
🔗 missiondolores.org

Take Mom to the Movies 

Take your mom to a screening of the ultimate mom-daughter switcheroo, Freaky Friday. Mom can relax in massage chairs while the kids play at craft stations or in the kids zone. Food trucks complement the screening, held at Thrive City—just outside the Warriors’ arena, Chase Center. This event is free, but reservations are encouraged as space is limited and first-come, first-served.  

🗓️ Saturday | 1 p.m.
📍 Thrive City at Chase Center
🔗 chasecenter.com/thrivecity

Cut a Rug

Shake what your mama gave you during a free dance social in the middle of Union Square. Set against a backdrop of flowers and live salsa beats, you can cut a rug with mom and do her the honor of the timeless parent-child dance. 

🗓️ Sunday | 1-4 p.m.
📍 Union Square
🔗 eventbrite.com

Christina Campodonico can be reached at christina@sfstandard.com