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Dog surfing competition, Japantown fair and other free Bay Area weekend events

A man and his dog catch a wave at the World Dog Surfing Championships. | Source: Courtesy World Dog Surfing Championships

Our weekend guides usually focus on events in San Francisco proper. But we’re making an exception this week for two unique free events that are well worth the trip: the World Dog Surfing Championship in Pacifica and a “Fee-Free Day” at National Parks statewide. After all, what better motivation to get out of the city for the day than cute dogs and free experiences? But if you want to stay in the city for the weekend, we’ve got options for you, too! Read on for the full weekend guide. 

1. Fee-Free Day in all National Parks and other public federal lands 

🗓️ Friday | All day
📍 All National Parks and other public federal lands

This is your chance to slather on the SPF, lace up your hiking boots and venture out of the city for the day because all National Parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands will have no entry fees on Friday in celebration of the three-year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act. Passed in 2020, the law allocated millions to maintenance and conservation efforts for public lands, as well as Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Several stunning sites to get your cost-free dose of nature are within reach–depending on how far you want to travel. In less than an hour’s drive, you could get to Muir Woods; in roughly three hours, you could make it to Pinnacles National Park; and if you’re feeling really ambitious, you could make the drive to Yosemite in four to five hours. However, overnight camping, cabin rentals and group-use day fees will remain in effect. 

2. Jerry Day in McLaren Park

🗓️ Saturday | 11 a.m.
📍 Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, McLaren Park

Dead and Company’s last shows in San Francisco proved to be emotional, spiritual, tie-dye-filled events for devoted Deadheads. This Saturday is a chance to keep that energy flowing and honor the late Jerry Garcia, the iconic lead guitarist, songwriter and founding member of the Grateful Dead. Titled “Jerry Day,” the live music event celebrates its 21st anniversary and Garcia’s 81st birthday, which was on Tuesday. After an afternoon of jam band camaraderie, check out the “Jerry Nite” after-party event, which will take you on a pub crawl through the Excelsior, Garcia’s childhood neighborhood.

3. World Dog Surfing Championships in Pacifica

🗓️ Saturday | 9 a.m.
📍 Linda Mar Beach, Pacifica

Start your Saturday off right by watching dogs absolutely shred in Pacifica at the World Dog Surfing Championships. Though the prestige of the awards can’t be understated, the event is a lighthearted way to raise money for dog-related, surfing and environmental charities. There will also be other opportunities on the beach to show off your canine bestie, like in a disc-catching or costume contest, as well as a chance to pamper them for their hard work at a pet wellness fair. 

READ MORE: Can Dogs Surf? Yes–and They Will at This Competition in Pacifica

4. Nihonmachi Street Fair in Japantown

🗓️ Saturday-Sunday | 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
📍 Japantown Peace Plaza and Post Street between Fillmore and Laguna streets

Japantown will come alive this weekend for Nihonmachi Street Fair, an annual summer event to showcase and celebrate local Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander culture, businesses and organizations. There will be a variety of performances across the weekend, including an eclectic set of groovy acts on one of the event’s two stages, a Chinese lion dance, Japanese Yosakoi dancing from the San Jose-based dance team Uzumaru, and more. Try your hand at the delicate art of origami folding with Linda Mihara of Paper Tree, a family-owned, city-designated Legacy Business in Japantown—and be sure to stick around to see beautiful works of art being created by artists right in front of your eyes for the event. 

5. The Park Market in Dogpatch

🗓️ Sunday | 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
📍 Crane Cove Park

Sunset Mercantile, the organization responsible for some of San Francisco’s favorite outdoor markets, such as the Outer Sunset Farmers Market and Mercantile and Secondhand Saturdays is kicking off a new lineup of four pop-up marketplaces at Crane Cove Park in Dogpatch starting this Sunday. The list of fun features to expect includes local makers and artists, food trucks, live music and free, condensed paddle board lessons.