Updated: Jul 29, 2019
What does an Italian Heritage Parade, a Bluegrass Festival, an LGBT Street Fair, and an Airshow featuring the Blue Angels have in common? Your answer was most likely... Uhhh nothing? You'd mostly be right, however, what they do have in common is that in San Francisco these 4 things overlapped in one marvelous weekend.
Fleet Week, Blue Angels Airshow - The Marina
If you've ever been in San Francisco for the first week of October, you've definitely heard of Fleet Week. I mean that quite literally, because Fleet Week is one of the LOUDEST events to happen in San Francisco. Fleet Week is a celebration of the navy! The massive army ships dock in the Bay for the weekend and put on a spectacular show with the Blue Angels--and man-oh-man are they loud. You can feel and hear the rumbling of the planes flying overhead, even if you can't see them. If you can see them though, you can watch as they turn in tight formation, fly straight towards one another and turn so quickly any normal person would pass out. The fastest these planes go during this show is just shy of 700mph!
If you can, head to a roof party in North Beach, the Marina, or Nob Hill for the most uninterrupted view of the bay and watch this ridiculous spectacle unfold.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass - Golden Gate Park
This daytime festival is held in Golden Gate Park every year and features Bluegrass musicians and other performers from all over. Subsidized by Warren Hellman this concert is free to all, and strives to keep the concert about the music and the artists and not an advertising platform.
I don't particularly like music festivals. Something about the large crowds, impersonal performances and the overall grunginess of day-partying has never appealed to me. However, I decided to rip off the bandaid and try my hand at one of these, since a lot of people my age seem to like them. This show was the right one to choose. The music is calm, atmosphere friendly and upbeat, and while it is quite crowded if you stake out a spot early you're never too cramped. We lounged on the grass listening to a few bands, drinking, eating way too much funnel cake and enjoying the surprisingly nice weather in SF.
Castro Street Fair - The Castro
One of my favorite places to walk around in San Francisco is the Castro! Famously known for the LGBT nightlife this place is one of the most colorful and exciting neighborhoods in the entire city. You never know where a night in the Castro might take you! In celebration of the neighborhood and the people, the Castro Street Fair pops up annually to host a number of booths and performances. You'll see folks from all walks of life enjoying outdoors, and thankfully this year the festival was on a gorgeous sunny weekend!
Pop over to one of the local booths to grab a *cough* interestingly shaped corndog, some fine leather goods, and a beer or two (or three). You can then feast your eyes on the spectacular shows happening on each of the streets. We watched everything from Drag Shows, to a circus performance, to local cheerleaders.
Heads up though, if you're not comfortable with people in their birthday suits, this may not be the street fair for you...
Italian Heritage Festival - North Beach
While I didn't make it to this festival in time, I've been assured by both of my parents that this was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday morning. The festivities begin with a parade winding its way down the streets of North Beach. This year the newly elected mayor, London Breed was present, as well as a host of fancy sports cars, and oddly setup up parade floats. The parade lasts for quite a while, so you'll see many people sitting at the long tables setup outside of the famous Italian restaurants. Park yourself at one of these and enjoy a pizza, pasta or panna cotta and marvel at the costumes and oddities marching down the street.