Fun, free, cheap: What to do in San Francisco this week

100+ free Golden Gate Park Bandshell concerts, plant trees to celebrate Arbor Day

By Johnny Funcheap

Special to The Examiner

100+ free Golden Gate Park Bandshell concerts in 2022

Built 122 years ago, the Golden Gate Bandshell is nestled between the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. Other than hosting regular Sunday symphony concerts during the summer, the open-air stage has sat quietly (yet gorgeously) throughout the year. After an $800,000 sound and lighting renovation in 2020 for the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park, the Italian Renaissance-style bandshell hosted 65 free shows in 2021. This year, expect almost double that amount with free all-ages afternoon concerts three or four times a week. Things kick off with a tribute to International Women’s Month, showcasing 20+ women-fronted bands. March 2 through November, times vary. Golden Gate Park Bandshell, JFK Dr. and Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., S.F., Free.

(Courtesy The Crossing)

(Courtesy The Crossing)

First Annual Mardi Gras Festival and Marketplace at The Crossing

Fat Tuesday may have come and gone this year, but Mardi Gras gets one last “pass a good time” in San Francisco. Stilt walkers, samba dancers and the Honor Brass Band playing French Quarter classics will bring a bit of New Orleans to the Bay. Plus there’s a colorful arts and crafts station for the kids and $10 rum-powered hurricane drink specials for adults. The marketplace is filled with micro-entrepreneurs selected by Bay Area-based nonprofits La Cocina and End2Action. Come hungry for the multicultural food offerings highlighted by the n’awlins-appropriate Gumbo Social and Yes Pudding serving up cSweet Potato Praline Bread Pudding. Sunday, March 6, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., The Crossing, 200 Folsom St., S.F., Free.

(Courtesy Kasa Chai)

(Courtesy Kasa Chai)

Free samosa or chai for International Women’s Day

Oh, how I love Kasa! This women-owned and operated Indian eatery has been stuffing San Francisco (and me, specifically) with kati rolls since 2008. And now they are giving you an even better reason to visit for their 6th annual celebration of International Women’s Day. As long as you are willing to make a photo “pledge for parity” (gender equality) to post on their social media channels, you’ll get rewarded with your choice of a free vegan samosa (topped with a zingy cilantro or tamarind chutney) or a free cup of chai, made in house with loose-leaf Assam black tea. No other purchase is necessary. Tuesday, March 8, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Kasa Castro, 4001 18th St., S.F., Kasa Polk, 1356 Polk St., S.F., Free with “pledge for parity.”

(Courtesy San Francisco Department of Public Works)

(Courtesy San Francisco Department of Public Works)

Help plant 120+ trees to celebrate Arbor Day

Think San Francisco doesn’t have enough trees or green space? Now’s your chance to do something about it! In celebration of California’s Arbor Day, S.F. kicks off the new “Love Our City” neighborhood beautification program. Volunteer and you’ll get to fuel up on a free light breakfast and a pep talk by Mayor London Breed. Then help plant 120+ street trees in Bayview/Hunters Point with a focus on native tree species like Island Oaks, which pair nicely with the existing native plants along Cargo Way. Saturday, March 12, 8 a.m.-12 p.m., Heron’s Head Park, 32 Jennings St., S.F., Free, but sign up required.

(Courtesy Paseo Artistico)

(Courtesy Paseo Artistico)

“Mujeres de la Misión” free bilingual community art stroll

Help salute the Mission’s inspirational female artists, community leaders and local women-owned businesses along the 24th Street corridor with an afternoon of indoor/outdoor music, dance, poetry, food and crafts. Start at the Brava Theater (24th and York) for an opening celebration then stroll toward Mission Street with back-to-back performances along the way, including samba dancing, traditional Puerto Rican music, mariachi, a tribute to the pan dulce of La Victoria Panaderia (yum!) and honor local muralists on Balmy Alley. Saturday, March 12, 12-6 p.m., Various indoor and outdoor locations along 24th St., S.F., Free.

Visit for a hand-picked list of more fun, free and cheap things to do in San Francisco.

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