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

Mother’s Day picks, Warriors playoff watch parties, Bluegrass pickin’ picnic

By Johnny Funcheap

Special to The Examiner

SF’s 81st annual Mother’s Day Rose Show

Want to get your mom one of The City’s most glorious roses on the cheap? Plan an afternoon at Golden Gate Park’s Hall of Flowers for the return of the San Francisco Rose Society’s first in-person Mother’s Day Rose Show in three years. See a beautiful collection of hybrid teas, grandifloras and climbing roses from gardens all over The City as they battle it out to win Queen of Show (and other awards like largest rose, smallest rose and “blackest red rose”). And if you wait patiently until 4 p.m., you can treat your mom to one of these award-winning blooms. Most of the competing roses and bouquets are given away at the end of the day in exchange for a small donation. Sunday, 12:30-4 p.m., Hall of Flowers, Ninth and Irving, Golden Gate Park, S.F., Free.

(Courtesy Exploratorium)

(Courtesy Exploratorium)

Mother’s Day community day at the Exploratorium

The Exploratorium used to have several “pay what you wish” days each year, but those started to become rare even before the pandemic. This Sunday, the community day tradition returns for the first time since May 2019 in honor of Mother’s Day/Día de las Madres. Lots of free bilingual activities tempt you to spend your full day at the museum, including folklórico dances and a mariachi concert serenading mothers. Enjoy Mexican hot chocolate tastings, see how corn tortillas are made or go hands-on and learn how to make colorful paper flowers for a free Mother’s Day gift. Arrive early as entry is subject to capacity. Sunday, 10 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Pier 15, Embarcadero at Green Street, S.F., Pay what you wish.

(Courtesy Chase Center)

(Courtesy Chase Center)

Golden State Warriors playoff watch parties

Dub Nation descends on Thrive City for the Bay Area’s biggest and loudest game watch party. During every road playoff game, the Warriors open up the West Plaza in front of Chase Center and fill it with lawn games, a sport court and a few thousand gold-blooded fans for an experience that feels almost as electric as if you were inside the arena. Cheer the Warriors on the huge 42-foot outdoor screen or get pumped by the dunk squad and DJs who often help amp the crowd during breaks. RSVP if you want, but entry to this insanely popular event is first come, first served. Every Warrior’s road playoff game. Next game, Wednesday, 5 p.m., Thrive City West Plaza at Chase Center, 1 Warriors Way, S.F., Free, subject to capacity.

(Courtesy Jeffrey Eisen)

(Courtesy Jeffrey Eisen)

Bluegrass pickin’ picnic

Plop down on a blanket and enjoy a lovely day of music in the park that’s like a teeny tiny version of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Local guitar/mandolin duo Jeanie and Chuck round up some of their favorite bluegrass, country and folk performers for the umpteenth version of this five-hour impromptu concert jam in the Dahlia Dell Garden, just east of the Conservatory of Flowers. It’s BYOE (bring your own everything — including acoustic instruments if you want to join in). There’s no sign marking the spot, so if you’re having a hard time finding things, just head down JFK Drive and keep your ears open to follow the faint sound of banjos and fiddles. Saturday, 12-5 p.m., Dahlia Dell Grove, Golden Gate Park, S.F., Free.

(Courtesy Conservatory of Flowers)

(Courtesy Conservatory of Flowers)

Conservatory of Flowers & Japanese Tea Garden free for S.F. Residents

In case you missed the news from late April, two of Golden Gate Park’s most gorgeous gardens are now free for all San Francisco residents. (Sadly, nonresidents saw a price hike to $13.) The Conservatory of Flowers, built in 1879, is the oldest building in the park. Explore the massive greenhouse’s five galleries filled with close to 2,000 plant species. Or take a stroll past the pagodas, koi ponds, stone lanterns and arched drum bridges of the Japanese Tea Garden, originally created in 1894 and now the oldest public Japanese garden in the U.S. Open daily, hours vary. Conservatory of Flowers, 100 JFK Drive, Japanese Tea Garden, 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, S.F., Free for San Francisco residents with I.D.

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

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