San Francisco for film, theater & art lovers

Across the Bay Area, arts venues are reopening cautiously from pandemic shutdown. SFMOMA requires masks and timed tickets. Artists are re-emerging in the Mission district downtown and Berkeley and Oakland in the East Bay, complementing the San Francisco Symphony and other bastions of high culture. Chez Panisse reopens in October.

movie showtimes theater museums bookstores

Local sources

SFGate news & events from San Francisco Chronicle
Berkeleyside – Online local coverage of Berkeley
San Francisco Theater independent theater guide – East Bay arts listings
artnet gallery events calendar
Eater San Francisco
Nosh (East Bay dining)
Zagat restaurant guides
San Francisco novels (Alexander Books)

Radio & podcasts

KALW 91.7FM – Local public radio
KKUP 91.5FM – Listener-supported, all-volunteer station from Cupertino
KCSM 91FM – Jazz
KPFA 94.1FM – Community-supported mix of music, public affairs and culture.
KPOO 89.5FM – “Poor People’s Radio” (Blues)
KQED 88.5FM – Community-supported public radio, NPR
KUSF 90.3FM – Eclectic sounds from U of SF


Showtimes today

castro theater san francisco By theater 
 By movie title 
 Indie & art houses 
Downtown SF by theater  by title 
East Bay
Berkeley, Oakland
 by theater  by title 
North Bay
Mill Valley, San Rafael, Larkspur
 by theater  by title 
Daly City, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View
 by theater  by title 
South Bay
San Jose – Santa Clara
 by theater  by title 

Curated series & festivals

San Francisco International Film Festival – April
Frameline, San Francisco’s international LGBTQ festival in June
Mill Valley Film Festival, which just celebrated its 40th year – October
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival – July-August
CAAMFest (Center for Asian American Media Film Festival) – annually in March
BAMPFA, a new visual arts center near U.C. Berkeley, combines year-round film series of Pacific Film Archive with Berkeley Art Museum exhibitions

Theater & performance

Theater directory

ACT Strand Theater San Francisco
Strand Theater

American Conservatory Theatre operates in two venues:
The Geary Theater – Historic 1,000-seat theater, rebuilt after the 1989 earthquake, in the heart of Union Square – 405 Geary Street, San Francisco CA
The Strand Theater – Opened in 2015. Presents new commissions, cabaret and events with school partners and community groups – 1127 Market Street, San Francisco CA
Curran Theatre – Reopened January 2017 – Broadway productions near Union Square.
San Francisco Opera performs Francesca Zambello’s production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in 2018 under conductor Donald Runnicles at War Memorial and Performing Arts Center – 301 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco CA (415) 864-3330
San Francisco Symphony‘s Michael Tilson Thomas announced he will retire after his 25th season in 2020 – Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco CA (415) 864-6000
SFJAZZ Center was built expressly for jazz in 2013, in Hayes Valley – 201 Franklin St, San Francisco CA (866) 920-5299
Nourse Theatre host arts and public radio conversations – 275 Hayes St, San Francisco CA (415) 392-4400

East Bay/Berkeley Arts District
Berkeley Repertory Theatre – Regional theater company on two stages: 600-seat Roda Theatre (2015 Addison Street) and smaller Peet’s Theatre (2025 Addison St) (510) 647–2900
Aurora Theater – Professional company with community focus, performing classics and new plays – 2081 Addison Street (510) 843-4822
Freight & Salvage, community arts organization devoted to traditional music and events – 2020 Addison St, Berkeley CA (510) 644-2020
Shotgun Players – Theater company with a focus on challenging and affordable plays – 1901 Ashby Ave, Berkeley CA (510) 841-6500
U.C. Berkeley Cal Performances – Music, dance and theater – 101 Zellerbach Hall, #4800, Berkeley CA (510) 642-9988

Peninsula & South Bay
Stanford Live presents music, dance and theater events at Bing Concert Hall on the Stanford campus. 327 Lasuen Street, Stanford CA (650) 724-2464
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley – Nonprofit company mounts year-round season of musicals, comedies and dramas at Mountain View Center for Performing Arts – 500 Castro St, Mountain View CA – and Lucie Stern Theatre – 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto CA – (650) 463-1960
San Jose Stage Company – Provocative modern plays and musicals – 490 South First St, San Jose CA (408) 283-7142

North Bay
Marin Theatre Company – New American plays with social relevance – 397 Miller Ave, Mill Valley CA (415) 388-5200
Throckmorton Theatre – Community theater devoted to creative thinking, new ideas and innovation – 142 Throckmorton Ave. Mill Valley CA (415) 383-9600


Current exhibitions

Contemporary Optics

Contemporary Optics
A rainbow, a glacial ice cave, a black hole: Sculptures by Olafur Eliasson, Teresita Fernandez, and Anish Kapoor explore human perception and color theory.

Museum directory

SFMOMA San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

De Young Museum – Expanded many times since 1894, the De Young holds art of the ancient Americas, Oceania, and Africa – Golden Gate Park (888) 901-6645
SF Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) – Reopened at 25% capacity with timed ticketing – 151 3rd St, San Francisco CA (415) 357-4000 [membership]
California Academy of Sciences – Aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum all under one living roof – Golden Gate Park, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco CA (415) 379-8000
Exploratorium – Pier 15 (Embarcadero @ Green St.), San Francisco CA (415) 528-4444
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts – Using culture as an instrument for social change: contemporary art, civic engagement, and public life – 701 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA (415) 978-2700
San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum – Non-collecting institution reflects Jewish experience with timely exhibitions – 736 Mission St, San Francisco CA (415) 655.7800
Asian Art Museum – Explores Asian art, music, dance and tradition – 200 Larkin St, San Francisco CA (415) 581-3500
Walt Disney Family Museum – Ten galleries devoted to Walt Disney’s career – 104 Montgomery St. in the Presidio, San Francisco, CA (415) 345-6800
Lucas Film Letterman Digital and New Media Arts Center – 23-acre campus in the SF Presidio includes four-building headquarters of LucasFilm surrounded by statues of Bay Area moviemaking legends.

East Bay
BAMPFA, visual arts center near U.C. Berkeley combines the year-round film series of Pacific Film Archive and Berkeley Art Museum exhibitions in a silvery modern Diller Scofidio Renfro building.

Peninsula & South Bay
Stanford Cantor Art Center – 38,000 artworks spanning 5,000 years, with renowned collection of Rodin sculptures – 328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way, Stanford CA (650) 723-4177
Anderson Collection – Modern and contemporary American paintings and sculpture – 314 Lomita Drive, Stanford, CA (650) 721-6055

Mrs Dalloway's Books Literary Cook and Garden

Bookstores & music shops

City Lights
Cultural landmark founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin in 1953, with a legacy of anti-authoritarian politics and insurgent thinking. Poetry, fiction, translations, politics, history, philosophy, music, spirituality – 261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway, San Francisco CA (415) 362-8193
Books Inc. has many locations, including Opera Plaza (601 Van Ness, San Francisco CA 415-776-1111), in the Castro (2275 Market St, San Francisco CA 415-864-6777) and in SFO Airport terminals
Alexander Book Co. 50 Second St. (Between Market & Mission) San Francisco, CA (415) 495-2992
Booksmith – 1644 Haight St, San Francisco CA 94117 Tel: 415-863-8688 Haight-Ashbury bookshop owned & managed by Christin Evans and Praveen Madan.
Dog Eared Books – Specializing in Beat, small press and local literature – 900 Valencia Street (415) 282-1901 and 489 Castro St. (415) 658-7920 San Francisco CA 94114
Folio Books – 3957 24th St., San Francisco CA (415) 821-3477
Book Passage 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA (415) 835-1020
Green Apple Books – Two floors of new & used nonfiction, new releases, kids’ books and cookbooks – 506 Clement St, San Francisco CA (415) 387-2272 (Fiction & music annex – 1231 9th Avenue, San Francisco CA (415) 742-5833)

East Bay
Amoeba Music – Comprehensive and welcoming shop for record lovers – 2455 Telegraph Ave. Berkeley CA (510) 549-1125
Books Inc. – 1491 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley CA (510) 525-7777
Moe’s New and Used Books – Landmark institution dating back to the Beatnik era, with hundreds of thousands of books and active calendar of readings and events – 2476 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley CA (510) 849-2087
Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts community bookstore in Elmwood offers fiction, non-fiction, poetry and garden books, and hosts a lively calendar of events, including Bloomsday (June 16) celebrations – 2904 College Ave, Berkeley CA (510) 704-8222
University Press Books /Ten Thousand Minds on Fire – 2430 Bancroft Way, Berkeley CA (510) 548-0585 (Next door, the record store/cafe: The Musical Offering carries a huge stock of classical CDs and DVDs – (510) 849.0211)
A Great Good Place for Books – 6120 Lasalle Ave, Oakland CA 94611
Pegasus Books – 5560 College Ave, Oakland CA 510-652-6259

South Bay
Books Inc. Mountain View – 317 Castro Street, Mountain View CA (650) 428-1234
Books Inc. Palo Alto – Town & Country Village, Palo Alto CA 650-321-0600

North Bay
Book Passage – 100 Bay Street, Sausalito, CA (415) 339-1300 and 51 Tamal Vista Blvd. in Corte Madera (415) 927-0960

Haunts & hangouts

San Francisco

The Interval Bar Salon Ft Mason San Francisco
The Interval

Fog City – Warm, open bar & restaurant along the Embarcadero, with local cuisine and bay views – 1300 Battery St, San Francisco CA (415) 982-2000
The Interval – Artisanal cocktails in a techno-utopian space surrounded by ideas, books and mechanical wonders. Home of The Long Now Foundation and salon-style conversations – 2 Marina Blvd, Fort Mason Center Bldg. A San Francisco CA 94123
Samovar – Tea lounge and restaurant in Yerba Buena Gardens near SFMOMA – Upper Terrace, 730 Howard St, San Francisco CA (415) 227-9400 (also in Mission District and The Fillmore)

East Bay
Jupiter – Brew house and beer garden near BAMPFA – 2181 Shattuck, Berkeley CA (510) 843-8277


City by the Bay: San Francisco in Art and Literature, edited by Alexandra Chappell (2002)
San Francisco Poems, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (2001)

A tip of the hat to contributor Valerie Dow. Have a suggestion? See a mistake? Tell Poor Stuart