Free Summer Self-Care Ideas (Right Here In The Bay Area!)

1. Get artsy.

Pablo Picasso said, ““Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”  And scientific research agrees!  Viewing art stimulates a release of dopamine in the brain, which creates feelings of pleasure and euphoria (some neuroscientists compare it to the feeling of falling in love), and diminishes stress and depression.  Viewing art also increases your critical thinking skills, empathy and tolerance.

Lucky for us, several world-class art museums in San Francisco open their doors for free at select times.  For instance, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor are free on Tuesdays.  The Asian Art Museum is free on the first Sunday of each month. Click here to find other free museum days.

2. Grab your mat.

Yoga has been shown to have countless health benefits.  It improves immunity, keeps your spine aligned, decreases stress hormones, improves flexibility and boosts your mood.   Whether you’re a yogi or a newbie, you can take classes in the Bay Area for cheap (or free!)

Yoga to the People has locations in Berkeley and San Francisco.  Free Yoga SF holds group yoga sessions across the Bay Area. Both of these options are donation-based, so finances don’t have to hold anyone back from experiencing the benefits of this healthy practice.

3. Find a furry friend.

Spending time with animals is good for adults and kids alike.  Visiting the aquarium or the zoo is an educational experience, it offers a fun way to get your 10,000 steps in, and it inspires all of us to create a healthy planet where people and animals can thrive.  

The San Francisco Zoo lets kids under age 3 in for free. There are also free days for moms, and for SF residents.  Kids under age 3 get into the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 for free, too. Pier 39 is also a great place to see lots of sea lions resting and playing in the Bay.

4. Commune with nature.

Spending time in the outdoors is a great way to exercise, and it also has been proven to boost your mood and decrease rates of anxiety and depression.  Hiking up Mount Davidson, exploring Marin County bike trails, and strolling through the meadows in Golden Gate Park are all excellent (free!) ways to practice some summer self-care.  

5. Treat yourself to tea.

As we pointed out in this post a few months ago, tea is amazing for your body and your mind.  It improves concentration, strengthens your bones, increases life expectancy….and so much more!

San Francisco has lots of great tea shops, and some of them (like Vital Tea Leaf and Aroma Tea Shop) offer tastings for free!  Once you find a tea you enjoy, you can steep it at home, hot or iced, to make a healthy, hydrating beverage to enjoy during the warm summer months.


At Golden Gate Urgent Care we’re here seven days a week, at six Bay Area locations, to serve you.  Make an appointment online or simply walk in for same-day illness and injury care.

Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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