In the month of August, San Francisco plays host to one of the most exciting events in the city – the Outside Lands Festival – with an explosion of food, music, art and many other fun-filled distractions. As the much-anticipated event takes over Golden Gate Park, don’t fret if you’re not part of the festivities…there is still plenty of attractions and activities to enjoy (including numerous free events) in August 2012.

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Summer Gardening Fair – August 4

The 15th annual Summer Gardening Fair will kick off at Golden Gate Park – providing a day full of pruning and planting for horticulture enthusiasts. Locals often take this time to learn more about gardening and plants, as representatives of local greenery and conservation organizations are on hand to answer questions. Of course, there will be plenty of plant and related product buying at the fair. Other things to consider include a book sale, special plant display, butterfly exhibits, the buzz of beehives, demonstrations, and a chance to join a local plant club. This free event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Bank of America Museum Free Admission – August 4 & 5

It’s the perfect weekend to take the kids to the museum. If you are in possession of a Bank of America credit card or debit card, you might want to take advantage of free admission to one of seven Bay Area museums, including the de Young Museum.

Quiet Lightning Literary Wonderfest – Conservatory of Flowers – August 6

The Conservatory of Flowers is hosting their Greenhouse Effect Quiet Lightning summer series that includes three literary performances throughout the season – starting with this event. Highlights of this event include art by Cameron Forsley, $3 drafts of Lagunitas beer, classical music, and the readings of 14 emerging authors. There is a suggested donation of $5 for this event, but no one is ever turned away. Since part of the show is outside, you might want to bring a jacket along for the show. The show will start at 6 p.m.

First Tuesdays Free Museum Admission – August 6

First Tuesdays in San Francisco means that you can enter some of the popular attractions in the city. Art lovers will enjoy fabulous creations, including American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, as well as art from Africa and the Pacific. Free admission day at de Young starts at 9:30 a.m. Starting at 10 a.m., the Conservatory of Flowers also holds free admission on this day.

Friday Nights at de Young – Global Village – August 10

When you’re looking for something to do on a Friday night, de Young has you covered with art and culture-themed get-togethers from 5 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. If you missed last week’s Global Village Friday Night event, you have a second chance to enjoy an assortment of music and dance. On this night at Wilsey Court (starting at 6:30 p.m.), you will encounter the talent of Dholryhthms, La Gente, Nicole Klaymoon’s Embodiment Project, Sascha Jacobsen & Trio Garufa, DJ Lady Ryan, Raw-G, and La Mixta Criolla.

Other Friday Night at deYoung activities and events to look forward to in August include:

• August 17 – Brazilian Tribute to Jean Paul Gaultier with dance performances, fashion photo booth, and crafting to create Brazilian-themed accessories.

• August 24 – Salsa Dance Party with live music with the Grammy-nominated John Santos Sextet featuring Dr. John Calloway

• August 31 – The Red Poppy Art House Remix Dance Series and live iPad Portraits will feature live music and hands-on art making for all

Outside Lands Festival – August 10 – 12

The Outside Lands Festival offers a blend of music, art, food and drink that draws crowds from all over the world. The festival gates open at 11 a.m. with musical acts kicking off the sounds at 12 p.m. From green-related vendors to exquisite edibles, there is something for everyone to enjoy, such as the Market Place located at Polo Field that introduces you to a collection of fine craftsmen, artisans, and vendors.

Outside Lands is known for delivering an array of food, treats, coffee and other drinks (including beer and wine) to spoil your taste buds. You might find yourself cooling off with ice cream treats from Beach Ventures, savoring specialty mac & cheese from Homeroom, or munching on empanadas offered by Sabores del Sur.

To get a taste of the performers scheduled for this year’s Outside Lands Festival, the following artists will fill the Golden Gate Park air with guitar solos, soulful crooning and energetic sets: Beck, Foo Fighters, Neil Diamond and Crazy Horse, Of Monsters and Men, Big Boi, Metallica, Regina Spektor, Franz Ferdinand, Jack White, Trampled by Turtles, and Stevie Wonder.

For more information on the Outside Lands extravaganza, check out

Thursday Nightlife at Academy of Sciences – August 16, 23 & 30

Thursday nights are never a dull moment if you participate in the Nightlife events at the California Academy of Sciences. Every Thursday night (from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.), the museum will offer a blend of music, cocktails, dance, art and critters – all centered on a specific theme. Keep in mind that this $12 event is for participants that are 21 years of age or older.

Themes for August 2012 include:

• August 16 – “Crafty NightLife” – DIY craft stations and a chance to shop Bazaar Bizarre’s selection of local makers. Enjoy the sounds of DJs Avalon Emerson and Derek Opperman of Lost in the Night.

• August 23 – “Survival NightLife” – Adventure Out and Academy researchers will test and sharpen your survival skills. Speak with professional surfer and sailing adventurer Liz Clark. Listen to the sounds of DJ Al Lover and DJ Chris Orr in the coral reef.

• August 30 – “Bacon Wrapped NightLife” – Bacon lovers will go crazy for this night filled with sustainable information, bacon samples, and a visit from local pork connoisseurs. Experience your first vegan pig roast. Music by DJ Carnita of Hard French.

Radio Disney Performance at Academy of Sciences – August 19

Head to the California Academy of Sciences on August 19 to enjoy the Radio Disney AM 1310 Road Crew Performance held at 1 p.m. With games and prizes for all ages, this event will test your knowledge of earthquakes and provide the latest summer tunes with the educational flair that Disney is known for. Access to this 90-minute event comes with the price of admission to the museum.

Golden Gate Park Cross Country 5K – August 26

It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting out on the open road, you can get active at Golden Gate Park with a cross country run starting at the upper/dirt track of the Polo Field (the finish line is at the lower/paved track) . Expect a course that includes grass, dirt paths and paved paths. There will also be a free 1/2 Mile Kids Run at the same location that starts at 9:45 a.m. The event is free for all kids ages 12 and under. All participants will receive a ribbon with Top 5 ribbons going to early male and female finishers.

Race day registration will begin at 8 a.m., but you can pay early fees of $3 to $5. For more information, contact