Every spring, greenhorns concoct big plans to transform their urban fire escapes into garden oases -- and then proceed to sleep in every weekend. That's why we recommend that you budding horticulturists make a beeline for the San Francisco Botanical Garden's 38th Annual Spring Plant Sale. With more than 20,000 plants to choose from -- all guaranteed to thrive in the Bay Area's particular climatic conditions -- even know-nothings like us can find something that will live awhile. Among the diverse offerings are drought-tolerant natives and cloud forest foliage, which digs the city's fog belt. The throngs line up long before the 10 a.m. opening (the sale continues until 2 p.m.) at the San Francisco County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park, Ninth Avenue & Lincoln, S.F. Admission is free; call 661-1315 or visit www.sfbotanicalgarden.org. -- Jane Tunks
Little kids take a certain gleeful pleasure in smashing bees and stomping on ants. But today they (and you) can get up close without resorting to insecticide at Bug Day, an annual festival that celebrates our creepy-crawly friends. A hands-on exhibit means you can touch some of the friendlier critters, while the more ferocious stay behind see-through housing. Make your own clay bug, fashion a bumblebee headband, or just wave your arms around like a big daddy longlegs in the Giant Puppet Parade. Get bugged out at 10 a.m. at the Randall Museum, 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), S.F. Admission is $3; call 554-9600 or visit www.randallmuseum.org. -- Jane Tunks
Alley Cats Post-Beat artists unite!
One night in 1955, a man named Neal Cassady stopped by a tiny North Beach bar called Vesuvio. Ever since, this moody little cafe has been renowned as the epicenter of San Francisco bohemia, becoming a notorious hangout for Beat writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, who fictionalized Cassady as Dean Moriarty in his novel On the Road. Fifty years later, the tradition continues with Art in the Alley.
Featuring the work of more than two dozen artists, this semiannual celebration turns the narrow alley beside Vesuvio into an acid trip of painting, photography, printmaking, and mixed media. Fueled by live music from Brazilian jazz quintet Tanaora, the event promises to be a real gas any hepcat would dig. Or something. Get with it at noon in Jack Kerouac Alley (between Columbus and Grant), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-3370 or visit www.vesuvio.com. -- Jack Karp