20 Fun (And Safe) Things to Do in San Francisco This Fall

While this certainly won’t be a typical fall, there’s still plenty to get excited about, especially now that the Bay Area is slowly starting to reopen. From livestream performances and museum exhibits to drive-in movies and virtual tastings, there’s something for every socially distanced comfort level. Queue up the cozy sweaters and hot apple cider, and start marking up your calendar for the season.

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keelan whitmore in constellation
Keelan Whitmore in Constellation, photo by Margo Moritz

Arts & Culture

1. Culture is most certainly not cancelled this year. Constellation—a collaboration between Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, visual electronic artist Jim Campbell and mezzo-soprano Maya Layhani—is being streamed online for free. You can still catch Act II through October 23…and consider donating to the LINES Community Relief Fund, which is helping artists through these uncertain times.

2. Better late than never. The highly anticipated Frida Kahlo exhibit “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving” is back on and the de Young is open to visitors, offering timed tickets for all museum admission to follow social distancing protocols.

grace cathedral san francisco
Grace Cathedral / Facebook

3. Nob Hill’s Grace Cathedral is always thinking outside the box. Projecting Grace, an outdoor art series supporting social justice (through December), will briefly light up the church’s exterior around nightfall the last weekend of each month. Themes are expected to revolve around inclusivity and voting, and exact dates and times will not be announced in an effort to minimize crowds.

4. This year’s Litquake festival has gone virtual. Join for the grand finale—a global, multi-city Lit Crawl on October 24, where you can get a taste of literary scenes from all over the world through Zoom and Facebook Live “events” going on all day long.

5. Now, this is pretty groundbreaking. After six months of being closed, SFMOMA has reopened and is offering free admission, plus free parking, through October 18. Get your timed ticket, and check out exhibits emphasizing local Bay Area artists, including beloved figurative painter David Park.

things to do in san francisco this fall skystar wheel
SkyStar Wheel / Facebook


6. Get ready to roll: Golden Gate Park’s giant ferris wheel, which was originally supposed to open in March, is finally ready for its big debut. The 150-foot-high SkyStar Wheel is part of the park’s 150th-anniversary festivities and officially opens October 21. Reservations required.

7. Attend a livestream event or drive-in movie screening during this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival, including Nomadland with Frances McDormand; The Comeback Trail with Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman; and Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back on October 16.

8. We’re all missing the city’s nightlife scene, but thanks to Oasis, you can reserve a rooftop spot for dinner, drinks and a drag show at this SoMa institution.

fort mason center for arts and culture
Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture / Facebook

Music & Performance

9. Tickets are all sold-out for the final Fort Mason Flix drive-in screenings, but you can still catch Halloween-themed drive-in flicks (including Ghostbusters, The Exorcist and The Rocky Horror Picture Show) all month long at both the Alameda County Fairgrounds and Monterey County Fairgrounds.

Food & Drink

10. Former New Yorker’s take note: Mark ‘n Mike’s month-long pop-up at One Market is slinging Jewish classics like pastrami Reubens, smoked brisket sandwiches and matzo ball soup for delivery and takeout.

11. Bernal Heights beer destination Old Devil Moon is celebrating its four-year anniversary with a 10-day celebration featuring 20 brews on tap, including Pliny the Elder and an apricot sour from Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, and timed tickets to enjoy drinks and food on their spacious patio.

faust haus san francisco
Adrian Gaut

12. Reserve a wine tasting experience at the new Faust Haus. The Glass Fire spared the historic Victorian property, which has safely reopened to visitors and can’t wait to welcome you in with a glass of its classic Napa Valley cab.

13. Attend a Virtual Cider Tasting through UC Berkeley’s Botanical Garden. Buy tickets to the virtual event online and then pick up your cider tasting kit at Redfield Cider Bar and Bottle Shop before the event.

yosemite national park
Yosemite National Park / Facebook


14. Experience fall in Yosemite. Starting November 1, you won’t need reservations to get into the park. Set up camp at Upper Pines Campground, and cycle around on the scenic Yosemite Valley bike loop.

15. It’s fall and that means apple picking is in order. Make a u-pick reservation and take the whole family to Apple-a-Day Ratzlaff Ranch in Sebastopol (the town’s orchard history runs deep) for all the Gravensteins, Rome and Golden Delicious you desire.

16. Halloween won’t be quite the same this year, but there are plenty of creative ways to enjoy the frightful holiday—from pumpkin picking and socially distanced corn mazes at the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch to a drive-through haunted house to the Oakland Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo scavenger hunt and Filoli Gardens’ Howl at the Moon.

17. Breathe in the wonderful, fresh air we’ve been having lately, and hike SF’s 17-mile Crosstown Trail winding all the way through the city.

hotel slo morro suite living san francisco
Tanveer Badal


18. Take virtual school on the road with a stay at Hotel SLO, which is offering a Learn, Play, Explore package for families that includes educational excursions to a local safari ranch, a city walking tour and a private whale watching experience.

19. Change up your workspace for the day and head to Healdsburg for Harmon Guest House’s Work, Stay, Play package. Now through November 30, you can book the property’s luxurious Founder’s Suite, complete with a state-of-the-art ergonomic workstation, for day use or overnight stays.

20. This fall, we could all use a getaway. Let the luxury Farmhouse Inn wine & dine you with their progressive picnic winery tour, where you’ll be privately chauffeured to a private picnic experience and tastings at three exceptional wineries (Gary Farrell, Flowers and Lambert Bridge).

allison mccarthy

San Francisco Editor

Allison McCarthy is a writer and editor with 15 years of experience in the industry. She's currently the San Francisco editor at PureWow, where she covers the best of what's...