25 Fun Things to Do in San Francisco This Fall
Pull on a cozy sweater, order yourself a pumpkin spice latte and get ready for a seriously eventful season. From highbrow culture (a literary festival, modern dance and museum retrospectives) to wacky ways of having fun (mushroom foraging, dodgeball and a candy museum), there’s plenty to do. We’ve narrowed down this fall’s happenings to a list of 25 things you shouldn’t miss. It’s time to get busy.
Arts & Culture
1. Maybe you walked in the Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice March or maybe you attended an event during the Global Climate Action Summit, but if you missed out, there’s still one more chance to show your support for the environment. Check out Coal + Ice at the Fort Mason Center (through September 23), a striking exhibit of photography and documentary video boldly illustrating the need for immediate action.
2. You have one more month to catch the sublime René Magritte exhibit (through October 28) at SFMOMA, which is the first to look exclusively at the artist’s late career. It’s a surrealist feast for the eyes—each piece is richly layered with meaning—and there’s an interactive section at the end of the show where you can literally insert yourself into the artist’s work.
3. Put on your reading glasses and geek out at a discussion with Michael Chabon about sci-fi novelist Ursula K. Le Guin at this year’s Litquake Festival (October 11 to 20). Or watch writers fight for their livelihood during a Literary Death Match.
4. Local artists all over the city invite you behind the scenes during this year’s Open Studios (October 13 to November 11). That gives you four weekends to scoop up some new pieces for your burgeoning collection.
5. The Eames name has become synonymous with iconic furniture, but the work of the dynamic California-based design couple goes far beyond the functional everyday pieces they’re known for. “The World of Charles and Ray Eames” at the Oakland Museum of California (October 13 to February 17) features 380-plus works, as well as a film screening complete with Eames lounge chairs for viewers to kick back in while watching.
Food & Drink
6. It’s not all cooking demos and wine seminars at Kendall-Jackson’s Harvest Celebration on September 30. There will be plenty of farm-fresh produce straight from the estate’s garden, plus all the food and wine pairings you can imagine. Don’t miss the rare chance to taste Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma’s Bordeaux Belt.
7. Look no further for the best Bloody Mary in town. Sample the best of the best from around the bay at the Bloody Mary Festival on September 29. Taste versions by participants including The Saratoga, Cliff House and Finnegans Wake, and then vote for your favorite.
8. Not that we needed an excuse for weekend day drinking…but here’s one anyway. Head to Pier 48 for the official Oktoberfest by the Bay (September 21 to 23) or over to the Ferry Building for Fort Point Oktoberfest (Fridays from September 21 to October 12), where the brewery will be pouring classics, seasonal offerings and limited-edition brews.
9. Head to Belcampo Oakland for burgers and bluegrass on the second Sunday of the month (October 14). It’s all part of the restaurant’s new Grass-Fed Bluegrass Sunday series. Splurge on the deliciously rich and savory duck confit poutine—it just might be the best thing we’ve ever eaten.
10. Get ready to elbow your way through the hungry crowds at this year’s San Francisco Street Food Festival (October 13), where you’ll sample Nepalese dumplings, Mexican huaraches and Southern fried chicken, of course.
11. Put your money where your mouth is and support after-school and college-access programs for Latino and immigrant students in the Mission during Food for Thought on October 17. Twenty neighborhood restaurants are participating, including Beretta, Alba Rays and Foreign Cinema.
12. A free gondola ride ferries you to the Oakland Zoo’s new California Trail, a 45-acre expansion housing California native plants and animals, some of which no longer naturally inhabit the state.
13. Try to find the Big Dipper at a Presidio Stargazing Party (September 20 and December 15), during which the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers club lets families peek through their giant telescopes.
14. Insta-museum fever shows no signs of a slowdown. Up now is Candytopia, the recently opened wonderland dedicated to all things sugar. The four-month-long pop-up promises flying pigs, leaping unicorns and a Mona Lisa replica—all made of saccharine confections. Go ahead, jump into the marshmallow pool and snap that selfie you’ve been waiting for.
15. Now’s your chance to party under the stars at Crissy Field. Dance the night away and support the city’s beloved waterfront park at this year’s Trails Forever NightHowl (September 29), which helps fund trail building, habitat restoration and other Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy projects.
Music & Performance
16. Mark Morris Dance Group puts a spin on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with Pepperland (September 28 to 30), a colorful and almost psychedelic experience of the album through the medium of dance.
17. Make it a classy weekend. See Norah Jones, Wynton Marsalis and Jon Batiste & the Dap-Kings live at the 60th annual Monterey Jazz Festival (September 21 to 23).
18. Who wouldn’t be up for a performance that takes place in and around the YMCA Chinatown’s pool? And no, it’s not synchronized swimming. Lenora Lee Dance’s world premiere of Beneath the Surface (October 6 to 14) takes viewers on a multimedia journey exploring forgiveness, memory and reconciliation.
19. Listen up: Queen Bey is touring with her hubby in what’s no doubt the hottest ticket in town. September 29 is your last chance to see the power couple onstage at Levi’s Stadium before their On the Run II tour ends the following week. Dip into your savings now—tickets start at about $100.
20. It’s time to get our fill of folk and bluegrass and everything in between at the free annual Hardly Strictly festival (October 5 to 7). Dust off the cowboy boots and pull out the fringe now.
21. Artist/activist Rhodessa Jones raises hard-hitting questions about war, domestic violence and terrorism in When Did Your Hands Become a Weapon? The performance (October 25 to November 4) at Brava Theater features storytelling, dance and live music to shed light on important issues.
22. Visit Seghesio’s historic family property. The Home Ranch Vineyard Hike (October 6) will take guests on an adventure through 120-year-old vines on the estate. And there will be wine and lunch to reward all of your hard work, of course.
23. Rub elbows with seaweed farmers, cheesemongers, beekeepers and local brewers at the fourth annual Bernardus Lodge Craftsman Exchange on October 27. It’s the perfect excuse to eat, drink and be merry.
24. Play by day, dance by night at Modesto’s Dirtybird Campout (October 5 to 7). Invite your friends along on this camping trip with dodgeball and tug-of-war, followed by DJs like Mark Ronson and Claude VonStroke who will spin after dark.
25. Fall means fungi on the West Coast—think candy caps, chanterelles, porcinis and hedgehogs. Join Feast Mendocino (November 2 to 11) for foraging treks, winemaker dinners and farm tours, plus all the mushrooms you can eat.