Fall means sweaters, crisp mornings, crunching leaves and hot apple cider. But it’s also one of the best seasons for arts and culture. From the serious stuff like modern dance and museum retrospectives to wacky, only-in-SF offerings (we’re looking at you, adult bouncy house), there’s something for everyone. So we’ve whittled this fall’s happenings down to a list of the 25 things you shouldn’t miss.
Food & Drink
1. Starting this month, Agave Uptown is selling its insanely delicious mole in a bottled formula. Chef Octavio Diaz’s secret recipe features more than 20 ingredients and is inspired by his family’s tradition—and now you can enjoy it at home.
3. Enjoy dinner and a book at Duna, which is hosting a family-style meal on September 9inspired by food writer and photographer Michael Harlan Turkell’s new book, Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar. Courses will showcase a variety of house-made vinegars, including an intriguing blood-orange version.
4. Calling all dairy fans: The SF Cheese Fest touches down on September 16, and this year’s theme is all about ooey-gooey fromage. Beer, cider and wine are on the lineup, too—because you’ll need something to wash down all the melty goodness.
5. Get ready to elbow your way through the crowds at this year’s San Francisco Street Food Festival (October 15), where you’ll sample Nepalese dumplings (say what?), Mexican huaraches and Southern fried chicken, of course.
6. La Cocina’s twice-annual storytelling series, F&B Voices from the Kitchen, is back on October 19, and the theme this time is refuge. You’ll hear from folks who usually hang out behind the scenes (sorry, Alice Waters), all while enjoying drinks and bites from well-known chefs and cooks just starting out.
7. All right, so it’s no surprise that the Museum of Ice Cream (September 17 to October 30) sold out in about 30 seconds, but sign up for their newsletter and you’ll be the first to hear about new ticket information. Sprinkle pool, we simply can’t wait to meet you.
8. Be one of the first to attend a workshop at the newly relocated Butterfly Joint. Sign the kiddos up for fall camp or book an adult class once they’re back on the schedule in October.
9. Take an e-bike from The New Wheel for a test ride and work your way up SF’s biggest hills sweat-free.
10. It’s time to book a weekend getaway to Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa. The classic 1940s roadside motel just underwent a stylish upgrade but still pays tribute to the great American road trip with rooms that take cues from vintage camper vans and a geothermal spa modeled after a traditional bathhouse.
11. Sleepy Bolinas wakes up with the introduction of Eleven Wine Bar Bistro. It’s only open for dinner Thursday to Saturday. We’d say it’s the perfect excuse to skip out of work early on Friday.
12. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia just announced its schedule of fall classes. Learn how to taste wine in 90 seconds or prep holiday pies and tarts in time for the holiday season.
13. Big Sur’s beloved Henry Miller Library is back in business this fall, just in time for the annual Days and Nights Festival (September 29 to October 8), this year with the Philip Glass Ensemble, Laurie Anderson, Ira Glass and more. Road trip definitely in order.
14. The di Rosa art center in Napa joins the conversation with “Be Not Still: Living in Uncertain Times,” a group show of artist-driven, socially engaged art taking on today’s political climate.
15. Goodbye, Heirloom Tomato Festival. Hello, Harvest Celebration. After 20 years, Kendall-Jackson decided to switch things up. Not to worry, though. KJ’s famous tomatoes will still be front and center on October 1, along with other farm-fresh produce straight from the estate’s garden, plus all the food and wine pairings you can imagine.
Music & Performance
16. It’s time for our fill of folk and bluegrass and everything in between at the free annual Hardly Strictly festival (October 6 to 8). Dust off the cowboy boots and pull out the fringe now.
17. Classic Gershwin meets choreography by Tony Award winner Christopher Wheeldon in An American in Paris (September 12 to October 8) at the Orpheum Theatre.
18. South of Market: The Musical V2 (October 12 to 22) is a critique of the tech industry by the tech industry in a playful musical revue. Meta. And it’s even been updated for the Trump era.
19. We heart Rhiannon Giddens. The cofounder of the Grammy-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops and star of Nashville brings her brand of jazz, R&B and gospel to the Herbst Theatre on October 28.
Arts & Culture
20. Another timely exhibit is the latest by the For-Site Foundation, which brought us Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz. “Sanctuary” will showcase 36 specially commissioned prayer rugs at Fort Mason’s historic chapel.
21. Put on your reading glasses and geek out over the staged reading of Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem at this year’s Litquake Festival (October 6 to 14). Or wax poetic about surfing with author and philosopher Jaimal Yogis.
22. To mark the centenary of Rodin’s death, the Legion of Honor is running a series of shows juxtaposing the works of the French sculpture against pieces by a diverse array of artists. Go now to catch the tail end of “Sarah Lucas: Good Muse” (through September 17), a series of disconcerting sculptures confronting gender stereotypes. Then go again later this fall for the rare opportunity to see 36 works by Gustav Klimt in “Klimt & Rodin: An Artistic Encounter” (starting October 14).
23. If Color Factory and the Museum of Ice Cream didn’t satisfy your sensory itch, be sure to check out “Nature’s Gift: Humans, Friends, & the Unknown” (starting October 7) at the Oakland Museum of California. The colorful and immersive exhibit includes a large-scale soft sculpture by L.A.-based art collective FriendsWithYou that’s kind of like an adult-sized bouncy house. Permission to jump around granted.
24. Here are two big reasons to go to SFMOMA this fall: a sweeping retrospective of photographer Walker Evans (starting September 30) and a not-to-be-missed survey of Robert Rauschenberg’s career (starting November 18).
25. Misty Copeland, the American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American principal dancer, has defied odds. And now she gives us a piece of her mind in this inspiring City Arts & Lectures conversation (December 18).