We are diving headfirst into the fall season, and it’s sure to be a good one! Now that summer has come to an end, we’re arriving at the time of year that promises pumpkin carving, seasonal menu items, and amazing house decorations. Not sure what you’ll get up to? Scroll our list to get the ball rolling.
1. Enjoy Halloween-themed music by candlelight at St. Ignatius Church and the International Art Museum of America
The extremely popular concert series known simply as Candlelight is turning heads right now in San Francisco! This month, Candlelight will host some gorgeous Halloween-themed concerts in an intimate environment surrounded by hundreds of luminous candles. Get ready for classical versions of “Thriller,” the Stranger Things theme, the Psycho theme, the Ghostbusters theme, “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and many more.
- October 20, 27 – A Haunted Evening of Halloween Classics at St. Ignatius Church
- October 13, 28 – A Haunted Evening of Halloween Classics at the International Art Museum of America
2. Get lost in a corn maze
Nothing screams fall like a corn maze! Check out these ones in the Bay Area:
- Three Nunns Farm: This farm has 2 different corn mazes, as well as tractor rides, a pumpkin patch, a farm stand, and more.
- Cool Patch Pumpkins: Cool Patch is worth the drive for its enormous world record-holding corn maze! The maze is unique each and every year, and this year the design pays tribute to the US Military.
3. Tour the most haunted places in San Francisco
Do you know about the spirits that haunt our historic city? Consider taking a tour this month to get in touch with SF’s spooky side:
- SF Ghost Haunt Walking Tour: Learn about the haunted Victorian homes of Pacific Heights, the haunted trees of abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant, the Chambers Mansion poltergeists, and more. This special Halloween version led by Christian Cagigal will take you looking for ghosts yourself! Get $5 off with promo code OCT2021.
- Haunted SF: Ghosts, Murder, and Mystery: Here’s another SF ghost tour that takes you through Chinatown alleyways and the old Gold Rush district with your own ghost hunting equipment! Learn about forgotten graves, notorious brothels, and the underground “Shanghai” tunnels.
- More haunted places in SF: See our breakdown of the most haunted spots in the city, including Alcatraz, Stow Lake, the Queen Anne Hotel, and more.
4. Pick the perfect pumpkin
Did you know that Half Moon Bay is considered the pumpkin capital of the world? Whether you’re looking for family activities with kids or getting ahead of your Halloween decorating, these excellent Bay Area farms and pumpkin patches have got you covered.
- Lemos Farm (Half Moon Bay)
- Arata’s Pumpkin Farm (Half Moon Bay)
- Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch (San Francisco)
- Alameda Point Pumpkin Patch (Alameda)
- And more!
5. Test your bravery at a terrifying haunted house
Autumn is finally here! There are plenty of fun seasonal activities to enjoy during this time, from apple picking to pumpkin carving. But if you’re looking for something a bit more spooky, you’re in the right place. We’ve rounded up some of the best haunted houses in the Bay (in no particular order) plus some ghost tours for those wanting a tamer experience.
- “The Summoning” at SF Mint
- “Unhinged: Nightshade’s Curse at Winchester Mystery House
- “Tricks and Treats” at Great America
- And more!
6. Go apple picking at these lovely Bay Area orchards
Apple season peaks in the Bay Area in September and October, so many local orchards will soon open their doors for “U Pick,” when people can visit and pick their own apples.
- Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch (Sebastapol)
- Gizdich Ranch (Watsonville)
- Luz del Valle (Corralitos)
- And more!
7. Stock up on fall treats at these festive SF eateries
It’s hard to deny that the fall season brings some of the best flavors on the calendar. We’re talking pumpkin spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and every scent that you want wafting through your kitchen. Well, that fact is certainly not lost on San Francisco’s bakeries, cafes, and ice cream shops, because they are busy churning out an epic lineup of delicious treats.
- Harvest Festival ice cream series from Salt & Straw
- Pumpkin everything at Noe Valley Bakery
- Gourmet Halloween candy at Miette Patisserie
- And more!
8. Enjoy a movie under the stars
These local outdoor cinema experiences have some great outdoor movie screenings on the calendar.
- Dirty Habit: This vibey 5th floor patio has one more outdoor screening left. See Little Shop of Horrors on October 20, with ticket proceeds to YBCA.
- Sundown Cinema: Our favorite free outdoor cinema also has just one screening left – see Addams Family Values at Jerry Garcia Amphitheater on October 21. Don’t forget to come in costume.
- The Cut Outdoor Cinema: The Bay’s first year-round cinema continues to bring a great selection of movies every single week, with plenty of seasonal favorites thrown in.
9. Enjoy a pint at a lively beer garden
The Bay Area is home to some of the best craft beer in the country, meaning that it’s cultivated an entire generation of beer lovers and aficionados. When it comes to breweries, we’re hard to beat, but SF’s beer gardens are also excellent places to kick back and try out a flight or sip on your favorite pils and watch the game.
10. Go on a date at these romantic city spots recommended by San Franciscans
As we start coming out of our quarantine bubbles post-vaccination, some of us might be trying to get back into the dating scene. Whether you decided to take another crack at Tinder, or just want to have a lovely evening in the city, we’re here to help! Lucky for you, our followers know plenty of beautiful outdoor spots to check out. Here are their responses to our Instagram poll asking for the most romantic places in the city. Learn more about each spot here.
- Foreign Cinema’s outdoor patio
- Dolores Park at night
- Pier 7
- And more!
11. Check out free concerts at the Golden Gate Park Bandshell
Did you know there are dozens of amazing free concerts happening multiple days a week at the Bandshell? The Bandshell, which is 120 years old, added new lighting, a state-of-the-art sound system, and a new stage during the pandemic. The lineup is seriously impressive, with everything from singer/songwriters to R&B.
12. Don’t miss the last month of Off the Grid food truck parties at Fort Mason
Off The Grid: Fort Mason Center (OTG:FMC) is California’s largest weekly food truck event, and this year marks its 12th season. The free events bring dozens of gourmet food trucks to the Fort Mason Center parking lot on Friday evenings from 5pm-10pm, now through November 11.
13. Explore Promenade Play Days on JFK Drive
SF Rec & Parks has announced Promenade Play Days, a series of exciting events and public art along JFK Promenade during the fall months. The activations are part of an effort to capitalize on the promenade’s newly car-free state in a safe and equitable way. You can expect to see a series of large ground murals, Doggie Diner head sculptures, public pianos, over a hundred tables and chairs, live music, the SF Public Library’s bookmobile, food trucks, and more.
14. Go ice skating at Union Square
Who’s stoked to get back on the ice? Layer up and break out your favorite wintery garb, because the Union Square Ice Rink is the place to be during SF’s holiday season. Union Square Ice Rink will soon be available to skaters of all ages and abilities, with opening day set for Wednesday, November 2, 2022. The beloved ice rink will be open daily until January 16, 2023 for its 15th anniversary season. And tickets are already on sale!
16. Make the rounds at SF Open Studios
SF Open Studios gives the public a rare opportunity to visit over 400 local artists in their personal studios. The annual event started in 1975 as a way for local artists to increase the accessibility of their work by collectively opening their studios to the public. This event takes place across SF from October 22 through November 13.
17. Stuff your face at the best SF bakeries
Who’s hungry? San Franciscans with a sweet tooth have it easy in this glorious city, because SF bakeries absolutely do not mess around. We’re talking enormous flaky croissants, meticulously decorated cakes, buttery danishes, sweet and simple tarts, savory empanadas, SF-style sourdough bread, and basically anything else you can imagine.
18. Enjoy a mug of decadent hot chocolate
You don’t have to be a kid to know that hot chocolate is one of the most underrated drinks on any cafe’s menu. As we head into the fall and winter seasons, it’s a great time to compile some spots to visit next time you’re craving this delicious drink! Discover everything from indulgent dark chocolate drinks, to spiked adult beverages, to your classic on-the-go treat. Stay warm and enjoy!
19. Harvest festival, holiday crafts, and markets at the Ferry Building
- Harvest Festival: A family-friendly harvest festival with kids’ activities, cooking demos, trick-or-treating, and a movie night, courtesy of Foodwise and the Ferry Building Marketplace. October 28-30.
- SF International Tea Festival: Over 30 vendors with tea tastings and products for sale, as well as lectures and presentations. Guests will get a free porcelain tasting cup and a swag bag. 11am-5pm November 5-6 – tickets are $25-40.
- Creativity Explored Holiday Pop-Up: A market of original drawings, paintings, ceramics and more by neurodiverse and disabled Bay Area artists. Saturdays and Sundays, November 26-December 18 in Suite 31.
- Holiday Craft Making: A series of free kid-friendly craft workshops. Sundays from November 27-December 18.
20. Warm up with the best ramen in the city
A steaming bowl of ramen is perhaps the most comforting and filling food we can think of! San Francisco, with its plethora of delicious and authentic Asian food, is one of the best places to enjoy this amazing dish. We decided to see where San Franciscans get their ramen fix, so we polled our Instagram followers for recommendations.
21. Sip on these specialty fall-inspired coffee drinks
Cafes and cocktail bars across SF are drawing inspiration from the season to craft some truly delicious drinks. These caffeinated creations are perfect for this season of cool weather and cozy vibes.
22. Find some fall foliage
Fall foliage is truly a sight to behold. Familiar shades of green give way to red, orange, yellow, and brown during an incredible seasonal display. We might not have the vast color-changing forests that the East Coast loves to brag about, but here are a few excellent local spots to enjoy this seasonal show.
Featured image: Photo by Ana Essentiels on Unsplash