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.
The extremely popular concert series known simply as Candlelight is turning heads right now in San Francisco! This fall, Candlelight will host some gorgeous Halloween-themed concerts in an intimate environment surrounded by hundreds of luminous candles. Prepare for classical versions of Friday the 13th Special – Favorite Halloween Movie Themes and Candlelight: A Haunted Evening of Halloween Classics.
- October 26, 27: A Haunted Evening of Halloween Classics.
- October 13: Friday the 13th Special – Favorite Halloween Movie Themes
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 two 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 every year, and this year, the design honors farmers’ hard work.
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! The tour is even offering a Halloween special on October 13, featuring drinks and a magic show with the walking tour.
- 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.
- Into the Dark at the SF Mint
- “Unhinged: Housewarming 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 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
- And more!
8. Enjoy a movie under the stars
These local outdoor cinema experiences have some great outdoor movie screenings on the calendar.
- Sundown Cinema: Our favorite free outdoor cinema has a few screenings left for the fall season, including a showing of Ghostbusters (1984) at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater on October 20.
- 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. This fall is also your last chance to check out Old Devil Moon, a beloved beer garden closing in November.
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 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 dozens of amazing free concerts happen 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.
Off The Grid: Fort Mason Center (OTG: FMC) is California’s largest weekly food truck event, and the event is officially back for the fall. Each week will feature a new theme, including a Mid-Autumn Moon Festival theme on Sept 29. The food truck series is every Friday even (except for Sept 8) until October 27.
13. Explore the “Golden Mile” on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park
The Golden Mile in Golden Gate Park has been a summer favorite, and luckily, dates have been extended until February 2024. You can find public art, a beautiful flower piano, a beer garden, and more along the car-free street. The street is perfect for enjoying a sunny fall day or going for a weekend walk.
14. Make the rounds at SF Open Studios
SF Open Studios allows the public 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 20 through November 19.
15. 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.
16. 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!
17. Enjoy holiday crafts, festivals, and markets at the Ferry Building
- 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. 11 am-5 pm November 4-5 – 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 16, in Suite 31.
- Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market: Explore this popular market full of renowned farmers and chefs alike. The market takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and Saturdays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.
18. 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.
19. Sip on these specialty fall-inspired coffee drinks
Cafes and cocktail bars across SF are drawing inspiration from the season to craft truly delicious drinks. These caffeinated creations are perfect for this season of cool weather and cozy vibes.
20. 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.
21. Check out the Filoli Gardens
The historic estate features picturesque gardens and a beautiful historic home. The estate holds various events and even has a large orchid perfect for sampling fall fruits open starting on Sept 23. The orchid is over 100 years old and includes apple, pear, plum, and walnut trees, among others
The beloved open-call art exhibition returns after a triumphant show in 2020. The exhibition includes over 800 pieces from local Bay Area artists. The exhibition is free for Bay Area residents on Saturdays, and all the pieces are for sale, with proceeds from the art sales going directly to artists.
Restaurant Week happens twice a year, and we always look forward to the fall season. Restaurant Week offers great deals and special menus at various San Francisco restaurants, perfect for trying new food or a great date night. The fall Restaurant Week takes place Nov 3- 16, and prices for dinners are capped at $90 and brunch or lunch at $40.
The annual festival has been a beloved tradition in SF since 1991. This Chinatown festival celebrates the fall harvest and moon and is always a vibrant, family-friendly event. The festival takes place Sept. 23 and 24 from 11 am-5 pm.