Spooky season brings a special round of activities to enjoy in the Bay!
Happy October, San Francisco! Suddenly another month is behind us and we’re rolling right into Halloween season, which means we have a very exciting batch of activities to enjoy this month. There are also plenty of festivals, fairs, and events to check out as we continue to see the city come out of lockdown! We’re sure these fun plans will keep you busy, but be sure to check out our fall bucket list as well for even more ideas.
Scroll down to start planning your month!
1. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition is now open in San Francisco, and it’s breathtaking
Michelangelo’s most famous work is coming your way! Starting September 24, doors will officially open for a spectacular exhibition of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. These iconic frescoes have decorated the walls in Vatican City for over 500 years, but now you can see them come to life in your own city. Get tickets before it’s too late!
2. Enjoy Halloween-themed music by candlelight at this magical concert series happening now in SF
The extremely popular concert series known simply as Candlelight is turning heads right now in San Francisco! You’ll enjoy classics such as “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter,”The Addams Family Theme,” and more played by a talented string quartet, in an intimate environment surrounded by hundreds of luminous candles. The Bay Area’s top musicians perform classical music in both indoor and outdoor settings including St. Ignatius Church.
3. Take a spooky ghost tour through San Francisco’s most haunted spots.
This 1-hour walking tour is perfect for newcomers to San Francisco who want to learn more about its haunting past. Your guide will take you to the Sutter Building, the Pacific Union Club, and the Nob Hill neighborhood, where you will hear some very mysterious tales! Get tickets here.
4. San Francisco Fleet Week will be turning heads Oct 3-11
It’s official, Fleet Week is back on for 2021! We can expect to enjoy this amazing week from October 3-11, and the Air Show featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will happen on October 8, 9, and 10. Other events include the Parade of Ships, K9 Heroes, and the Honor our Fallen concert. Learn more here.
5. Check the full lineup of awesome free concerts coming to the Golden Gate Park Bandshell
The San Francisco live music scene is truly back in business! The Golden Gate Park Bandshell, which is 120 years old, added new lighting, a state-of-the-art sound system, and a new stage during the pandemic. It’s hosting free, family-friendly concerts through the end of November, with everything from reggae to singer/songwriter nights. See the entire lineup here.
6. See incredible local artworks at Shipyard Open Studios October 23-24
Have you heard of the Hunters Point Shipyard Artists? This is the country’s largest artist community, with studios for over 300 artists right here in San Francisco. Countless incredible creations have come out of the historic Hunters Point Naval Shipyard for over 30 years, but the space is only open to the public on select occasions. Mark your calendar for October 23-24 from 11am-6pm, because Shipyard Open Studios is back in person after 2 years! Learn all about it here.
7. Check out the last day of ‘Rock-N-Stroll’ in Oakland on October 9
Rockridge Rock-N-Stroll is now happening on second Saturdays, the last of which is October 9. Enjoy this awesome event all day from 10am until 7pm, with live music the entire time from a variety of acts up and down the street!
8-13. 6 wonderful SF museums and gardens with free admission days
This list shows museums and gardens currently offering free admission days each month. As we roll into September, it’s a good time to see the fresh batch of free days coming up on the calendar! See more detailed descriptions of each museum’s free days here.
- SFMOMA: Free admission to Bay Area residents on the first Thursday of every month from 4-8pm.
- de Young Museum and Legion of Honor: Free admission for the general public on the first Tuesday of every month. Free admission for Bay Area residents every Saturday.
- Asian Art Museum: Free admission for the general public on the first Sunday of every month.
- SF Botanical Garden: Free admission for the general public every day from 7:30-9am, and all day on the second Tuesday of every month. Free admission for all SF City & County residents daily with proof of residency.
- Conservatory of Flowers: Free admission for the general public on the first Tuesday of every month.
- Japanese Tea Garden: Free admission for the general public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays if entered between 9-10am.
14. Oakland First Fridays Community Festival is back October 1
If you’ve lived in the Bay long enough, you surely remember the days of Oakland First Fridays, a lively community festival that thousands of people look forward to on the first Friday of every month. After pausing the event last spring due to Covid-19, the beloved festival will finally return to Telegraph Avenue on Friday, October 1!
15. SF’s Filipino night market and culture crawl will return October 16
The UNDSCVRD SF Culture Crawl is officially coming back on October 16, 2021! This is the first in-person event in 19 months for the popular cultural event in SoMa Pilipinas. The event will happen from 12pm-6pm and feature dozens of vendors, performers, and venues.
16. The Presidio will host a food truck pop-up on weekends through October
Who’s hungry? San Francisco’s food truck scene is pretty respectable, with plenty of food truck parks dotted around the city. This October, the Presidio will now welcome food trucks on the Main Parade Lawn in addition to the usual restaurants and cafes. The temporary pop-up will take place on weekends from 11am-3pm until October 31!
17. This Harry Potter-themed murder mystery has returned to the Napa Valley wine train
Get your robes and wands out and take a spellbinding trip on this vintage wine train! Can you uncover the secrets and decode the clues embedded in the string of carriages? Can you trust fellow sorcerers pouring your next glass of Pinot? Or will you “charm” them to conceal your secret identity before the extravagant voyage comes to an end? Learn all about this spooky adventure here.
18. Don’t miss this awesome block party coming to the Mission on October 16
After a year off, the immensely popular 20th Street Block Party will return for its 7th year on October 16 from 12pm-6pm! This event is free with RSVP, so make sure you grab a spot before it fills up. You’ll get to enjoy awesome music with everything from garage rock to Latinx R&B, as well as delicious street food and shopping from the city’s favorite vendors.
19-20. 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.
21-30. Pick the perfect pumpkin at these 10 outstanding Bay Area pumpkin patches
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. Learn more about each one here.
- Joan’s Farm & Pumpkin Patch (Livermore)
- Lemos Farm (Half Moon Bay)
- Arata’s Pumpkin Farm (Half Moon Bay)
- Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch (San Francisco)
- Alameda Point Pumpkin Patch (Alameda)
- Piedmont Avenue Pumpkin Patch (Oakland)
- Smith Family Farm’s Pumpkin Harvest (Brentwood)
- Three Nunns Farm (Brentwood)
- Farmer John’s Pumpkin Farm (Half Moon Bay)
- Cool Patch Pumpkins (Dixon)
31-40. 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. Learn more about each spot here.
- Immortal Reckoning at the SF Mint
- SF Ghost Haunt Walking Tour
- Haunted SF: Ghosts, Murder, and Mystery
- Fear Overload Scream Park
- Piedmont Pumpkin Patch
- All Hallows’ Eve at Winchester Mystery House
- Dead Time Dreams
- Scotts Valley Haunted House
- Blind Scream
- Halloween Haunt at Great America
41-45. 5 lovely orchards for apple picking around the Bay Area
Apple season peaks in the Bay Area in September and October, so many local orchards are opening their doors for “U Pick,” when people can visit and pick their own apples. Be sure to learn more about each spot here.
- Casari Ranch
- EARTHseed Farm
- Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch
- Gizdich Ranch
- Clearview Orchards
46-47. Catch a free movie at Sundown Cinema’s last 2 outdoor screenings
San Francisco Parks Alliance and Do The Bay have partnered to bring back the popular Sundown Cinema series, which presents awesome FREE movies on a giant screen in various parks around the city. Each screening will be accompanied by live performances from local musical groups. There are only 2 left!
- Thursday, October 7: A League of Their Own at Golden Gate Park Big Rec
- Friday, October 22: E.T. at Jerry Garcia Ampitheatre
48-49. Enjoy a cult classic and cocktails on Dirty Habit’s outdoor patio
The beloved, stylish restaurant Dirty Habit has grand plans in store to accommodate SF’s characteristic warm fall weather, with the release of an outdoor movie series on select Sundays into October. Doors open at 7pm, with screenings starting around 7:45pm. This year, each movie night is paired with a different nonprofit organization that will receive a portion of ticket proceeds. The schedule is as follows:
- Sunday, October 10: To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything
- Ticket proceeds to benefit The Trevor Project
- Sunday, October 17: Sister Act
- Ticket proceeds to benefit Glide
50. Check out the The Crossing, home to a brand-new beer garden and food truck park
Meet The Crossing, a giant new community space located in SF’s Transbay neighborhood. At the moment they have revealed a beer garden, food truck park, soccer fields, and ground mural on the block between Howard, Main, Folsom, and Beale Streets. The plan is to eventually add an outdoor cinema, fitness space, food and retail kiosks, marketplace, event spaces, and more!
51-58. Go shopping at these excellent Bay Area thrift shops recommended by locals.
Any real Bay Area resident perks up when it comes to sustainable living. The secondhand industry is influencing even the most forward-thinking of fashionistas and home decorators. Do you know where the best thrift shops are in the Bay Area? We asked our Instagram followers for their recommendations, and they didn’t disappoint! Learn more about each spot here.
- Crossroads Trading Co.
- Out of the Closet
- Community Thrift Store
- Buffalo Exchange
- 2nd STREET
- Goodwill Boutique
59. Check out the giant inflatable dahlias on Union Street and try your luck at the scavenger hunt
The SF Parks Alliance has just launched Bloomtown, featuring enormous inflatable dahlia flowers (the official flower of San Francisco) sprouting at businesses on Union Street! It’s an interactive art experience meant to encourage San Franciscans to support local businesses and engage with the community. Participating in the scavenger hunt could win you a prize worth over $500!
60. The Ferry Building hosts a beautifully curated flea market every Sunday
61-70. 10 excellent late-night food spots recommended by San Franciscans, for San Franciscans
Do you know where to find an open kitchen after midnight in San Francisco? Well, we asked our Instagram followers for their favorite late-night haunts and they did not disappoint. Here are 10 excellent places to check out, recommended by locals! Learn more about each spot here.
- The Detour
- El Farolito
- Orphan Andy’s
- Yuet Lee Seafood Restaurant
- Taqueria Cancun
- Uncle Boy’s
- Taqueria Vallarta
- Crepes Ooh La La
- Bob’s Donuts
71-80. 10 excellent itineraries for spending 24 hours in San Francisco, according to locals
Looking for some new weekend plans? Got a friend in town and not sure where to take them? Just driving up for the day? 24 perfect hours can take a lot of different forms! When you’re on a time crunch, there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy what San Francisco’s got to offer. We asked our Instagram and Facebook followers the following question: What’s the best way to spend 24 hours in San Francisco? They didn’t disappoint, and these 10 fun itineraries should get the ball rolling if you don’t know where to start. See all 10 itineraries here.
81-90. Go on a date at these romantic spots in the city, 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
- Baker Beach
- The Embarcadero
- Fort Point
- Coit Tower
- Palace of Fine Arts
- Painted Ladies
- Ina Coolbrith Park at night
91-100. 10 unbeatable craft breweries to try in San Francisco
Heads up, craft beer aficionados! Your favorite local spots have been brewing up a storm, and it’s the perfect time to try some awesome new draughts straight from the barrel. This was a pretty ambitious task, to say the least, but we’ve done our best to round up our 10 favorite breweries in the City. Learn more and see an interactive map here.
- Laughing Monk Brewing
- Anchor Brewing Company
- Woods Beer & Wine Company
- Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
- 21st Amendment Brewery
- Black Hammer Brewing
- Barebottle Brewing Company
- Local Brewing Co.
- The Seven Stills Brewery & Distillery
- Standard Deviant Brewing