Happy September, San Francisco! Yes, we’re already at the beginning of another month, and the changing of the seasons brings a new host of activities. There’s never a dull moment in the city, and we’re sure that these great events and fun plans will keep you busy in your free time. Scroll on to start planning your September in the Bay Area.
1. Immerse yourself in a classical concert by Candlelight
The extremely popular concert series known simply as Candlelight is turning heads right now in San Francisco! You’ll enjoy works from Beethoven, Vivaldi 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 lovely settings including St. Ignatius Church, Grace Cathedral, and the International Art Museum of America. Learn more here.
2. Flower Piano at SF Botanical Garden
Flower Piano is back at the SF Botanical Garden from Sept. 8-12! A number of public pianos will be placed around the gardens so you can enjoy lovely music in an even lovelier setting. The event is free for SF residents but you’ll still need to reserve ahead of time as it’s one of the garden’s most popular events of the year. This year the garden will host a “Flower Piano Lounge” in the Celebration Garden each evening, for which you’ll need special event tickets.
There’s a new recurring market in town and we can’t wait to check out its next event this weekend. The Park Market will come to Crane Cove Park in the Dogpatch every month through November with a different theme for each rendition. September 2 is Secondhand Saturday with vintage fashion and neighbors’ garage sales.
4. Public Works Anniversary Celebration
Public Works, a popular nightclub in SF’s Mission District, is celebrating its 13th anniversary with three nights of parties from September 14-16. Best known as a hot spot for EDM-fueled dance parties and late-night DJ sets, their anniversary party promises to be a celebration to remember.
5. Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown
Chinatown’s beloved event celebrating the moon and summer harvest goes back to 1991. This spectacular festival will take Chinatown by storm, with countless food vendors, nonstop entertainment, lion dancing, mooncakes, kids’ activities, and more. The event is free to attend and will happen all along Grant Avenue between Broadway and California Street. Check it out on Sept. 23-24, 2023.
6. Watch Shakespeare from a kayak at Shakespeare on the Water
In early September, a group of kayaks and boats will gather in Sausalito to watch a uniquely Bay Area performance of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays. The floating show features a multi-generational cast, including students and classically trained actors who have come together to perform on the water.
7. Battlestar Classic Beerfest and Cornhole Tournament
The 7th Annual Battlestar Classic Beerfest and Cornhole Tournament invites you to drink beer and play the game of cornhole on the deck of a WWII aircraft carrier. The Battlestar Classic will be held on Saturday, September 9th on the USS Hornet, docked in Alameda.
8. Folsom Street Fair in SoMa
San Francisco knows how to throw a party, and there are few parties as legendary as the Folsom Street Fair! Tens of thousands of leather and BDSM lovers gather to celebrate sexual liberation in SoMa, dressed in leather, latex, fishnets, harnesses, body paint, thongs, or… nothing at all.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, then be sure to save the date for Sunday, September 24 from 11am-6pm along Folsom Street.
9. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park
Sept. 29-Oct. 1
San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is officially coming back for 2022! The free festival will happen in Golden Gate Park from Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2023.
Guests can enjoy over 50 on-site food and drink vendors or bring their own picnics. Alcohol is not sold at the festival but you are allowed to bring your own. The free event brings up to 750,000 people over the course of 3 days, so be sure to arrive early and follow all park safety precautions.
10. Golden Gate Park’s Dahlia Garden
The Dahlia Garden, located in Golden Gate Park right near the Conservatory of Flowers, has reached peak bloom–and these colorful, unique flowers are not to be missed. Dahlias generally start to bloom there in June, reaching peak bloom in August and September. You can still catch them all the way into October, but the Conservatory of Flowers estimates this year’s peak bloom to last until around Labor Day (September 5).
11. Apple picking in the Bay Area
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.
- Chileno Valley Ranch (Petaluma)
- EARTHseed Farm (Sebastopol)
- Clearview Orchards (Watsonville)
- And more
12. Bay Area pumpkin patches
Happy fall, San Francisco! Spooky season is here, and there’s no shortage of fun stuff to do… especially when we live right near Half Moon Bay, 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.
13. 15 terrifying haunted houses and ghost tours coming to the Bay Area
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. Read on to start planning your Halloween season!
- Fear Overload Scream Park (Newark)
- Winchester Mystery House (San Jose)
- Tricks and Treats at Great America (Santa Clara)
- And more
14. Free admission days in San Francisco
We love San Francisco for its vibrant culture, history, and resources, but it’s no secret that living here costs a pretty penny. Whether you’re a college student on a budget, or a bargain hunter wanting to see the sights, this list will certainly help you get started.
- Sept 3 – Asian Art Museum
- Sept 5 – Conservatory of Flowers
- Also free daily for SF City & County Residents
- Sept 5, 16-17 – de Young Museum
- Also free every Saturday for Bay Area residents
- Sept 5– Legion of Honor
- Also free every Saturday for Bay Area residents
- Sept 6 – GLBT Historical Society Museum
- Sept 7 – SFMOMA
- For Bay Area residents only, 1-8pm
- Sept 8 – Contemporary Jewish Museum
- Sept 9 – Museum of the African Diaspora
- Sept 12 – SF Botanical Garden
- Also free daily for SF City & County Residents
- Also free daily between 7:30-9am for the general public
- Wednesdays – Museum of Craft and Design
- “Pay what you can” Wednesdays
- MWF before 10am – Japanese Tea Garden
- Also free daily for SF City & County Residents
15. Best museum exhibitions to see right now in SF
As we enter a new month in San Francisco, many local museums are refreshing and replacing their temporary exhibitions. Now’s a great time to take stock and plan ahead to see some of these wonderful displays before they’re gone.
- Fight and Flight: Crafting a Bay Area Life closes Sept. 10, 2023 at the Museum of Craft and Design
- Takashi Murakami: Unfamiliar People — Swelling of Monsterized Human Ego opens Sept. 15, 2023 at the Asian Art Museum
- Hell: Arts of Asian Underworlds closes Sept. 18, 2023 at the Asian Art Museum
- The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England closes Sept. 24, 2023 at the Legion of Honor
- ¡Plantásticas! closes Sept. 24, 2023 at the Exploratorium
- The de Young Open 2023 opens Sept. 30, 2023 at the de Young Museum
16. Free movie screenings with Sundown Cinema
Sundown Cinema (free)
Sundown Cinema is back this summer and the movie lineup is fantastic! This popular series presents awesome FREE movies on a giant screen in various San Francisco parks. Here’s what to look for in September:
- Sept. 8 @ India Basin Shoreline Park – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
- Sept. 29 @ The Ferry Building – Legally Blonde
17. Due South at Jerry Garcia Amphitheater
The popular Due South concert series is back at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in McLaren Park! For their third season, Due South has expanded to a four-concert slate with a fantastic and eclectic lineup. The free public concert series hosted by SF Parks Alliance and Noise Pop will feature live music and local food in SF’s second-largest park. This month’s event is Sept. 16 featuring Y La Bamba, Marinero, and Loco Bloco.
18. Free concerts at the Bandshell
The Golden Gate Park Bandshell has announced the latest lineup for its 2023 season of Illuminate Live, which began on March 1st and runs all the way through mid-November. These weekly free and family-friendly concerts are some of the most beloved events in the park. Catch over 100 performances in a variety of genres including R&B, soul, jazz, funk, big band, strings, indie, rock, reggae, salsa, electronic, and EDM.
San Francisco’s Ferry Building is one of the city’s most iconic buildings, serving as a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. It’s a center for events, pop-ups, a farmers’ market, and countless excellent merchants who sell their wares daily in the building’s many stalls.
20. After Dark at the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium at Pier 15 in San Francisco is an exciting place for discovery any time of the day, but these 18+ After Dark events are a must for some epic kid-free fun at their exhibits. After Dark happens each Thursday from 6-10pm with a different theme every week, featuring guest speakers, films, great music, and more.
21. NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences
NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences is one of our favorite ongoing events, and we’re thrilled to see more of these awesome themed soirees on the calendar! The popular Thursday night festivities feature live DJs, outdoor bars, ambience lighting, and more alongside the Academy’s nearly 40,000 animal residents.
Off The Grid: Fort Mason Center (OTG:FMC) is back! The popular food truck parties took a hiatus in June after a successful summer season, but they’ve officially just announced new dates for the fall. Check them out every Friday evening (except for Sept. 8) from Sept. 1 – Oct. 27, 2023.
- Sept. 1 – I ❤️ SF – Featuring an SF pep rally and classic SF dishes and cocktails.
- Sept. 15 – Noodle Night Fight – A night of noodles from the best local food trucks.
- Sept. 22 – Filipino Food Feast – A celebration of Filipino food and culture.
- Sept. 29 – Mid-Autumn Moon Festival – With lion dances, lantern displays, and cultural activities.
- And more
Sept. 30-Oct. 1
The Portola Music Festival is San Francisco’s newest live music festival happening on Sept 30-Oct. 1 at Pier 80. They just released the 2023 lineup with headliners Skrillex and Eric Prydz, plus a host of other exciting talent including Nelly Furtado, Major Lazer, Jon Hopkins, Labrinth, Thundercat, and so many more. Check out the full lineup below.
This annual event takes place on Haight Street between Masonic and Stanyan, with stages at both ends of the Fair. The Fair will feature dozens of local vendors along Haight Street and welcomes the return of beer tents to the event. The event is one of the highlights of SF’s festival season and has previously hosted acts including Jefferson Starship/Airplane, The Tubes, Metallica, Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix Experience), and many others.
25. Snag tickets to the most highly-anticipated Bay Area concerts
We’re lucky to experience some highly-anticipated Bay Area concerts this month, from Arctic Monkeys at Chase Center to Ed Sheeran at Levi’s Stadium. With a wealth of historic music venues in and around San Francisco you can count on creating some memories no matter who’s playing. Read on for a list of our favorite local venues for Bay Area concerts along with upcoming 2023 dates.
26. Cheer on our home teams at these September major league sports games
Bay Area sports fans are lucky to enjoy a year-round rotation of top-tier sporting events with 6 local major league teams in the realms of baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and soccer.
We’re already well into baseball season, meaning you can catch numerous SF Giants home games at Oracle Park or Oakland A’s home games at the Coliseum. Soccer season is also in full swing for the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park, and football season begins for the 49ers this month at Levi’s Stadium.
27. Free activities at Salesforce Park
San Francisco’s Salesforce Park is an amazing modern marvel 70 feet above the street atop the Salesforce Transit Center. It also hosts a collection of free events every week, including yoga classes, bootcamps, live music, bird walks, garden tours, drum circles, and much more.
Thursdays through Sept. 21
The Filoli estate in Woodside is currently putting on a special Summer Nights series, happening every Thursday evening through September 21. The estate typically closes at 5pm so these after-hours events are great for exploring the gardens just before dusk with a cocktail in hand while enjoying live music.
29. Upcoming county fairs
Have some good old-fashioned fun at these county fairs in and around the Bay Area! If you’re craving a funnel cake, hoping to blow off steam on a carnival ride, or seeking some quality animal time at a petting zoo, be sure to mark your calendar for these upcoming Bay Area fairs and festivals.
- Aug 31-Sept. 4 – Monterey County Fair
- Sept. 13-17 – Santa Cruz County Fair
- Sept. 29-Oct. 1 – San Benito County Fair
30. Get a dose of Burning Man in San Francisco
San Francisco is the birthplace of Burning Man and an ideal place to get a taste of the festival’s fun and creativity year-round. Even if you’d rather be riding a dust-covered bike through Black Rock City, here are a couple of places to get those good Burning Man vibes in SF.
31. Unique sports and activities at Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park contains a multitude of areas that cater to unique sports, activities, and hobbies. Here are a few of the most unique ones to try out for yourself.
32. Kid-friendly activities in and around SF
We’re lucky to live in a city with countless activities and attractions for both kids and adults. Whether you’re a parent looking for a fun new kid-friendly event on weekends, or a babysitter hoping to switch up your shift, these activities are fail-safe ways to keep the young’uns entertained.
33. Eating and drinking around Union Square
Union Square is packed with overpriced and underwhelming restaurants, but there are a few spots that we think are worth a visit. Here are a few places to grab a delicious meal or refreshing drink downtown.
34. Eclectic tiki bars around SF
Tiki bars take us out of our foggy city, to a far-flung tropical paradise–for the simple cost of a Mai Tai or Piña Colada. The Bay Area was home to some of the earliest tiki bars in the US, and the genre has both evolved and endured in SF. Here are a few terrific spots to check out.
35. Famous SF filming locations
San Francisco’s fame as an eclectic and recognizable city has gained it some well-deserved cameos in countless movies. If you’re a film buff looking for the lowdown on famous SF locations captured on screen, here are some essential places to try and see for yourself.
- San Francisco City Hall
- Palace of Fine Arts
- And more!
36. Unique buildings in the Bay Area
Take a drive around the Bay Area and you’ll surely pass by some breathtaking buildings, whether they’re mainstays of the San Francisco skyline or hidden gems that you can’t quite find your way back to. We’ve rounded up some of the most iconic and interesting buildings in San Francisco and beyond, including both well-known skyscrapers and discreet homes that are off the beaten path.
37. Hit the books at these SF study spots
As we head into back-to-school season, it’s a good time to scout out your favorite study spots so you can hit the ground running! Whether you’re a student looking for somewhere to crank out an essay, or you work from home and want a change of scenery, here are some great spots to visit and focus up.
38. Stock up on fall produce at these farmers’ markets
If you live in the Bay Area, you know that we have access to some of the best produce in the country. That’s why farmer’s markets are a must for countless SF residents who enjoy getting their food from local sources. Be sure to stop by these 10 fantastic farmer’s markets, located all around the city and bringing new, fresh produce to you every weekend.
39. Stuff your face at these essential pancake spots
Everyone knows that San Franciscans are total foodies, so they really know their stuff when it comes to choosing a place to eat out! We asked our Instagram followers for their best pancake recommendations in the city.
40. Beat some noobs at these Bay Area arcade bars
Looking to shake up your weekend plans? It could be as simple as finding a great pinball machine! No matter how you want to keep yourself entertained, there’s something for everyone at these awesome arcade bars in the Bay Area.