10 Things to Do in San Francisco in Fall

Autumn in San Francisco is known as "Indian Summer", because of its privileged weather, which is extremely pleasant, even until November. Discover why this is the most awaited season by the inhabitants of this incredible city.

Nicolas Reffray

Nicolas Reffray

10 min read

10 Things to Do in San Francisco in Fall

San Francisco | ©Paul Sableman

Autumn in the United States of America begins in the last days of September. Nature is tinged with the characteristic colors of the season, those shades of yellow, orange and ocher that embellish everything. Curiously, in San Francisco the temperatures during these months continue to be quite warm, which allows you to enjoy the many things to see and do in San Francisco.

Among these you can attend the classic concerts at the Treasure Island Music Festival and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, taste the products of the best regional agricultural producers, and toast with the most delicious wines from the wineries of California. It's also an ideal time for outdoor walks and bike rides around the bay.

1. Taste the best wines of the autumn harvest

Napa Valley| ©James Faulkner
Napa Valley| ©James Faulkner

For wine lovers, there is nothing better than visiting the city of San Francisco during the fall season, when the wine harvest takes place in the vineyards of Sonoma and Napa, just 90 kilometers away.

For this occasion many wineries hold festivals and special events, where you can taste the best wines, learn about winemaking and live wine therapy experiences. This event is undoubtedly among the bestwine tastings in San Francisco.

You will be stimulating all your senses at the same time, since in autumn the vineyards are dressed in the most beautiful shades of oranges, ochers and golds, contrasting with the green of the hills. An absolutely unforgettable spectacle.

If you would like to immerse yourself even more in the world of California wines, you can hire one of the best guided tours from San Francisco and tour the surrounding wine region. These tours will take you through the Sonoma Valley, passing by the best and most emblematic wineries and tasting the best wines, while learning about their production and the history of the wine industry in the city.

Book a tour of Napa and Sonoma wineries

2. Indulge your palate with the best of regional growers

Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival| ©Bob n Renee
Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival| ©Bob n Renee

The state of California is known for its fertile soils and bountiful harvests, so, as with wine, this is harvest time for San Francisco' s agricultural producers.

Their products are exhibited both at fairs and popular markets, as well as on the plates of restaurants. So if you want to delight yourself with the best pumpkins, artichokes and eggplants from the farms and orchards around San Francisco, visiting the city in autumn is ideal.

One of the most traditional fairs is the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, which takes place along the bay.

And if you are a lover of good food and you like to know different flavors, I recommend you to book a guided gastronomic tour in the city of San Francisco. It is a highly recommended experience, as one of the best ways to get to know a place is through its culture and gastronomy.

Book a gastronomic tour of San Francisco

3. Stroll outdoors at the best time of the year

Stroll along the San Francisco Bay| ©Bernard Spragg
Stroll along the San Francisco Bay| ©Bernard Spragg

Autumn walks in San Francisco have an unparalleled charm. The days are warm and not very windy, the touristic affluence is much less than in other seasons, and the views are breathtaking.

If you like water activities you can take a boat ride in the bay or even among the Farallon Islands and if you are lucky you can even see some whales around there. To enjoy these activities even more you can hire a boat ride in the San Francisco Bay.

Other great options are to visit the Ocean Beach or take a walk along the coast of the Marin Headlands, and why not, visit the amazing National Parks near the city of San Francisco.

Outdoor activities are really almost a must during the fall in San Francisco, as you will rarely find a better weather to enjoy these activities in any other time of the year.

Although during your travels the excitement of exploring and seeing new places can make you forget about the cold and the heat, there is nothing better than an intermediate temperature, so you don't have to worry about anything else but enjoying your stay.

Book your boat tour in San Francisco

4. Bike around the city

Bike to the Bridge| ©Roland Tanglao
Bike to the Bridge| ©Roland Tanglao

There is nothing like touring and discovering a city by bike, and much more with a weather as pleasant as autumn. If you are a lover of two wheels, I recommend you to take one of the best bike tours in San Francisco, as it is an excellent way to get to know every corner of this wonderful city.

These tours are guided, to learn a little of the history of the place while, for example, you cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

Commonly, the tours that cross the Golden Gate Bridge have a duration of approximately three hours. They usually start from the city of San Francisco, crossing the bay, from where you can see Fisherman's Wharf and the mythical Alcatraz Prison (The Rock), and then cross the famous bridge to Tiburon or Sausalito, depending on the tour you choose.

The autumn views of the city's skyline you will have when crossing the bridge will make it worth every pedal stroke of this tour.

Book your bike tour in San Francisco

5. Enjoy the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Concert

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass| ©Jim Bahn
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass| ©Jim Bahn

This is par excellence one of the favorite festivals of all the public in the city of San Francisco. It takes place every year during the first weekend of October.

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass takes place in Golden Gate Park, where, for three consecutive days, dozens of renowned bands and artists offer live concerts.

Most of these artists belong to the bluegrass style, although you can also find other styles as well.

The creator and main promoter of this event was businessman Warren Hellman, who financed it since its first edition in 2001.

A curious fact is that many companies have wanted to sponsor the festival, but Hellman himself rejected the proposals, since his goal was that the show would continue to be totally free. If you are in San Francisco during the month of October, you have no excuse not to miss this magnificent festival.

Practical information

  • Location: to be confirmed
  • When it takes place: October 1st and 2nd
  • Price: free

6. Delight yourself with music at the Treasure Island Music Festival

Treasure Island Music Festival| ©Fred von Lohmann
Treasure Island Music Festival| ©Fred von Lohmann

In the second half of October takes place another great classic concert of the city of San Francisco: the Treasure Island Music Festival.

Born in 2007, this festival offers shows of highly eclectic artists, using the beautiful scenery of the San Francisco Bay as a backdrop.

The event takes place on a small island located between Oakland and San Francisco, where a large stage, stands with the most delicious food, musical shows, comedy shows and even a Ferris wheel are displayed. Generally, the first day features rap, hip-hop and electronica musicians, and the second day features rock and alternative artists.

Tip: You can access the show for free by using West Oakland Bart's public transportation.

Practical Info

  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • When it takes place: early October
  • Price: free

7. Outdoor Opera Festival

Opera In the Park, San Francisco| ©Mack Male
Opera In the Park, San Francisco| ©Mack Male

Since 1971, the Opera in the Park, a festival where more than 75 presentations of the best opera performances are offered, has been held in Golden Gate Park in the city of San Francisco.

This festival gathers annually about 20,000 spectators who come to enjoy classical pieces such as Samson and Delilah or Puccini's Madame Butterfly.

Of course, this show can be enjoyed with the family. Many take a blanket to rest on the lawn, and others even take the opportunity to have a picnic. But don't worry if you don't have time to prepare a snack, as there are numerous food stands on site with plenty of options to eat something delicious.

This event is organized and developed by the San Francisco Opera, the second largest opera company in the United States.

Practical Information

  • Location: in Golden Gate Park
  • When it takes place: at the end of the first week of September
  • Price: free

8. Experience the Bizerkeley Food Festival

Vegan Food| ©Davide Costanzo
Vegan Food| ©Davide Costanzo

Another of the festivals dedicated to food in San Francisco. The Bizerkeley Food Festival is completely dedicated to vegan food.

Come and taste the flavors that some of the main referents of this food have to offer, who find in the Bizerkeley Fest the ideal opportunity to show the community their best culinary preparations.

But not everything is food in this event, in addition to the gastronomic exhibitors you can enjoy the best live music, talks by great speakers telling their work in pursuit of veganism, and an auction whose benefits are destined to foundations dedicated to the care and rescue of animals.

Practical information

  • Location: 2727 Milvia Street, Berkeley
  • When: to be confirmed
  • Price: starting at 15 U$S

9. Enjoy the incredible Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival

Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival| ©Fabrice Florin
Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival| ©Fabrice Florin

The Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival has been held in San Francisco since 1957, when a small group of artists decided to get together and exhibit their work in the windows of the stores of the towns.

Initially held in Lytton Square, the festival moved permanently to Old Mill Park, San Francisco's iconic redwood grove.

As early as 1962, the festival began to grow into what it is today, one of the most popular events in the area, where hundreds of artists from all over the United States gather to exhibit their work and showcase their talent.

The festival, which reflects the spirit and heritage of local artists, lasts two days and takes place during the month of September.

In addition to the most beautiful arts and crafts, you can enjoy live music shows, activities for children and the best food at one of the many stands and food trucks that gather every year at this magnificent festival.

Practical information

  • Location: at the Old Mill Park
  • When it takes place: September 17 & 18
  • Price: free

10. Attend the parade in observance of Veterans Day

Veterans Day Parade| ©AVID Vines
Veterans Day Parade| ©AVID Vines

Veterans Day is a very important date at a national level in the United States, since on this day (November 11th) the American people pay tribute and show their respect to the soldiers who have served their country in the different war conflicts in which the United States has participated.

If you are lucky enough to visit San Francisco during the month of November, you will be able to witness the imposing parade with which this city joins the national tributes. With school bands, different groups of veterans parade through the streets of the city, where emotional ceremonies take place.

Due to its national relevance, this is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in San Francisco in November.

Practical Information

  • Location: festivities throughout the city
  • When: November 11
  • Price: free

Some practical tips for your trip to San Francisco

Ocean Beach in the Fall| ©Sharon Mollerus
Ocean Beach in the Fall| ©Sharon Mollerus

Just a few things to keep in mind when packing your suitcase and booking your accommodations.

What is the fall weather like in San Francisco?

The fall weather in San Francisco is truly privileged. During the day, temperatures range from 16 to 22 degrees Celsius, and it is very rare for temperatures to drop below 13 degrees Celsius or go above 28 degrees Celsius.

At night, on the other hand, temperatures are between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius, never dropping below 6 degrees and never rising above 17 degrees. This is why planning your trip to San Francisco at this time of year is a great idea.

What should I keep in mind when packing my suitcase to visit San Francisco if I go in the fall?

As in any trip, you should not forget under any circumstances the basics, such as a universal adapter to charge your electronic devices, a travel bag with personal hygiene items, and if you require any medication along with a mini travel kit.

In addition, to be able to rest properly, it would be a good idea to bring a sleeping mask and a travel pillow, it will be very useful on the plane and if you use other transport during an excursion.

If you are one of those who find it hard to sleep with the noise of other passengers I also recommend earplugs or headphones with sound cancellation.

And now, if we go to the specifics, San Francisco has very mild temperatures in autumn, so it is essential that you take a light jacket mostly and some mid-season coats, for when temperatures oscillate in their lower ranges, or if you decide to take a night walk around the city.

Don't forget a good pair of sunglasses and sunscreen for your skin, so you can enjoy your walks outdoors without any problems. Try to include comfortable clothes and good sports shoes in case you decide to take a bike ride or a long walk through the amazing National Parks of the region.

What is the autumn tourist flow like in San Francisco?

The influx of tourists in the city of San Francisco during the fall is moderate, which will allow you to tour the city and the bay without having to suffer through the crowds.

Even at museums and attractions, this time of year is glorious, as the crowds are much smaller than in summer or spring. Many people don't know it, but temperatures in San Francisco remain fairly stable throughout the year, so opting for the summer months instead of the fall doesn't make much sense.

Also, by traveling in the fall you will be able to get better prices on accommodations and flights, which start to drop as we get closer to winter.

Is San Francisco an expensive city to visit?

Unfortunately I must tell you that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, so eating and sleeping in this city will cost you your good bucks.

However, if you know where to look, you will always find good options for all budgets.