11 Things to Do in San Francisco in November

November is the perfect month to plan a trip to San Francisco. You will experience one of the most pleasant climates of the year and enjoy the Thanksgiving celebrations. Are you ready?

Nicolas Reffray

Nicolas Reffray

10 min read

11 Things to Do in San Francisco in November

Golden Gate at night | ©Zheng Zeng

San Francisco is a city full of attractions. Its picturesque neighborhoods, its history and cultural legacy, and the fact that it has been the main focus of the LGBT community since the 1970s, make it a must-see destination among the world's major cities.

Here you will discover what to see and do in San Francisco during your 10-day stay. From festivals to parades and major sporting events, the city has something for everyone. If you don't know where to start, here I have selected for you the 10 things you definitely can't miss in San Francisco during the month of November.

1. Have a great time at the Gay Country Festival

LGBT Parade, San Francisco| ©Scarlet Sappho
LGBT Parade, San Francisco| ©Scarlet Sappho

Enjoy one of San Francisco's most interesting and colorful festivals with almost 30 years of history. As you know, the city of streetcars and slopes has been since the 1970s a worldwide reference for the LGBT community, with areas such as the Castro neighborhood, where the commitment to one's identity and sexual diversity is very intensely lived.

The traditional Sundance Stompede festival is a country music and dance event by and for the LGBT community.

With contests, live music and fun parties throughout most of San Francisco's dance clubs, this festival celebrates diversity while enjoying one of the most typically American musical styles.

Practical Info

  • Date: late November.
  • Location: at different clubs in the city.
  • Price: from 15 U$S.

Book a tour of the Castro neighborhood

2. Experience an NBA game

NBA Finals|©Erik Drost
NBA Finals|©Erik Drost

The NBA Finals season usually starts in October and ends in April, so November is the perfect month to enjoy an experience like this and feel like a real American.

In San Francisco, the professional team is the Golden State Warriors and their home court is the Chase Center. So, of course, I recommend you to go see them there and soak up the completely crazy and passionate atmosphere.

Golden State Warriors tickets usually sell out very quickly, as there are many fans, both Americans and tourists, who want to enjoy the different games every year. So I recommend you to book them online in advance.

Book your Golden State Warriors tickets

3. Join the traditional Day of the Dead Festival

Day of the Dead, San Francisco| ©peace-on-earth
Day of the Dead, San Francisco| ©peace-on-earth

The Day of the Dead is one of the most popular Mexican holidays in the United States. Far from being a sad event and beyond its name, the colors and general excitement are the engine of this holiday where we remember those who are no longer with us.

The city of San Francisco lives this day with parades and a multitude of people made up as skeletons through the streets, with flowers and carrying the traditional offerings.

The Sugar Skull figure, the typical skull decorated with hundreds of colors, is the star of the festival and you can get all kinds of crafts with its image. Participating in this event is a great way to mingle with the local public and live a truly unique experience.

Practical information

  • Date: November 2
  • Location: in the SF Bay Area and Mission District
  • Price: free

Book a San Francisco Mystery Tour

4. Enjoy some of San Francisco's best museums completely free of charge

San Francisco Asian Art Museum| ©Ken Lund
San Francisco Asian Art Museum| ©Ken Lund

During the first days of November, some of the most important museums in the city of San Francisco open their doors for free:

  • Conservatory of Flowers: it is a large botanical greenhouse located in Golden Gate Park.
  • De Young Art Museum: has some of the best exhibits of European art and anthropology.
  • Asian Art Museum: contains more than 18,000 works, some as old as 6,000 years.
  • California Academy of Sciences: is one of the largest natural science museums in the world and has such incredible sites inside as the planetarium and a tropical rainforest.
  • SFMOMA: the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art contains pieces by such famous artists as Andy Warhol, Pollock and Frida Kahlo, among others.

It is an opportunity not to be missed to get to know a little of the artistic-cultural facet of the most famous city on the West Coast of the United States.

Reserve your ticket to the Young Museum

5. Discover the city's nighttime beauty at the Illuminate SF festival of Lights

Lights in San Francisco| ©Johnathan Nightingale
Lights in San Francisco| ©Johnathan Nightingale

In the month of November, the nights of San Francisco are illuminated in the impressive Illuminate SF Festival of Lights, an event that brings together a multitude of local artists and from other parts of the United States to create the most amazing and original art installations, where light is the protagonist.

You can enjoy this festival in two ways: on foot or by booking a night bus tour of San Francisco. If you go with children or elderly people I recommend this second option without a doubt, otherwise both can get overtired.

Practical information

  • Date: from the first days of November.
  • Location: all over the city.
  • Price: free.

Book a San Francisco night bus tour

6. Enjoy the Taste of Mountain view, food and wines

Wine in San Francisco| ©Matthew Dillon
Wine in San Francisco| ©Matthew Dillon

Get ready to experience with all your senses the culinary festival Taste of Mountain View, food and wines, an outdoor event where you can taste the finest flavors of local cuisine.

With a lot of food stands, wine tasting and the best craft beer, this is the perfect opportunity to stroll along Castro Street, one of the most colorful and picturesque of the city, and eat something in a place with the best atmosphere, perfect for the whole family.

Keep in mind that in November the temperatures are very pleasant, so this kind of outdoor events are ideal. So, if you still want to continue tasting exquisite wines, I recommend you to book a wine tour in San Francisco where you will taste the most unique artisanal elaborations.

Practical information

  • Date: around November 9th
  • Location: at 500 Castro Street
  • Price: starting at 30 U$S

Book a wine tour in San Francisco

7. Test yourself at the Golden Gate Half Marathon

Golden Gate Half Marathon| ©advencap
Golden Gate Half Marathon| ©advencap

If you are one of those who like healthy living and outdoor sports, what better than to put yourself to the test and run in a massive marathon across the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge while enjoying the best views of the entire San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz Island.

Because not everything on vacation is about eating and shopping. You can take the opportunity to join the Golden Gate Half Marathon, an event that has been held for 20 years and that each time attracts more and more people.

With a distance of more than 21 kilometers (13.1 miles), this is one of the most important marathons in the city of San Francisco and a good opportunity to live a unique experience, as well as an excellent exercise. If you feel it's too much, don't worry, there is an alternative circuit of 5 kilometers, where you don't get to cross the bridge. But that doesn't mean you have to give up the views, as you can also take a bike tour of the Golden Gate Bridge during your stay.

Practical information

  • Date: early November
  • Location: the starting line is at the Aquatic Park Waterfront.
  • Price: free

Book a Golden Gate Bike Tour

8. Participate in Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Meal| ©Travis Wise
Thanksgiving Meal| ©Travis Wise

While San Francisco doesn't have a parade of huge inflatable characters like New York City, you can still celebrate Thanksgiving like a local.

Few holidays are experienced as intensely as this one, although of course, most places close their doors, since it is one of those celebrations that are best experienced with family or friends. But don't let that discourage you, because there are some restaurants that will allow you to experience the authentic spirit of Thanksgiving, even as a tourist:

  • Anzu Restaurant: offers only on this date the typical menu of baked turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, in addition to the usual dishes of the restaurant, which specializes in Japanese food.
  • One Market Restaurant: you can find the classic Thanksgiving dinner or lunch with roast turkey, pork and mushroom risotto, in addition to the traditional pumpkin pie. Reservations are recommended.

Practical Information

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated every year on the 4th Thursday of November. It is a day to give thanks for what we have, the friendships we treasure, the food we put on the table and, above all, the freedom we enjoy.

Oh, and one more thing, don't forget that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the world famous Black Friday, where practically everything is reduced to 50% or 60%.

If you are one of those who can't help but succumb to the consumer frenzy, some of the best places to take advantage of the incredible discounts on this day are Pier 39, Union Square or the Westfield Shopping Center.

9. Start feeling Christmas in Union Square

Christmas in Union Square| ©Franco Folini
Christmas in Union Square| ©Franco Folini

In November, San Francisco is already getting ready to celebrate Christmas. That's why you can experience all the magic of the holidays in the heart of the city: Union Square.

From ice skating, witnessing the moment when the lights of the imposing Christmas tree are turned on, or admiring the decorations of stores like the traditional Macy's, Union Square is the ideal place to start living Christmas in San Francisco.

The little ones can visit Santaland and have their picture taken with Santa himself. With the brightest holiday decorations, Union Square Holidays are the ultimate holiday.

Practical Info

Here's the info below if you want to ice skate in Union Square.

  • Date: starting November 3rd
  • Location: at Union Square
  • Price: starting at 19 U$S

Book the San Francisco tourist bus

10. Feel like you are in a fairy tale at the Great Dickens Fair

Cown Palace| ©146109843@N05
Cown Palace| ©146109843@N05

With Christmas so close, everything starts to look like a Dickens fairy tale. San Francisco knows it and that's why in November it gives you the opportunity to enjoy the great Great Dickens Fair, a place where you will truly feel part of a story by the great English writer.

This Christmas fair recreates in detail the Victorian London of Dickens' stories, while allowing you to watch shows, enjoy delicious food, listen to Christmas carols, and much more. All of this will be done by perfectly characterized actors who will help make the fantasy come true.

A perfect event to enjoy with the family and, of course, a great plan if you are looking for what to do with kids in San Francisco.

Practical info

  • Date: starting November 19
  • Location: at Cows Palace
  • Price: to be confirmed

11. Delight your senses at the fantastic SF Coffee Festival

Coffee in San Francisco| ©Timothy Vollmer
Coffee in San Francisco| ©Timothy Vollmer

If you are a coffee lover, the SF Coffee Festival awaits you in November in San Francisco, a delicious experience that is sure to keep you awake.

This important festival, as you can imagine, gathers year after year the most fanatic fans of one of the favorite beverages of the West: coffee.

With representatives of the best coffee shops from all over San Francisco, and the possibility of buying coffee from different parts of the world, the SF Coffee Festival is an event with many nuances, where you can also enjoy the best live music and delicious pastries.

Practical information about the SF Coffee Festival

  • Date: usually in the second week of November
  • Location: at the Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion
  • Price: general admission is around 24 U$S

Some tips for your trip to San Francisco in November

Golden Gate Bridge| ©Mario Duran-Ortiz
Golden Gate Bridge| ©Mario Duran-Ortiz

Before I say goodbye I would like to give you some useful tips to make your trip to San Francisco in November perfect.

What is the weather like during November in San Francisco?

San Francisco maintains its mild temperatures even in November. With lows of around 15 degrees Celsius and highs hovering around 24 to 25 degrees Celsius, you couldn't ask for better weather to visit the city.

Ideal for walking from end to end, enjoying the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and walks in nearby towns, such as Sausalito or Oakland, not too many rainy days are to be expected either.

What should I pack for my trip to San Francisco in November?

Since the weather is so nice, you will not need to pack warm jackets. I do recommend some sweaters, light cotton jackets and comfortable shoes.

San Francisco is perfect for walking, so having the right footwear is the key to enjoy your trip 100%. As it is not a city where it rains frequently, you can do without your umbrella and raincoat.

Is San Francisco an expensive city?

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco| ©Doug Kerr
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco| ©Doug Kerr

I'm sorry to tell you that San Francisco is considered one of the most expensive cities in the United States. That doesn't mean that everything is expensive, as there are always options for all budgets. It's just a matter of researching where, when and how to shop.

Anyway, keep in mind that November is not considered high season in San Francisco, so you may be able to get some good lodging options without having to go too far from downtown.