15 Fun Things to Do in San Francisco This Fall

From tea and coffee fests to rap battles, Christmas fairs, theatrical performances, and more.

Fall is fully upon us in San Francisco, which means it’s time to stow away your lightweight puffy jacket back and break out your medium to heavyweight puffies so you can best enjoy the brisk days and the fact that even when it’s cold in SF, it’s still warm enough to play outside. This autumn season brings an abundance of fun, including tea, coffee, and wine festivals, arts and crafts fairs, plus seasonal ice skating, hip hop battles, holiday bazaars, and more.

Keep reading for all of the fun stuff to do in San Francisco this fall, and for more ideas, check out our date ideas and weekend guide.

Sip your way through tea, coffee, and wine festivals

Ongoing through November
$$ to $$$
Various locations
Wake up and smell all of the coffee at the 2022 San Francisco Coffee Festival, which takes over the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture from Saturday, November 12 through Sunday, November 13, so that you can enjoy specialty roasters and coffee shops with unique beans, delicious snacks, and live entertainment.

If you’re more of a tea drinker, then you’ll want to head to the Ferry Building on Saturday, November 5 or Sunday, November 6m for the San Francisco International Tea Festival, where you’ll be able to taste tea from local and global producers, shop an enormous tea market, learn about what makes each cup of tea a unique experience, and more.

And lastly, if you prefer to skip tea and coffee for an excellent glass of wine, then sip your way through some of Calistoga’s best wines while enjoying gourmet food pairings at Calistoga Food & Wine on Saturday, November 19, a celebration of local grape growers, farmers, chefs and makers at Solage Resort & Spa.

San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest
San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest

Expand your mind at art, music, dance, and film festivals

Ongoing through November
Free to $$$
Various locations
Decide the winner of an epic music battle at Red Bull’s SoundClash on Thursday, November 3, at the Regency Ballroom. Hometown favorite Larry June will go head-to-head against Detroit’s Babyface Ray in this rap competition that takes place across elaborate opposite stages, with the audience deciding the winner of each round via a decibel reader that will gauge their cheers.

Be among the first to attend Napa Valley Film Festival’s inaugural NVFF Film, Food and Wine Showcase Thursday, November 10 through Sunday, November 13, at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia, featuring four days of films paired with special culinary events.

See some Opera at the Ballpark on Friday, November 11, when the San Francisco Opera presents a free simulcast of Verdi’s La Traviata. Opera, views of the Bay, hot dogs, beer—it’s the best of all worlds! Dress warmly.

Spend the weekend of Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13, watching amazing hip-hop dance performances at The San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest (SFIHHDF, which is QUITE an acronym) is back at the Palace of Fine Arts for a “one inspiring weekend of breathtaking hip hop dance” where “All styles, ages, sizes of companies represented to create a remarkably diverse line up of performances.”

Renegade Craft
Renegade Craft

Get started on your holiday shopping and support local artisans

Ongoing through December
$ to $$$
Various locations
Get crafty and finish all of your holiday shopping early at the Renegade Craft Fair on Saturday, November 5 and Sunday, November 6. The maker’s market is taking over the Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion with booths from hundreds of local and national artists selling their wares as well as creative installations and plenty of food and drinks.

Stock up on all of your winter apparel or grab some gifts for powder hound pals at the Ski Pro Avalance Sale/Ski Fest (formerly the Nor Cal Ski & Snowboard Festival), which is happening in Sacramento from Friday, November 18 through Sunday, November 20, and at the Marin Civic Center from Friday, December 2 through Sunday, December 4). Get stoked for winter while saving up to 75% on skis, boards, apparel, boots, and more, along with interactive exhibits and representatives from over 25 ski resorts.

Cross off everyone left on your list at the Muir Beach Holiday Arts Fair from Saturday, December 3 through Sunday, December 4, where over 40 artists from Marin and the Bay Area will be selling their artwork and crafts, including handmade jewelry, ceramics, textiles, woodworking, home accessories, wreaths, ornaments crafted of glass and wood, children’s toys, holiday knick-knacks, and gifts from the garden.

The FRIENDS Experience
The FRIENDS Experience

Now through Sunday, December 4
$$
Tenderloin
Whether you watched the antics of Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey, and (ugh) Ross the first time around or found the show later on via reruns, if you’re a fan of the Friends sitcom, you’ll want to check out “The FRIENDS Experience: The One in San Francisco,” a cheesy, but fun, immersive museum experience, complete with set replicas of Central Perk, Monica and Rachel’s apartment, and the famous couch in front of the fountain from the show’s opening credits (albeit without any actual water). You can sit on the La-Z-Boys in Joey and Chandler’s apartment, learn about the costume designer’s job (and just how many outfits she had to create for one of the ‘80s flashback episodes), “poke” Ugly Naked Guy, see all kinds of props (Hugsy is making a real comeback), read Rachel’s entire letter to Ross (18 pages, front and back!), hunt for Easter eggs throughout, and more. It’s all a little silly, but also comforting. Plus, could there be any more Instagrammable opportunities? No, no there could not.

Union Square Ice Rink
Union Square Ice Rink

Discover all kinds of ways to get in the holiday spirit

Ongoing through January
Free to $$
Various locations
Whether you’re ready for it or not, Santa Claus is coming to town, and with his imminent arrival comes a ton of holiday-related activities.

Lace up for The Safeway Holiday Rink in Union Square, which opens Wednesday, November 2, for daily skate sessions and a couple of special events, including Let It Go Wednesdays, Flashback Fridays, and Drag Queens on Ice.

Eat, drink, and shop your way through Victorian London at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party, which runs from Saturday, November 19 through Sunday, December 18, featuring an immersive world of music halls, theaters, pubs, and ye olde shoppes at the Cow Palace where you can flirt with chimney sweeps, get tipsy on absinthe, and even (for the first time ever) go ice skating.

Root for Scrooge to see the error of his ways (for the first time in three years!) at A.C.T’s always-delightful performance of A Christmas Carol from Wednesday, November 30 through Saturday, December 24, which features gorgeous costumes, amazing music, and a reminder of what the holiday spirit is all about.

Advertiser Content From

Thom Milkovic/Unsplash

For 90 years, Alaska Airlines has been guided by integrity, professionalism, and a unique spirit — a spirit that has grown out of our geographical roots. With service to over 115+ destinations, we’ve left no suitcase unturned in our quest for the highest standard of care. Seriously – we care thiiiiiiiiis much.

Ongoing through January 8
$$ to $$$
Santa Clara
The Niners have had a somewhat disappointing start to the season, but the NFC West is anyone’s to win and they still have some good home games this year, including against division rivals, but also against some teams that don’t make it to Levi’s too often, including the Saints. Watching on TV is fun, but there’s nothing like watching Nick Bosa take down the opposing team’s QB or Deebo making a run into the end zone in person. Not feelin’ the Niners this season? No worries—there’s always the Warriors to give us hope.

NightLife at California Academy of Sciences
Photo courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences

Dance and drink at adults-only parties at two of SF’s most fun museums

Ongoing on Thursday nights
$$
Exploratorium/Embarcadero and California Academy of Sciences/Golden Gate Park
If you like the idea of going to a museum, but would like it a lot more if it involved DJs and drinking, you’re in luck because two of SF’s best museums host Thursday night parties exclusively for adults. Check out After Dark at the Exploratorium, where you don’t have to politely wait for the kids to finish to try out the hands-on exhibits, and NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences, where you can explore the four-story rainforest, sip cocktails in the aquarium, and catch a show at the planetarium.

Jagged Little Pill
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Ongoing through December
$$ to $$$
Golden Gate Theater and Orpheum Theater
If you love plays and musicals, you’re going to be very excited about what’s happening on stage in SF this fall.

BroadwaySF is determined to keep us entertained, beginning with a flashy, fun, and frivolous (in the best way possible) performance of Moulin Rouge! The Musical, which offers an abundance of bubble-gum pop covers, over-the-top costumes, and head-spinning dance (September 8–November 6). Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill: The Musical, an emotional musical that tackles some tough topics, including addiction and sexual trauma, and is a gripping, must-see for all Morisette’s fans and any musical lovers (October 11-November 6). Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations, follows the vocal group’s journey through personal and political conflict beginning in Detroit and going all the way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and is guaranteed to get your toes tapping, but will also give you insight into the difficulties this beloved quartet faced while entertaining the world (November 9-December 4). And in case that wasn’t quite enough musical entertainment for you, Disney’s Frozen is also arriving just in time for the holidays (November 18-December 30).

For those looking for theater with a little less music, the New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) is staging the world premiere of A Picture of Two Boys, a play about two friends who reconnect a decade after they make a pact to escape their not-so-secretly racist town in rural Pennsylvania, but only one of them makes it out (October 21-November 27).
Berkeley Rep brings us a reimagined Wuthering Heights, a music- and dance-infused adaptation of Emily Bronte’s gothic tome that has been lauded as “bold” and “ingenious” (November 18-January 1).

And at the Marin Theatre Company, you can see August Wilson’s Two Trains Running, his seventh of ten plays in The American Century Cycle chronicling the African American experience in the 20th Century, this one is about a restaurant owner and his regular customers in 1969 Pittsburgh as they face a changing neighborhood and the struggles that come with it.

Score strikes and good grub at a bowling alley

Ongoing
$$
Presidio and Mission
Whether you want classic bowling or a fine-dining lane-side experience, SF has you covered. Presidio Bowl has 12 lanes, an internet jukebox, 45 beers, 19 wines, a full bar, and a pretty typical bowling alley menu. Mission Bowling Club is a little fancier with legit food (including a great burger) and cocktails, but only six lanes, so you’ll definitely need to plan ahead.

Dear San Francisco A High-Flying Love Story show
Photo by Alexandre Galliez

Ongoing through December
$$
Club Fugazi/North Beach
San Francisco could use a little love right now, and it gets more than a little during “Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story,” an immersive performance/homage to this wild town told via how-do-they-do-that acrobatics, including hoop diving, Chinese pole, and juggling, spoken word, video projections, shadow play, and original music. And though those things might sound like they’re for kids, this show is definitely more adult-friendly, especially if you order a bottle of wine and some fancy grown-up snacks and desserts to enjoy while you watch.

Thriller Social Club
Thriller Social Club SF

Play old school video games at a grown-up barcade

Ongoing
$
Various locations
Whatever your game—Ms. Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, pinball, pop-a-shot, or skee ball—you’ll likely find it at one of SF’s grown-up barcades. The newest one to open—Thriller Social Club in the Mission, is two stories of fun with all of the classics, including eight skee ball lanes, the most expensive golf simulator in the world, a couple of bars, and legit food—looking at you 13-inch hot dog. If you’re near Divisadero, check out Emporium, a huge bi-level movie-theater-turned-arcade, which also has pool tables, foosball, air hockey, and DJs spinning on the weekends. And on Market Street in the Castro, there’s The Detour, a cozier bar but still stocked with all of the greatest hits, plus lots of board games, Asian-inspired snacks, trivia nights, drag bingo, and more.

Ongoing
$ to $$
Embarcadero
The historic Ferry Building is pretty to look at, but, more importantly, behind those good looks is a fantastic personality in the form of delicious artisan food, including Señor Sisig’s newest location, and Grande Crêperie, a concept from Le Marais Bakery that’s all about savory and sweet crêpes and artisanal all-butter croissants and pastries. Eat lunch by the water at Hog Island Oyster Company or get a delicious burger and milkshake on Gott’s Roadside’s patio. Grab a canned cocktail at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and a cupcake from Miette to enjoy while sitting on a bench with views of the Bay Bridge. Buy bagels for tomorrow’s breakfast at Daily Driver. The beloved farmers market is still popping up on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, so you can also shop for high-quality products from small, sustainable growers and producers who will appreciate your support.

Ongoing
Free
Golden Gate Park
In the spring of 2020, Mayor London Breed decided that the portion of John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park closed to vehicles on Sundays would be closed seven days a week, and after a ridiculous, contentious, and exhausting debate about if it should stay that way forever, the Board of Supervisors voted to make it permanent. Now, because this is SF, it will all be voted on again in November and will hopefully finally be car-free for good. But since you never know, take advantage of it this fall when you can see “Paint the Promenade,” an ongoing installation from Paint the Void, a non-profit that “brings creativity to everyday urban spaces while supporting local artists.” The installation includes the beloved Doggie Diner heads along JFK Drive between Conservatory Drive West and 6th Avenues, 100 (comfy!) chairs set up for relaxing, two pianos that anyone can play, and more.

Free
Bayview to Outer Richmond
Put on your most comfortable sneakers and head out on the Crosstown Trail, a 17-mile urban hike that takes you through tons of SF neighborhoods, including McLaren Park, Glen Canyon, Golden Gate Park, and Seacliff. The trail is a mix of paved roads/paths and trails, is about 2,600 feet of elevation, and offers great views, cool tiled staircases, a chance to see SF in a whole new way, and satisfaction for having actually done it. 

$
Mission Bay
Learn the story of California’s Boom and Bust by playing miniature golf at SF’s only outdoor miniature golf course. Put the ball into a Barbary Coast Saloon, through a gold mine, and around “Golden Gate Park,” while reading cool factoids along the way. To help maintain a safe environment, you’ll have to make a reservation, which involves a little planning, but is definitely worth it. Especially because the course is also located within Parklab Gardens (a food truck park and beer garden) so you can celebrate your win (or lament your defeat) with some tasty treats and a cold one.

San Francisco Botanical Garden
San Francisco Botanical Garden

Ongoing
Free for SF residents
Golden Gate Park
This 55-acre urban oasis with more than 9,000 plants from around the world is always a great place to go for a mini escape. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the grounds or wander through the gardens and visit flora from Australia, Chile, South Africa, and more, all in one afternoon. You’ll just have to pop open a plant app to see what you’re enjoying since we aren’t exactly certified botanists.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Daisy Barringer is an SF-based freelancer who has not yet recovered from the Niners NFC Championship loss. Follow her on Twitter to hear her rant and rave every Sunday (and some Thursday and Mondays) now through January.