Best SF Bay Area
Events, Weekends & Festivals 2017
We limit our picks to ONLY the best events in the SF Bay area in 2017, personally handpicked for local insiders to enjoy. Many are unique world-class affairs. A few are just a lot of fun. The events below are organized by month & regularly updated including local Pacific Coast time. Also see regular weekly events at the end of each month below and recently past events.
OCTOBER 2017 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends
The clear, mild weather usually makes Fall the best time of the year to visit Half Moon Bay and the Half Moon Bay Coastline. See the pumpkin patches and visit Pescadero, our favorite small town between San Francisco & Santa Cruz. Be aware, however, that Halloween along the coast is very crowded so start & leave early to help minimize chances of getting stuck in a serious traffic jam.
Grand National Rodeo Cow Palace, Daly City
Fri-Sat 10/13/17-10/14/17 & 10/20/17-10/21/17, Admission
If you like rodeos this is the one to see in San Francisco once per year. There are several different events during the week including livestock exposition, cattle dog competitions, and horse shows depending on your interests. It generally opens at 8 am and rodeo shows are at 7:30 pm on Friday & Saturday evenings. See details.
Art & Pumpkin Festival, Half Moon Bay
Sat-Sun 10/14/17-10/15/17, 9 am-5 pm, Free
If you can stand the very heavy weekend traffic (over 350,000 attended last year) check out the Art & Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay and the pumpkin stands near Half Moon Bay. We go much earlier in the month and earlier in the morning (certainly before 10 am) when traffic is not as bad. It often backs up for miles on Hwy 92, especially around the Lemos Farm kid’s rides just east of the city. See details.
Sunday Streets, Sundays, Free at different locations
These Sunday events close neighborhood streets to cars so people can enjoy a large, temporary, public space where they can freely bike, walk, run, dance, skate, yoga & meet neighbors. In our experience they do not get busy until later in the afternoon so there is no need to get there right on time.
- Berkeley (10/15/17, 11 am-4 pm) Shattuck Ave from Rose to Channing.
- Every Sunday at Golden Gate Park and Canada Road (off Hwys 280 & 92, Belmont) – Main roads are closed to cars every Sunday year round subject to weather for bicyclists & skaters of all levels to enjoy.
- For more details see Sunday Streets.
Renaissance Fair, Hollister, CA
Saturdays & Sundays only, 9/16/17-10/15/17, 10 am-6 pm
History comes to life at this Hollister version of the Renaissance Fair. Held at Casa de Fruta every Saturday and Sunday for a month in the fall. Admission $28/day + parking. No pets are allowed. See more details.
USS Hornet Monster Ball Bash, USS Hornet Aircraft Museum, Alameda,
Saturday Night 10/28/17, 7:30 pm-1 am, Admission
The ultimate Halloween party for adults. Thousands attend the Monster Ball every year at the USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier/Museum in Alameda. There will be dancing with a live band, a no host bar, haunted tours and a $500 cash prize to the best dressed. This museum fund-raising event has been both safe and fun; our swing dance instructor who loves to dress up in costumes highly recommends it. See more details.
Halloween is a big deal in San Francisco. For those into history, from the 1940s until 2006 the most fantastic costume event in the world was held Halloween Eve on Castro Street, SF. But, alas, this amazing street celebration was cancelled after crowds of hundreds of thousands became too difficult to control. Now you will have to go to a private party to seriously celebrate or pay to get into a night club. The USS Hornet Monster Ball mentioned just above is a good option for ballroom dancers, in costume or not. Zillow thinks these neighborhoods in SF & San Jose are the best in the nation for trick or treating.
- Yerba Buena Gardens Festival – Over 90 different events (music & shows) held various days of each week. (5/7/17-10/29/17)
- Off The Grid at Fort Mason Center – Friday Nights, 3/3/17-10/27/17, This is the largest food truck event in the U.S. with over 30 independent food vendors, music and considerable action. See details.
- Picnic at the Presidio, Main Parade Ground – Sundays, 3/19/17-October, 11 am-4 pm. Off the Grid’s food vendors gather in this great venue. See details. Twilight at the Presidio is held there Thursday nights, 5 pm-9 am, through the summer as well. See details.
- Golden Gate Park Band – Sundays, 1 pm-2:45 pm. 4/23/17-10/8/17. Located at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park. See more details.
- Free Shakespeare In The Park, Hamlet – Free Shakespeare by talented actors appear in various venues around the Bay Area such as Pleasanton (July), Cupertino (July), Redwood City (August), San Francisco Presidio (September), SF McClaren Park (September-October 1). See more details.
- Swing Dancing in the Park – Sundays, 11 am-2 pm, year round. Free dancing & beginners lesson in Golden Gate Park.
- Bicycle Sundays – Open Sundays round subject to weather. Main roads are closed to cars on Sundays at both Golden Gate Park and Canada Road (off Hwys 280 & 92, Belmont) for bicyclists & skaters of all levels to enjoy.
Month of October – Other
- Pro Sports: See Post Season Baseball Schedule and San Francisco 49ers.
- Golden State Warriors: Preseason starts 9/30/17, regular season starts 10/17/17. See schedule (or national TV NBA schedule). Also note that the Warriors are on a new radio station, 95.7 FM in SF plus 93.5 FM in San Jose.
- College Sports: In the Bay Area you can see a variety of interesting collegiate sports up close and at low cost. E.g., the sunken diamond at Stanford is one of the best places to watch college baseball in the country. Check Stanford’s schedules for all sports. Also see the Cal Berkeley, San Jose State and San Mateo Jr. College event schedules.
- FREE Monthly Museum Days:
Typically the first Tue/Wed/Thu, every month at many Bay Area locations
Many San Francisco Bay Area museums have free admission days once a month. See dates & links. Often these events are quite crowded but if you arrive early enough this is a way to see the best museums for free.
NOVEMBER 2017 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends
This month has the fewest tourists and the weather is often surprisingly good … so November is a quiet month for locals to enjoy the many year-round activities and attractions San Francisco offers. For example, weekends on Ocean Beach can be outstanding this time of year.
Fall along the Half Moon Bay Coast
Fall is the best time of year to visit the coast. See things to see (see map) and trails & beaches (see map) along the Half Moon Bay Coastline. We also recommend visiting Pescadero, our favorite small town between San Francisco & Santa Cruz.
As a final tip, we have noticed that new events are often more unique and pleasant before most of the “world” learns about them. Then they sometimes become more crowded, commercial, and less free wheeling. Also, go early in the day. So don’t wait if you see something you may like. If you have never lived in San Francisco you may not realize that it is definitely a public party town without peer! The inhabitants really do spend a lot of effort throwing outstanding, unique, and fun events. Enjoy these special things to do … only in San Francisco!
Daylight Savings Time Ends
Sunday morning 2:00 am 11/5/17
In the San Francisco Bay Area (i.e. Pacific Time) at 2:00 am turn your clocks back to 1:00 am.
Veterans Day, Saturday 11/11/17
Here’s a good list of Discounts to Veterans and Active Duty Military (restaurants & stores) on or around Veteran’s Day.
The Head of the Lagoon Rowing Regatta, Foster City Lagoon map
Saturday, 11/11/17, 9 am-12 pm, and Sunday, 11/12/17, 9 am-1:00 pm
This big two-day rowing regatta is hosted by the Stanford Rowing center that features several Collegiate & Open crews on Saturday and Junior & Master crews on Sunday. Up to 250 crews will be racing each day. If you’ve never watched crew races before the Foster City Lagoon is a perfect venue. See more details.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, Cow Palace, Daly City
5 Weekends, Saturdays & Sundays, 11/18/17 – 12/17/17, 10 am-7 pm
Admission $30/adult, Parking $12/car, Twilight tickets after 3 pm are $18 at the box office. We like those!
Join the largest cast (over 700 local hobbyists) of costumed Dickensian characters in the world who do an excellent job recreating Charles Dickens’ Victorian London Town. The show fills more than 3 acres and feels even bigger. There is a wide variety of things to do (food, shows, shops, caroling, street performers, wandering the town, etc.) that will get you in the mood for Christmas. See details.
For plant lovers, here’s a interesting idea: the 55-acre San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park is free to non-residents all day Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.