Best SF Bay Area
Events, Weekends & Festivals 2015

We limit our picks to only the best events in the SF Bay area in 2015, personally handpicked for local insiders.  Many are unique world-class affairs. A few are just a lot of local fun. The events below are organized by month & regularly updated including local Pacific Coast time. Also see this month’s regularly scheduled weekly events and recently past events.

SEPTEMBER 2015 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends

Burning Man Festival, Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Week long event held 8/30/15-9/7/15
Even the organizers have a difficult time explaining this unique week-long party/art festival/event held in the desert. However, it is “amazing” and something our 21-35 year old friends would never miss. Over 50,000 people attend and it always sells out. See details and pictures.

Labor Day Weekend— Sat-Mon 9/5/15-9/7/15 has some big events for art lovers. See:

  • Sausalito Art Fair:   Opens at 10 am, 9/5/15-9/7/15. The “Granddaddy” of outdoor art festivals. Also check out the nearby ICB Building Art Studios Event while you are there.
  • Sausalito Artists at Work: Open 9/5/15-9/7/15. Visit with more than twenty artists at work in their art studios at the historical ICB Building.
  • Burning Man Festival (see above): 8/30/15-9/7/15.  An amazing week long party.  See above
  • Milbrae Art & Wine Festival:  10 am-5 pm, 9/5/15-9/6/15.  One of the biggest events on the Peninsula if you enjoy street festivals.  Free Mardi Gras-style celebration.  See more details.
  • Free Shakespeare in the Park:  2 pm, 9/5/15- 9/7/15.  At the Presidio Parade Ground.  See details.
Sausalito houseboats

Sausalito Houseboats

Sausalito Floating Homes Tour, Kappas Marina, Sausalito
Sat 9/12/15, 11 am-4 pm, Admission
See hundreds of the most unique & beautiful houseboat homes in the world and look inside 15-20 of them. There is also a free art fair and live music. Often sold out even the houseboat tour is rather expensive ($45 or $40 in advance).

Free Shakespeare In The Park, Romeo & Juliet,  See details.
* 8/29/15-9/13/15, Sat-Sun, 2:00 pm
The Presidio Parade Ground, San Francisco
* 9/19/15-9/27/15, Sat-Sun, 2:00 pm
The McClaren Park, Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, San Francisco

SF 49ers Football, Santa Clara Levi’s Stadium & Away, Admission
* Thursday, 9/3/15, 7:00 pm, vs the Chargers.  Final pre season game.
* Monday, 9/14/15, 7:20 pm, vs the Vikings.  First regular season game.
* Sunday, 9/20/15, 10 am, at the Steelers.
* Sunday, 9/27/15, 1:05 pm, at the Cardinals.
Last years coach and many starters are gone but hopefully we’ll still enjoy some decent games.  See full schedule.

Rolex Big “Sailing” Boat Series Saint Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco Bay
Thu-Sun 9/17/15-9/20/15, Races start at 11 am, Free
In an effort to bring large racing sail boats to compete in the San Francisco Bay, members of the St. Francis Yacht Club created the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy Regatta in 1964.   This will be the fifty first anniversary.  See details and pictures.

SF International Dragon Boat Festival, Treasure Island
Sat-Sun 9/19/15-9/20/15, Free admission
One of the largest competitive dragon boat races in the United States with over 130 dragon boat teams and 3500 paddlers.  The festival has entertainment, food and free activities.  See more.

San Francisco’s Comedy Day, Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park
Sunday, 9/20/15, 12 pm-5 pm, Free
The professional comedy community joins together (each year since 36 years ago when Robin Williams helped them start) to produce a FREE highly-entertaining, PG-13 rated, five-hour show with 40 comedians at Golden Gate Park. Up to 10,000 attendees. Doggies are allowed too. See details.

Renaissance Fair, Hollister, CA
Saturdays & Sundays only, 10 am-6 pm, 9/19/15-10/18/15, $25/day or $35 weekend pass
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.  No pets are allowed.  See website where they are advertising a two-for-one opening weekend offer.

marin-headlands-8a

See hawks & fabulous views at the top

See Hundreds of Hawks/hour, Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands
9/12/15 – 10/11/15, Free
The largest known flight of daytime raptors (hawks, falcons, vultures, etc.) takes place every autumn  at Hawk Hill, the 920 foot peak on the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge. See details.

California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr, Golden Gate Park
FREE quarterly admission day, see dates when posted, Free
The Academy of Sciences is expensive ($34.95) and often crowded. However, four Sundays/year there is free admission on a first-come first-serve basis. Early arrival is highly recommended and you can still expect to stand in line. See details. We have also heard that the Academy’s nightlife events ($12, 6-10 pm Thursday nights for adults over 21 only) are a good way to go. They have cocktails, music (sometimes live), and unique themes … and the crowds are not so intense.

Folsom Street Fair
Folsom St. between 8th and 13th Streets
Sunday 9/27/15. 11 am-6 pm, Admission free with a “strongly” suggested donation of $10
The largest leather event in the world and quite kinky. Live entertainment and over 200 exhibitor booths. Warning: definitely do not go if you are at all easily shocked. We have only dared to brave it twice ourselves and did not take pictures. :)  See details.

Pacific Coast Fog Fest, Palmetto Street, Pacifica
Sat-Sun, 9/26/15-9/27/15, 10 am-6 pm. Free admission
Over 200 booths on the main street of Pacifica.  See more details.

Fun & Free WEEKLY Events & Activities
Here are some good things to do that happen regularly every week in August.

Month of September- Other

  • Sports All month, many Bay Area locations or on TV, Admission.
  • SF Giants   See schedule.  This will be a tense period as the World Champions work to get into this year’s playoffs.
  • SF 49ers  Final preseason game: Thursday, 9/3/15: vs Chargers, 7 p.m. (KPIX, Ch. 5).  The regular season games start Monday, 9/14/15 at 7:20 pm vs the Vikings, Sunday 9/20/15 at 10 am at the Steelers, and Sunday 9/27/15 at 1:05 pm at the Cardinals.  See schedule.
  • Stanford football plays at home Saturday 9/12/15 at 7:30 pm vs UCF and Saturday 10/3/15 vs Arizona.  See schedule.
  • College Sports of all types, including football, are in full swing.  See Stanford, Cal Berkeley, San Jose State & 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.

OCTOBER 2015 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends

Hardly Strictly Blue Grass Festival, Golden Gate Park

Hardly Strictly Blue Grass Festival, Golden Gate Park

Hardly Strictly Blue Grass Festival, Golden Gate Park
Friday 10/2/15 – Sunday 10/3/15, 11 am – 7 pm, Free
There are many music festivals in SF during the year. We like this one because it is low-key (bring your dog and picnic blanket), not horribly crowded so we’ve never had trouble finding parking south of the Park, and free. The event is held on six different stages along John F Kennedy Dr in Golden Gate Park. See details.

The Blue Angels are back after a year off!

The Blue Angels are back again in 2015

Blue Angels Air Show, Fishermans Wharf & Marina area
Friday 10/9/15 – Sunday 10/11/15, 3 pm-4 pm, Free
The Fleet Week Air Show will be from 12:30 pm-3 pm each day and the Blue Angels will perform from 3 pm-4 pm each day. See more about how to best watch the show.

San Francisco Fleet Week, Fishermans Wharf area
Thursday 10/8/15 – Monday 10/12/15, Free
Fleet Week attracts more than a million visitors each year.  The Blue Angels practice on Thursday, 10/8/15, from 12-4 pm.  A parade of ships will pass under the Golden Gate Bridge from 11 am-12:30 pm Friday, 10/9/15.  Ship tours will be given Saturday, Sunday and Monday.   See more.

Columbus Day ParadeFishermans Wharf to Washington Square, Free
Sunday 10/11/15, Starts 12:30 pm, Free
The oldest Italian-American parade in America (est. 1869). Over 400,000 people attended last year.  It starts on Jefferson Street in Fishermans Wharf and comes up Columbus Avenue to Washington Square.  See details.

halloween-aratas-farm

Halloween at Arata Pumpkin Farm south of Half Moon Bay (free admission). Great for kids and adults too. Includes a 2-acre maze made out of hay bales stacked high ($10 admission), a petting farm (free) and a haunted house ($5 admission). See website

Fall along the Half Moon Bay Coast
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 10/16-10/17/15 & 10/23-10/24/15, Admission
If you like rodeos this is the one to see in San Francisco once per year. There are several different events including livestock, competitions, and shows depending on your interests.  It generally opens at 8 am and rodeo shows are at 7:30 pm on Fri & Sat evenings. See details.

Art & Pumpkin Festival,  Half Moon Bay
Sat-Sun 10/17/15-10/18/15, 9 am-5 pm, Free
If you can stand the very heavy weekend traffic 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.

USS Hornet Monster Ball—, USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier, Alameda,
Date To Be Announced, 7:30 pm-12 am, Admission (kids are now welcome too)
Thousands attend the Monster Ball every year at the USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier/Museum in Alameda. There will be dancing with The Cocktail Monkeys Band, haunted tours and a $500 cash prize to the best dressed.  This museum fund-raising event is both safe and fun; our swing dance instructor who loves to dress up in costume highly recommends it. Call 510-521-8448 x282 for current information & tickets.  See details.

Halloween,
Saturday 10/31/15
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.


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!

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