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.
OCTOBER 2015 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends
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. On Thursday, 10/8/15, are ship tours and the Blue Angels practice 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 Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. See more 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 (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.
Sunday Streets, Sundays, Free
Closes neighborhood streets to cars so people can enjoy a large, temporary, public space where they can bike, walk, run, dance, do yoga, or other such physical activities with no automobile traffic.
* Sunday Streets SF Mission (10/18/15), Mission St. at about 20th St.
* Sunday Streets Berkeley (10/18/15, 11 am-5 pm), Shattuck Ave from Rose St. to Haste St.
Grand National Rodeo Cow Palace, Daly City
Fri-Sat 10/16-10/17/15 & 10/23-10/24/15, Admission (note: see discount tickets)
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 and discount tickets
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 more details.
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.
USS Hornet Monster Ball Bash, USS Hornet Aircraft Museum, Alameda,
Saturday 10/31/15, 7:30 pm-1 am, Admission ($35 at the door or $30 in advance)
The ultimate Halloween party. 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, 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. Call 510-521-8448 x282 for information & tickets. See 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.
- Yerba Buena Gardens – Over 90 different events held various days of each week. (5/3/15-10/31/15)
- Picnic at the Presidio – Sundays, 11 am-4 pm. Food vendors gather at the main post of the Presidio. (3/15-10/15)
- Twilight at the Presidio – Thursdays, 5 pm – 9 pm. Food vendors gather at the main post of the Presidio. (4/2/15-10/29/15)
- Swing Dancing in the Park – Sundays, 11 am-2 pm. Free dancing & beginners lesson in Golden Gate Park. (year round)
- Bicycle Sundays – Sundays. 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 (open year round subject to weather).
Month of October – Other
- Sports All month, many Bay Area locations or on TV, Admission.
- SF 49ers: Sunday 10/18/15 @ 1:25 pm vs Ravens, Thursday 10/22/15 @ 5:25 pm vs Seahawks. See schedule.
- Stanford Football plays at home Thursday 10/15/15 @ 7:30 pm vs UCLA, Saturday 10/24/15 vs Washington, Saturday 10/31/15 vs Washington State. See schedule.
- College Sports of all types, including football, are in full swing. See Stanford, 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 2015 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends
The weather is often surprisingly good in November and, since there are fewer tourists than usual, this 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.
Daylight Savings Time Ends
Sunday morning 11/1/15
In the San Francisco Bay Area at 2:00 am turn your clocks back to 1:00 am.
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.
Veterans Day, Wednesday 11/11/15, U.S.A.
Here’s a 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, 11/7/15, 9 am-12 pm, and Sunday, 11/8/15, 9 am-12:45 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 BAIC Fall Rowing Regatta, San Mateo Marina Lagoon adjacent Foster City
Sunday, 11/15/15, 8:30 am-3:00 pm
A big rowing regatta that marks the end of the USRowing Fall Season in California. This 5000-meter Marina Lagoon course is unusually twisty and challenging. See more details.
See Hundreds of Hawks/hour Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands
Season can last through November but it peaks 9/12/15-10/11/15, Free
The largest known flight of daytime raptors (hawks, falcons, vultures, etc.) takes place every autumn (usually through November) at Hawk Hill, the 920 foot peak on the Marin side just west of the Golden Gate Bridge. See details.
Dickens Christmas Fair, Cow Palace, Daly City
Opens Saturday & Sunday 11/21/15 – 11/22/15 for 5 straight weekends including the Friday after Thanksgiving.
See more about Dickens Fair in the December schedule below. By the way, you can save $5 off the $25-30 ticket price if you buy them on-line by 10/15/15.
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.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Friday, 11/27/15, and Monday, 11/30/15
Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year (it’s called Black Friday because historically that’s when retail stores profits often went “in the black” for the year). Here are the best shopping centers in the Bay area. Cyber Monday, 11/30/15, when shoppers are still looking for bargains on-line from their work computers, has now also become a part of this big weekend.
On-line discounts are never better than these two days. Personally, I make my clothing shopping list for the entire year and buy it all on Black Friday. Brand items which are almost never on sale can be discounted 30% or more.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, Cow Palace, Daly City
Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday Thanksgiving weekend 11/27, 28, 29/2015, 10 am-7 pm.
Open Saturday-Sunday the following weekends through 12/20/15, 10 am-7 pm
A big event on three acres transformed into a facsimile of Victorian London circa 1865. You can walk around amidst hundreds of amateur “actors” playing different roles. Enjoy “authentic” food, music, shops and a wide variety of free shows inside. It’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Prices go up from $25 to $30 in mid December. Twilight tickets after 4 pm are $13. Parking is $10 in the lot (or free on the street where we usually park, at least during daylight). See details about the fair.
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!