Best SF Bay Area
Events, Weekends & Festivals 2016
We limit our picks to only the best events in the SF Bay area in 2016, 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 this month’s regularly scheduled weekly events and recently past events.
OCTOBER 2016 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends
Hardly Strictly Blue Grass Festival, Golden Gate Park
Friday 9/30/16 – Sunday 10/2/16, 11:00 am – 7 pm, Free
We particularly like this music festival because it is low-key (bring your dog and picnic blanket for sitting on the grass) and features over 100 different musical artists on seven different stages. You can wander in and out of the venues even during performances. If you can’t make it there physically check out the live webcast and archives.
It is located on the west side of Golden Gate Park south of John F Kennedy Dr between the Polo Field (about 32d Ave) and Highway 1 (Park Presidio Blvd). See details and a pdf map (2015 version) showing the stages.
Free Shakespeare In The Park, The Winters Tale, see details.
* 9/30/16, Friday, 10:00 am
Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, McClaren Park, San Francisco
* 9/24/16-10/2/16, Saturdays & Sundays, 2:00 pm
Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, McClaren Park, San Francisco
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.
Blue Angels Air Show, Fishermans Wharf & Marina area
Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10/7/16 – 10/9/16, 3 pm-4 pm, Free
On Friday-Sunday, the Fleet Week Air Show starts at 12 pm with several other aircraft performances and ends with the Blue Angels from 3 pm – 4 pm. See more about best places to watch the show.
San Francisco Fleet Week, Fishermans Wharf area
Friday-Sunday 10/7/16 – 10/9/16, Free
Fleet Week attracts more than a million visitors each year to see the parade of ships, ship tours and air show featuring the Blue angles. See more details .
Columbus Day Parade, Fishermans Wharf to Washington Square, Free
Sunday 10/9/16, Starts 12:30 pm, Free
The oldest Italian-American parade in America (est. 1869). Over 400,000 people attended last year so with Fleet Week going on simultaneously this will be one of the most crowded days of the SF year. The parade starts at Jefferson & Stockton Streets in Fishermans Wharf and moves up Columbus Avenue to Washington Square. See details.
Open Sunday Streets , Sundays, Free
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. There are also many street vendors and musicians.
* Open Streets Santa Cruz (10/9/16, 9am-2pm), 2 miles from Lighthouse Field State Beach to Natural Bridges State Beach.
* Sunday Streets Berkeley (10/16/16, 11am – 5pm), on Shattuck Ave centered at University Ave between Rose St. to Haste St. Shattuck Ave is located immediately east of UC Berkeley. See detailed activity guide with locations.
* SF Excelsior neighborhood (10/16/16, 11am – 4 pm), Mission St. south of Hwy 280.
* 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.
Renaissance Fair, Hollister, CA
Saturdays & Sundays only, 10 am-6 pm, 9/17/16-10/16/16, $28/day or $40/weekend pass.
History comes to life at this Hollister version of the Renaissance Fair. This is one of the best we’ve seen. Held at Casa de Fruta every Saturday and Sunday for a month in the fall. No pets are allowed. See more details.
Grand National Rodeo Cow Palace, Daly City
Fri-Sat 10/14/16-10/15/16 & 10/21/16-10/22/16, 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
Art & Pumpkin Festival, Half Moon Bay
Sat-Sun 10/15/16-10/16/16, 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.
Baseball World Series, on TV
10/25/16, 10/26/16, 10/28/16, 10/29/16
(and if necessary 10/30/16, 11/1/16, 11/2/16).
See Baseball Postseason Schedule (note: Shown in Eastern Time which is 3 hours ahead of Pacific Time).
USS Hornet Monster Ball Bash, USS Hornet Aircraft Museum, Alameda,
Saturday & Sunday nights 10/29/16-10/30/16, 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 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. This year on Friday 10/28/16 they are also holding a “Ship of Spirits dinner with a medium and flashlight tour. Call 510-521-8448 x211 for tickets & information on all events. 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.
- Picnic at the Presidio, Main Parade Ground, Presidio – Sundays, 11 am-4 pm. Off the Grid’s food vendors gather in this great venue. See details. (4/3/16-10/9/16)
- Twilight at the Presidio, Main Parade Ground, Presidio – Thursdays, 5 pm – 9 pm. Food vendors gather at the main post. See details. (5/12/16-10/6/16)
- Off The Grid at Fort Mason Center – Friday Nights through October, This is the largest food truck event in the U.S. with over 30 independent food vendors, music and considerable action. See details. (3/4/16-10/28/16)
- Yerba Buena Gardens Festival – Over 90 different events (music & shows) held various days of each week. (5/7/16-10/30/16)
- Stern Grove Concerts – Sundays, 2 pm. Free weekly world-class concerts. (starts 6/19/16-8/21/16)
- Golden Gate Park Band – Sundays, 1 pm-2:45 pm. Located at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park. See more details.
- Swing Dancing in the Park – Sundays, 11 am-2 pm. Free dancing & beginners lesson in Golden Gate Park. (year round)
- Free Summer Concerts on the Peninsula – Fridays, 6 pm – 8 pm, at the Foster City Lagoon (8/5/16-8/19/16) and in Redwood City.
- 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 Giants: See schedule. Season ends 10/4/16 against the Rockies.
- Major League Baseball Postseason Schedule (note: Shown in Eastern Time which is 3 hours ahead of Pacific Time). The World Series begins Tuesday 10/25/16 and continues through at least 10/29/16.
- Golden State Warriors: Preseason starts 10/1/16, regular season starts 10/25/16. See schedule for details.
- SF 49ers: 10/2/16, 10/6/16, 10/16/16, 10/23/16. See schedule for details.
- Stanford Football plays 9/30/16 (Washington), 10/8/16 (Washington State), 10/15/16 (Notre Dame), 10/22/16 (Colorado) and 10/29/16 (Arizona). See schedule for details..
- 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.
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!