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 recently past events.
JANUARY 2017 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends
January is a great time of the year for watching football on TV. The mild weather around San Francisco Bay also makes it a excellent time to visit sights that are crowded during other months. For example, Fisherman’s Wharf is good to check out this time of year because it’s not overloaded with tourists; Pier 39 has some 50% off deals for locals December-January. Check out the many links on this hiddenSF site for more ideas.
- NFC & AFC Championship Games: Sunday 1/22/16 12:05 pm and 3:40 pm
- Superbowl: Sunday 2/5/17 (3:30 pm)
Golden State Warriors Basketball
(on national TV, in bold below, and on CSN local cable TV)
1/16 5 pm vs Cavaliers, 1/18 7:30 pm, 1/20 5 pm, 1/22, 1/23, 1/25 5 pm, 1/28 5:30 pm, 1/29, 2/2 7:30 pm.
The current Warriors basketball team is one of the best in the history of the game; they are #1 in every current NBA category except for rebounding #6 (look near top of schedule for current ranks). Their 3-point shooting, passing and defense is much more fun to see than just watching big men beat each other up under the basket. See the full Warriors schedule or, for TV cord cutters like me, see the NBA TV schedule on TNT, ESPN & ABC. Also note that the Warriors are on a new radio station this year, 95.7 FM in SF and 93.5 FM in San Jose.
Breeding Elephant Seal Tour, Ano Nuevo State Park, 27 miles south of Half Moon Bay
12/15/14 – 3/31/15, $7 Admission
See 2-1/2 ton, 16 foot long elephant seal bulls skirmish for dominance during breeding season when thousands of seals and sea lions gather for a 3-month orgy of fighting, mating, and birthing. The only way to see this unique natural phenomenon is via naturalist-led tour which takes about 2.5 hours and is 3 miles long.
The season is busiest between January 15th & February 15th. Tour tickets sell out early so advance reservations are definitely recommended. The season is busiest between January 15th & February 15th. See more details.
Gray Whale Migration Season, Numerous locations along the Pacific coast
12/20/16 – 5/31/17, Paid boat tours or Free from shore
Watch some 20,000 gray whales migrating from the Arctic to Baja, Mexico. Tour boats leave San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Moss Landing and Monterey during this season. Or, watch them from on shore. See more details.
Mavericks Big Wave Surf Contest, Pillar Point Harbor, Princeton-By-The-Sea
Sometime between 11/1/16 – 3/31/17 on 24 hour notice
The top 24 surfers in the world will soon tackle some of its biggest most dangerous waves right here at Mavericks. However, the exact date is unknown since competitors must wait for the surf to be massive before they are given notice to get here. We will let you know, in red, right here when the event is scheduled to start.
Audubon Walk, Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, Pescadero
First Sunday 1/1/17 10 am and third Sunday 1/15/17 1 pm of every month, Free
This is a nice change from watching sports on TV! This pleasant low key 2-hour docent-guided walk in Pescadero Marsh is less than 2 miles long and children can join as well (definitely no dogs however).
On New Years Day 2015 we went and saw a kingfisher bird along with the normal array of herons, coots, etc. Then we walked Pescadero Beach and snacked at our favorite little town, Pescadero, afterwards.
The docents give two such walks every month, the first & third Sunday or you can go on your own. See Sequoia Audubon walk details.
Martin Luther King Day, Monday 1/16/17
- Chinese New Year Procession: Saturday 1/21/17 10:30 am. A much smaller version of the big parade which will be held 2/11/17.
- Flower Market Fair: Saturday-Sunday 1/21 & 1/22/17 Traditional food & Chinese entertainment on stage. Not too exciting but a good excuse to visit Chinatown.
- Chinese New Year Day: Saturday 1/28/17. No events are scheduled.
- Chinese New Year Parade: Saturday 2/11/17 5:15 pm-8 pm.
Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show Cow Palace, Daly City
Saturday-Sunday 1/28/17-1/29/17, 7:00 am-9 pm, Admission $15
If you want a dog, have a dog or just like dogs this is the big local show you don’t want to miss. It is the oldest major dog event in Northern California and one of the most prestigious in the U.S. with almost 2,000 dogs of more than 150 different breeds. This is a benched show, which is fairly rare, which means you can walk around and talk with the breeders and see (& pet sometimes) their animals at their benches between events. We like the wandering around and seeing dogs up close & personal much more than like the judging events. Check see details.
By the way, if you already have a dog check out our extensive page on best dog walks & parks in the SF Bay area. Almost all of these walks are good for humans too, even if you don’t have a dog.
- 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 January – Other
- Sports All month, many Bay Area locations or on TV, Admission.
- Golden State Warriors: 1/12 7:30 pm, 1/16 5 pm, 1/18 7:30 pm, 1/20 5 pm, 1/22, 1/23, 1/25 5 pm, 1/28 5:30 pm, 1/29, 2/2 7:30 pm. See full schedule (or national TV NBA schedule for the dates shown in bold). Also note that the Warriors are on a new radio station this year, 95.7 FM in SF plus 93.5 FM in San Jose.
- Pro Hockey: San Jose Sharks: See schedule.
- College Sports of all types are in full swing as usual. 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.
FEBRUARY 2017 — SF Bay Area Events & Weekends
The mild weather in February is quite pleasant for inland activities that sometimes get quite hot during other months … such as visiting Historic Niles or Old Mission San Jose in Fremont, Hollister, or, walking the flat manicured Bay trails around Foster City and Redwood Shores.
SF Giants – KNBR 680 Fan Fest, AT&T Ball Park
Saturday 2/11/17, 10 am- 3 pm, Free
The World Champion Giants baseball team will personally meet & greet some 40,000 fans at the annual pre-season fan fest. This is a way to get on the baseball field, watch players answer questions asked by the fans, and get autographs (at 6 autograph booths if you want to stand in a long line). Fan fest can also be watched on line at sfgiants.com. See more details about fan fest or listen to Radio KNBR 680 which is co-sponsoring the event.
Chinese New Year Parade, Chinatown along Kearny Street (between Market St & Columbus Ave)
Saturday 2/11/17, 5:15 pm-8:00 pm, Free
Gung Hay Fat Choy (Best wishes and congratulations. Have a prosperous and good year)! This parade is a historical tradition starting in the 1860s and has been named one of the top ten Parades in the world. Now some 500,000 spectators watch it in person along with another 3 million TV viewers (that’s us because parade day is almost always cold & rainy). Getting there earlier than 4:30 pm (it is very crowded) via public transportation (parking is tough) is recommended. See www.chineseparade.com for details including exact route.
Chinese Community Street Fair, Chinatown
Saturday 2/11/17, 10 am-4:30 pm, Sunday 2/12/17, 9 am-5 pm, Free
The street fair will be located along Grant Ave from Clay St. to Broadway, Pacific Ave. from Stockton to Kearny. It was not that exciting last year but is a good excuse to visit Chinatown and has traditional Chinese entertainment such as lion dancing on stage. See details and Chinatown map.
FREE Sunday at the Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park
Sunday, 2/26/17, 11 am-5 pm
All guests get FREE admission one Sunday every quarter. Get there early because you can expect crowds. It’s a 400,000 sf world-class science exhibit including an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and a four-story rain forest. See more details.
Tulipmania, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf
Saturday 2/11/17– Sunday 2/19/17
This is a good time of year to visit Fisherman’s Wharf … it’s not so crowded with tourists. 39,000 blooming flowers may give you a good excuse to visit Pier 39. See Tulipmania.
Visit Fremont? This is a good time of year!
We like visiting the lower East Bay in the winter because summers can get quite hot. Here are some excellent places worth checking out: Coyote Hills Park, the Alameda Creek Trails and old town Niles. The Niles Canyon Railway starts up again in February for two Sundays/month.
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!