Your Fall Bucket List for the Bay Area

|September 23, 2019

Fall in the Bay Area is one of our favorite seasons. We get to enjoy the bounty of wine country harvests, celebrate some of the year’s biggest and best events, and bask in the true summer weather of San Francisco—all with pumpkin patches and changing leaves as the backdrop. To make sure you celebrate in true Bay Area fashion, we compiled a fall bucket list showcasing the essential events, attractions, harvests and things to do this season in the Bay Area. 

For more autumn fun, check out 10 Colorful Places to See Fall Foliage Near San Francisco, The Essential Fall Events in the Bay Area for 2019, 15 Bay Area Haunted Houses to Visit this Halloween and Pumpkin Patches in the Bay Area [Interactive Map]

1. Travel to California’s wine country.

things to do fall San Francisco Bay Area

With its sweeping orchards and gorgeous mountain views, California’s wine country is one of the best places in the country to mix fall foliage with world-class food and drink. Each year from August through October, Napa and Sonoma come alive with the excitement and rush of harvest. To begin your wine country explorations, check out The 12 Most Beautiful Wineries in Sonoma County which highlights historic vineyards, jaw-dropping views, farm-to-table restaurants and even a few castle estates.

2. Go to the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival

One of the region’s most popular annual events, the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival kicks off the fall-themed celebrations in the Bay Area. For two days along the picturesque Pacific coast, families and friends can enjoy all the attractions of the World Pumpkin Capital, including Volkswagen-sized, champion pumpkins on display, artistic carvings, harvest-inspired crafts, live music, festive food and drink, the world’s largest mosaic pumpkin sculpture, a parade and so much more. 

To find more fall events throughout the Bay Area, check out The Essential Fall Events in the Bay Area for 2019

3. Check out Sonoma County Harvest Fair

things to do fall San Francisco Bay Area

Photo courtesy of Sonoma County Harvest Fair

Held every October for more than 40 years, the Sonoma County Harvest Fair showcases the county’s grand harvest, including world-class wines, award-winning beer and tons of world-class food. Events and attractions include a Home Brew Competition, the hilarious World Championship Grape Stomp and the Tasting Pavilion representing more than 100 Sonoma County wineries. For tickets and more details, click here

4. Explore San Francisco Botanical Garden

At the San Francisco Botanical Garden, you can see wildflowers bloom June through September and you can see some of the world’s richest fall color, too! When the colder weather finally settles into the city in early December, fall foliage shows its true colors throughout the gardens. Our favorite place to get a glimpse of the autumn hues is in the Moon Viewing Garden, a mild-temperate garden filled with plants from Japan. Be sure to stop by when fall color is at its peak November through December and follow the gardens on Instagram for the most current snapshots. 

5. Pick your own pumpkin at a local patch. 

things to do fall San Francisco Bay Area

In our guide and map, Pumpkin Patches in the Bay Area, we rounded up more than 10 local businesses from Silicon Valley, through the Peninsula, the East Bay and the city, and all the way into wine country where you can pick up a festive pumpkin. In addition to you-pick pumpkins, you can journey through corn mazes, travel on hayrides, and find some of the area’s best kid-friendly fall attractions. For more information, check out the guide here

6. Get haunted at California’s Great America

Open from late September and operating during weekends through November 2nd, Halloween Haunt is the Bay Area’s premier Halloween event featuring haunted mazes, live shows, scare zones and hundreds of monsters around every turn. From the original attractions of California’s Great America to the terrifying Chaos House, you won’t run out of things to do at the theme park this season. To learn more about all the haunted attractions, click here

And to find more haunted houses—both large and small—check out 15 Bay Area Haunted Houses to Visit this Halloween

7. Run the Golden Gate Half Marathon

Whether you choose the half marathon or the 5K distance, this annual race event offers a spectacular journey through the city. Including the scenic run across the Golden Gate Bridge, racers will run along the waterfront in the Presidio and the Marina all the way to the Health & Fitness Expo in Ghirardelli Square. For full details and online registration, click here.  

8. Don’t miss Fleet Week

Photo courtesy of The U.S. Navy Blue Angels

Held every year since 1981, Fleet Week honors the contributions of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces with a full week of shows, exhibitions and special events. Taking place between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, The San Francisco Fleet Week Air Show Presented by United is headlined by The U.S. Navy Blue Angels. It is the only air show in the United States with a commercial airliner, the United 777, to perform a fully choreographed act. For the complete details and schedule (including the Parade of Ships and the Veterans Art Exhibit!), click here

9. Go to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

The 19th Annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is returning to Golden Gate Park this October. The free festival brings more than 90 acts to the city playing on seven stages over three days! Follow the team on Facebook here for lineup updates and more.

To find more fall events throughout the Bay Area, check out The Essential Fall Events in the Bay Area for 2019

10. Eat pumpkin ice cream at Mitchell’s Ice Cream

things to do fall San Francisco Bay Area

Photo courtesy of Mitchell’s Ice Cream

Mitchell’s originally opened for business on June 6, 1953 in the Mission District serving 19 handmade flavors. Today, they’re still scooping some of the city’s best ice cream, including their famous seasonal flavor: Pumpkin made with pumpkin, brown sugar and seasonal spices. If you’re over all the pumpkin, you can also get Eggnog, Cinnamon Snap, Ginger Spice, Peppermint Candy and Spumoni seasonally through the fall and winter. 

11. Drink a local hard cider.

Cider—especially adult hard cider—brings all of our favorite fall characteristics together while showcasing one of the season’s best harvests. And when we can sip something made locally right here in the Bay Area, we love it even more! To help you track down the Bay Area’s best hard ciders—including wine cider blends and one pumpkin concoction—we rounded up the Bay’s most innovative brewers, fermenters and blenders in The 11 Best Hard Ciders Made in the Bay Area

Enjoy your fall! 

Do you have a favorite fall activity in the Bay Area? Tell us about it in the comments below! 

Category Community Guides, East Bay, East Bay, Local Events, Marin County, Marin County, Peninsula, Peninsula, San Francisco, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley, Wine Country, Wine Country

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McGuire Real Estate

McGuire Real Estate

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