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Fall in San Francisco

Summer Can be a Bummer, But Fall is Always a Ball!

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Fall in San Francisco
San Francisco Travel Associaton Photo
Although ignorance may be bliss, it sure doesn't look like it when you see those short and sandal clad tourists shivering in the fog and wind of a typical San Francisco summer. Savvy travelers know that fall is actually the best season to visit the city by the bay, and the sunny weather is just one of the reasons. Less tourists mean accommodation and tour deals as well as fewer crowds at all the sights and attractions, and the most of the city's arts organizations are just kicking off their new seasons.

San Francisco Fall Weather

Fall is when the fog finally burns off and the "Indian Summer" heatwave kicks in, bringing the city not only warm days but even a few select semi-balmy nights, something unheard of at other times of the year.

This is the time of year to enjoy alfresco dining at a waterfront restaurant, engage in some active outdoor pursuits and explore the city's eclectic neighborhoods on foot, as they are buzzing with local activity.

San Francisco Accommodations in the Fall

Fall sees a significant drop in tourism compared to the summer season meaning that many hotels slash prices and actively promote special offers. You can check and compare San Francisco hotel prices right here in our own Travel Center.

San Francisco Sightseeing in the Fall

Fall brings a steady drop off of tourism and that combined with good weather means that it is the best time of year to go sightseeing. Lines at hotspots like Alcatraz, the California Academy of Sciences and the San Francisco Musuem of Modern Art are much shorter then in the summer and those that purchase a San Francisco CityPass will get the most bang for their buck.

Parks and natural areas are spectacular in the fall but you wont see the kind of dramatic fall color changes you do in many parts of the country unless you visit the Botanical Garden or the Japanese Tea Gardens, both in Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco's Fall Cultural Calendar

Although the big weekend street parties of the summer have ended fall does host some of the city's more culturally interesting festivals including:
  • The San Francisco Jazz Festival: This three month long festival brings world famous names in jazz, including stars from Latin America and Europe to several different landmark San Francisco Venues.

  • Halloween: Although tamer then it once was when the Castro Neighborhood hosted an all out bash in its streets every year, which sadly ended in violence, Halloween is still one of San Francisco's best loved holidays - and it definitely aint just for the kids.

  • Oktoberfest: A truly cosmopolitan town, San Francisco would never let this famous German festival pass by without throwing its own party.

  • The Castro Street Fair: This street party often feels more summery than anything that happened all year as the streets of the Castro District fill up with revelers and live music stages all day long on the first Sunday in October.

  • Thanksgiving: Although more a city of single professionals then a family oriented town, San Francisco actually celebrates Thanksgiving in its truest sense in at least one place. Glide Memorial Church, which was featured in the Will Smith hit "In Pursuit of Happiness" organizes a massive feast for the city's homeless and less fortunate citizens, an effort that requires tons of volunteer support to pull off.

Fall is also the time of year when the Symphony, the Opera and the Ballet, all located in the Civic Center, begin again after taking the summer off giving visitors a chance to sample San Francisco's world class performing arts scene. Union Square's American Conservatory Theater (ACT), the largest and theater company on the West Coast, also begins their full production season in the fall.

Fall and the Food Scene in San Francisco

With many of San Francisco's top restaurants using local and organic ingredients, especially the vegetarian ones, fall brings the full bounty of California to the diners table.

This is also the best time of year to spend some serious time at one of the city's farmer's markets, including the massive Ferry Building Market and the more local feeling but still centrally located Civic Center Farmers Market.

Chinatown is also buzzing during the fall season as fresh foods pour in from both local farms and from across the mighty Pacific. Look for fresh American ginseng, which is grown in Wisconsin but is usually shipped directly to China, as it comes into season in the fall and all the shops along Stockton street sell it by the heap.

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