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Why You Should Go to San Francisco This Fall

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The Ferry Building will be home to the Fog City Flea this fall.

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The Ferry Building will be home to the Fog City Flea this fall.

September and October are often the warmest months to visit San Francisco. Book a trip for this fall to take advantage of the good weather—and these exciting seasonal events.

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Unlike nearly every other city in the world, summer is typically the coldest time of year to visit San Francisco. But once the fog rolls out, the city enjoys idyllic weather that hovers in the high 70s and low 80s most days throughout September and October. And now that construction delays at SFO and cable car closures due to repair work are both officially over, it’s time to plan a trip to hike the new 17-mile Crosstown Trail, have a drink at San Francisco’s best rooftop bars, or splurge on a Michelin-star restaurant. While you’re there, don’t miss these exciting events, art exhibits, and restaurant openings, which are happening this fall in San Francisco.

Listen to (free!) music in Golden Gate Park

The 19th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival takes place in Golden Gate Park from October 4 to 6, 2019. The three-day festival is free for concertgoers and features acts including Kurt Vile and the Violators, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and Emmylou Harris. Food and drinks will be on sale with pizza from A16, burgers from Barrett’s Burgers, and dumplings from Bling Bling Dumpling.

Get an early start on holiday shopping at the Ferry Building

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Each Sunday from now until November 17, 2019, the Fog City Flea will pop up at the Ferry Building from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The flea will feature more than 50 booths from local makers selling handmade jewelry, housewares, apothecary items, and vintage goods. So whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir to bring home for yourself or want to finish your holiday shopping extra early this year, this is the place to go this fall.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels' aerial skills are on display during San Francisco Fleet Week.
Keep your eyes to the sky

What began in 1981 as a celebration of U.S. sea services, San Francisco Fleet Week now features one of the most scenic air shows to watch in the States. This year, the annual San Francisco Fleet Week Air Show will take place each day between October 11 and 13, 2019, along the waterfront between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. While nearly a dozen different flight teams will be performing each day, the highlight is the aerial acrobatics performed by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels as they zoom around and over the city. Don’t miss the United 777 flyby during the event either—this is the only air show in the United States to feature a fully choreographed act with a commercial airliner. Tickets for the best views are on sale at fleetweeksf.org.

Dine at Kin Khao’s new sister restaurant in Japantown

Fans of chef Pim Techamuanvivit’s Michelin-starred Thai food at Kin Khao will want to make a reservation at her newest restaurant in San Francisco. Nari opened at the tail end of summer at Japantown’s Hotel Kabuki. Named after the Thai word for “women,” Nari is a love letter to women in Techamuanvivit’s life who taught her how to cook. Go with a group and order one of the large-format punches like the bai toey (coconut rum, yellow chartreuse, lime cordial, and pandan) and follow it up with a feast of spicy Monterey Bay squid and sticky pork jowl, gaeng ranjuan (a funky, spicy beef soup), and massaman gae (lamb shank curry with nectarines and grilled onions).

One of the featured works of art from “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” at the de Young Museum.
See a wide variety of art exhibits across the Bay

The San Francisco Bay Area’s museums always offer a great mix of art to see, but there’s a particularly eclectic lineup of special exhibits coming this fall. Over in the East Bay, the traveling exhibition of art installations from Burning Man called No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man makes its final stop at the Oakland Museum of California from October 12, 2019, to February 16, 2020.

Beginning its run on the same day, the Legion of Honor welcomes the West Coast debut and first international exhibition of the 19th-century French painter James Tissot in 20 years. James Tissot: Fashion & Faith runs from October 12, 2019, to February 9, 2020, in partnership with the Musées d’Orsay and l’Orangerie in Paris.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power will open later in the fall on November 9, 2019, and run through March 22, 2020, at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. Featuring work made by African American artists between 1963 and 1983, the exhibit looks at race and identity in the United States and the role that artists played in society then and today. 

For a closer look at the de Young Museum’s collections, AFAR’s trusted travel partner, Context, offers Art in the Park: de Young Museum, a private tour of the museum and the nearby Osher Sculpture Garden and Japanese Tea Garden led by a local art historian, artist, or curator.

>> Next: Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to San Francisco

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