San Francisco events in October 2018 include sporting events, concerts, theater performances and tours. My top picks include Fleet Week, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and the SF Wharf Fest.
Other top events include Miss Saigon at the Orpheum Theater, Open Studios, and dozens of fun Halloween events.
October in San Francisco offers blue skies, sunshine, and fun events every weekend. You'll find the city's best weather during this season, so take some time to play outside.
Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.
Location: Fisherman's Wharf & waterfront
Join the crowds that come out to the waterfront every year for SF's Fleet Week to be wowed by the Blue Angels roaring by in formation just overhead. The Blue Angels will perform on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Festivities will kick off with the Parade of Ships and throughout the week you can watch airshow practices and tour military ships as well. It's by far the biggest of the San Francisco events in October.
at The Wharf
Dates: 10/9 - 11/4
Location: Orpheum Theatre
Tickets: On sale for all performances
The biggest theater performance this month is the revival of the Tony award winning musical, Miss Saigon. Based on the opera Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, this show is set in Vietnam during the the war in the 1970s.
It's an epic love story between an American solider and a young, local Vietnamese bargirl.
It originally opened on Broadway in 1991. The revival opened in 2017 on Broadway and is now traveling throughout the country. All shows are at the Orpheum Theatre.
On Your Feet (9/11 - 10/7): You will want to get on your feet with this new musical! It's the story of Emilio and Gloria Estafan's rise to fame. All shows are at the Golden Gate Theatre. Find tickets for all performances.
Waitress (10/15 - 11/11): One of my current favorites is Waitress. It's the story of a small town waitress that dreams of a better life. Her plan is to use her amazing pie making skills to get there. Find tickets for all performances.
Tickets: Find tickets to all shows
Going to the San Francisco Opera is an unforgettable experience. This month, you can catch a performance of Tosca, a Puccini classic set in Rome in the 1800s.
It's at a time when Napoleon is threatening to take over this Rome and includes murder, torture and suicide.
This 3-act opera is sung in Italian with English supertitles and lasts about 2 hours and 45 minutes with intermissions.
Head down to SF's beautiful waterfront for one of the top San Francisco events in October. This month, spend an hour or two on the water as you soak in the views around the SF Bay.
You will find more than a dozen cruises leaving SF daily. After leaving SF, many of them cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, near Sausalito, and around Alcatraz. Some include food and drinks, some include narration, and all offer an unforgettable experience.
Here are just a few of the most popular.
Sunset Sailing Cruise: This is one of the most popular cruises each month and one of my favorites in October. This 1.5 hour sunset catamaran cruise takes sail from Pier 39 nightly at 5:30pm this month. Make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes in advance. Find tickets for all dates.
Rocketboat: October is the last month of the season for this 30-minute high speed adventure. This isn't your normal cruise as you will twist and spin around in the water near Oracle Park (formerly AT&T Park) as you listen to rock and roll music. It runs Thursday - Sunday this month. Find tickets.
Golden Gate Whale Watch: This month, head out to the Pacific Ocean to search for migrating whales nearby. Whales typically in migration this month include Blue and Humpback whales. You will also get the chance to see dolphins, sea turtles, birds and a variety of other sea animals. These 2.5 hours cruises leave three times a day from Fisherman's Wharf. Check for ticket availability.
Are you planning to stay a night or two (or more!) as you enjoy these San Francisco events in October. If so, then make sure to check out the great deals below before booking your room. You will find top deals in Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square, and other top districts around SF.
This year is the 45th anniversary of the Castro Street Fair, which was started by Harvey Milk to celebrate the LGBT community and their supporters.
The all-day (11am-6pm) fair features gourmet food, live music on two stages, lots of dancing in the streets, and more.
Join in on the fun at Market and Castro Streets, in the heart of the colorful, lively Castro district. It's one of the most talked about San Francisco events in October every year!
Sunday Streets (10/14): Imagine the busy streets of San Francisco closed off to traffic and opened up to the public--families on foot and on bikes, walking and dancing--to the tune of free live music and other outdoor fun. This happens one Sunday a month from March to October, each time in a different neighborhood. This October, don't miss your chance to visit the Excelsior, a part of town a little off the beaten path, to join in on the festivities. Find out more about this monthly event
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (10/5 - 10/7): Don't miss the 18th year of this huge free bluegrass festival. For three days, several stages in Golden Gate Park will feature the biggest names in the genre. Pack your own refreshments for a picnic in the park, or check out the more than 50 gourmet food and beverage vendors, in addition to the great music. Find out who's playing this year and how to get there
Litquake (10/11 - 10/20): Every year, SF's longest running literary festival brings light to great reads and the world of literature through a variety of venues, including churches, bookstores, and even popular bars. For over a week, you get to engage with authors, participate in workshops, attend panel discussions and groups readings, and more. Check out the full schedule of events and locations
San Francisco Wharf Fest (10/20): Head over to Fisherman's Wharf on Saturday, October 21 for this annual street festival. Get into the San Francisco spirit with the Chowder Tasting Competition, live music, and great views of the bay. It's one of the free San Francisco events in October. Get more information for this year's event.
Potrero Hill Festival (10/20): If you're looking for a fun weekend activity for the whole family, head over to the Potrero Hill Festival on 20th Street between Missouri and Wisconsin. On a beautiful fall day, this is the perfect place to enjoy two stages of live entertainment, food stalls, bouncy houses, a petting zoo, and more. In addition, you'll find arts and crafts for sale as well as information from various non-profit organizations. This event is in its 29th year and typically attracts more than 6,000 visitors. Get all the details for this fun family event
Fiesta On the Hill (10/28): Head over to the Bernal Heights district for this year's Fiesta on the Hill. This family-friendly event will feature live music, dancing, food trucks, and family activities. The event takes place on Cortland Avenue. Learn more.
Fall Art & Antiques Show (10/10 - 10/14): If you have an appreciation for fine art and unique antique pieces, you'll love this large annual event at the Fort Mason Center. The show opens with a preview gala on October 10, followed by four days of viewing and buying beautiful pieces. Find out more on the organization's website.
One of the best ways to explore San Francisco is on a Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. These narrated bus tours offer you the chance to hop on and off at any of there more than two dozen stops.
Top stops include Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park. Other top options include stops at the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square, the Palace of Fine Arts, and Union Square. Each company offers a slightly different tour, but all allow you to quickly cruise around SF from one top attraction to the next.
Here are a two of my top picks.
City Sightseeing: They offer 1-, 2-, and 3-day tours that allow you to see as much as possible. You can also combine it with their Mega Pass for discounts on top SF attractions. Visit their site for details.
BigBus San Francisco: This is another popular company with 1- and 2-day tours. They also have some great combo tours. Visit their site for details.
In addition to these fun Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours, you will also find some other great city bus tours. Here are a few of my top recommendations.
Goldstar offers great deals on tickets to San Francisco tours, events, and theater performances. You can pick up most of them at almost 50% off the full retail cost. The list below are just some of their top offers this month. Click the links to learn more and find additional details for fun San Francisco events in October.
*Small service fee at checkout.
Location: S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien on Pier 45 in Fisherman's Wharf
If you enjoy artisanal brews and Saturday afternoons soaking in a sea breeze with great views, you won't want to miss this unique beer festival.
This popular craft brew tasting features over 60 beers on tap, and you'll have the opportunity to mingle with the brewers and ask them questions.
There will also be gourmet food trucks on hand. The event is held aboard the historic S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien, a ship that served in WWII and is now docked at Pier 45 in Fisherman's Wharf.
Location: Fisherman's Wharf to Washington Square in North Beach
San Francisco is home to the country's oldest Italian American Parade, which takes place every year as part of the Columbus Day celebration.
Follow the parade of floats, bands, and traditional Italian musicians from Fisherman's Wharf to the heart of North Beach (SF's Little Italy), where it will conclude at a small festival in Washington Square Park.
It's one of the top family-friendly San Francisco events in October.
Dates: 10/8, 10/16, 10/22, 10/24, & 10/31
Tickets: On sale for all dates
Location: Oracle Arena in Oakland
Catch the Golden State Warriors in pre-season and season play this October.
They play just over the SF Bay in Oakland and a game at their home arena is a must for all basketball lovers.
They play around a half dozen games this month at home.
Their tickets sell out early, so don't miss your chance to see one of our top sports teams from around the SF Bay.
In addition to Golden State Warriors basketball, you can also head south for some NHL hockey. Our San Jose Sharks start play this month also and offer about a half dozen home games this month.
They play about an hour south of SF and the SAP Center offers easy access from locations all around the SF Bay.
Date: 10/12 from 6pm to 9pm
Location: Firehouse Building at the Fort Mason Center
Tickets: On sale now
Enjoy top wines from Northern California wine country at Taste West Sonoma.
Thirteen small production wineries will be in attendance this year. They include Claypool Cellars, DRNK Wines, Dutton Estate Winery, Emeritus Vineyards, Friedeman Wines, Furthermore Wines, Halleck Vineyard, Hartford Family Winery, Iron Horse Vineyards, Joseph Jewell MacPhail Wines, Marimar Estate Winery, Martin Ray Winery, and Red Car Wine.
Sticky Business BBQ will also be on hand to serve up their tasty treats (additional cost). Tickets are on sale now and run from $42 to $48 per person.
Though short in length, short films can be quite powerful and profound.
Over the course of three days, the SF Shorts Festival offers six different programs of films from 17 countries, each set revolving around a different theme, for example: "being fearless in discovery," "the push and pull of passion, obsession, and desire," and "our impact on others."
Catch the screenings at the Roxie Theater in the Mission District.
Arab Film Festival (10/12-10/21): This year's Bay Area Arab Film Festival will host screenings in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and Palo Alto. For over a week, you will have the chance to catch a glimpse of Arab culture not often seen on mainstream TV, movies, or the news. Delve into these stories brought to you by Arab filmmakers, representing the complexity of Arab communities around the world. Get more information about the festival and scheduled films.
SF Dance Film Festival (10/11 - 10/14): Love dance and film? This three-day event is the perfect combination. Come to the Brava Theater Center for screenings of short dance pieces designed especially for the big screen, documentaries about the art, and features on dancers and choreographers. It's one of the top San Francisco events in October. Click here for Dance Film Festival details
United Nations Association Film Festival (10/18 - 10/28): Each year, the UNAFF features a selection of over 60 documentary films about important issues from all over the world. The theme for this year's festival is Compass for a Better World. Screenings will take place in SF, East Palo Alto, and Stanford University. More information on this year's event.
This time of year, you will find both regions buzzing with last minute harvest activities. You can also get some great pictures of those last bundles of fully ripe grapes on the vines.
I love heading up on one of these tours as I don't have to worry about driving back to SF. It makes it a great way to do some tasting and not have to think about getting back to San Francisco afterwards.
In addition, you will learn quite a bit about one or both regions from your knowledgeable guide.
Here are a few of my top picks this month.
Sonoma & Napa Wine Country Tour: This full day tour takes you to three wineries. It leaves SF at 9am daily. You will also have an hour for lunch on your own, so you can enjoy a tasty meal or do a little more tasting on your own. Check for ticket availability in October.
Half-Day Tour: Are you crunched for time? If so, then this highlight tour might be the best option for you. On this 5-hour tour, you will stop at two wineries for tastings. The tasting fee for the first is included and you will need to pay for the second tasting. It's a great way for a quick look at these amazing wine regions. Find tickets for this October.
Small Group Boutique Wine Tasting Tour: If you prefer to check out a few places that are off the beaten path, then check out this small group tour. You will stop at three hand selected wineries in Sonoma with no more than 12 other people (tastings included). You will also get some time on your own for lunch and live narration from your local guide. Find out more about this tour.
Dates: 10/13 - 11/11
Open Studios runs all month long, so you can take your time getting to know over 800 artists and their work all over the city.
Each weekend will feature different districts, where you can wander in and out of the studios in that area to chat with the artists and purchase pieces on display.
This one of the unique San Francisco events in October that gives you the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the art scene in SF.
Head out to the Inner Sunset for their final Sunday Flea Market of 2018. This community event includes locally crafted goodies, a fun children's activity zone, and music all afternoon long.
You can also enjoy food from Grilled Cheez Guy and Le Punkies Kettle Corn or any of the local restaurants near the market.
The big event is the lunch at 12:30pm. Grab something when you arrive or bring your own lunch and enjoy it with the community.
This free event is held from 10am to 4pm on Irving Street between 9th and 10th Avenues on Sunday 10/14.
Date: 10/7 & 10/21
Location: Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara
Tickets: Find tickets for all games
Get in on the action at Levi's Stadium, as the San Francisco 49ers play their fifth season in Santa Clara, just an hour south of the city.
This month, the 49ers have two home games.
The first is on 10/7 against the Arizona Cardinals. Their second game is on 10/21 against the Los Angeles Rams. Go Niners!
Oakland Raiders: In addition to the SF 49ers, you can also catch a game across the bay in Oakland. The Raiders take on the Indianapolis Colts on 10/28. Their games are played at the Oakland Coliseum. Find out more about this game.
College Football: Both the Cal Bears and Stanford also have games this month in the SF Bay Area. The Cal Bears play in Berkeley which is about an hour north east of SF. Stanford plays down south about 45 minutes away from SF.
Dates: 10/13, 10/20 & 10/27
Have you ever wanted to see sharks up close? Just off the coast of San Francisco, the Farallon Islands are world-famous for being the winter home and feeding ground to some of the largest (15- to 20-foot) great whites.
Get in a cage to see this underwater world in all its glory, or watch from the deck as sharks come up to feed on seals.
No dive experience is necessary to enjoy this tour and it's one of the most thrilling San Francisco events in October on my list!
Dates: Various dates in October
SF boasts a number of world-renowned museums, but visiting all of them can be pricey.
Luckily, each month there are several free admission days!
This will give you the chance to see the Asian Art Museum, the Conservatory of Flowers, the de Young, Legion of Honor, and more at no cost to you! These free admissions include access to these museums' permanent collections and you will need to pay extra for any special exhibits.
Make sure to arrive early as they are some of the most popular San Francisco events in October.
Spend an hour or two admiring some of the best Coastal Redwoods in the SF Bay Area at Muir Woods. This national park is home to trees that are hundreds of years old. They estimate the oldest tree could be as old as 1,000 years!
The best way to get there is on a guided tour. These tours will do the driving for you and drop you off at the entrance. You will then have time on your own to explore and learn more about these amazing trees. None include admission tickets into the park.
Here are a couple of the best options.
Muir Woods & Sausalito: This half-day tour offers you the chance to see the park and also visit the lovely seaside village of Sausalito. You will get about an hour at the park to explore on your own. They will then take you to Sausalito where you will have about an hour. You can then either return to SF on the tour or you can pick up a ferry ticket and head back on your own time. It leaves twice a day from SF. Find tickets for this October.
Muir Woods & Wine Country: This full day tour includes a visit to Muir Woods as well as a half day visit to Northern California wine country. You will have about an hour in Muir Woods. You will then head north and stop at 2 wineries for tasting. You will also have some time on your own for lunch. Tasting fees are included, but entrance to Muir Woods is not. Find tickets for this October.
If you're looking for a lighthearted night of comedy, you'll find plenty of shows in San Francisco almost every night of the week.
These shows include famous stand-up comedians, local stars, improv troupes, and comic musicals like the SF favorite Beach Blanket Babylon.
These are a few of the top shows this month. Click the links for ticketing details
10/13: Patton Oswalt at the Nob Hill Masonic Center
10/14: Franco Escamilla at the Warfield
Location: Davies Symphony Hall
The world renowned San Francisco Symphony offers more than one hundred events each year, and people from all over come to the elegant Davies Symphony Hall to see their most anticipated San Francisco events in October.
This month, you can enjoy the SF Symphony Plays Dvorak and Prokofiev (10/11-10/13), Pablo Heras-Casado Conducts Bolero (10/18-10/20), and SF Symphony Plays Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier (10/25-10/27).
Every day, the SF Public Library offers free walking tours of different parts of the city. They are intimate, informative, and best of all, completely free!
In addition, many are designed around a theme, such as Downtown Deco or Gold Rush City.
Every month in San Francisco, several venues offer great concerts by artists from all over the country and globe.
You will find top shows at venues such as the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the Masonic Center, and the Fillmore.
These are just a few of the top San Francisco events in October at local concert venues. Click the links for information on tickets to each show.
10/6: Seven Lions at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
10/8: Sting and Shaggy at the Nob Hill Masonic Center
10/20 - 10/21: Arctic Monkeys at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
10/31: 88 Degrees & Rising Tour: Rich Brian, Joji, Keith Ape, & Higher Brothers at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
In addition to these San Francisco events in October, you will also find dozens of amazing concerts throughout the Bay Area. These are just some of the top shows this month. Click the links for ticketing details.
10/2: Childish Gambino with Vince Staples at the SAP Center in San Jose
10/5: Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne & LANCO at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View
10/6: Interpol, The Kills & Sunflower Bean at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley
10/26, 10/27 & 10/30: Drake with Migos at Oracle Arena in Oakland
Dates: Any day in October
SF's colorful Haight Ashbury district, home of the famous 1968 Summer of Love, has a lot more to offer than just hippie vibes, although you'll find plenty of that there.
Start your day taking in views from the park, get some good eats, admire the street art, lose yourself in old records and vintage clothing, and more.
It's a great way to really see this amazing district as you check out some of our top San Francisco events in October too!
Here are a few additional suggested itineraries for your stay.
San Francisco has a wealth of interesting, beautiful, and diverse museums, offering fascinating exhibits throughout the year.
Here are a few of the top exhibits at our local museums.
Asian Art Museum: Painting Is My Everything, Art from India's Mithila Region
de Young Fine Arts Museum: Fans of the Eighteenth Century
SF Museum of Modern Art: Between Two Worlds, Art of California
This year, Halloween falls on a Wednesday. You will find plenty of activities the day of the holiday as well as on the Saturday and Sunday before or after.
My insider's guide will include the best options for all dates and some of the biggest San Francisco events in October.
Are you looking for additional fun things to do during your visit? If so, then check out my full list of the best things to do this month in SF. It includes the top cruises, tours, and other activities.
Are you unsure of what you will need to pack for your stay in October? My guide to the weather in October is just what you need to prepare. It includes information on what to expect from the weather throughout each day and the month.