Things to Do in San Francisco in September: 50+ Fun Ideas 

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: April 6, 2023

Things to do in San Francisco in September include free festivals, SF Giants baseball, and cruises around the bay. It's also a fun time of year to enjoy a concert, head out on a walking tour, and visit our top museums.

Throughout the month, you will find several theater, symphony, and opera shows. You can also head out on one of my self-guided walking tours or head north to visit wine country.

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Cruising around the SF Bay in September.

September Events Calendar

Ghirardelli Chocolate

The September events calendar in San Francisco is full of fun things to do. The biggest events this month include SF Giants Baseball games and theater performances.

In addition, you can enjoy free Comedy Day in Golden Gate Park, Shakespeare in the Park, and the SF Improv Fest.

Labor Day weekend activities include concerts, fun cruises, and the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. You can also enjoy some free walking tours or head out on a special holiday cruise.

>> Find a full list of events this September in San Francisco

Cruise Around the SF Bay

Cruises around the Bay

One of the best things to do in San Francisco in September is to cruise around the bay. Each day, you will find more than a dozen cruises leaving the Fisherman's Wharf district. 

The most popular is the SF Bay cruise. This 60-minute boat ride around the bay offers you the chance to see all of the waterfront attractions. You will ride past the Palace of Fine Arts, Sausalito, and Alcatraz.

You will even cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge - twice! Click here to read more about this cruise. Find tickets in advance.

September is a fun time to go whale watching. The whales migrating in the nearby Pacific Ocean waters include Humpbacks and Blues. On these tours, you also get the chance to see dolphins, turtles, and other sea creatures. Click here to read more

The Bridge to Bridge cruise is another fun option. This cruise is similar to the Bay Cruise but includes an additional 30 minutes. In this additional time, you will cruise over to and under the Bay Bridge. Click here for more details

>> Find more on these and other top cruises around the bay

Explore San Francisco on a Tour

Alcatraz Details on their Map

Another one of the top things to do in San Francisco in September is to take a tour. The most popular is a trip to Alcatraz Island.

A visit to the island includes a self-guided audio walking tour along with time to explore the island on your own. Your trip starts with a ferry ride over and walk up a hill that is equal to about 13 stories. From there, you will enjoy your audio tour which lasts around an hour.

After you are done exploring on your own, you can catch any ferry back to San Francisco. Click here to learn more about booking your tour to Alcatraz.

You can also explore San Francisco on a bike tour. The most popular is the biking tour across the Golden Gate Bridge and on to Sausalito. Other tours options include one that stops at breweries and others that explore certain top districts. Click here for a full list of bike tours.

My final tour recommendation for September is the helicopter tour. This month is the best time to go on this tour as it's clear and sunny most days in September. This gives you the opportunity to see all of the top sights from the air for an experience of a lifetime. Click here for more details on this tour. You can also visit GetYourGuide to book your helicopter tour today.

>> Find additional tours around SF here

More Fun Tours Around SF

Attend a Theater, Opera, or Symphony Performance

Theater, Opera or Symphony

If you enjoy cultural events, you will love the variety of options in San Francisco. In the month of September, you can catch a theater, opera, or symphony performance.

The SF theater calendar often includes at least one large Broadway show such as The Lion King or Wicked. In addition, there are always dozens of smaller productions at theaters all around town. Click here for this month's theater calendar.

The SF Opera also offers several performances this month. There are usually at least two shows in September including classic hits such as Madame Butterfly and Carmen. Click here to find out what's on the schedule this month in SF.

There are more than a dozen SF Symphony performances every September. All shows are in the Civic Center District at Davies Symphony Hall. Click here for a schedule of this month's performances.

Head Out on a Day Trip

Muir Woods

One of the reasons I love San Francisco is that we are only a few hours away from so many wonderful places.

In September, I always enjoy heading north to wine country. Just north of SF, you will find two large regions: Napa Valley and Sonoma County.

Both are home to almost 400 wineries and most invite visitors to their tasting rooms. You can either head up on your own or join a guided tour (and let someone else drive!).

Muir Woods is a small forest where you can see hundreds of Coastal Redwoods. Some of these enormous trees are more than 1,000 years old. Click here for pictures and to learn more about visiting. Find additional redwood forests to visit near SF.

If you prefer a quick trip, you can catch a ferry over to Sausalito. It takes about 30 to 35 minutes to get here and the ride over is gorgeous. Once you arrive, head downtown for some shopping, tasty seafood dishes, and great views of San Francisco. Click here for more details.

>> Find additional day trips here 

You Might Also Like these Day Trips from SF

Free Things to Do in San Francisco in September

Golden Gate Bridge

There are a variety of free things to do in San Francisco in September. They include walking tours, attractions, and events.

Every day of the week, you will find up to 10 free walking tours offered by SF City Guides. They include walks on the Golden Gate Bridge, strolls through Chinatown, and cruises through North Beach.

The knowledgeable volunteers that give the tours will tell you everything you need to know about each topic. It's a fun way to learn all about SF. Click here for more details.

Many of SF's most talked about attractions are free to visit too. These include the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and the Palace of Fine Arts. Click here for a list of my 10 favorite free attractions.

Finally, you will find many free events in San Francisco this September. They include Comedy Day, and Shakespeare in the Park. Click here for a list of more free events this month in SF.

>> Find even more free things to do this month here

>> More free things to do in SF while you are here

Spend Some Fun Time with Your Kids


If you are traveling with your kids, you will love all of the fun activities that are great for the entire family. You can head out to the Zoo or spend the day tinkering at the Exploratorium.

A bay cruise is also one of the fun things to do in San Francisco in September with your family. Other ideas include heading to one of this month's festivals, visiting the Aquarium of the Bay, or heading to the top of Coit Tower to see the views of SF from above.

You will also want to spend some time at the California Academy of Sciences or the Children's Museum in downtown SF.

>> Find a list of the best things to do with kids in SF

Admire Top Museum Exhibits

Museum Exhibit at the Disney Museum

You will find a wide variety of museums in San Francisco. They include top contemporary art museums to living museums with plants and flowers from around the world.

One of the best things to do in San Francisco in September is to visit the de Young Museum. This fine arts museum features collections from around the world.

Some of my favorites are the pieces from Pre-Columbian America. I also love the collection in the Art of Oceania. Click here for pictures and visiting details.

Another fine art museum in San Francisco is the Legion of Honor. It features thousands of ancient and European fine art pieces. This is where you will find pieces from famous artists such as Rodin, Picasso, and Monet. Click here for more details.

My final recommendation this month is the Disney Museum. This wonderful place takes you through the life and times of Walt Disney. Inside, you will see rare original pieces of Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio, and Snow White and the Dwarfs. They also show a classic Disney film every day. Click here for details on visiting.

>> Find additional museums to visit this month

Visit Top Attractions

Alamo Square Painted Ladies

While you are here, I'm sure you will spend time at our top attractions. The three most popular are Pier 39, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge. You will find so many other great options too.

This month, I recommend heading over to visit the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square. These historic Victorians all line up in a row and are a wonderful site to see.

If you head up the hill on Hayes, your view will include the city of downtown with the Painted Ladies in front. It's a classic shot of SF. Click here for photos and to learn more about visiting.

Another recommendation this month is to stop by Fort Point. This old military building is right under the southern side of the Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, they redesigned the bridge in order to allow for this building to remain intact. It's free to visit and you will learn all about its history. Click here for details.

The final recommendation this month is to check out SF's mosaic staircases. We have a few of them and they are so colorful. The most famous is the set on 16th Avenue, but many people don't know there is another set just a few blocks away. Click here for pictures and details on where to find SF's mosaic steps.

>> Find information on all of SF's top attractions 

Spend the Night at a Top Hotel

Do you still need a place to stay during your visit in September? You will find more than 300 options all around town. The most popular places to stay are Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf. Find my recommendations for these places and others below.

If you have already selected your hotel, but haven't booked, then find some great deals on TripAdvisor and by clicking the links below.

BookingFind great deals all around San Francisco for your upcoming stay

TripAdvisorWhat's the #1 hotel in San Francisco? Read reviews & find hotel deals on TripAdvisor!

VRBO: In addition to hotels, you'll also find some great places to stay locally through VRBO. Book an apartment or a room and feel more like a local. Find some great places to stay on VRBO here

Go Out for a Night on the Town


If you love to spend your evening out on the town, you will find so many fun things to do in San Francisco in September. 

Live music lovers will find a lot of great venues both large and small. Click here to check out the September concert calendar. On this page, you will also find some wonderful shows at top venues all around the Bay Area.

You will find some amazing comedy clubs here too. They draw in well-known comedians from all around the world. There are also some great Improv routines and several other funny shows. Click here for this month's calendar.

If you love dancing, check out some of SF's top clubs. They offer a variety of music options from top hits to favorites from the 80s. Click here for some of my recommendations

>> Discover additional nightlife options in SF

Savor SF's Culinary Scene

Mediterranean Dish

Some people travel to San Francisco just to sample dishes from our amazing restaurants. At any given time, there are around 3,500 restaurants open in SF.

My first recommendation in September is to check out some of our French restaurants. They offer traditional French cuisines and desserts.

You will find extensive French wine lists at many of these too. In addition, some include top local wines from Napa and/or Sonoma County. Click here for a list of my favorites.

We also have some amazing Mediterranean restaurants. They range from simple casual places to fancy places offering a variety of dishes. Click here for a list of my favorite Mediterranean places.

My final recommendation this month is for our steak houses. San Francisco is home to several high-end steak houses with top of the line meats and tasty side dishes. Most of these are pricey but are perfect for a nice night out on the town with your sweetheart. Click here for my recommendations.

>> See my lists for additional cuisines in SF

Explore SF on Your Own


San Francisco is an easy town to explore which makes it perfect for those that like to venture out on their own. Are you staying for four or more days? If so, then start your planning with my 4-day sample itinerary. It allows you to hit all of the hot spots in a short period of time.

You can also explore Chinatown on your own. This small, but interesting district offers you the chance to see traditional Chinese temples, a museum with the history of Chinese Americans, and a working fortune cookie factory. You can also do some shopping and sample tasty dim sum. Click here for this one-day itinerary.

Another one of the fun things to do in San Francisco in September is to visit the Pacific Heights District. This wonderful neighborhood is what most people think of when they envision a "classic" San Francisco neighborhood. It's filled with interesting houses, historic Victorians, and several beautiful parks. You can also see the SF Bay from the top of Pacific Street. Click here for this itinerary.

>> You will find additional one-day itineraries here

Save Even More

If you are looking for a few ways to save on all of these fun things to do in San Francisco in September, then check these out.


This is the most popular discount card. It offers you the chance to save on admission to some of SF's top museums. They include the California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium, and the Aquarium of the Bay. You can also switch these out for a few other options.

Another benefit is a ticket on a 60-minute bay cruise.

>> Visit the California Academy of Sciences & 4 other attractions at a savings


You will find some great deals on Groupon. They offer discounted tickets on tours, events, and other activities. You can also save on other fun things to do in San Francisco in September including cruises, bus tours, and museum tickets.

I also enjoy finding savings on restaurants and bars in SF. This will allow you to stretch your dollar further during your stay.

Check them out today to see what great deals you can find for your stay.

>> Find Today's Daily Deal on the Best in San Francisco!

Go City

My final deals recommendation is for the Go City. This one offers quite a bit of flexibility as you can select the number of days you would like to use it and which attractions you would like to visit during that time.

This discount pass includes access to the California Academy of Sciences, the SF Museum of Modern Art, and the Exploratorium. You can also head out on a wine tour, a bus tour of SF, or a bay cruise.

>> Build Your Own San Francisco Pass - Go City

Cheer on the Local Sports Teams

Giants Baseball

In September, you will be excited at the opportunities to cheer on one of our local teams. This month, you can catch a professional baseball, football, or soccer game. You can also catch a football game at Cal Berkeley or at Stanford University.

You will find more than a dozen games each for our two professional baseball teams. The SF Giants play right in San Francisco and the Oakland A's play just a short train ride over the bay in Oakland. 

The SF 49ers play a couple of home games this month in the Bay Area. You can catch a 49ers game at their stadium in Santa Clara. 

The University of California at Berkeley football team is in action too. You can catch one of their games at their stadium just to the east of San Francisco. Stanford football also has a couple of home games this month at their stadium about 40 minutes south of SF in Palo Alto. 

Uncover the Best of SF's Unique Districts

Fisherman's Wharf

Visiting San Francisco is like visiting several countries or cities in just one day. 

This month, I recommend spending time in Fisherman's Wharf. This is the most popular district here with dozens of fun things to do. You can catch a cruise, head over to Alcatraz, or enjoy one of the district's fun museums. Click here to learn more.

Another fun district to visit is the Haight Ashbury neighborhood. This area became famous in the late 60s during the "Summer of Love." Today, you will still find influences from this generation. You can shop, see the former houses of stars, or enjoy a variety of cuisines. Click here to learn more.

I also recommend a quick stop in the Japantown District this month. Here you can see an authentic Peace Pagoda, sample some Japanese cuisine, and shop for traditional items. Click here for details.

>> Discover a full list of districts and what to do in each one during your stay

Shop the Day Away

pier 39

If you love to shop, then you are going to absolutely love San Francisco. The variety here is hard to match.

Most people love the shopping on Pier 39. This lively shopping and restaurant district is where you will find shops with fun local goods. They range from wine to jewelry. Find additional details here.

For those that love a bargain, head over to Chinatown for some great deals. You will find most stores on Grant Avenue. Here you can buy everything from luggage to souvenirs. If you are more adventurous, head to where to local's shop on Stockton. The inventory is not as well organized, but this is where you will find some great deals. Click here to learn more.

If you want more of a high end shopping experience, then head over to Union Square. This district is home to higher end retailers such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany's, and Sax Fifth Avenue. Click here for additional details.

>> Uncover additional shopping recommendations here

What to Wear in San Francisco in September

Weather in September

September is the start of our official summer. All month long, you will find sunny days and cool nights. The perfect weather to explore our wonderful city.

During the day, you will find temperatures in the upper 60s to lower 70s. The fog is mostly gone this time of year, so the city heats up just a bit.

At night, you will find cool temperatures in the upper 50s to lower 60s. 

As with other months in SF, I always recommend you come prepared with layers. Bring long some of your lighter long sleeved items or pair your short sleeved shirts with light jackets. This will allow you to add items as you get chilly.

It's also a great idea to bring a light jacket with you all day long. It might be warm at your hotel, but you will find it cools down as you get close to the water. 

If you plan to head out on the water, make sure you are dressed warm too. The cool breeze off the water makes the cruises quite chilly. However, with a light jacket, you will be fine and will be able to enjoy the views from the outside decks.

>> More tips on packing for your stay

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

I would love for you to join me in my private Facebook group

It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

SF Things to Do in September Pin

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