Things to Do in San Francisco This September
It might be time to go back to school, but that doesn’t mean that the fun is over. Here are some of our favorite San Francisco September pastimes. For more suggestions, check out our festival and events listing.
Architecture and the City Festival
One of the nation’s largest architectural festivals of its kind, the annual Architecture and the City Festival, Sept. 1-30, 2018, features walking tours, films, exhibitions, lectures and more that address varying aspects of the design and planning process. This year’s theme, “Future City,” will explore and unveil the inspirations of architectural works from young and urban designers.
Digital and handmade pavilions are the subject of the Museum of Craft and Design’s exhibition, Raw Design. These objects challenge the rise of today's digital age while also accepting the invention of new techniques. These “objects of pleasure” will be on view through Oct. 28, 2018.
Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema
Showcasing the work of local filmmakers, the Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema series offers films, music and more, Sept. 6-8 and Oct. 2, 2018. Details of the opening night and preview party festivities on Thursday, Sept. 6 are still TBA. Friday marks the return of the annual Film Crawl on Cortland Ave., featuring simultaneous, progressive screenings in six venues up and down the street. Saturday offers an outdoor cinema "Under the Stars" at Precita Park (Folsom St. at Precita Ave.). Seasoned viewers recommend blankets, cushions and low-backed chairs for a comfortable view of the screen and city lights. The closing night, Oct. 2, celebrates the end of the cinema fest with encore screenings of award-winning films from the season.
Celebrating its 27th anniversary, San Francisco Fringe Festival brings fresh and daring theater of all varieties to open-minded audiences, Sept. 6-15, 2018. More than thirty-five shows will be staged at the EXIT Theatreplex. Most performances run under an hour and Fringe fans amble from venue to venue, seeing as many shows as they can in one day.
Seasons Come and Seasons Go
Autumn is when a number of San Francisco’s performing arts groups and companies open their new seasons. The San Francisco Opera starts anew on Sept. 7, 2018, with Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci, and the San Francisco Symphony opens on Sept. 13 with special guest Yuja Wang. SFJAZZ offers more than 330 shows this season, opening on Sept. 5 with a night of Afro-Caribbean music. The New Conservatory Theatre Center launches Red Scare on Sunset on Sept. 21. Check back for updates regarding the annual free “Opera in the Park” concert in Golden Gate Park.
Wine Enthusiasts Unite at Taste of Sonoma 2018
Known to many as the wine event of the year, Taste of Sonoma is on Sept. 1, 2018, at the Green Music Center. Attend wine talks to boost your wine IQ and meet some of the renowned winemakers from Sonoma County. This annual event will feature a number of local vineyards and wineries, top chefs and marketplace participants for an entire day of outdoor fun and activities.
Salesforce Transit Center
Come see what's new in the city at the newly opened Salesforce Transit Center. This transportation hub connects eight Bay Area counties, making the trip to downtown San Francisco convenient and effortless. Be sure to also visit Salesforce Park, a beautiful 5.4-acre rooftop public park atop the Salesforce Transit Center that features an outdoor amphitheater, children's play areas, a cafe and a restaurant.
Mamma Mia! Comes To Walnut Creek
This romantic comedy will have you dancing and singing along from start to finish. Lesher Center for the Arts will be showing Mamma Mia! Sept. 4, 2018 - Oct. 7, 2018.
Ninth Annual San Francisco Giant Race
Get your heart pumping at the Ninth Annual Giant Race on Sept. 9, 2018. Run a half marathon, 10k, 5k, or Kids Race & Family Relay on the scenic San Francisco waterfront. Participants will receive a shirt, finisher medal and exclusive runner bobblehead featuring a Giants team member. You can register here now.
This is still a great event to attend if you aren't planning to run. There will be live music, entertainment, and food alongside vendor booths inside AT&T Park while you wait to see participants cross the finish line.
Legendary Bands Perform at AT&T Park
The Eagles, with special guests the Zac Brown Band and the Doobie Brothers, will take the stage at AT&T Park on Sept. 20, 2018. The following day, rock icons Journey and Def Leppard team up to perform their popular hits like "Don't Stop Believing'" on their only Northern California stop. For more information on these concerts and other great events at AT&T Park, please visit AT&T Park online.
Visit Santa Rosa's 150th Anniversary
Santa Rosa celebrates 150 years of being a go-to destination for wineries, family fun, and entertainment on Sept. 8, 2018. This big bash will include live music from local bands, children's activities, and food vendors. There will even be a burying of the new time capsule (to be opened in 50 years), and a movie screening in the Courthouse Square at 8 p.m. to close out the night.
Screening of Straws at PIER 39's Sea Lion Center
Be sure to catch the last screening of Straws, an award-winning documentary that starts a conversation about the danger of plastic straws and their detrimental effect on our waterways and wildlife, on Sept. 2. This 30-minute documentary will leave you feeling educated and empowered to be part of the plastic pollution solution. This free screening will be held in the Sea Lion Center at Aquarium of the Bay.
Global Climate Action Summit: Exploring Climate Migration
Follow the unique stories of men and women from around the globe to understand how climate change has impacted their daily lives during this interactive event. Learn how you can become an activist for this cause. Climate Journeys: Tales of Displacement across a Changing Planet will take place on Sept. 12, 2018 from 1-2:15 p.m. at The Contemporary Jewish Museum.
San Francisco has a number of exciting exhibitions coming this fall. On view Sept. 22, 2018-Jan. 6, 2019, Contemporary Muslim Fashions at the de Young is the first major exhibition to explore Muslim fashion and how it shapes women in their communities. Also at the de Young, through Oct. 7, 2018, is Weapons of Mass Seduction: The Art of Propoganda, showcasing graphic art from World War I and II and how these strategies of selling and manipulation still persist today. Rene Magritte: The Fifth Season at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is another exhibition not to miss. This thought-provoking exhibition features more than 70 artworks, including some of Magritte's most acclaimed paintings like, "Man in a Bowler Hat" and "The Listening Room," on view through Oct. 28, 2018.
Beginning Sept. 28, 2018, at New People Cinema in Japantown, the sixth annual Japan Film Festival screens some 20 features, documentaries and shorts. The 10th annual Iranian Film Festival, the first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran, presents 40 films from Iran, the U.S, Italy, France and Canada at the San Francisco Art Institute, Sept. 22-23, 2018.
The third annual San Francisco Cheese Fest promises to be a delicious evening of music, mingling and munching in classic San Francisco style at Social Hall San Francisco. On Sept. 15, 2018, guests will get to meet 24 California Artisan Cheese Guild member cheesemakers, serving dozens of new and classic California cheeses. Pairing with the melty fromage will be brews from local favorites, as well as ciders and wines from more than a dozen wineries.
Philippine Heritage in San Francisco
On Sept. 15, 2018, “Undiscovered SF,” a curated collection of emerging artists and merchants celebrating the rich heritage of the SoMa Pilipinas district, located in the heart of San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood, returns to the Old Mint (88 Fifth St.) from 6-10 p.m. Slated for the third Friday of every month, the market has 40-plus vendors, including food purveyors representing the “third wave” of the Bay Area’s Filipino food movement.
All Steamed Up
Don’t miss the 15th annual Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival on Sept. 23, 2018. A seven-ton, 1924 Buffalo-Springfield coal-powered steamroller will be enlisted to press oversized linocuts right on Rhode Island St., between 16th and 17th streets. Sponsored by the San Francisco Center for the Book, the festival has become a popular tradition in San Francisco’s Do.Re.Mi (Dogpatch-Potrero Hill-Mission) Arts District, attracting art, printmaking and book art enthusiasts of all ages.
The Roots of Salsa: Unsung Heroes Opens at MoAD
Conceived around a series of six lectures, The Roots of Salsa: Unsung Heroes at the Museum of the African Disaspora, through Sept. 12, 2018, dives deep into the lives of unrecognized musicians from the Afro-Caribbean culture. This lecture series also includes classes with live music demonstrations that will fully immerse you in the unsung heroes' one-of-a-kind beats and rhythms. Individual tickets or full series tickets can be purchased.
Uncommon Fun in The Commons
San Francisco’s central public plazas between City Hall and Market St. will be the setting for free family-friendly events on Sept. 20, 2018. Featuring live music, food trucks, over-21 beverages, field games such as bocce ball, and other activities for all ages in Civic Center Plaza, UN Plaza, and Fulton St. between the Asian Art Museum and the San Francisco Public Library, the event will occur on the third Thursday of the month from 5 to 9 p.m.
Yes, We Have Oktoberfest (in September)
The three pillars of a successful Oktoberfest—tasty food, cold beer and sizzling oompah music—will be on hand this September at several locations. The popular Oktoberfest by the Bay returns to Pier 48, Sept. 21-23, 2018. Nonstop music, singing, dancing and the very best in German food and drink will be celebrated in the same spirit as Munich’s famed festival. Need a little warmup? Schroeder’s (240 Front St.), in the heart of the Financial District, will offer several Oktoberfest events with live music, including their 125th block party celebration on Sept. 21, 2018.
Famous for its inclines, San Francisco’s annual Peak2Peak walk is coming up, Sept 8, 2018. This is no ordinary walk in the park. With 13 miles and 10 peaks, discover hidden stairways and explore new neighborhoods while supporting Walk SF's Vision Zero campaign to end all traffic deaths by 2024. This event sells out quickly, so register now. Still full of energy? Explore some of the trails at the Presidio of San Francisco.
SF Music Day
On Sept. 30, 2018, SF Music Day, one of the Bay Area’s top free music festivals, celebrates the diverse and dynamic music of the region, from string quartets to jazz combos, traditional chamber groups to new music pioneers. This year’s festival at the Veteran’s Building, San Francisco War Memorial & Performance Center features 35 ensembles on four stages and a special series of moderated discussions reflecting on Bay Area music-making over the past decade. Local food truck vendors will be parked outside all day.
Folsom Street Fair
Another mainstay of San Francisco is the Folsom Street Fair. This leather pride event, the largest of its kind, is held on Sept. 30, 2018. It centers around the BDSM community, with 200 vendor booths, live music performances, demo stations and exhibitors.
National Public Lands Day
It’s National Coffee Day on Sept. 29, 2018! Join your fellow java junkies at some of these local coffee spots. From the earliest days of the Gold Rush, the smell of coffee has infused the San Francisco air. Did you know that three of the major coffee firms in the U.S. started here? The java giants included J.A. Folger & Co., M.J.B. and Hills Bros. Nowadays, coffee ranks as one of the top imports to the Port of Oakland, just across San Francisco Bay.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest and second largest Chinese American community in the U.S. Learn more about the community this month at the AT&T Autumn Moon Festival, or visit The Chinese Culture Center at 750 Kearny St., where the XIANRUI: 10 Years exhibition series is on view until Sept. 22, 2018.
The Autumn Moon Festival, Sept. 15-16, opens with a grand parade on Saturday at 11 a.m. on California and Grant streets. Over the weekend, there will be non-stop entertainment, traditional lion and dragon dances, and children's activities.
Across San Francisco Bay in Oakland, the Dragon Boat Festival, Sept. 15-16, 2018, draws more than 120 dragon boat teams and 3,000 paddlers from across the U.S. and Canada to compete in 40-foot boats on Oakland’s Lake Merritt.