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 we share with you some of our favorite September pastimes. For more suggestions check out our seasonal guide, too. If you’re exploring Northern California, add these to your list.
Comic Con at Moscone West
Sept. 1-3, 2017: San Francisco Comic Con comes to San Francisco’s Moscone West. Exhibitors will cater to a wide spectrum of interests at this family-friendly convention, which is free to children 12 and under. Comic books, magazines, toys, games, Star Wars, Star Trek, anime, manga, cosplay, artwork, sketches and apparel will fill the gigantic hall. In addition, a roster of comic industry professionals and luminaries will be there for attendees to meet and greet.
Aquarium of the Bay Premieres Three New Exhibitions
Philippe Cousteau is one of 11 Ocean Pioneers depicted in sculpture in a new installation at Aquarium of the Bay, located at PIER 39. Commissioned by Google for their Google Ocean Project, each of the busts weighs in excess of 1,500 pounds. In addition to this new exhibition, Aquarium of the Bay has added augmented reality (AR) and a virtual reality (VR) attractions. The AR exhibition will allow guests to experience two different shows: “The Ocean Adventure” and “The Artic Explorer.” Whales, dolphins, walrus, polar bears, penguins and seals will seem to be within arms’ reach. The VR show, “Click Effect,” takes viewers on a 100-foot free dive into the depths of the ocean to swim with dolphins, pilot whales and giant sperm whales.
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, 2017, features walking tours, films, exhibitions, lectures and more that address varying aspects of the design and planning process. This year’s theme, “Secret City,” will explore and reveal the many layers of San Francisco and how architecture and design play a key role in the ever-changing landscape.
While not part of the festival, the annual Sausalito Floating Homes self-guided tour on Sept. 30, 2017, offers a rare opportunity to visit some of the most unique homes in the world. The tour will tie in with the 75th anniversary of Marinship, which helped foster today’s waterfront community.
Digital and handmade pavilions are the subject of the Museum of Craft and Design’s exhibition “Architectural Pavilions: Experiments and Artifacts.” The immersive architectural environment demonstrates a range of projects from full-scale installations to small-scale models. These “objects of pleasure,” will be on view through Jan. 7, 2018.
If you’re a book buff (and who isn’t?), there are two events this month you won’t want to miss. Green Apple Books, one of San Francisco’s most beloved independent book stores, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an evening of festivities and fun at the Great American Music Hall on Sept. 6, 2017. Alongside Porchlight SF, special guests will include authors Mary Roach, Robin Sloan, Willy Vlautin, Robert Mail Anderson, illustrator Wendy McNaughton, Vetiver's Andy Cabic, Forum's Michael Krasny and others. Green Apple Books will be partying all weekend, Sept. 9-10, 2017, at their flagship location, 506 Clement St. Everything will be 10 percent off in the store and there will be free coffee and treats.
There’s also Big Book Sale. The largest used book sale in the West is a fundraiser for the San Francisco Public Library. More than 500,000 books and media will be on sale for $3 or less at Fort Mason Center, Sept. 20-24, 2017.
Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema
Showcasing the work of local filmmakers, the Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema series offers films, music and more, Sept. 7-9 and 27, 2017. The opening night and preview party on Sept. 7, at the Mission Cultural Center for Performing Arts, 2868 Mission St., includes The Ride, a documentary featuring San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, and a video poem, When Rabbit Left the Moon by Emiko Omori, a vivid portrayal of life in a Japanese internment camp. Friday marks the return of the annual Film Crawl on Cortland, featuring simultaneous, progressive screenings in six venues up and down Cortland Avenue, while Saturday offers an outdoor cinema at Precita Park (Folsom Street at Precita Avenue). Seasoned viewers recommend blankets, cushions and low-backed chairs for a comfortable view of the screen and city lights. The closing night, Sept. 27, at Barebottle Brewing Company, 1525 Cortland Ave., celebrates the end of the cinema fest with encore screenings of award-winning films from the season.
Celebrating its 26th anniversary, San Francisco Fringe Festival brings fresh and daring theater of all varieties to open-minded audiences, Sept. 8-23, 2017. Thirty-five plus 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.
PIER 39 Celebrates
PIER 39 is still cranking out the fun for its 39th anniversary. Coming up this month are a 70s-style Roller Disco Party on Sept. 8, the Fall Beer Pour on Sept. 22, and Outdoor Movie Night on Sept. 29, featuring the filmed-in-San Francisco flick, “The Pursuit of Happyness.”
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. 8 with Turandot, and the San Francisco Symphony opens on Sept. 14 with special guest Yo-Yo Ma. SFJAZZ offers more than 330 shows this season, opening on Sept. 7 with a sold-out celebration of Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday. The 51st season of the American Conservatory Theater launches on Sept. 20 with John Douglas Thompson in Hamlet and the New Conservatory Theatre Center follows a few days later with the world premiere of This Bitter Earth on Sept. 22. Mark your calendars, too, for the annual free “Opera in the Park” concert in Golden Gate Park on Sept. 10.
How Sweet It Is!
San Francisco offers two treats this month for those who crave the sweeter things in life. The San Francisco edition of the pop-up Museum of Ice Cream opens this month at One Grant Avenue. A candy garden, Pop Rocks cave, Push-Pop art installation and a rotating lineup of California ice cream makers including It’s-It, Bi-Rite and Salt & Straw will be offering visitors a special “scoop of the week.” There’s a sprinkle pool, too! Yes, you and your mates will get a chance to dive into the more than 100 million custom-designed sprinkles. Like Alcatraz excursions, the Museum is sold-out months in advance, so visit their website and get on their ticket update list.
The 22nd annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival offers a chocolate school, culinary demos, ice cream eating contests, chocolate tastings and the popular Ghirardelli Chocolate lounge, Sept 9-10 at Ghirardelli Square.
Muni Heritage Weekend
Take a sentimental journey for Muni Heritage Weekend on Sept. 9-10, 2017. This year will mark the 100th anniversaries of Muni’s motorcoach service and the J line. In addition to riding vintage vehicles, visit the utterly charming San Francisco Railway Museum where the celebration gets rolling.
J-POP at Fort Mason Center
J-POP SUMMIT, a Japanese cultural festival held every summer since 2009 in San Francisco, introduces the latest in Japanese music, fashion, film, art, games, tech-innovations, anime, and food, as well as niche subcultures. The latest edition unfolds at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Sept. 9-10, 2017. This year’s theme is “Arts, Eats and Innovations.” The festival will be accented by ramen vendors, sake-tasting, and additional events highlighted by appearances by several celebrity guests of honor.
San Francisco has some firsts coming this fall. On view Sept. 9, 2017-April 1, 2018, “The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand” at the de Young is the first major exhibition of Lindauer’s Maori portraits ever assembled in the U.S. Also at the de Young, Sept. 30, 2017-Feb. 11, 2018, is “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire,” the first significant exhibition about the ancient center of Mesoamerica on view in the U.S. in more than 20 years. Over 200 artifacts are featured. Unprecedented in scope and scale, “Walker Evans” is a major retrospective of this photographer who captured the language of everyday life through his lens. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) exhibition, Sept. 30, 2017-Feb.4, 2018, is the only presentation of this retrospective in the U.S. It unites more than 300 breathtaking prints, many of which have never been exhibited, as well as 100 documents and objects of SFMOMA’s Floor 3.
Farewell, Summer of Love and Degas
The California Historical Society’s “On the Road to the Summer of Love” closes on Sept. 10, 2017, and the exquisite “Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade” closes Sept. 24 at the Legion of Honor.
Running through Sept. 10 at New People Cinema in Japantown, the 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. 23-24, 2017. Beginning Oct. 2 and running for five consecutive Monday nights through Oct. 30, “I Wake Up Dreaming” offers 11 films showcasing noir style at the Castro Theatre.
Transform, A New Performance Festival
Long a champion of new ideas that can shift culture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will present a new performance festival, “Transform,” Sept. 14-23, 2017 and in the spring of 2018 from May 8-19. One of the Bay Area’s first multidisciplinary festivals, “Transform” will create a space for visionary artists to confront the urgent questions facing society and in the process transform performance. The inaugural festival presents newly commissioned works by nine Bay Area artists who have been invited to create world premiere works in response to the question, “Why citizenship?”
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. 16, 2017, 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, cider and wines from more than a dozen wineries.
Philippine Heritage in San Francisco
On Sept. 15, 2017, “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. The Asian Art Museum also recently opened “Philippine Art: Collecting Art, Collecting Memories,” which is the first exhibition ever mounted in the U.S. of Philippine art spanning from the precolonial period to the 21st century. The San Francisco Bay Area, according to Asian Art Museum Director Jay Xu, is “home to one of the most important communities of Filipino ancestry outside of Asia.” On-site programs and community events will continue until the exhibition closes on March 11, 2018.
Sumo Champions Visit Japantown
U.S. and Japanese sumo wrestlers will be featured in a series of matches on Sept. 16-17, 2017 in the Japantown Peace Plaza. Learn about this ancient Japanese tradition and martial art in the heart of the oldest Japantown in the U.S.
All Steamed Up
Don’t miss the 13th annual Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival on Sept. 17, 2017. A seven-ton, 1924 Buffalo-Springfield coal powered steamroller will be enlisted to press oversized linocuts right on Rhode Island Street, 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.
And They All Laughed
Let’s be honest. We could use a little laughter in our lives about now. The perfect occasion is the 37th annual Comedy Day in Sharon Meadows (which might be called Robin Williams Meadows, if supporters of the renaming succeed). The free event on Sept. 17, 2017 features 40 comedians.
EN MAS’ Opens at MoAD
Conceived around a series of nine commissioned performances realized during the 2014 Caribbean Carnival season across eight cities in six different countries, EN MAS’ at the Museum of the African Disaspora from Sept. 20, 2017-March 4, 2018 considers the connections between Carnival and performance, masquerade and social criticism, diaspora and transnationalism. Taking its title from a pun on “Mas” (short for masquerade and synonymous with carnival in the English-speaking Caribbean), EN MAS’ presents a history of performance that does not take place on the stage or in the gallery but rather in the streets.
Uncommon Fun in The Commons
San Francisco’s central public plazas between City Hall and Market Street will be the setting for free family-friendly events on Sept. 21 and Oct. 19, 2017. 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 Street 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 will be on hand this September at several locations: tasty food, cold beer and sizzling oompah music. The popular Oktoberfest by the Bay returns to Pier 48 on Sept. 22-24, 2017. 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 a block party on Sept. 15, 2017.
Peak to Peak Walk
Famous for its inclines, San Francisco’s annual Peak2Peak walk is coming up Sept 23, 2017. 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. 24, 2017, 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. 24, 2017. It centers around the BDSM community with 200 vendor booths, live music performances, demo stations and exhibitors.
It’s National Coffee Day on Sept. 29, 2017! 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.
National Public Lands Day
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 41 Ross Alley where Liminal Space/Crossings Public is creating a visual record of the immigrant experience beginning at sundown. The Autumn Moon Festival, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, opens with a grand parade on Saturday at 11 a.m. on California and Grant. 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. 23-24, 2017, 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.