Apple picking, epic roadtrips, and where to see fall foliage—check off all your Bay Area fall bucket list activities before the season is over

Fall in San Francisco is one of the best times to enjoy our glorious city. And with the Bay Area’s scorching days of the summer well behind us, it’s time to get out and enjoy the cooler weather with annual traditions like nearby apple picking, fabulously fun fall festivals around San Francisco and pumpkin spice everything. In order to keep your fall FOMO at bay, keep reading for all of the fun stuff to do in San Francisco this fall (and for more ideas, check out our Bay Area family date night ideas and our favorite Bay Area eateries with outdoor seating).

1. Nothing screams San Francisco in the fall than a trip to a local Bay Area u-pick apple farm with bushels of them open for picking now through mid-Nov. Pick the fruits to turn into a homemade apple pie, or cheat (we won't tell) and pick up a famously fresh dessert like a Dutch Apple or Pumpkin Pie from one of our favorite spots, Gizdich Ranch.

2. Fall is the best time for a family road trip from San Francisco for on-point fall foliage. Drive into the Sierras to see the beautiful aspens change color, or up to wine country where wine growers are celebrating the harvest and the autumn sunsets are breathtaking.

3. If you haven’t done it yet, this is your sign to finally get your tickets to ride the SkyStar Observation Wheel at Golden Gate Park. Standing 150 feet tall and covered in one million LED lights, this is a spectacular addition to the park and is a beautiful way to view the city—especially at night. 

4. Discover the haunting musical melody of the Wave Organ—one of our favorite hidden gems in San Francisco.

5. Get into the Halloween spirit and check out Alcatraz Island, one of the Bay Area's spookiest spot! The Alcatraz tour is self-guided, so you can take your time and explore at your own pace—ideal for families and kids who want to race ahead. 

6. An absolute San Francisco fall must-do? Pick up a decorative gourd (or two) at one of these local pumpkin patches. Bonus? At a bunch of these must-go pumpkin picking spots, you can also hop on a hayride, get lost in a corn maze, and try your hand at pumpkin bowling.

7. Live it up and take the kids for a visit to our local haunted house, the Winchester Mystery House. Despite its spooky reputation, the mansion tour is fun and family-friendly. Kids under five go free!

Related: More Fun & Free Things to Do around San Francisco This Month

8. Get lost (and found again) at a Bay Area corn maze (discover which one holds the world record for being the world's largest!). Solve these giant puzzles together, then have fun petting farm animals, tire out the kids on giant jumping pillows before choosing a pumpkin to take home.

9. Grab your rods and reels and spend the day fishing at these kid-friendly Bay Area fishing spots. You can even get free lessons at Golden Gate Park to get you started.

Related: More Family-Friendly Things to Do in Golden Gate Park

10. Celebrate the spookiest time of year at one of these Bay Area Halloween events. From learning all about nighttime creatures at Batfest, to a night of thrills at Six Flags Boo Fest, there’s something for everyone.

More Fall Bucket List Activities near San Francisco

Kate Loweth

11. Even though the nights are getting colder, you can still enjoy the outdoors by renting a cozy camper van for the weekend. Everything you'll need for a quick and easy weekend to explore the coast, forest, or mountains is included.

12. Pools are not just for summer! Keep the splish-splashing fun going at an indoor pool in the Bay Area. Or head to the newest Great Wolf Lodge for a whole weekend of family time in the huge indoor waterpark.

13. Make the most of the sunshine while it lasts. Take the kids to a playground and enjoy some water play in a beautiful natural creek before it (officially) gets too cold for splashing. If you’re in the South Bay, Vasona Park in Los Gatos has both a creek and a lake!

14. Cooler temperatures are ideal for a day at the zoo, and Bay Area zoos are holding events this year to make your visit extra special. Boo at the (Oakland) Zoo is holding a fun scavenger hunt for kids, while the SF Zoo is hosting a Boo at the Zoo as part of their Zootober Fest with a costume parade and a giant hay maze.

15. Not too hot, not too cold: autumn is the best time to take a hike in the Bay Area. From strolls with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, to hikes through the redwoods, we love hitting the trails. 

16. We've sussed out the best Bay Area fall foliage spots where you can enjoy a kaleidoscope of color as the trees turn vivid colors of red and gold. 

17. There is no better season than fall to visit wine country—with kids in tow! These family-friendly vineyards near San Francisco welcome young children (and dogs).

18. F is for fall and festivals. Find out where to go in our fall-tastic festival guide for the Bay Area. From Diwali to Día de los Muertos, there’s a lot of fabulous fall fests going on this time of year.

19. The days are shorter which means more time to play after dark. Our family date night for Bay Area families guides has tons of inspo on what to do and where to go with the whole family in tow, from bowling and mini golf to stargazing. 

20. This quiet town on California’s Central Coast is the perfect family roadtrip—all the reasons why Morro Bay is the ultimate fall getaway for Bay Area families.

—Additional reporting by Sarah McDonald


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