San Francisco (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Ask a local for the best reason to visit the Bay Area during the fall and the answer might not be an attraction or an event. Quite simply, it’s the fabulous weather that always seems on cue in September, October and often through November. What’s more, major tourist attractions tend to be less crowded, except for major events, and the foggy weather that dominates the coastal regions is virtually absent after Labor Day. With San Francisco recently named the world’s best fall getaway, here are five more reasons to visit the Bay Area in the fall.
San Francisco Bay
San Francisco, CA 94123
Date: Oct. 9-13, 2014
After a one-year absence due to last year’s federal sequestration cuts, Fleet Week will be returning to San Francisco, along a huge crowd of more than one million people. The top draw, of course, is the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron better known as the Blue Angels. The best spots to watch the aerial shows, which will also feature Sean D. Tucker and Team Oracle, Patriots Jet Team and Lucas Oil Air Shows, are at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, the Marina Green and Crissy Field. Tickets for premium viewing, some with food and beverages, range from $20 for a premium box seat on Friday to $225 at the Flight Deck Club with a full buffet and beverages, including beer and wine.
Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Farms
Arata Pumpkin Farm
185 Verde Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
12320 San Mateo Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Although the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival is the year’s biggest event in this beautiful coastal city, the popular festival lasts just two days. A good alternative is to visit one of the popular pumpkin farms in Half Moon Bay, most notably Arata Pumpkin Farm and Lemos Farm. Both farms feature a number of family-friendly activities, such as hayrides, petting zoos and amusement rides. The best time to visit either farm is in October, when the farms are open most everyday. Highlights include the train and pony rides at Lemos Farm and the famous hay maze at Arata Farm.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
Hellman Hollow, Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94121
Date: Oct. 3-5, 2014
With an anticipated attendance of 750,000 people, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival isn’t for everybody. Nevertheless, it’s the year’s largest annual music event in the Bay Area and best of all, it’s free. Now in its 14th year, the non-commercial event will be held on six music stages in Golden Gate Park. Last year, more than 80 musical acts appeared at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, including Bonnie Rait, Patty Griffin, Natalie Maines, Steve Earl and the Dukes, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Elvin Bishop and Boz Scaggs.
4900 Marie P. DeBartolo Way
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Levi’s Stadium is the new home of the five-time Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers. Just opened in August, the state-of-the-art facility will host a number of important home games, in addition to professional soccer matches, high school and collegiate football games and other special events. Upcoming marquee games include the Cal Bears hosting the Oregon Ducks October 24, the 49ers and defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks on Thanksgiving, November 27 and the Pac-12 Championship Game on December 5. Public and private tours are available seven days a week all year long, with the exception of 49ers home games, major events and some holidays.
Napa Valley Harvest
September and October might be the best time of the year to visit the Napa Valley. While crowds of tourists may still be there, it’s also harvest and wine pressing season for Napa Valley wineries. Grape picking at some wineries began in late July and producers are expecting yet another high-quality harvest, which runs into October. Upcoming events include a Harvest Boot Camp at Trefethen Family Vineyards September 27 and a chance to stomp grapes at V. Sattui Winery’s Crush Party October 4. On Halloween, Rutherford Hill Winery will be hosting a Halloween Zombie Ball, featuring a Devilish Dinner and Midnight-Zombie Ball.