Fall in the Bay Area is glorious. For Bay Area families, autumn means that the days of omnipresent fog become a distant memory and the sun-drenched days are filled with a building excitement in the air for every kid’s favorite holiday: Halloween! From neighborhood excursions to harvest festivities to indoor activities when the weather turns sour, we dug up 70 awesome things to do with your kids in San Francisco this fall. Now get out there and play!

photo: Shawn Fernandez

1. Nothing screams autumn more than a trip to a local u-pick apple farm.

2. Go head to head in a friendly game of Checkers at one of these game night spots.

3. Enjoy the changing leaves and go biking on a kid-friendly bike path.

4. Check out a new museum on a day that is free!

5. Take a night hike and flashlight tour of McClellan Ranch on November 9.

6. Take a road trip to see the leaves in all their colorful glory!

photo: Kate Loweth

7. October 15 is half-price day at San Jose’s Happy Hollow.

8. Drop off the kids for a night of fun at Habitot on October 18.

9. Rent a paddle boat and check out the ducks and turtles at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park!

10. Indulge in some apple cider, the quintessential fall drink.

11. Baby Shark Live comes to San Jose for two shows on October 20 and you know you want to be there.

photo: Manuel Harlan

12. Get your tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Curran.

13. Pleasanton Harvest Festival takes over the Alameda County Fairgrounds October 25-27.

14. Rainy day blues? Check out the South Bay’s discovery museum.

15. Go trainspotting with your little conductors.

16. Plan a movie night and watch, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

17. Head down to Fisherman’s Wharf and try your luck at escaping Alcatraz (at Madame Tussaud’s).

photo: Pumpkin Nights

18. Pumpkin Nights comes to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds October 10-November 3.

19. On the second Saturday of the month, head to McClellan Ranch to meet the 4H farm animals.

20. Take the little ones on a stroller hike.

21. Don’t miss the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival on October 19-20.

22. Check out the spooky-not-scary Great Pumpkin Fest at California’s Great America.

23. Marvel at the Navy ships and air shows during San Francisco’s much anticipated fleet week.

24. On those sunny fall days, pack a picnic and enjoy a meal outdoors.

photo: Day Out with Thomas

25. Ride the rails in Felton with Thomas and Percy.

26. Go on a guided ghost walk at San Francisco’s City Hall.

27. Skate on art at this free roller rink in Fort Mason through October 6.

28. Take a ferry ride to Angel Island with the kiddos before it gets too chilly.

29. Pick the perfect gourd at one of these local pumpkin patches.

30. Then snag one of these pumpkin carving templates and go to town!

31. Bake up some pumpkin treats to get your house smelling like fall.

photo: Winchester Mystery House

32. Visit the Trick-or-Treat Trail at San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House on October 26-27.

33. Head to CuriOddysey on Friday, October 4 for a First Friday where you can play with fog, swirl viscous fluid, make objects appear to levitate and examine CuriOdyssey’s animals’ x-rays.

34. Head indoors on those rainy days and start playing!

35. Navigate through San Francisco’s largest hay maze, a 5,000-square-foot structure made from over 1,000 bales of straw at Zootoberfest.

36. Attend an old-school circus performance in Redwood City.

37. Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you can’t take a dip in the pool.


photo: Kate Loweth

38. Plan a family game day at The Detour in the Castro—they just kicked off family game days on Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5 p.m.

39. Sundays through October 20 you’ll find all of your friends at the Presidio Picnic.

40. Pick a Friday and visit Ardenwood Historic Farm for free.

41. Go on a s’mores taste test around the Bay Area.

42. Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden is the perfect place to be on October 5 for their annual Halloween party.

photo: Disneyland

43. Take a weekend trip down to Disneyland for the Ooogie Boogie Bash and check out all these secrets of Disneyland.

44. Bundle up and head to Mt. Tam for their astronomy program on October 5.

45. Head to Orinda’s Wagner Ranch on October 6. to learn all about olives and olive oil.

46. Visit the Randall Museum for a Family Halloween Festival on October 26.

photo: Science + You

47. Check out the new Science + You exhibit at the Bay Area Discovery Museum.

48. Show off your Warriors’ pride at HOOPTOPIA, the brand-new fan experience from the creators of Candytopia.

49. Learn about the Ohlone Indians at Deer Hollow Farm on October 5.

50. Marvel at the spectacular artwork and large-scale installations from one of the most widely-celebrated cultural events in the world when No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man takes over OMCA.

51. Head up to Napa’s CIA at Copia on a Tuesday for Cinema Under the Stars.

52. Disney on Ice Worlds of Enchantment comes to the Oracle Arena October 17-20.

photo: OMCA

53. Celebrate El Dia de los Muertos at the OMCA on October 19.

54. Celebrate the harvest season and learn about local birds, nature, ecology and wildlife in Cupertino on October 19.

55. Kids, teens and families are invited to join Project Giving Kids for the third annual Create the Change Day Bay Area at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

56. Grab your rods and reels and spend the day fishing.

57. Spend the afternoon at the Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest public Japanese Garden in the United States.

58. Grab a good book and spend a few hours reading to your little ones.

59. Double Dare Love comes to Oakland on October 15 and San Jose on October 16.

photo: Kate Loweth

60. Get the kiddos out of the house and explore a legendary warship.

61. Go on a sweet tour that your kids will love.

62. It’s fall harvest time at Slide Ranch on October 19.

63. Wear your costumes to TreasureFest on the last weekend of October and you can trick-or-treat at the booths.

64. Wheels on the Bus is coming to BACT’s Berkeley Theatre and we are ready for the ride!

65. October 27 brings the Kids Carnival to the Hiller Aviation Museum.

photo: Kate Loweth

66. Step into the incredible world of steam power at the Harvest Faire & Steam Festival at Roaring Camp Railroads October 5-6.

67. Come out and see YSI’s Owl Ambassadors during our Raptor Review, enjoy story time with Smokey Bear, and finish the day off with Conservation Ambassador’s “Zoo to You” program on stage with live animals at Alum Rock Park on October 6.

68. October 20 is a pay-what-you-wish Community Day at the Exploratorium.

69. All ye lords and ladies are invited to the Renaissance Faire in Hollister.

70. Learn all about bats at Calero Park on October 13.

—Kate Loweth


Fall Road Trips from the Bay Area

The Best U-Pick Apple Orchards

The Great Pumpkin: The Bay Area’s Best Pumpkin Patches