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Things to do in San Francisco in November

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This post covers things to do in November in San Francisco, including free, nighttime, and family-friendly activities, updated for 2021. 

 

 


TOP TEN EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN NOVEMBER

For tips on the best activities in San Francisco, check out our schedule of pay-what-you-like walking tours and other popular pages: 

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.


1) Take a Walking Tour

An excellent way to explore and discover new parts of the city, our pay-what-you-want walking tours have something for everyone. 

 

 

Tour the downtown district and learn more about the devastating 1906 earthquake or cover the whole city in just one day!

Here are all of the different tours we provide:

Each of these tours offers a variety of information about the city at a reasonable price that you get to decide for yourself!


2) Attend a Sporting Event

There are a lot of great sports teams in the Bay Area, and many of them will be performing throughout the month of November.

 

 

If you’re a football fan, you’ll have the opportunity to see both the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders.

San Francisco 49ers

Basketball fans will also have several opportunities to see the Golden State Warriors throughout the month of November.

Finally, Hockey Fans can also look forward to several games from the San Jose Sharks and the San Jose Barracuda.

You can find all sporting events in the Bay Area here.

This is a great family-friendly activity and there are several games that will take place after dark, making this one of the best things to do at night.


3) Go to a Concert

San Francisco has some of the most popular venues in the world, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they frequently attract a lot of famous musicians from throughout the world.

 

 

There will be several great concerts to attend in November, including the following:

Find more concerts in the Bay Area here


4) See a Hit Musical

The Bay Area is one of the biggest cities for traveling Broadway musicals, and there will be at least a few great shows to see throughout the month of November.

 

 

One of the biggest shows this month is My Fair Lady, which will be playing at the Orpheum Theatre from November 2nd - 28th.

Another great option is Jesus Christ Superstar, which will be hosted by the Golden Gate Theatre from November 2nd - 7th.

You can find all theatre productions in the Bay Area here.

Be sure to read our post on things to do at night in San Francisco for more nighttime activity ideas.


5) See Live Stand-Up Comedy

San Francisco attracts a lot of stand-up comedians throughout the years, and many notable performers will be heading to town this month.

Bill Burr is undoubtedly one of the most popular comedians coming to the Bay Area, and you'll have the chance to see him at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts on November 6th and 7th.

 

 

Here are a few other stand-up performances you might want to see:

Check this list of stand-up comedy shows for even more opportunities to laugh this November.


6) Attend the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot

Before the parades, football games, and eating commences, head down to Golden Gate Park for the 17th annual SF Turkey Trot! 

These walk/run races will include a kids gobbler chase (100 meters), pilgrim promenade (3 miles), and turkey trail trot (5 miles) around the beautiful park. 

 

 

While entry to these races isn’t free, you can always cheer on the runners and watch the event without paying a dime. 

It’s also worth noting that if you enter into one of the adult races, your kids will get a free entry into the gobbler chase.

The Turkey Trot will be taking place on November 25th, 2021 at 8 am. Check the website for more information and to register.

Check out our section on things to do with kids in San Francisco for more family-friendly ideas.


7) Watch the Union Square Christmas Tree Lighting

Bring the family to Union Square for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting! 

Celebrating its 30th year, this free ceremony will feature performances from local artists followed by the lighting of the tree that includes 30,000 lights and nearly 1,100 decorations. 

 

 

This event will likely be taking place sometime near the end of November. The celebration will run from 6 pm - 7 pm. Visitors should expect large crowds.

If you’re looking for other things to do in the area, keep in mind that our pay-what-you-wish Original San Francisco Tour starts right next to Union Square.

The Christmas Tree Lighting is undoubtedly one of the best nighttime events in the Bay Area this month.

NOTE: Although the official date for this event has yet to be announced, it's almost a guarantee they will be holding the tree lighting ceremony again in 2021.


8) Attend the Día de los Muertos Festival

Every Year, the city of Oakland holds a festival in honor of the Day of the Dead. In years past, over 100,000 people have been drawn to this event.

Visitors can expect plenty of great live music, games, rides, and activities in addition to several wonderful artistic installations in honor of the holiday.

 

 

The Día de los Muertos Festival will take place on either November 1st or 2nd from 10 am - 5 pm at International Boulevard between 40th Ave. and Fruitvale Ave.

This event is entirely free to attend, but you might want to bring some extra money for food and drinks.

For more budget-friendly ideas, make sure to read our section on free things to do in San Francisco.

NOTE: The official date for this event has not been announced as of yet, but there are plans in place to celebrate the festival once again in November 2021.


9) Get Creative at the Renegade Craft Fair

Craft enthusiasts love the Renegade Craft Fair which showcases some of the country’s best artists in craft and design throughout the two-day contemporary festival. 

There will be more than 200 makers and designers on hand presenting some of their latest work, as well as immersive experiences to spark your creativity.

 

 

Held at the Fort Mason Center, the festival will also feature local DJs, workshopping opportunities, and food trucks.

This event will take place on the weekend of November 6th & 7th from 11 am - 5 pm each day. Best of all, it won’t cost a dime to attend!


10) Save Money With a Tourist Pass

There are several tourist attraction discount passes available in San Francisco which will give you the opportunity to save a lot of money on some of the more popular activities in the Bay Area.

 

 

While all-inclusive passes offer admission to dozens of attractions over the course of a specific number of days, there are also services which allow you to pay one flat price for only the attractions you want.

If you’re looking for something less complicated, you can also build your own pass and save 20% off 2 or more activities.

Here are a few of the most notable services included with these passes:

Depending on which service you choose, you can expect to get anywhere from a 20% - 50% discount. Most passes also provide skip-the-line entry at some popular attractions.

For more details, make sure to read our post covering San Francisco tourist passes.


POSTPONED: Go to the Bay Area Science Festival

The Bay Area Science Festival is a free event which will feature hundreds of hands-on activities, demonstrations, games, engaging experiments and much more.

Visitors will also have an opportunity to meet local scientists and engineers, learning directly from some of the smartest people in the San Francisco area.

 

 

Since this event will be taking place at Oracle Park, guests will also have a chance to run around the bases! This science festival is taking place on November 2nd from 11 am - 4:30 pm.

TIP: While there probably won’t be any tours available on this date, it’s worth noting that you can take an Oracle Park tour throughout most of the month. 

Fans of the San Francisco Giants and baseball fans, in general, will jump at the opportunity to explore this beautiful ballpark!

NOTE: This event was postponed to the spring of 2022.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO IN SAN FRANCISCO THIS NOVEMBER

San Francisco offers a lot of free activities if you look in the right places. This section will cover some of the best things to do which won’t cost a dime. 

 

 

Some of the events we’ve already listed are free, such as the Renegade Craft Fair, the Union Square Tree Lighting and the Bay Area Science Festival.

For more great affordable activities, make sure to read our post covering free things to do in San Francisco.


Experience Illuminate San Francisco: Festival of Light

Beginning on Thanksgiving Day, the city comes alive through illumination! Covering 17 neighborhoods and featuring 39 light art installations, Illuminate SF offers a unique way to explore the city. 

This event will feature the work of more than 30 artists, and it’s entirely free to come and enjoy all of the great light displays. Additionally, there are free self-guided and guided tours available.

For more details, make sure to check this list of Installations to find an Illuminate SF display near you.


Go to a Free Museum

There are several museums you can visit without paying a dime in San Francisco. Some locations offer free admission throughout the year, but others have free days every month.

 


This photo of Cable Car Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Here are a few of the more notable museums that don’t charge for entry:

  • Cable Car Museum
  • Chinese Historical Society
  • Wells Fargo History Museum
  • SF Fire Department Historical Society

You can find out about dozens of additional locations on our post covering free museums in San Francisco.


Spend a Day at the Botanical Garden

Take some time this month to head into Golden Gate Park and visit the Botanical Garden during one of their two free days.

Every second Tuesday, this attraction offers free entry to all visitors. This will take place on November 9th, 2021. 

The San Francisco Botanical Garden also offers free admission on every major US holiday including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. As such, you won’t have to pay for tickets on November 25th, 2021.

This 55-acre arboretum offers beautiful open spaces and over 8,500 plant species from around the world.

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT THIS NOVEMBER

Some of the activities and attractions we’ve listed like the Union Square Tree Lighting and Illuminate SF are great evening activities. This section will cover a few more to enjoy in the month of November.

 

 

If you’re looking for more ideas, check our post covering things to do at night in San Francisco.


San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest

Celebrating its 21st year, the San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest features a number of hip hop performances and dance companies from around the globe over multiple days. 

This award-winning event will include a variety of different talented dancers performing their best work for a live audience.

Check the San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest website for tickets and more information.

NOTE: This event is being taken virtual for 2021 to prevent the spread of Covid-19.


Eat at Pier 39

Buzzing with activity, Pier 39 is one of the most popular tourist stops in San Francisco. There are an abundance of restaurants and food kiosks to choose from in addition to a variety of souvenir shops. 

 


This photo of Crab House at Pier 39 is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

This is also the location where a lot of Sea Lions like to hang out, and you should be able to see them if you arrive before the sun goes down.

There are also a lot of fun attractions in the area such as the 7D Theater. In the evening, stick around for a carousel ride and keep your eyes out for street performers.


See Alcatraz After Dark

If you’re looking for a spooky activity, consider going on a tour of Alcatraz after the sun goes down. There’s nothing quite like visiting one of the most historic prisons in the world at night!

Alcatraz night tours include details and activities that aren’t available during the day, so it’s a pretty special experience which is definitely different from the average trip.

There are only a few opportunities to do this each night, and tickets can sell out fast. As a result, we recommend purchasing admission well ahead of time if this sounds like a good idea.

Read our post about Alcatraz night tours for more info about this service.

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN SAN FRANCISCO

We’ve listed some great family-friendly activities like the free day at the Botanical Gardens, the Bay Area Science Festival, the Union Square Christmas Tree lighting ceremony and more in other sections. 

 

 

This section will cover a few more kid-friendly things to experience in the Bay Area during the month of November.

If you’re looking for additional ideas, make sure to read our post about things to do with kids in San Francisco.


UNDETERMINED: Take the Kids to the Chocolate Salon

If your kids love chocolate sweets, this is one event you definitely won’t want to miss. The Fall Holiday Chocolate Salon features a variety of great treats from several notable chocolatiers and exhibitors.

This event will be held at the San Francisco County Fair Building Auditorium in Golden Gate Park.

Tickets will not be available at the door, so you’ll have to purchase them ahead of time. Admission prices ate $20 for adults and $10 for kids. All tastings, presentations, and events are included with entry.

NOTE: This event has yet to be scheduled for November 2021.


See the Holiday Castles of Westin St. Francis

Every holiday season, the Westin St. Francis puts up an incredible display for Christmas. This display typically includes a castle and additional festive decorations made out of cake, cookies and other pastries.

This display will be put up in late November, just in time for Thanksgiving. There’s no need to purchase anything in order to walk into the lobby and see this attraction.

The Westin St. Francis is right next to Union Square, so you might want to make a stop at the Christmas Tree while you’re in the area!

NOTE: It has yet to be determined if this will be happening again in 2021.


Discover a Life-Sized Gingerbread House

In addition to the display at the Westin St. Francis, there will also be an incredible holiday attraction at the Fairmont. Every year, they put up a life-sized gingerbread house made using actual gingerbread bricks.

This display is two stories high and it includes a lot of amazing holiday decorations, as well as a private dining area for up to 10 guests.

Overnight guests are guaranteed access to the gingerbread house, but public hours will be limited at the discretion of the hotel.

For more details, check this post about the Fairmont Hotel Gingerbread House.

NOTE: It has yet to be determined if this will be happening again in 2021.


Attend WinterFest at California’s Great America

If you’re planning to visit an amusement park, it’s worth noting that Great America will be hosting a special WinterFest event beginning in late November.

Visitors can expect an ice rink, falling snow, holiday lights, decorations, live shows, and even holiday-themed rides. All activities will be included with admission to the park.

TIP: Don’t forget that admission to California’s Great America is included with at least one major San Francisco tourist pass. This is a great way to save money on tickets!

 


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About The Author

Britt

Britt is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and has spent 25 years in this magical city. He has traveled to over 30 countries, and has never found a place he loves as much as this one! If you come to San Francisco, you might join one of Britt's tours of the city. A graduate of the University of Maryland and University of Southern California, he has been leading tours for Free Tours by Foot since 2015.
Updated: September 27th, 2021
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