This post covers things to do in November in San Francisco, updated for 2023.
We include free, nighttime, and family-friendly activities.
We lead thousands of people each month through the streets of San Francisco, and on every tour, you ask us about things to do in the city.
So, we've used our expertise and experiences as local guides to create this post for you.
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:
- The Original San Francisco Tour
- San Francisco in One Day
- Lombard Street, Little Italy, & Fisherman’s Wharf
- Secrets, Scandals & Scoundrels of San Francisco
- The Gold Rush, Wild West & Early Years of San Francisco
- The Castro and the Fight for Equal Rights
- Downtown San Francisco
- Billionaire’s Square
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Fisherman’s Wharf
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 sports teams in the Bay Area, and some of them will have games in November.
You can find other sporting events in the Bay Area here.
3. Go to a Concert
The Bay Area has some of the most popular venues in the world and attracts many talented musicians.
There are a number of musical artists coming to the area in November.
- John Mayer | November 7th
- Queen and Adam Lambert | November 8th, 9th
- The National | November 10th
- The Hives | November 12th
- The Mavericks | November 10th, 11th
- Kesha | November 17th
- Los Lobos | November 17th, 18th
- Parliament Funkadelic/George Clinton | November 25th
- San Francisco Symphony | various dates
- San Francisco Opera | various dates
- San Jose Opera | various dates
- Hip-Hop Made the Bay | November 3rd | SAP Center | feat: Ice Cube, Warren G, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and more
- The Reunion Tour | November 5th | Oakland Arena | feat: Kirk Franklin, Tye Tribbett, The Clark Sisters, and more
You can find even more concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area here.
4. See a Hit Show
No matter when you come to San Francisco, chances are there will be at least one notable musical or theatrical event to see in the area.
- The Lion King Tour | November 22nd-29th | San Francisco
- Ain't Too Proud | November 1st-5th | San Jose
- Disney Junior Live no Tour: Costume Palooza | November 16th, 19th | San Jose and Oakland
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas | November 28th, 29th | San Jose
You can find other theatrical 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
The San Francisco area attracts a lot of stand-up comedians, and there are a few performances you won't want to miss.
- Jim Gaffigan/Jerry Seinfeld | November 2nd, 3rd
- Chelsea Handler | November 4th, 5th
- Jo Koy | November 10th
- Iliza Schlesinger | November 11th
- Margaret Cho | November 18th
- Alan Carr | November 20th, 21st
Check this list of stand-up comedy shows for even more chances to laugh this November.
6. Attend the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot
Before the parades, football games, and eating commence, head down to Golden Gate Park for the 20th annual SF Turkey Trot!
These walk/run races will include a kid's 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 23rd.
Check the Turkey Trot website for more information.
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!
This free annual ceremony will feature performances from local artists followed by the lighting of the tree which includes 30,000 lights and nearly 1,100 decorations.
This event will likely be taking place sometime near the end of November. Visitors should expect large crowds.
The date hasn't been released at the time of this post, so keep an eye on the Union Square events calendar for updates.
You can find a number of other tree-lighting ceremonies in San Francisco here.
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.
8. Attend a Film Festival
The Napa Valley Film Festival celebrates film, food and wine.
This five-day event takes place during Cabernet season and brings together winery partners, actors, and independent films in one location.
Notable actors who have attended past events include Lara Dern, Janelle Monae, Viggo Mortensen, Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Will Ferrel, and Kurt Russell.
The festival takes place from November 13th to 17th.
Visit the Napa Valley Film Festival website for more information.
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 5th and 6th from 11 am - 5 pm each day. Best of all, it won’t cost a dime to attend!
Visit the San Francisco Renegade Craft Tour website for additional information.
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 that 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:
- Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
- Golden Gate Bay Cruise
- The San Francisco Dungeon
- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
- California Academy of Sciences
- California’s Great America
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not
- San Francisco Zoo
- Madame Tussauds
- Oracle Park Tour
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.
Stop Your Boots at the Sundance Stompede
For four nights guests can take part in dance workshops, dance parties, dance exhibits, a Boots Only Ball, and much more.
This country-western event is for the LGBTQ community and those who support it.
This year activities take place November 9th-12th at various locations.
Sadly, this may be the last year the event, which first took place in 1997, will be taking place so be to join in on its last celebration.
Read more about the Sundance Stompede here.
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 that 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
In November the city comes alive through illumination!
Covering 17 neighborhoods and featuring 62 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.
Dates haven't been released yet, so visit the Illuminate website for more details.
Also, make sure to check this list of Installations to find an Illuminate SF display near you.
Visit this post to find out more about the Light Art Trail.
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.
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.
This 55-acre arboretum offers beautiful open spaces and over 8,500 plant species from around the world.
Every second Tuesday, on November on the 14th, this attraction offers free entry to all visitors
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 23rd, 2023.
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 out our post covering things to do at night in San Francisco.
San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest
Celebrating its 25th 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.
The DanceFest will be held at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre from November 11th and 12th.
Check the San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest website for tickets and more information.
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 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 Theatre. There will also be a Christmas Tree light show every half an hour between 5:00 and 10:00 pm from November 21st to January 7th.
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 that 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.
THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN NOVEMBER
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.
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 on November 19th.
All tastings, presentations, and events are included with entry. Tickets can be purchased here.
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 usually goes up in 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!
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.
Visit the website to read more about the Fairmont Hotel Gingerbread House.
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.
Visit California's Great America Winterfest websites for more information.
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!
Enjoy the Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Over five weekends in November and December, immerse yourself in Victorian London.
Hundreds of costumed players come together to interact with guests and put on performances.
Over 140,000 square feet of space is turned into music halls, dance floors, pubs, and festival shops at the Cow Palace in Daly City.
You'll find food, art, and crafts for sale as well.
Events take place November: 18th-19th, 24th-26th, and in December: 2nd-3rd, 9th-10th, 16th-17th.
Visit the Great Dickens Christmas Fair website for more information.