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When summer fades some destinations lose their luster, not so for San Francisco. In fact, come September and October the weather can be downright perfect— sunny and warm but not too hot and no fog! With Labor Day already nudging out summer, now is an ideal time to plan a SF visit.

Also: These up-and-coming cities have the coolest hotels in America

Autumn Moon Festival

Autumn Moon Festival | Flickr CC: Johnathan Chen

Fest in show

There’s much to do and see. The San Francisco Fringe Festival kicks off September 9. The two week festival is known for a being a marathon of the memorable and offering alternative, classical, comedy, cabaret and new theatre. Peek at listings on and you’ll see quite a lineup, including All That Jazz!, a completely improvised musical set in the 1940s swing era and Atomic Cabaret, a multi-media musical solo show on the nuclear state of the world by physicist and performance artist Lynda Williams. No doubt, you haven’t likely seen performances like these before.

That same weekend marks the Autumn Moon Festival, featuring multicultural entertainment, traditional lion and dragon dances, arts and crafts, lantern village, moon cakes and cool stuff for kids. If you’re looking for culture, enjoy Opera in the Park. Scenic Golden Gate Park is the venue for this free event which features arias and ensembles by the best of the San Francisco Opera and the Opera Orchestra.

Oktoberfest By the Bay

Oktoberfest By the Bay | Flickr CC: Augie Schwer

Beer lovers will want to hit up SF for Oktoberfest By the Bay (September 23-25). It’s a rip roaring good time with singing, dancing, German food and, of course, brewskis and more brewskis. That same weekend you can take in the sites at the Folsom Street Fair, which has the distinction of being called the “daddy of all leather celebrations.” The largest leather, alternative and fetish street fair in the world draws some 400,000 people a year, dressed in leather, rubber, uniforms, drag, or just enough to cover essential parts.

No worries if you can’t make it to town in September, October holds promise too. Mid-month boasts all kinds of amusements. The Potrero Hill Festival (October 15) is all about fun, food, music and community activities, especially for the kids who can enjoy a puppet show and petting zoo. Also take in theTreasure Island Music Festival (October 15-16). Internationally renowned artists come for the two-day outdoor festival featuring electronic music, indie pop, local designers, artists, food and beverages, all with the backdrop of the awesome view of the Bay and San Francisco Skyline.

The following weekend you can catch the tale end of the Grand National Rodeo, Horse and Stock Show at Cow Palace (October 14-15, 21-22). Bareback riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronco riding, team and tie-down roping and bull riding are part of the lineup.

You won’t want to miss the San Francisco Dance Film Festival (October 20-13), a four-day event showcasing some of the best dance films from around the world and locally. From feature documentaries on choreographic legends to experimental shorts, those who love all things dance will be quite content.

Mystic Hotel Bar

Mystic Hotel Bar | Photo courtesy of Mystic Hotel

Eat, stay, love

Expect to eat and eat. San Francisco is the stuff of culinary legend. Whether you go for homey, comfort food or Michelin fare, it’s hard to have a bad meal in this town, especially at places like The Liholiho Yacht Club, the Progress, Al’s Place and Quince Restaurant. There’s no shame in the amount of nightlife and bars. Some of the more popular haunts include Whitechapel, The Lark, The Treasury and Pete’s.

When you reach the point of saturation and must rest, there’s no shortage of fine places to lay your head. Whether you want a boutique hotel like the Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer, the Marker or the Argonaut or a safe standby like the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, the options are plentiful. If you’re looking for something shabby chic and a little rock ‘n’ roll, check out the Phoenix in the scrappy Tenderloin neighborhood.

Visit the newly expanded SF MOMA

Visit the newly expanded SF MOMA | Flickr CC: Fabrice Florin

In addition to all the special events, your visit won’t be complete without San Francisco standards like the a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, the SF MOMA, the California Academy of Sciences or the de Young Museum. If you can squeeze it in, a trip to Alcatraz, or the nearby Napa Valley wine region or always quaint Sausalito on the other side of the Bay is time well spent. One thing is for sure, an autumn visit almost guarantees you’ll leave your heart in SanFrancisco.

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Tagged: California

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Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl is a writer and editor, specializing in travel, personal finance, business and career topics. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Money,,,, Upscale Magazine, Essence, Black Enterprise and others.

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