SAN FRANCISCO, OCTOBER 7, 2011- October in San Francisco means the weather is finally getting warm, the grapes are being harvested into wine and the city’s craziest come out for Halloween. Here is a list of 10 great things you can do in and around San Francisco to take advantage. These are in no particular order, they’re all great ideas!
- Head to wine country and attend a wine harvest event. Whether is a large regional harvest event like Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend, St. Helena Harvest Festival, Hopland Fall Passport Weekend and SLO Country Rockin Harvest (technically this is in November, but still a great event!) or a winery individual event you can’t go wrong. Here are some helpful lists to finding the perfect winery harvest event for you. Sonoma. Napa. Livermore. Santa Cruz. Lodi. Paso Robles. ALL CA wine region listing by The California Wine Institute.
- 41st Annual Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival: Gigantic, car-sized pumpkins on display, the remarkably talented “Picasso of pumpkin carvers”, harvest-inspired crafts by America’s top artists, the richest, creamiest pumpkin pie on the planet, three stages of entertainment, and much more. It’s the real thing. An original autumn classic. Admission is FREE.
- Alcatraz tour: Suggest taking the evening tour. Nothing adds to the creepy factor of Alcatraz like darkness. Be sure to take the audio tour, giving you all sorts of Alcatraz history. Seek out a docent for their one of a kind insider tours on topics such as escape attempts, the Indian takeover, military and more. This is a must do event while in SF.
- 4th Annual Halloween Haunt at Great America: According the press releases and commercials, this year’s event will be more intense than ever with the addition of new shows like “Zombies Gone Viral”, “Blood Drums”, the SlaughterHouse Annihilation maze, and new and improved Dead Man’s Cove–Forsaken Souls scare zone. Don’t bring your little tykes to this event, it is rated PG-13. Who wouldn’t enjoy riding a roller coaster while dressed up like a vampire, and sit next to the wolfman? Buy tickets in advance at a discount from their website.
- Bay boat tours. You’ve got lots of options here. Red & White Fleet Sunset cruises, Hornblower dinner or dancing cruises, and my personal favorite, Bay Voyager RIB total SF boat tours. Bay Voyager tours are first and only large passenger RIB (rigid inflatable boats) in the San Francisco Bay. You are so close to the water you can practically touch it. Suggest going in the afternoon to maximize the chances of warmer weather. Charles, the owner, is very accommodating and will ensure you have a one of a kind experience. Excellent for out of town guests as well as locals. I learned new things about San Francisco and I’ve lived here for 12 years.
- Vampire tour of Nob Hill. Yes, that’s right, vampires! Little known fact about SF, it has history with the sunlight avoiding, God fearing blood-suckers. On this tour, explore the gothic side of San Francisco and learn how vampires have played an important part in the shaping of San Francisco as we know it today. Video preview.
- Fright Nights at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. The grounds of the Winchester are transformed into a terrifying Halloween experience. Filled with haunted walk-throughs of the house, roaming scare performers, and nightmare inducing tales like the “Curse of Sarah Winchester Maze” billed as a “multi-sensory gateway between Heaven and Hell”. Sept 30 – Oct 31. Tickets.
- Sonoma Wine Shop Scary Halloween: Enjoy a delectable dinner, savor the yummy wines being poured, bust out your best 80s dance moves, and revel in authentic fire dancing. Reservations are a must for this unique Halloween experience.
- Sing, dance, pop and scream at Halloween themed concerts and art shows. The one that looks the best is Michael Jackson’s Thriller Halloween Ball at Bimbo’s 365, but I’m a sucker for MJ. Other notable mentions: The Damned 35th Anniversary at Slim’s, ShEvil Dead - Live on Stage! at CELLspace (they don’t charge extra to sit in the blood seats).
- Hit one of the many large Halloween parties. There is never a lack of party option in San Francisco, especially around Halloween. Everyone loves to get dressed up here! Here are a few of the big parties going on. Masquerotica at Concourse Exhibition Center, Monster Bash at Beauty Bar, Deadmau5 at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Ghost Ship IV: The Afterlife at Treasure Island, True Blood Halloween 2011 at Terra and All Hallow’s Eve at DNA Lounge. All events are 21+.
The complete list of parties is far too long to include. SF Station has the down-low on all the parties, concerts and other events happening around San Francisco and pick your poison carefully! Be sure to buy your tickets in advance, they are sure to sell out!
Absolutely, positively dress in costume for most of these events. Don’t wait until the day before to buy your costumes. The shops in SF are pretty picked through by the third week in October. Buy online to save time and frustration.
If the event requires tickets, be sure to buy them in advance, they often times sell out and usually you can get cheaper tickets online.
If you are taking public transportation, you can take MUNI buses and streetcars to many of these events/venues. If you are coming from the East Bay, you can take BART and transfer to MUNI. If you are coming from the South Bay, you can take CalTrain and transfer to MUNI. From Marin, Golden Gate Transit buses. To plan your trip with all available public transportation, click here.
For info on the history of Halloween. Read up on how Halloween literally means “summer’s end” but here in San Francisco, we know it is our beginning (at least for weather).
Columnist Sherrie Perkovich offers an insider’s perspective of the very best San Francisco has to offer. Join her weekly to experience the best the City by the Bay has to offer - from parties to parks and everything in between.
Sherrie is a San Francisco local that fancies herself an extroverted fine dining, wine drinking, know-it-all. If it’s happening in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sherrie is in on it. Follow her column, for the widest range of Out and About San Francisco treats.