Everything Fun You Can Do in San Francisco This Weekend

Broadway musicals, immersive art, light shows, the Great Dickens Fair, and more!

Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations | Photo by Emilio Madrid
Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations | Photo by Emilio Madrid

Whether you’re ready or not, the holidays are upon us, which means this weekend, you can shop at several art markets, explore Victorian London during Christmas time at the Great Dickens Fair, and see the Embarcadero light up for the 36th year in a row. If you’re not quite ready to embrace the holiday spirit, there’s plenty of non-holiday stuff to do as well, including performances of a hit Broadway musical, life-sized miniature golf at Oracle Park, the Calistoga Food & Wine event, pet adoption fundraisers, and more. For more fun stuff to do in San Francisco anytime, check out our fall guide.

Friday, November 18–Sunday, November 20
Golden Gate Theatre
You don’t want to miss this Tony Award-nominated musical that follows the Temptations’ journey from teenagers in Detroit to world-famous chart-toppers. You’ll hear all of the songs you love (and see some pretty sweet dance moves) while learning each band member’s story, as well as the personal and political conflicts that threatened to tear them apart (bring tissues). The show only runs through December 4, so get your tickets ASAP.
Cost: $56 to $256

Friday, November 18–Monday, January 23
Asian Art Museum
Warring States Cyberpunk, a part-comic book, part-motion picture exhibit from Kongkee, an award-winning animation director and visual artist, opens at the Asian Art Museum on Friday. The multimedia event follows the renowned Chinese poet Qu Yuan on a soul journey from the ancient Chu Kingdom to an imagined 21st century Asia complete with cyborgs, electro rock, and unexpected romantic reunions. While you’re there, check out the Annual Holiday Artisan Market where you can shop for one-of-a-kind goods from local makers (Friday and Saturday, only).
Cost: $30 for the Kongkee exhibit; the holiday market is free

Thursday, November 17–Sunday, January 1
Macy’s Union Square
For the first time since 2019, the San Francisco SPCA and Macy’s Union Square are bringing back the beloved Holiday Windows full of rescue cats and dogs just waiting to be adopted. The windows will be unveiled on Friday, and you can see the adorable animals Thursdays through Sundays from 12 pm to 5 pm through January 1. Just be warned: You may very well walk away with a new best friend in tow. You can also drop off essential supplies, like towels, cat and dog toys, and more. Can’t make it there in person? Don’t fret. There will be live cams so you can see the cuteness overload from home.
Cost: Free, but donations are always appreciated.

Friday, November 18–Sunday, January 29
Pier 15 and The Exploratorium
GLOW: Discover the Art of Light, the Exploratorium’s annual exhibition of captivating light art installations, returns to Pier 15 this weekend. See the interactive and immersive art starting this weekend through the end of January. Prefer your Exploratorium visit with fewer children and maybe a cocktail or two? Go on Thursday nights for “After Dark,” when the museum is only open to those 18 and over.
Cost: Daytime tickets average around $50. After Dark Thursday tickets are $19.95.

Friday, November 18–Sunday, November 20
The renowned international contemporary art gallery LUMAS just opened its flagship West Coast outpost, showcasing the works of famous and emerging local Bay Area artists, native Californians, and global artists. Oakland-based contemporary artist, Fernando Reyes, is first up with this PAPER DOLLS collection debut.
Cost: Varies

Friday, November 18–Sunday, November 20
Oracle Park
The most gorgeous ballpark in the world is transforming into a one-of-a-kind, nine-hole golf course this weekend. Tee off from iconic ballpark locations and try to land shots onto the greens on the field. It’s like mini golf… but way bigger.
Cost: Tickets start at $99.

Friday, November 18
Embarcadero Center
Kick off the holidays at the family-friendly Annual Building Lighting Ceremony & Carnival at Embarcadero. The fun starts at 4 pm with carnival games, face painting, and a special appearance from Santa and his elves, and culminates in the illumination of the SF skyline with 17,000 lights outlining the Embarcadero Center.
Cost: Admission is free.

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Saturday, November 19–Sunday, November 20
Cow Palace
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party returns to the Cow Palace in all of its glory for the first time since 2019. Wander the winding lanes of Victorian London to discover characters from Dickens novels, chimney sweeps, carolers, Father Christmas, music halls, dance parties, theaters, pubs, and lots of “shoppes.” Go hungry and thirsty as you’ll want to eat roasted chestnuts and shepherd's pie, and drink plenty of absinthe. The fair is open on weekends (plus the Friday after Thanksgiving) through December 18.
Cost: $30 to $45 for adults

Saturday, November 19–Sunday, November 20
Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center
West Coast Craft is rolling into town for the weekend with goods from over 275 artists and designers who are sure to have something for everyone on your list, as well as food and drinks (alcoholic and NA) to keep you happy and hydrated.
Cost: Admission is free.

Saturday, November 19
Solbar at Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection/Calistoga
Taste world-class wines from 38 Calistoga wineries and food from seven acclaimed Napa Valley restaurants at the Calistoga Food & Wine event at Solage. The three-hour fest includes walk-around wine tasting, gourmet food pairings, and live music. Wineries include Bennett Lane, Chateau Molena, Solario Family Wines, and so many more. Restaurants include Solbar, The Mattheson, Truss, Little Saint, and others.
Cost: $250

Sunday, November 20
San Francisco County Fair Building
Taste the best chocolates and confections at this event, where you’ll get to taste the sweet treats of over 25 chocolatiers, confectioners, and other culinary artists, while also shopping for all of your host and hostess gifts for the holiday season. And why not treat yourself while you’re at it?
Cost: $20

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Daisy Barringer is an SF-based freelance writer who is taking advantage of these strange times by exploring San Francisco on foot. Follow her on Instagram to see where she goes next.