San Francisco: Family-Friendly Autumn Events

By: Maxine Sheppard

October 16, 2012

As we’ve written several times before, San Francisco really comes into its own in the autumn. The summer fog dissipates and October’s skies are often blue and cloudless, making it one of the best times of year for a visit. If you’re travelling to the City by the Bay in the near future, we’ve picked out a handful of upcoming family-friendly events to enjoy…


The Grand National Rodeo

The Grand National Rodeo, Horse and Livestock Show, to give it its full name, is one of the USA’s largest and most well-attended rodeo events. Spread across two weekends, this 70-year October tradition includes nightly rodeo displays – including a kids event – with top cowboys and cowgirls, alongside a prestigious horse show and performances from some of the big names in country music. Enjoy nightly dancing and a Western-style barbeque featuring huge Harris Ranch ribeye steaks, and stock up on hand-crafted belts, boots and cowboy hats at the huge Grand National Marketplace.



Grand National Rodeo © San Francisco Travel Association Grand National Rodeo © San Francisco Travel Association


 Cow Palace, 19-20 Oct and 26-27 Oct.

Potrero Hill Festival

Sunny, residential Potrero Hill is located on the eastern side of the peninsula which protects it from much of the fog. Its hilly streets found fame as the location for parts of the famous Steve McQueen car chase scene in the 1968 film Bullitt; these days it’s a coveted family neighbourhood with magnificent views of the San Francisco skyline and its own burgeoning nightlife and dining scene along 18th Street. For a real taste of local city life, head to the 23rd annual Potrero Festival and indulge in a New Orleans-style brunch with the community before checking out all the food trucks, homegrown art and crafts, children’s petting zoo and street performances.



© Potrero Festival © Potrero Festival


20 October, 11am – 4pm, 20th Street between Missouri and Wisconsin Streets. 

Leap’s Annual Sandcastle Contest

This hugely popular event has been running since 1983 and draws thousands of people to Ocean Beach. This year’s theme is ‘Things that jump’ and is set to be the largest event to date, with 28 teams from the bay area’s leading building, architecture firms and corporations taking part. Each team is paired up with a San Francisco school to design and build their sandcastle and they must complete it within four hours, to a maximum size of 20′ x 20, using nothing other than sand and water. Look out for some amazing sand sculptures ranging from frogs to spaceships, and maybe even a cow jumping over the moon.


20 October, 10am – 4pm, Ocean Beach. 

Virgin Atlantic operates daily direct flights to San Franciso from London Heathrow.

Header photo of the Bay Bridge © Darwin Bell


Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.

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