In between back-to-school shopping and preparing for cooler weather, you can still find time to pay a visit to one of the most popular parks in the United States. There’s plenty to do! You could step back into time and celebrate a decade marked by colored jeans and babydoll dresses. Try expanding your cultural horizons with free Saturdays at de Young, Irish song and dance, Oktoberfest celebrations, Spanish traditions, and/or operatic performances.

To see which events at Golden Gate Park in September that you’d like to participate in, check out the following options:

Thursday NightLife – California Academy of Sciences – September 5, 12, 17 & 24

With changing themes, activities, food, and drink, Thursdays at the Academy are a must for locals and visitors alike to experience. Doors open at 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. You must purchase your tickets ahead of time and sometimes, they sell out—so it’s essential to act fast. To gain entry, you must also prove that you are at least 21 years old.

In September, mark your calendars for the following themed nights at the Academy:

September 5. Fermented NightLife: Interest in fermentation is on the rise, and the number of associated products has increased. The science behind the process has found a place in the world of chocolate, kombucha, and many other kinds of edibles and drinks. That’s why some of the best makers in the Bay Area have been invited to share their creations. Topics that will be discussed include koji (the mold that enhances the flavor of many Japanese foods); how to brew your own kombucha; coffee and bread from the Tartine Bakery; and home-brew techniques with samples of bacteria and yeast to take home. Music for the night comes courtesy of MOM DJs.

September 12. NightLife LIVE: Duckwrth: Co-presented by Noise Pop and in partnership with many others, the Academy has organized a live performance in the West Garden by South Central LA rapper Duckwrth with G.L.A.M. Outside, the “Flora Dome” lights up the garden. Pop-up shops from local creators offer art pieces from Paint Pen Collective artists, screen printed shirts and totes by San Franpsycho and curated vinyl selections from Amoeba Music. DJ sets by davOmakesbeats (Swagger Like Us) will also entertain throughout the evening.

September 17. ’90s NightLife: Flannels and high-waisted jeans rule! Expect a pop culture explosion of all things ’90s during this NightLife. Rest your thumbs so that you can participate in a classic video game tournament. Ever wonder just how accurate some of the biggest films from the ’90s are—think Volcano and Contact—Bay Area experts will be on hand to confirm or debunk all of your burning suspicions. Sip on cocktails representing the best of the ’90s while munching on nostalgic snacks. The Bedazzlers will deliver a DJ set for the night for a dance party filled with old school jams. Another musical option is Awesome Orchestra Collective’s medley of movie soundtracks from the ’90s.

September 24. NightLife Presents: FURY: A special presentation of FURY takes over the East Garden at the Academy. This “multimedia concert experience” gains inspiration from George Miller’s film, Mad Max: Fury Road. The indie-pop band YASSOU, composer Kirstina Dutton, and choreographer Danielle Rowe accompany a collection of world-class dancers portraying characters depicting a fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Other highlights of the night include learning about the science behind the way drought-tolerant plants survive, as well as having an inside look at the process of creating FURY.

Saturdays at de Young – de Young Museum – September 7, 14, 21 & 28

In the past, Fridays were the happening day of the week at the de Young, but now, it’s Saturdays time to shine. Every Saturday, expect free general admission and an assortment of free programs and activities typically centering on a specific theme. There will be art-making projects, enhanced gallery tours, sketching in the permanent collection galleries, and unique celebrations to enjoy. To reserve your space, click here.

Saturday events at the de Young scheduled for September include:

  • September 7: Come learn about the history and social work that HOMEY (Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth) has achieved in the past 20 years. The Piazzoni Murals Room celebrates District 9 with a discussion on HOMEY’s latest mural project (from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.). The art of storytelling comes alive at Wilsey Court with a presentation of The Neighborhood Postcard Project with Hunter Franks from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy a session of sketching in Gallery 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All skill levels are welcome to hop on a gallery stool and experiment with the provided materials.
  • September 14: Historian Dr. Richard Bell’s special lecture on the Tony-winning musical Hamilton is a must for fans. It takes place from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Koret Auditorium. You should know that this experience has first come, first served, limited seating; tickets are distributed in front of the Koret Auditorium an hour before the start of the lecture. Also, stop by Gallery 23 to gain inspiration, try out new art materials, and sketch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • September 21: Local tattoo artist Tex Buss hosts a talk and gallery tour from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. that touches upon some of the challenges that artists can face in tattooing. She will cover aspect of traditional composition. Afterward, she’ll lead you on a tour of the permanent galleries and guide a hands-on art activity in the Piazzoni Murals Room. You’ll also have a chance to get those creative juices flowing at Gallery 17 when you take a moment to dabble with the provided materials and sketch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • September 28: This week, it’s all about books! From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., the Piazzoni Murals Room celebrates Ruth Asawa’s art with a book reading and signing by Joan Schoettler, who penned the picture book “Ruth Asawa, A Sculpting Life.” Schoettler will also facilitate Ruth Asawa’s Milk Carton Sculpture activity. In Koret Auditorium, join the muralists responsible for “MaestraPeace” for a panel discussion and book signing celebrating the launch of the monumental feminist mural in San Francisco. This event runs from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. In Gallery 30, the museum provides materials for a sketch session from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

GGP Nursery Workday: Growing Local Plants – GGP Nursery – September 7

The Natural Resource Division invites you to discover the ins and outs of native plant propagation. You will learn how to transform locally collected wild seeds, spores, and cuttings into fully grown plants. See what it takes for a seedling to become a flowering or fruit-bearing specimen. The plants you propagate will eventually find a new home during winter-planting in the park, wildlife habitats, and other natural areas. You must be 12 years or older to volunteer.

To register for this event, call (415) 831-6330 or email. It is scheduled to run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Golden Gate Park Nursery is located at 100 Martin Luther King Jr Dr.

Guided Trail & Nature Walk – Stow Lake – September 7

Every first Saturday, come to Stow Lake for an exploration of nature that’s sure to get you energized and ready to tackle the rest of the weekend. You don’t have to pre-register to participate; just come to the Boathouse at 10 a.m. and expect to get acquainted with native plants and wildlife for about two hours. However, keep an eye out for the day’s weather forecast; trail walks cancel when it’s raining or when conditions are unsafe.

Opera in the Park – Robin Williams Meadow – September 8

The San Francisco Opera Orchestra sets up shop this month to showcase the talents of headlining performers for the fall season (like Romeo and Juliet and Billy Budd). The concert includes a mix of pop classics, operatic favs, and songs highlighting new and upcoming productions. There is no cost to enjoy this special event. It starts at 1:30 p.m. and takes place at the Robin Williams Meadow (formally Sharon Meadow).

Artists’ Reception: Chinese Brush Paintings – SF Botanical Garden – September 12

The Garden is hosting an artists’ reception for A Classical Eye: Chinese Brush Paintings of the Botanical Garden from the Teachers and Students of The Pine Studio. The exhibit highlights traditional Chinese painting techniques and features artwork by Miki Pan, Michelle Tsao, Katy Yan, and Yetta Allen, just to name a few. Framed paintings and unframed prints are available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Library. This free event is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture.

Full Moon Walk – SF Botanical Garden – September 13

The Garden after dark is genuinely a thing of beauty, which is why a docent-led tour by the light of a full moon is an event you won’t want to miss. Come prepared with a flashlight, so you don’t overlook any of the foliage and flowers on display. Fog does not cancel this event, but heavy rain will. This walk runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Admission fees are $28 for members and $30 for non-members. To claim a ticket for this event, click here.

Plant Sale – SF Botanical Garden – September 14

It’s that time again…when the Garden’s Nursery opens up shop and offers to outfit your home or garden with an array of greenery and blooms. The headliners for this month’s show are plants and succulents native to California. Head for the Main Gate to reach the Entry Garden, where you can browse and buy specimens from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Golden Gate Park Cleanup – Murphy’s Windmill – September 14

The DSE Runners are hosting a “Habitat Restoration Party” to show a bit of love for Golden Gate Park, a place that has served as the stomping grounds for many a race. Everyone is welcome to lend a hand. No need to worry about equipment and snacks; they will be provided. If you are interested, meet up on MLK Drive in the park at Murphy’s Windmill (near 48th Ave & Lincoln Way). Cleanup runs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Fall Painting Watercolor Workshop – SF Botanical Garden – September 14 & 15

Join local artist Sally Petru as she provides an introduction to botanical watercolors for those looking to add a few new techniques under their belt. Throughout the class (which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Petru will provide one-on-one guidance. The first half of the workshop is spent observing and drawing a fresh specimen. The end result: a life-size composition in graphite. The second half of the day explores basic pigments and focuses on how to transform your art into a colorful masterpiece. No art experience required. There is only space for 15 people, so don’t delay. Reserve your space here; the fee is $85 for members and $100 for non-members.

Spreckels Lake 5K & San Franciscan Mile + Kid’s Run – JFK Dr & 36th Ave – September 15

What’s better than one race in the middle of Golden Gate Park? Try two: a fast-paced, downhill 1-mile race and/or a scenic-filled 5K loop. The 1-mile excursion starts at 8:45 a.m. and offers an uphill walk/jog at Kennedy Driver near Transverse Drive with a downhill finish by Spreckles Lake. The 5K race follows the 1-mile event with runners taking their mark at Kennedy Drive/36th Avenue near Spreckles Lake. The course touches upon Chain of Lakes Dr., MLK Jr. Dr., and a finish near the Lake. The Kids Run will be held after the end of the 5K.

The entire event runs from 8:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Participate in one race ($3 members and $5 nonmembers) or test your endurance with both races ($5 members and $7 non-members). For more information, click here.

GGP Band Irish Cultural Celebration – Spreckels Temple of Music – September 15

Wearing your best green threads is optional when you come to Spreckels Temple for a celebration of Irish culture, song, dance, and traditions with the Golden Gate Park Band. 

The Band regularly performs on Sundays with concerts starting at 1 p.m. in the Music Concourse. There is no intermission. Expect the music to play until 2:30 p.m. or 2:45 p.m. It’s the perfect occasion to have a picnic, mingle with friends, invite a date, or just have an entertaining outing with the family.

Disappointedly, the 2019 season will soon come to an end; so don’t forget to check out the remaining Golden Gate Park Band concerts scheduled for September:

  • September 22: Celebrate Spain with music and dance.
  • September 29: Listen to music celebrating people, places, and things.

“Comedy Day in the Park” – Robin Williams Meadow – September 15

Feeling down? Need a pick me up? Laughter is the best medicine, and Golden Gate Park is more than happy to deliver a healthy dose of silliness. This annual event is heading into its 39th year and will present the largest single-day comedy event that San Francisco has to offer. Over 40 comedians will entertain for five hours straight during a free show that has seen surprise guests, like Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres, and Whoopi Goldberg, make an appearance.

Head for the Robin Williams Meadow (formally Sharon Meadow) for a good laugh; the show takes place on one stage and runs from noon to 5 p.m.

Botanicals and Brews: Oktoberfest – Conservatory of Flowers – September 20

In celebration of Oktoberfest, the Conservatory welcomes Standard Deviant Brewing, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, and Plow Brewing to share some of their brews. Polka band Fog City Trio is on tap to entertain with live tunes from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., while you sip and sample edibles from The Little Red Riding Truck and Roadside Rotisserie.

General admission ($29) includes a complimentary craft brew, while the Master Brewer package ($49) adds in a flight of four sample brews and a souvenir glass to take home.

The festivities are scheduled to run from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Secure your space by purchasing your tickets here.

Liver Life Walk San Francisco – Music Concourse – September 21

Looking to do a little “good” before the end of the month? How about participating in a walk that aims to increase awareness and raise funds for educational programs and patient services for those affected by one of 100 known liver diseases. In addition to the walk itself, there will be activities for the kiddies, food, entertainment, and plenty of info on the American Liver Foundation. Registration opens at 8 a.m. with the opening ceremony at 9 a.m. The walk kicks off at 9:20 a.m. with an anticipated end time of 11:30 a.m. to noon.

For additional details, click here.

San Francisco WALK to End Hydrocephalus – Music Concourse – September 28

They are so close! Help push the Hydrocephalus Association’s fund-raising efforts over its goal mark by participating in a walk that raises awareness to a potentially life-threatening condition that causes a buildup of fluid that affects the brain. Register for this event between 7:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. before the opening ceremonies kick off at 8:45 a.m. The walk begins at 9 a.m. and continues on until 10 a.m. Afterward, join in on post-event activities from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

For more information on the event, to sign up, learn about parking options, or make a donation, click here.