12 Must-Do Activities In San Francisco During October

things to do in san francisco in october

October is here and it's time to explore the charming city of San Francisco. With autumn in full swing, the crisp air and colorful foliage make the perfect backdrop for some of the most exciting events and activities of the year. From Halloween-themed spooky tours to mouthwatering food festivals and everything in between, there's something for everyone in this vibrant and eclectic city. Get ready to experience the best of what San Francisco has to offer by adding these 12 must-do activities to your October itinerary.

Activities Description
Fleet Week An annual event showcasing the military's finest aircrafts and performances
Oktoberfest by the Bay Traditional German festival featuring live music, food, and of course beer
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Free live music festival featuring bluegrass, country and folk musicians
San Francisco Giants Games Catch a baseball game at the iconic Oracle Park
Castro Street Fair A celebration of San Francisco's LGBTQ+ community with food, drinks, and entertainment
Bay Area Science Festival A 10-day festival celebrating science with hands-on activities for all ages
Ghost Walk in Chinatown A guided tour through San Francisco's oldest and most haunted neighborhood
TreasureFest - Oktoberfest A pop-up market featuring vendors, local artists, food and drinks
The Great Pumpkin Fest A pumpkin patch, costume contest, face painting and more fun for the whole family


Visit Alcatraz Island

Source: National Park Service

San Francisco in October is a great time to visit as the weather is mild and you can explore the city without the summer crowds. If you are planning a trip to San Francisco this October, one place you must visit is the Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz Island is located 1.5 miles offshore from San Francisco and is home to the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, which was operational from 1934 to 1963. The island has since become a popular tourist attraction, drawing thousands of visitors every year.

To visit Alcatraz Island, you need to book tickets in advance as they tend to sell out quickly, especially during the peak season. We recommend booking your tickets online at least a week in advance to secure your spot. The ferry ride to the island takes about 20 minutes from Pier 33 and offers stunning views of the San Francisco Bay.

Once you arrive at Alcatraz Island, you can take a self-guided audio tour of the prison cells and learn about the history of the penitentiary. You can also visit the recreation yard, the library, and the mess hall, and see where some of the most infamous prisoners were held, such as Al Capone and Robert Stroud, also known as the "Birdman of Alcatraz."

Apart from the prison, Alcatraz Island is also known for its natural beauty. You can take a stroll along the coast and enjoy the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline. You can also check out the island's thriving native plant and wildlife habitats, including a seabird colony and historic gardens.

October is a great time to visit Alcatraz Island as it is less crowded than the summer months, and the weather is usually mild with little or no rain. However, be sure to bring a jacket as temperatures can drop in the evening.

In conclusion, visiting Alcatraz Island should be at the top of your to-do list when visiting San Francisco in October. Book your tickets in advance, take a guided audio tour of the prison, and enjoy the island's natural beauty. You won't regret it!

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Enjoy the autumn foliage at Golden Gate Park

Source: SF Funcheap

As the leaves begin to change color and the temperature begins to cool down, San Francisco becomes a perfect destination for those looking to enjoy the autumn season. One great way to take in the beauty of the fall foliage is to visit Golden Gate Park.

Located in the heart of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park spans 1,017 acres and is home to some of the most stunning autumn scenery in the city. The park features a variety of trees, including maple, oak, and birch that turn golden yellow, fiery red, and deep orange during the fall months.

Visitors to the park can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the many walking paths and hiking trails that wind throughout the park. One of the most popular spots for a relaxing walk is the Japanese Tea Garden, which boasts a beautiful assortment of maple trees that turn a bright shade of red in the fall. Visitors can also take a romantic boat ride on the park's scenic lake, surrounded by the colorful foliage.

If you're looking for something a bit more active, Golden Gate Park has plenty of outdoor activities to offer. Rent a bicycle and ride along the park's bike trails, or take a jog on one of the park's many running paths. Golf enthusiasts will also be thrilled to know that the park is home to two beautiful golf courses.

While you're there, don't forget to visit the Conservatory of Flowers, a stunning Victorian greenhouse that showcases an impressive array of exotic plants from around the world. Visitors can walk through the different rooms and take in the beauty of the plants and flowers, making it a perfect indoor activity to enjoy on a rainy afternoon.

In addition to its natural beauty, Golden Gate Park is also home to a variety of free events and festivals throughout the fall season. From the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival to the Treasure Island Music Festival, there's always something exciting to look forward to in the park.

In conclusion, if you're looking for a way to enjoy the autumn season in San Francisco, be sure to visit Golden Gate Park. With its stunning foliage, outdoor activities, and festive events, it's a perfect destination to experience the beauty of autumn in the city.


Attend the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

Source: SFGATE

San Francisco is a beautiful and vibrant city in California with so much to offer visitors throughout the year. One of the best times to visit is in October, and one of the must-attend events during this time is the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is held annually in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park during the first weekend of October. It's a free music festival that celebrates bluegrass, folk, rock, and country music, and it attracts visitors from all over the world.

One of the things that make the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival special is the fact that it's a non-commercial event. It's not sponsored by any big corporations, and there are no vendors selling overpriced food and drinks. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own food and drinks and enjoy the music in a relaxed and family-friendly environment.

The festival features a lineup of more than 100 artists, and it takes place on multiple stages located throughout the park. Some of the most well-known performers who have graced the festival's stages in the past include Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bonnie Raitt, Gillian Welch, and Robert Plant.

Even though the festival is free, it's important to arrive early to secure a good spot. The park can get crowded quickly, especially if the weather is nice, and people tend to have their favorite spots that they like to claim early. It's also important to bring blankets, chairs, and warm clothes, as it can get chilly in the park during the evenings.

Apart from the music, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival also offers visitors a chance to explore the beauty of Golden Gate Park. During the day, visitors can take a stroll through the park's many gardens and museums, or they can rent a boat and explore Stow Lake. There are also plenty of food trucks and vendors selling local delicacies.

In summary, if you're planning a trip to San Francisco in October, attending the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is a must. It's a free and non-commercial event that celebrates great music, and it's a perfect chance to enjoy the beauty of Golden Gate Park. So make sure you bring your family and friends along and experience the magic of this incredible festival!

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Explore Chinatown

Source: The New York Times

San Francisco in October is a fantastic time to explore the city and all it has to offer. One of the must-visit places in San Francisco is Chinatown, and October is a particularly good time to explore this vibrant and bustling neighborhood.

Chinatown is one of the oldest and most historically significant Chinese neighborhoods in North America. It has a rich culture and boasts a variety of delicious Chinese restaurants, shops and markets selling a range of goods, from traditional teas and herbs to traditional Chinese lanterns and clothing.

In October, Chinatown is particularly lively due to the Chinese Autumn Moon festival, which usually takes place in mid-October. This is a time when families gather together to celebrate the harvest and enjoy mooncakes, a traditional Chinese pastry filled with sweet red bean paste, lotus seed paste, or egg yolk.

As you walk through Chinatown, you will be struck by the vibrant colors and intricate architecture that the neighborhood is known for. The Chinatown Gate, located on Grant Avenue and Bush Street, is a must-see photo opportunity and symbolizes the strong Chinese-American community in San Francisco.

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory is another stop you won't want to miss in Chinatown. Here, you can watch the cookie-making machines in action and even personalize your own fortune cookie message. These freshly made cookies are a delicious snack to enjoy as you continue exploring the neighborhood.

Another popular attraction in Chinatown is the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum. This museum displays artifacts and documents that showcase the history and culture of Chinese Americans in the United States.

Overall, Chinatown is a fascinating and culturally-rich neighborhood that should be on any San Francisco visitor's itinerary, particularly in October during the Autumn Moon festival. So if you're planning a trip to San Francisco, set aside some time to explore this vibrant and unique part of the city.


Take a cable car ride

Source: SFMTA

San Francisco in October is a magical time to visit this amazing city on the west coast. One of the must-do activities in San Francisco is taking a cable car ride. There's something so iconic about riding a cable car up and down the city's hills, and it's an experience you'll never forget. Here are some tips for taking a cable car ride in San Francisco in October.

First, you should know that cable car lines can be busy, especially if you're riding during peak tourist season in October. It's a good idea to plan ahead and figure out which lines you want to ride, and then try to avoid peak times if possible. You can find information about the different lines and schedules online, or at one of the many visitor centers around the city.

Secondly, be prepared for some waiting time. Cable cars can fill up quickly and wait times can be long, especially during peak times. But don't worry, the wait is definitely worth it. Once you're on the cable car, you'll be treated to stunning views of the city, including glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Thirdly, try to get a seat on the outside of the cable car. This will provide you with the best views and photo opportunities. It's also a good idea to bring a light jacket or sweater with you, as the breeze can be chilly, especially in the early morning or evening.

Finally, don't be afraid to chat with the conductor. They're usually very friendly and can give you some great insights into the history and culture of San Francisco.

There are three main cable car lines in San Francisco: Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California Street. Each line has its own unique route and stops, so plan accordingly. And don't forget to bring your camera and a sense of adventure – a cable car ride is truly a San Francisco experience that you won't want to miss.

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Discover the murals in the Mission District

Source: Mission Local

San Francisco in October is a great time to visit the city and take in its many diverse neighborhoods. One area that is a must-see is the Mission District, for its lively vibe, colorful buildings, and - perhaps most famously - its incredible murals.

The mural movement in the Mission District began in the 1970s, as a way for local artists to express themselves and tell the stories of the Mexican-American and Central American communities in the area. Today, the district boasts over 600 outdoor murals, making it one of the largest public art showcases in the country.

One of the best ways to experience the murals in the Mission District is to take a walking tour. Several organizations offer guided tours, including the Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center, a nonprofit that promotes the appreciation and understanding of Mission District murals. Tours typically last between 1.5 to 2 hours and cover a 6-10 block radius.

As you explore the murals in the neighborhood, you'll see a range of styles and subjects. Many focus on social justice themes, depicting struggles for worker's rights, environmental issues, and anti-gentrification campaigns. Others celebrate the diversity and cultural heritage of the neighborhood, featuring images of Aztec gods, Day of the Dead celebrations, and Cesar Chavez.

One of the most famous murals in the area is MaestraPeace, a 4-story high mural that depicts feminist and social justice heroes such as Frida Kahlo, Rigoberta Menchu, and Angela Davis. Another notable mural is Balmy Alley, where artists have painted over 100 murals on the buildings that line the narrow street.

The murals in the Mission District are not only beautiful but also serve as a reminder of the neighborhood's rich cultural heritage and history. They tell the stories of the people who have lived and worked in the area for generations, and the struggles they have faced to create a vibrant and diverse community.

In conclusion, if you're in San Francisco in October, make sure to take some time to explore the murals in the Mission District. It's a unique and powerful way to experience the city's art and culture, and to appreciate the ongoing efforts of its residents to create a more just and equitable society.


See a Giants game at Oracle Park

Source: The New York Times

In October, San Francisco is still bustling with activity and offers visitors a lot of entertainment and adventure. One activity that should not be missed is seeing a Giants game at Oracle Park. This is a perfect time to visit the park. The weather is usually temperate, and the crowds are thinner, making it easier to enjoy the game without too many distractions.

Oracle Park is one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country, with the San Francisco Bay as the backdrop, and the stadium is located in the heart of the city. The stadium was built with its fans in mind, and there's not a bad seat in the house. The field is perfectly manicured, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere is electric.

Visitors who want to catch a Giants game in October should check the team's schedule and plan accordingly. There are often games throughout the month, and with a bit of planning, it's easy to secure a seat for a game of one's choice.

Once at Oracle Park, visitors can enjoy some of the best game-day experiences the city has to offer. Fans can indulge in tasty food, enjoy a drink or two, and, of course, join in on the energy of the exciting game. It's a great way to bond with friends and family while taking part in a beloved American pastime.

In conclusion, October is an excellent time to visit San Francisco. The weather is pleasant, and the crowds are smaller. Seeing a Giants game at Oracle Park is a must-do activity for sports lovers and anyone who wants to experience the city's vibrant atmosphere. Consider attending a game during your trip, and you're sure to leave with unforgettable memories.


Have dim sum in the Richmond District

Source: Time Out

San Francisco in October is a great time to explore the city's vibrant neighborhoods and indulge in its diverse cuisine. One of the must-try experiences during your trip to San Francisco is dim sum in the Richmond District, a historic neighborhood located in the northwest corner of the city.

The Richmond District is well known for its Asian cuisine, and dim sum is one of the most popular dishes here. Dim sum is a unique meal that originated in Southern China and has become a staple in many countries around the world. It consists of small, bite-sized portions of savory or sweet food that are typically served in steamer baskets or on small plates.

If you're looking to experience the authentic flavors of dim sum while in San Francisco, head to Clement Street in the heart of the Richmond District. This street is lined with various authentic Chinese restaurants and shops, making it a great place to explore the neighborhood's food scene.

One of the top-rated dim sum restaurants on Clement Street is Good Luck Dim Sum. This unassuming eatery is a local favorite and is always packed with customers. Here, you can indulge in a variety of dim sum dishes, including steamed shrimp dumplings, pork buns, and barbecue pork rice noodle rolls.

Another great option for dim sum in the Richmond District is Dragon Beaux. This elegant restaurant has a modern twist on traditional dim sum, with dishes like black truffle shiu mai and foie gras xiao long bao. Dragon Beaux's extensive menu also includes a variety of hot pot options and other Chinese dishes, making it a great place for a group outing.

For those looking for vegetarian or vegan dim sum options, Lou's Dim Sum is a great choice. This restaurant specializes in plant-based dim sum and includes creative dishes like spinach and soy dumplings and mushroom buns.

Overall, exploring the Richmond District and indulging in its delicious dim sum is a must-do experience while in San Francisco in October. So grab some friends and head out for a delightful brunch or lunch in this historic and flavorful neighborhood.

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Experience the Haunted Hornet, a ghost tour on the USS Hornet

Source: USS Hornet Museum

San Francisco in October is a great time to explore the city's spooky side. A must-visit destination during this time is the USS Hornet. This aircraft carrier was commissioned during World War II and has played a pivotal role in American history. Today, it's docked at Alameda Point and has been turned into a museum that offers a unique experience for visitors brave enough to explore the eerie happenings onboard. The haunted Hornet Halloween event is a particularly exciting experience.

The Haunted Hornet overnight adventure is a thrilling ghost tour that takes place on the ship during the month of October. A guide will take visitors through the dark, dimly-lit corridors of the ship, sharing true ghost stories of past visitors and crew members who died on board. Visitors will get to experience a supernatural encounter that may give them chills down their spines.

The Hornet has a long history of paranormal activity and has been featured on many TV shows like “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures.” Its reputation as a haunted location makes it a popular attraction for those who love spine-tingling experiences.

In addition to being a venue for ghost tours, the Hornet is also home to a museum that showcases the history of the ship. It is one of the most decorated ships with commissions in World War II, Vietnam, and the Apollo 11 mission that brought the first men on the moon. The museum's extensive exhibits include artifacts, photos, medals, and many more.

Whether you're interested in aviation history or are looking for a spine-tingling experience, the USS Hornet is the perfect destination to visit in October. The museum's dedication to preserving the ship's past, combined with its reputation for paranormal activity, make it an unforgettable and unique destination in San Francisco.

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Visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Source: Wikipedia
Characteristic Description
NameSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art
TypeModern art museum in San Francisco, California
WebsiteGo to website
Rating / Review count4.6 / 13,289
Address151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone(415) 357-4000
HoursWednesday - Closed
Thursday - opens at 1 and closes at 8 PM
Friday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM
Saturday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM
Sunday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM
Monday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM
Tuesday - opens at 10 AM and closes at 5 PM

If you're planning a trip to San Francisco in October, be sure to include a visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) on your itinerary. The museum is one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world and offers a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art.

The SFMOMA is conveniently located in the popular Yerba Buena neighborhood, making it easily accessible by foot or public transportation. The museum is open every day of the week except Wednesday and admission tickets can be purchased online or at the museum's ticket counter.

One of the highlights of the SFMOMA is its permanent collection, which features over 33,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, and more. The collection includes pieces from artists such as Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock, and Georgia O'Keeffe. The museum also boasts an extensive collection of contemporary art from around the world, making it a must-see destination for art lovers.

In addition to its permanent collection, the SFMOMA regularly hosts temporary exhibitions, showcasing works from up-and-coming artists as well as established figures in the contemporary art world. Be sure to check the museum's website for information about current and upcoming exhibitions.

If you're traveling with kids, the SFMOMA offers a variety of programs and activities for children of all ages. The museum's Families in Art program allows families to explore the galleries together and engage in hands-on art activities. There are also tours designed specifically for families, as well as drop-in art-making sessions.

Finally, don't forget to check out the museum's renowned rooftop garden, which provides stunning views of the city skyline. It's the perfect spot to take a break from the galleries and enjoy a bit of fresh air and sunshine.

In conclusion, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in modern and contemporary art. With its extensive collection, rotating exhibitions, and creative programming for all ages, the SFMOMA is a cultural gem that should not be missed on your trip to San Francisco in October.

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Admire the view from Twin Peaks

Source: Tripadvisor

San Francisco in October is a great time to visit the city. With its mild weather and scenic views, the city offers a plethora of activities to keep visitors entertained. And if you're looking for something that will take your breath away, then a visit to Twin Peaks is highly recommended.

Twin Peaks is one of San Francisco's most iconic landmarks, offering visitors a panoramic view of the city's skyline. At a height of over 900 feet, Twin Peaks is the perfect vantage point to watch the city's hustle and bustle from a distance.

To get to Twin Peaks, you can take a cab, drive, or hike. And once you get there, the view is simply breathtaking. From Twin Peaks, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge all at once. You get to see the city's famous landmarks like Alcatraz Island, Coit Tower, and the Transamerica Pyramid. And if you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the ocean and the surrounding hills.

The best time to visit Twin Peaks is during the day, when the sun is shining and the views are clear. But if you're lucky enough to be in San Francisco during October, then you're in for a treat. The fall is a picturesque time in San Francisco, with the city's famous fog rolling in, creating dramatic and stunning views of the skyline.

In addition to the views offered at Twin Peaks, there are several hiking trails in the area that offer scenic walks. The Twin Peaks Trail is a popular one, which takes visitors to the top of the peaks via a winding path. It's a bit strenuous, but the views are worth the effort.

If you're planning on visiting Twin Peaks, it's important to remember that the weather can be unpredictable. The temperatures can drop rapidly, so make sure to wear layers and bring a jacket. Also, make sure to wear sturdy shoes if you're planning on hiking in the area.

In conclusion, San Francisco in October is a great time to visit the city, and Twin Peaks should be on your list of things to do. With its stunning views of the city's skyline and surrounding hills, it's an experience you won't forget. And who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of Karl the Fog rolling in, creating a magical and memorable experience.


Take a day trip to Napa Valley for wine tasting

Source: Wine Country Table

San Francisco in October is a beautiful time to visit, with fall’s colorful foliage emerging and mild temperatures providing an inviting atmosphere. While there are plenty of activities to do in the city itself, one highly recommended option is to take a day trip to Napa Valley for wine tasting.

Located less than two hours away from San Francisco, Napa Valley is world-renowned for its wine production and scenic vineyards. In October, the weather is less hot than during the summer months, which makes it a perfect time to explore the vineyards and sample some of the best wines in the region.

Begin your day trip by renting a car or hopping on a guided tour bus from San Francisco to Napa Valley. Once you’ve arrived in Napa, choose from the many wineries and vineyards that dot the region. Some of the most popular include the legendary Robert Mondavi Wine Estate, Beringer Vineyards, and Domaine Chandon. Many of these famous wineries offer tours and tastings, making it easy to learn about the winemaking process and enjoy some of the best wines the region has to offer.

Apart from wine tastings, there are many other activities that you can engage in while in Napa Valley. You could take a hot air balloon ride or enjoy a picnic in the vineyards. You could also visit the local farmer’s markets, indulge in a spa treatment, or listen to live music. There’s something for everyone in Napa Valley, making it a great destination for families, couples, and solo travelers.

One of the best things about heading to Napa Valley for wine tasting in October is the harvest season, which takes place between August and October. The vineyards are full of activity, and visitors can see the grapes being picked, processed, and turned into wine. You can also attend grape stomping events where you can actually stomp on grapes and participate in the wine-making process.

In conclusion, San Francisco in October is the perfect time to take a day trip to Napa Valley for wine tasting. There are plenty of wineries and vineyards to choose from, and other activities to enjoy while in the region. Whether you’re a wine novice or a connoisseur, a day trip to Napa Valley is a must-do activity for anyone visiting San Francisco in October.

Frequently asked questions

San Francisco offers a plethora of activities in October such as exploring Golden Gate Park, attending the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, checking out the Folsom Street Fair, or taking a ferry ride to Alcatraz Island.

October is considered one of the best months to visit San Francisco with pleasant weather conditions, blue skies, and average temperatures ranging from mid-60s during the day to low 50s at night.

Tourists can attend free events such as the Castro Street Fair, Japantown's Nihonmachi Street Fair, the Italian Heritage Parade, and the Litquake literary festival during October.

San Francisco is generally a safe destination for tourists and visitors. However, it is recommended to take standard safety precautions such as avoiding deserted areas at night and keeping belongings close while traveling in public transportation.

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Aaminah Mckay

Hey there! I visited San Francisco last October and had an amazing time exploring the city. One of the best things I did was go on a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was perfect and the views were absolutely stunning! I also made sure to visit Alcatraz Island and took a guided tour, it was so interesting to learn about the history of the prison. Another highlight for me was visiting the farmers market at the Ferry Building, they had the most delicious local produce and food vendors. I highly recommend these activities if you're planning a trip to San Francisco in October!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience in San Francisco! I'm glad to hear that you had an amazing time exploring the city last October. I can imagine how breathtaking the views must have been while biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, especially with perfect weather. It sounds like visiting Alcatraz Island and taking a guided tour was a fascinating and educational experience for you. The farmers market at the Ferry Building sounds like a delightful place to try out delicious local produce and food vendors. I'll definitely keep these activities in mind for my trip to San Francisco in October!

Kain Roberson

Hi everyone! I recently had the opportunity to visit San Francisco in October and it was such a fantastic experience. One of the things I absolutely loved was exploring the city's vibrant street art scene. There are so many colorful and creative murals scattered throughout the Mission District, it's like walking through an outdoor art gallery. I also made sure to check out the Castro district, especially during the Castro Halloween street party, which was so much fun! Another must-visit in October is the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, where you can indulge in various chocolate treats and even participate in chocolate-themed activities. I hope you all have a great time if you decide to visit San Francisco in October!

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