Searching for your next best travel destination? Want to visit somewhere vibrant and fun, yet relaxed and casual? Then San Francisco is calling your name.
San Francisco is a city of fascinating history and a rich, eclectic culture. It is a popular tourist location due to its diverse, welcoming population, and the endless, varied activities which are excellent for groups, families, and solo travelers.
Thanks to its great transport links, you can visit most of the key sites in a day, which is perfect if you find yourself here for a short weekend getaway. That being said, the city is great for longer holidays too, with plenty of nature reserves, parks, and sites to see at leisure. So, what are you waiting for? Discover when is the best time to visit San Francisco.
Why visit San Francisco?
San Francisco is one of the most inviting cities in the US, greatly influenced by Eastern philosophy, including meditation and yoga – namaste. But, it’s also lively, with plenty of things to do, see – and eat! In fact, San Francisco’s cuisine is wide-ranging and award-winning, with over 4,500 restaurants across the city.
San Francisco is considered one of the most scenic cities in America, with mild weather alluring visitors year-round. And whilst its maritime climate can be unpredictable, it’s also one of the city’s most charming characteristics.
Known as the Fog City, San Francisco boasts beautiful skies renowned for curling white fog and stunning sunsets, which also makes it a perfect romantic holiday spot.
When is low season in San Francisco?
There are two periods of low season in San Francisco. The first is spring (March – May), and the second is fall (September to November).
As well as fewer crowds, both periods offer great weather options: the spring sees some of the least rainfall, whilst the fall surprisingly offers some of the warmest annual temperatures. You can also expect hotels and travel to be much cheaper during these periods.
When is high season in San Francisco?
With its glorious sunshine, San Francisco inevitably sees the most footfall during the summer (June to August).
But, whilst there might be crowds, the selection of outdoor spaces is truly splendid, so you’ll always find that perfectly quiet picnic spot. And, you get to enjoy some of the best weather the city has to offer. Do bear in mind that if you want to visit during peak time, it’s best to book early – and be prepared for higher travel costs.
When is the best time to visit San Francisco?
Depending what you enjoy most will determine the best time for you to visit. The good thing about San Francesco is, pretty much everything we’ll be mentioning in this blog can be done year-round.
But, no matter when you visit, there will always be plenty of things to see and do, and most often a good amount of decent weather to enjoy.
Spring and Summer: the best time to visit San Francisco for sightseeing
Spring to summer offers the best predictability in terms of weather, making sightseeing a lot easier to plan and do.
For good weather and fewer crowds, spring offers the best of both worlds – there’s less hustle and bustle, and the weather is pretty mild most of the time, averaging at 63 degrees Fahrenheit.
The summer gets busy with tourism – but if you like the buzz then you’ll certainly love the climate and the atmosphere.
Below, we explore some of the best landmarks for you to visit:
Famous for housing notorious criminal such as Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly, Alcatraz offers more than just the Main Cell-house. Visitors can explore the Lighthouse, the ruins of the Warden’s House, Building 64, and much more!
You’ll have no doubt heard about some of the escape stories of some of the convicts, most of whom failed. But, in the spirit of a good challenge, there’s a brilliant annual triathlon here each year, with professional swimmers taking the plunge to try and reach the shore on the mainland.
2. Golden Gate Bridge & Fort Point
A true feat of engineering, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest and tallest in the world when it was completed in 1937.
The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized features of San Francisco and California. It has also been dubbed one of the most photographed bridges in the world – so follow tradition and make sure you get a good one! And whilst you’re there, be sure to visit Fort Point at the southern end of the bridge. It’s a historic site – aptly named Fort Point National Historic Site – and the location of a seacoast fortification which predates the American Civil War.
3. Golden Gate Park
Truly something for everyone, the Golden Gate Park houses a variety of smaller gardens and fabulous scenery all in one place. There’s playgrounds for the kids, as well as lakes, a Japanese Tea Garden, and a Botanical Garden. The western area also features windmills and an extensive tulip garden.
4. Fisherman’s Wharf
If you’re looking for a cruise or boat ride, be sure to head to Fisherman’s Wharf. Once considered the Little Italy of San Francisco, it is a historic landmark, being one of the oldest sections of the city. From here, you can explore the coast with a great selection of day cruises and sunset cruises.
5. Coit Memorial Tower
Built in honor of local firemen, with the added intention of ‘beautifying’ the skyline, Coit Tower is a breath-taking ivory tower, offering a 360 panoramic view of the city and the shore. The observation deck is reached by elevator, so it’s a great accessible spot for one of the best views of the city.
The oldest Chinatown in North America, and the largest Chinese enclave outside Asia, Chinatown San Francisco is a cultural explosion, markedly different to the rest of the city. Due to its fascinating secular traditions and lifestyle, the area piques much interest from tourists – drawing more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge.
7. Salesforce Park
This unusual rooftop park is located above the Salesfroce Transit Center. It’s an impressive 5.4 acres, with over 200 species of plants. It’s great for all the family, since it includes a playground and amphitheater. With options to travel up via the gondola, escalators, or elevators, it’s also very accessible.
8. Mission Dolores Park
With a sweeping view of the city, the Mission Dolores Park is a hotspot for charming picnics. There’s also a variety of active areas, including an athletic field plus tennis and basketball courts. Sunsets in here are truly beautiful, making the Mission Dolores Park a beloved spot for couples.
9. Lincoln Park Steps
Dedicated to the president of the same name, this historic park expands over an impressive 100 acres of golf course. And whether you’re a golfer or not, the impressive 52-step staircase is not to be missed. It comprises gorgeous mosaic tiles, plus benches between the two flights to help you capture some truly impressive photos.
Fall: the best time to visit San Francisco with family
Arguably, any time of year in San Francisco is great for visiting with the family. However, there are some special things happening in San Francisco during the fall, which you just don’t get to see the rest of the year. Seasonal activities are galore this time of year, making it fun-filled and family friendly. The kids will never get bored, and you can avoid some of the crowds and enjoy some great weather, too.
Top things to do in San Francisco with kids:
Go for a hike
Fall is always a popular time of year in San Francisco for hikes, as the climate is warm, and the leaves on the surrounding trees change to beautiful hues of red and orange. To get the most out this beautiful time of the year, the Muir Woods National Monument is both picturesque and historic: the area is home to the very last growth of coastal redwoods – some of the oldest trees in the world at approximately 1,200 years old. For seasoned hikers, Land’s End Trail or the Twin Peaks offer moderate hiking trails – the former provides excellent views of the coast and the famous Golden Gate Bridge, while the latter provides panoramic views of the city. And for the adventurous types, why not head to Angel Island State Park – you can kayak three miles to reach the island from the mainland, then take the 13 miles of trails by foot, bicycle, or even Segway!
On unexpected rainy days, museums are a great way shelter from the rain and keep the family entertained. There’s a museum for every interest in San Francisco, so you won’t be short of choices.
For the science lovers, the California Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium are fun-filled activity centres for learning, with a range of exhibits and hands-on experiences. For days filled with dreams and imagination, the Walt Disney Family Museum brings wonderment to children and adults of all ages.
Take part in seasonal activities
Seasonal activities like apple picking, pumpkin carving, and giant corn mazes come to the fore in the fall, with Halloween festivities occurring across the city.
Visit the San Francisco Zoo
For the animal lovers, the San Francisco Zoo is still open for visits during the fall – we’d recommend heading early in the morning to see all the feeding routines! And, whales migrate at the end of the fall season, so whale watching at Point Reyes National Seashore is a must.
Winter: the best time to visit San Francisco for luxury experiences
Winter is a great time of year for those who enjoy the high life – perfect if you’re looking for the intellectual scene or the more luxury aspects of the city.
Bear in mind that with the luxury certainly comes the price tag – Christmas time is a popular travel season, making hotel stays and lights that bit more costly. Nonetheless, here are the top things to do in San Francisco during winter time.
San Francisco art museums
For the fans of fine art, there are many museums offering tourists the chance to see magnificent pieces from many eras, styles, and famous artists. Some of the most popular institutions include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the De Young Museum, and The Palace of Fine Arts – which is just as beautiful inside and out.
In true Victorian style, many historic hotels round the city offer High Tea – a truly quintessential tradition. Enjoy impeccable service, exquisite tea, sumptuous food, and luxurious interiors. Some popular hotels include the Fairmont San Francisco, The Ritz-Carlton and Palace Hotel.
A one-hit wonder in the best kind of way, Union Square is the city’s the central shopping and theater district. During the winter season, you can explore store after store glistening with festive decorations, and enjoy seasonal performances from the city’s best theater houses.
Best time to visit San Francisco: the bottom line
San Francisco is wonderful at all seasons, that’s for sure. Nonetheless, the best time to visit the city will be different for every traveler. Visiting San Francisco on a budget? Then, the best time to visit the city would be during the low season, which is from March to May, or September to November. If you are into sightseeing, the best time to visit San Francisco is in spring and summer. Going to San Francisco with the family? The best time to visit the city with the kids is in fall. After a luxury experience? Visit San Francisco in winter. That’s a perfect time to visit the city for shopping and indoor activities.
Plan your trip to San Francisco with Flight & Hotel Guru. Click here to book cheap flights and hotels.