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San Francisco has something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking history and architecture, idyllic parks, or some of the most iconic tourist attractions in the world (Golden Gate Bridge, we’re looking at you!), this bayside city has you covered.
Since you may not be able to head to SF right away, thanks to COVID-19 travel restrictions, You can still plan the perfect vacation while you wait. Consider the delay an opportunity to figure out the best time of year for your trip.
The truth is that San Francisco is great to visit all year round. Each season has something unique to offer and will provide you with a different perspective of the city. Read on to decide the best time to plan a visit to SF.
Fall (September to November)
If we had to choose, fall would be the best time to visit San Francisco. The weather is nice, but the hordes of tourists have somewhat diminished.
Despite being a Californian city, San Francisco is not blessed with warm weather and clear, blue skies all year round. Between September and November, the city experiences pleasant days with average temperatures typically above the average temperatures in summer. This is perfect for exploring and hitting up the many San Fran beaches. The nights, however, are still likely to be cool so remember to pack a warm jacket and some layers so that you can rug up when the breeze picks up. If the weather surprises you, check your jacket and extra gear into a handy SF luggage storage spot to spare you carrying it around.
There are no real cons to visiting San Francisco at this time of the year. The weather is optimum and while there won’t be as many tourists as during summer, there will be enough people around to create a nice buzz.
If we had to pick something, it’s that prices are unlikely to have reduced much and will still be predominantly at their peak. That being said, you will be visiting at the best time so it’s worth paying a premium.
San Francisco has a thriving arts scene. This is evident in the wildly successful Fringe Festival that comes to town each year in September. If you’re visiting during this time, make sure to check it out.
Winter (December to February)
It might be cold in San Francisco during winter, but it doesn’t make the city any less beautiful. In fact, it means you will be able to experience everything it has to offer without the crowds and price tag!
If you’re looking for the best value for your money, visit San Francisco in winter. The city is not the most budget-friendly destination in the United States but visiting outside of peak season can definitely help to make your dollars stretch further. While many accommodation places and tours are likely to have availability, make sure you still book a week or two in advance to get the best price.
San Francisco gets cold in the winter, especially when the winds roll in from the bay. It is also the wettest season for the city and often has a covering of fog. It might not be the best time to visit if you are hoping for some beach time, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of other ways to enjoy the city. Just remember to bring warm clothes and you will be able to see the city without competing with crowds.
Love to laugh? San Fran’s annual comedy festival, Sketchfest, comes to town in January offering a variety of talents and routines that will be sure to get you belly laughing.
Spring (March to May)
Spring sees San Francisco come alive again after a quieter winter. The days get slowly warmer although tourists are yet to flock back to the city.
Not many tourists
Given that the city is only just warming up, spring is not a peak time for tourism. This means that you will be able to explore all of the iconic tourist attractions without competing for the perfect photo spot. Prices will also remain low, not having yet spiked for peak season.
While most people will agree that low tourist numbers is a key perk of visiting a city in off-peak times, the fact that it changes the vibe of a city should not be ignored. If you are looking for a thriving travel scene and wild nightlife, summer in San Francisco might be more your speed.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the city for St Patrick’s Day (March 17), do not miss the parade and celebrations. Join in on the fun as local and visitors come together to paint the town green.
Summer (June to August)
Thanks to the generally mild climate, summer is considered peak tourist season in San Francisco. There’s plenty to do, and plenty of people around to share it with!
Lots of activities
For those of you who like to keep busy, a summer visit to San Francisco is for you. Tours are in peak operation and there is always some type of fair/festival/celebration happening somewhere in the city. You certainly won’t get bored here in summer!
As with all tourist destinations, prices increase during peak season. Given that the cost of travel in San Francisco is already quite expensive, the high prices may be a deterrent for backpackers or other people on a budget.
Don your most outrageous outfit and join the thrum of people that come together to celebrate San Francisco pride in June! The city hosts a parade as well as a range of other events to celebrate this cause.
As you can see, there is no right or wrong time to visit San Francisco. Consider the type of vacation you enjoy and what you hope to get out of your visit to San Francisco. This will help you to determine the best time of year for you to visit. After that, all you need to do is book your ticket!