It would be best to consider several factors when choosing the best seasons to visit in San Francisco. The choice is challenging for someone who’s never travel to a Northern California city before.
The best seasons to visit in San Francisco is summer when the weather is pleasant, and most tourist attractions are in full swing.
The Golden Gate of San Francisco City is witnessing of rise in surges in tourism during the summer. As people head west for sun, sand, and surf.
Fall and spring can also be good times to visit, depending on the activities you want to do in the big city.
Planning will be easy once you know what you want to do in San Francisco. Let’s look at the best seasons to visit in San Francisco.
Weather in San Francisco
San Francisco has a very mild climate. It has dry and warm summers but mild and wet winters. The temperatures rarely go below freezing, and snowfall is extremely rare. This mild climate makes San Francisco an attractive destination for tourists and newcomers.
San Francisco has four distinct seasons. In July, the temperature averages 14°C (57°F), and in January, it averages 10°C (50°F). The most daily hours of sunshine were 14 in July. The wettest month is January, with an average of 119mm of rain.
San Francisco County’s coldest month is January when the average temperature overnight is 46.4°F. In September, the warmest month, the average day temperature rises to 71.3°F.
San Francisco gets 3.9 inches of rain on average in February. From May 15 to October 4, there is no rain. In San Francisco, July gets the least rain with an average rainfall of 0.0 inches.
Best Time to Travel to San Francisco
San Francisco typically experiences its dry weather from June-September. Summer months are tourist season. It means that the city will be busy. Still, it’s also the best time to visit in San Francisco to experience the best tourist attractions in dry San Francisco weather.
It is no secret that San Francisco is one of the most scenic cities in California, but the time you visit can significantly influence your experience. The best seasons to visit in San Francisco depend on the weather, your budget, seasonal activities, and the most crowded times of the year. Let’s break it down.
This Best time to Visit San Francisco guide will let you know by month by month the timing of visiting:
January in San Francisco
Part of the ‘rainy season’ of San Francisco, the city is quite sleepy and empty, with residents returning from the holidays. You’ll encounter some rain, but some days it’ll be warm with blue skies.
- SF Sketchfest – a fantastic comedy festival featuring some of the nation’s best comedians
- Restaurant Week – many of the city’s top restaurants offer special prix-fixe menus.
- Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show – over 2,000 dogs and 175+ breeds.
February in San Francisco
Still part of the ‘rainy season’, this is a good time to visit for cheaper prices and barely any tourists. Chinese New Year is an excellent time to be around and some of the city’s cherry blossoms start to bloom.
- Chinese New Year’s Celebrations – there’s the annual parade. Still, the real party is at the impromptu firecrackers being set off at Jackson and Grant during one of the nights of Chinese New Year’s week!
- SF Beer Week – local craft beer is celebrated with hundreds of beer-centric events
- San Francisco Half Marathon & 5K – one of the world’s most scenic runs, with a course through Golden Gate Park and the Pacific Ocean.
March in San Francisco
The rainy days continue but some days you see warmer temperatures. Spring blossoms appear around the city. You’ll also see a slight increase in hotel rates during this time.
- Macy’s Flower Show – a two-week celebration celebrating floral traditions
- St. Patrick’s Day Festival – one of the city’s largest parades, celebrated with live music and Irish cuisine
- SF Botanical Garden Magnolia Bloom – witness the amazing magnolias in bloom in the city’s premier botanical garden
- Sonoma International Film Festival – over 100 hand-selected films screened in state-of-the-art venues within walking distance of Sonoma Plaza.
April in San Francisco
Warm weather arrives in the city with fewer rainy days. People feel optimistic when the days get sunnier and warmer. Rates are increasing but this would be one of the better months to visit.
- Union Street Spring Celebration – called the ‘biggest little parade in San Francisco’, over 30,000 people attend to celebrate Spring.
- International Film Festival – a stunning showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation
May in San Francisco
Continuing the warm weather from April with clear skies, it’s an excellent time to visit, although the fog rolls in for days.
- Bay To Breakers is one of the best events to attend if you want to get a feel for San Francisco culture. In other cities, people dress up to look cool or show off. However, San Franciscans love nothing better than to express themselves creatively in exciting costumes.
- Carnaval in the Mission District – San Francisco’s version of Mardi Gras is one of the city’s most significant public events, with Carnaval dancers and a festive Sunday parade.
June in San Francisco
Some might think of summer as warm days, but San Francisco sees fog blanketing the city. Due to San Francisco’s micro-climates, certain neighborhoods like the Mission or Potrero will have pleasant weather. Peak season begins, and rates rise accordingly.
- It’s a street fair time! Some of the most famous ones are Haight Ashbury Street Fair, North Beach Festival, Union Street Music Festival, and SF Jazz Festival.
- LGBTQ Pride Weekend
July in San Francisco
There has been an increase in cold weather and fog in certain parts of the city. It’s peak season with peak crowds and high prices.
- Renegade Craft Fair – this large fair brings together many artists from the West Coast to show off their works for sale.
- San Francisco Marathon – a veritable ‘best of San Francisco’ course – you’ll run along the Embarcadero, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Golden Gate Park, and then traverse famous neighborhoods.
- SF Jewish Film Festival – showing Jewish culture’s diversity, this film festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious.
August in San Francisco
Warmer temperatures begin to appear in the city while the fog disappears. The last half of August is when crowds dip.
- Outside Lands Music Festival – located in beautiful Golden Gate Park, this music festival is an exciting blend of delicious food, wine, music, and tech.
- Burning Man – Escape into the desert, where you’ll experience a dusty utopia and return a changed person.
September in San Francisco
It is when summer begins, and the weather is almost guaranteed to be pleasant. You’ll see warm days, clear skies, and barely any fog—tourists also thin out, meaning lower prices and fewer crowds. But you’ll want to avoid SF when Salesforce Dreamforce is in town.
- Folsom Street Fair – It is an adult’s fair, the world’s largest festive, alternative, and leather street fair. About 400,000 attend this – you’ll see things you never thought you’d see.
- Fringe Festival – It is a theater festival with over 40 shows covering comedy, cabaret, alternative, and classical theater.
October in San Francisco
Another great month to be here for fantastic weather, fewer crowds, and affordable hotel rates. You’ll also see a lot more locals outside enjoying the amazing weather.
- Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival – a free music festival with an excellent lineup and lots of weed
- SF Fleet Week – The US Navy returns to town with incredible air shows featuring the Blue Angels
- Litquake – join the Bay Area’s finest writers for a week of readings, discussions, films, and more.
- Halloween – if you know locals, attend a Halloween House Party, SF style, with them!
November in San Francisco
About halfway through November, rain rolls in along with colder temperatures. It’s the right time to visit if you want cheap prices, no crowds, and decent weather.
- Day of the Dead in the Mission – experience the parade and witness some exciting costumes celebrating Dia de los Muertos.
- Illuminate SF Festival – Over a dozen light art installations appear across the city.
- Union Square Tree Lighting – see the Macy’s Great Tree lit with over 1,500 ornaments.
December in San Francisco
Christmas Holiday Season is all over the city with a jump in tourism for most of the month. Rainy days and cold weather are common, but warm clear days are sprinkled throughout. Prices jump this month.
- All the beautiful Christmas displays around town
- Union Square Ice Rink – skate at the lovely Union Square ice rink
San Francisco Travel Seasons
People usually feel 3 seasons in San Francisco winter, fog, and summer. But basically, San Francisco has 4 seasons. Each season has its own attractions and charms, but the weather can vary. Here are the 4 seasons:
This best season to visit in San Francisco guide will let you know which season is best for what:
- Spring Season for Travel
- Summer Season for Travel
- Fall Season for Travel
- Winter Season for Travel
Spring Season for Travel
You can beat the tourist rush by visiting San Francisco in the spring when the weather is mild, and hotel prices are still low. Average high temperatures in the mid-60s will certainly keep you from diving into the Pacific. Still, you shouldn’t be limited to wandering the city on foot.
Let’s see some key activities of the spring season:
- Art Market
- Cherry Blossom Festival
- International Beer Festival
- San Francisco Giants game
Summer Season for Travel
Summer marks the peak of tourism in the Bay Area. The hope draws people around the country for pleasant weather and summertime festivities. Visitors will find, however, that average summer temperatures in San Francisco hover in the high 60s. Brisk sea winds and chilly, damp fog often accompany these temperatures.
Though the city comes alive with numerous fairs and special events, Lodging-wise, all you budget-minded travelers may be deterred by rising room rates. Book your hotel reservations months in advance to ensure availability and save money.
Let’s see some key activities of the summer season:
- Golden Gate Jazz Festival
- Fireworks Over the Bay
- Alameda County Fair
- Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival
Fall Season for Travel
Fall marks a sweet spot for San Francisco tourism. Believe it or not, the weather is often warmer now than in the summer. Average temperatures rest in the low 70s, and consistently sunny skies inspire San Franciscans and tourists to hit the beach. But don’t underestimate the Gulf breeze. You’ll want to pack a couple of layers.
Let’s see some key activities of the fall season:
- Halloween Pub Crawl
- How Weird Street Faire
- Cheese Plus 18th Annual Fall Harvest Artisan Food Festival
Winter Season for Travel
Winter is an excellent time to save on a San Francisco vacation if you don’t mind the chilly winds. During the cooler months, hotels slash their rates, providing some pretty exemplary deals for their clientele (but you should still book a few weeks in advance for the most affordable rooms and prices).
Also, bring warmer clothes. Average temperatures rest in the high 50s, but the city’s fog and nippy gusts make it seem much colder. It is also the time of year when the Bay Area experiences the most rain, so bring an umbrella.
Let’s see some key activities of the fall season:
- Light Boat Parade
- The Colors of Christmas
- Union Square Ice Skating
When to Visit San Francisco in Good Weather?
June through September are the driest months in San Francisco. It is the best time to visit in San Francisco to avoid unexpected and unpleasant rain showers. Day temperatures average around 67°F and nights are around 55°F.
Temperatures continue to drop into autumn and winter, with lows in the 30s. Traveling can be an uncomfortable time, and you will likely never leave your hotel without at least two or three coats. Be prepared to layer up if you visit San Francisco in the late fall, winter, or early spring months.
In my opinion, June and September are the best times to visit San Francisco. They have warmer weather and schools may still be in session, making summer more pleasant and less crowded.
When to Visit San Francisco on a Budget?
If you want to visit San Francisco on a budget, you should visit the city in the quiet months of October-April. The busy summer tourist season is the most expensive time in San Francisco, and most hotels and tours double in price at that time.
Budget during your San Francisco trip while still experiencing the best weather by traveling in September-October or May-June. If saving money is your top priority, you will find the cheapest deals in winter.
If you travel in winter to San Francisco, you should find indoor activities to do. Restaurants with hot cocoa and fireplaces will be your favorite in winter. For activities, check out the many art and history museums in San Francisco.
When to Visit San Francisco With Families and Kids?
If you’re traveling to the city with kids, you will find the most activities for kids from June-September. Family-friendly events are all over San Francisco during the summer months.
While many kid-oriented exhibits and attractions are open year-round, your child may not be in the happiest spirits to cruise the bay looking for whales in below-freezing temperatures.
Families can enjoy sunny picnics at Golden Gate Park and children can find their favorite animals at the San Francisco Zoo in the summer. These activities are some of the best things to do in California.
Walking around Fisherman’s Wharf and admiring the blubbery sea lions serenading passersby is another fun outdoor activity for families in the summer.
When to Visit San Francisco to Avoid Crowds?
There are approximately 18,000 residents per square mile in San Francisco. With almost 900,000 residents, the city will always seem busy, even more so in the summer months when tourists triple.
To avoid large crowds and long wait times at restaurants and attractions, visit San Francisco in the colder months. Also, you can visit in late fall, winter, and early spring.
San Francisco events, such as Chinese New Year events in Chinatown, draw big crowds. To avoid crowds, figure out when big San Francisco events are and avoid traveling at those times.
When to Visit San Francisco for Sightseeing?
Summer months receive the best weather and most visitors. However, the best time to sightseeing in San Francisco is in the fall just before temperatures drop significantly.
There are tons of cool things to see in San Francisco at this time. The light rain forecast will also make it easy to get around the city on foot. Most San Francisco sightseeing takes place outdoors, so if you visit in winter and spring, bring an umbrella or rain poncho.
Make sure to check the weather ahead of time and plan accordingly. You may even find that the light rain adds to the city’s atmosphere. Regardless, it’s always a smart idea to check the weather before heading out.
When to Visit San Francisco for Sporting Events?
Are you looking for the best time to visit San Francisco? The lovely thing about our beloved City by the Bay is that temperatures are cool and mild all year long. It means a vacation here at any time of the year is lovely.
Sports events are including soccer, professional football, baseball, hockey, and basketball, as well as popular college teams, etc. The Bay Area is an excellent place to be if you’re a sports fan. You will find several events all year round and plenty of team pride.
Here are the sports events:
- Regular-season baseball starts in early April and runs until early October, which lets you enjoy San Francisco’s mild weather.
- Football season begins with preseason games in August and runs until the Super Bowl in early February.
- Hockey’s regular season runs from October to April, followed by the Stanley Cup playoffs.
- Soccer season runs from March to October.
Tips for Visiting San Francisco
For first-time visitors to San Francisco, three things are important to remember:
- Never judge by a neighborhood cover
- Always root for giants (never a’)
- For those open to new experiences, there will always be surprising discoveries.
This best seasons to visit in San Francisco guide will give you some tips. You should take them before planning the trip. Beyond that, here are the top ten tips for first-time visitors to the city:
- It may be wise to rent a car if you plan on exploring the wider San Francisco area. However, you can also get around using San Francisco’s public transportation.
- San Francisco summers can be chilly when clouds cover the sun. Dressing in layers is the best way to account for unexpected weather.
- The marketplace also hosts special events like holiday pop-up crafting sessions and tea festivals.
- Depending on San Francisco weather, this hike is generally accessible year-round. Still, most hikers prefer the trail in warmer weather during the non-monsoon season.
- Stay in a centrally-located hotel to walk to all the famous attractions and sites in Golden Gate City.
- Plan a few days in San Francisco to see all the best sites.
- Explore the iconic bridge from a unique perspective by walking or biking across it.
- Don’t carry all your money on you at all times.
- San Francisco hostels are around major attractions like Golden Gate Park, North Beach, the Folsom Street Fair, and the Mission District.
In conclusion, San Francisco offers something special in every season, making it a year-round destination worth exploring. I hope this best seasons to visit in San Francisco guide will help you to explore.
Regardless of the season, San Francisco’s natural beauty, cultural richness, and culinary delights are always ready to be discovered. So, choose your favorite season, plan your visit accordingly, and prepare to fall in love with the charm and diversity of San Francisco all year round.