Best Time to Visit San Francisco, California

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A red bridge over a body of clear water under a blue sky with clouds
San Francisco is a popular destination, with summer being the busiest tourist season

San Francisco is a beautiful city that's full of culture and art. However, it can be challenging to determine the best time to visit San Francisco, California, to ensure you see all the city has to offer in the most optimal way.

If you want to enjoy beautiful weather while you're in the Bay Area, book a fall (September to December) trip. Interestingly, the weather is warmest in September and October, regularly reaching around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Winter (December to March) is the most affordable time to visit the city. Flights and hotel rooms are often discounted because there's less demand for them. Spring (March to June) and summer (June to September) are San Francisco's busiest seasons. There are events all over the city, but crowd levels will also be at their highest.

Your preferences relating to crowds, weather, and costs will determine when you should visit "Frisco." Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to plan your San Francisco dream trip.

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San Francisco Vacation Planning Questions

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Tips and questions to consider when planning a visit to San Francisco
A row of multicolored Victorian houses
Fall is the best time to visit San Francisco, California, for low prices and crowds

When is the best time to visit San Francisco, California?

September, October, and November are the best times to visit San Francisco. These fall months have the best weather.

The temperature ranges between 64 and 71 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and between 51 and 56 degrees Fahrenheit at night. There are also typically only two days of rain per month.

There aren't many tourists in San Francisco in the fall, so crowd levels are manageable. Also, since school is in session, weekdays are pretty quiet, with most local children in classes and adults at work.

Fall is also an affordable time to visit the area. Airlines and hotels offer discounts starting the week after Labor Day in September, and these prices continue to decrease throughout the season. The only exception is the week of Thanksgiving, which can be busy.

Mathieu LE MAUFF/
A brown streetcar decorated with holiday garlands, lights, and bows
To save money, book a trip to San Francisco during the winter

When is the cheapest time to go to San Francisco?

If you're traveling on a budget, try to book your visit during the winter (December to March). Overall, the best month to visit San Francisco is January, when plane tickets are at their cheapest.

The weather in winter is mild. Temperatures hover between 58 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit. However, those temperatures can feel slightly colder on rainy days, with showers usually occurring twice a week.

After the December holiday season, crowd levels tend to drop drastically. The decreased demand means lower prices on accommodation and tickets for travel and attractions. You're also more likely to find fantastic last-minute deals.

Entrance to an airport terminal with a "San Francisco International" sign
Those looking for cheap flights to San Francisco will get the best deals in January

When is the cheapest time to fly to San Francisco?

January is the best time to travel to San Francisco on a budget since fewer trips are taken after New Year's Day. This sudden drop in demand for tickets leads to airlines lowering their prices.

You'll be able to find the best deals if you book a month or two in advance when companies are preemptively ensuring their planes will be booked. However, you can also find last-minute deals on flights and hotel rooms around this time.

If visiting in January, temperatures tend to hover around 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, you'll want to pack an umbrella since it rains up to eight times throughout the month on average.

The best time to visit San Francisco, California, to save on flights is in January
You can enjoy low-cost flights and good weather when visiting San Fran in the fall

When is the best time to fly to San Francisco?

There are a few things to consider before you decide when to visit San Francisco. The climate, crowd levels, and travel costs can impact when you choose to fly.

If you have a low tolerance for crowds, winter (December to January) after the Christmas season will be the best time to book a flight. Not many tourists are in the area, so you'll be able to cut down on running into large groups.

If you're a budget traveler, January is the best month to look for tickets. This is a notoriously slow time for air travel, so airlines are prone to discounting tickets.

If your biggest concern is the weather, fall (September to December) is the best time to fly to the area. Temperatures are often around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and it doesn't usually rain more than twice per month. Flight prices are also reasonable at this time, except around Thanksgiving in November, when rates increase steeply.

A boardwalk with a body of water on either side and buildings in the distance
Summer is San Fran's tourist season, with families and students visiting the area

When is the San Francisco tourist season?

Summer (June to September) is San Francisco's busiest tourist season. Families and students can travel more because school is out for the year, which causes an influx of people to come to the city.

San Francisco's summer weather is also inviting. Temperatures are a mild 67 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and it rarely rains.

However, the increase in tourist crowds also drives up the demand for hotel rooms and flights. Finding discounts is rare, especially if you're trying to plan a spontaneous trip. If you plan to visit in the summer, you'll want to book early to ensure tickets and reservations for your preferred dates aren't sold out.

A walking path with a large bridge over a body of water under a cloudy and rainy sky
The rainy season in San Francisco occurs over the winter months

When is the rainy season in San Francisco?

It might not snow in San Francisco during the winter (December to March), but it does rain. Precipitation occurs about twice a week, making the season feel a little colder, even though it is usually 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

The rain keeps tourists away from January until the end of winter. However, Christmas time in San Francisco is still busy, so you can expect hotel and flight costs to be close to peak prices.

There are ways to explore while both staying out of the rain and away from crowds. For example, you could reserve a private city tour that lets you customize a route based on your preferences and the weather.

An island with a building on it surrounded by a body of water
Alcatraz is one of the famous landmarks in San Francisco that you must visit

What are the best areas to visit in San Francisco?

Whether you're planning a two-day trip to San Francisco or you're spending longer in the city, there are a few areas you have to visit. Notably, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz are two of the city's most famous landmarks that you won't want to miss.

Additionally, Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 have family-friendly activities like vintage arcade games, and you can see the renowned sea lions! San Francisco's Chinatown is another must-visit landmark. It features many fantastic shops and restaurants, with festivals held frequently, and is the oldest Chinatown in the US.

Going on a tour is a great way to ensure you can see all of the city's best sites. Booking a cruise around San Francisco Bay is one of the best sightseeing options available and allows you to relax while admiring the coast and spotting famous landmarks.

Sandy beach and blue water with mountains and a red suspension bridge in the distance
September has the warmest temperatures and the least amount of rain in San Francisco

When is the warmest month in San Francisco?

If you're looking for good weather, September is the best time of year to visit San Francisco. Although the month is on the cusp between summer (June to September) and fall (September to December), it's the warmest month in the city.

Daily temperatures hover around 71 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 56 degrees Fahrenheit at night. September is also one of the least rainy months in the city. It's not uncommon for the entire month to go by without a drop of precipitation.

Crowd levels typically decrease after Labor Day. For that reason, you can typically enjoy an affordable stay in the city in relative peace and quiet.

Whales swimming in a body of water near a red bridge with mountains in the distance
The best times to whale watch in San Francisco are during the summer and fall

When is the best time to whale watch in San Francisco?

The best time of year to visit San Francisco if you want to go whale watching is between summer (June to September) and fall (September to December). You can see whales off the coast all year, but sightings of the creatures passing through San Francisco's water are most likely between May and December.

Humpback whales can be found here between May and November. Blue whales reside there between July and October. Gray whales, sperm whales, and orcas share similar migration routes and can be found near San Francisco between December and May.

A large park with greenery and trees and a view of the city in the distance
Summer is the most expensive and crowded time to visit San Francisco

When is the worst time to visit San Francisco?

If you're trying to decide when to go to San Francisco, there are a few things to consider. According to locals, summer (June to September) is the worst time to come to the "Golden Gate City" because it's the season that brings the most tourists to the area.

Summer is also the most expensive time to visit San Francisco, closely followed by the Christmas season in December. However, if you can only travel in the summer months, there are some benefits to coming at this time.

San Francisco usually has mild summers, with temperatures reaching 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You also won't have to worry about adverse weather conditions because it rarely rains between June and September.

There are also numerous events in the summer. The North Beach Festival is held each June and involves street food, concerts, and vendors popping up all over the district. The San Francisco Jazz Festival is also held in June and brings musicians from around the country to the area for performances.

A park with a bench surrounded by orange and yellow fall trees
Fall is a good time to visit San Francisco for beautiful weather and deals on hotels

When is the best season to visit San Francisco?

Fall (September to December) is often considered the best season to visit San Francisco. The weather is beautiful, with average temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and rain about twice a month.

Since school is in session most of the season, not many families can travel, which cuts down on the number of tourists in the area. So even if you attend events like the Haight Ashbury Street Fair in October, you'll mostly be around San Franciscans.

You can usually find good deals on travel and lodging accommodations as well. However, book at least a month in advance to avoid paying premium prices for last-minute bookings.

A street with buildings along it and Chinese signs and decorations
You must plan to visit Chinatown in San Francisco, especially during its festivals

When is the best time to visit Chinatown, San Francisco?

Chinatown is worth exploring, no matter when you visit San Francisco. However, planning your trip around the district's festivals and celebrations can make the experience more memorable.

San Francisco's Chinatown Autumn Moon Festival is held in August to celebrate the start of the lunar fall season. Artists and performers can be seen around the neighborhood during the two-day festival.

The Lunar New Year in January is another lively celebration that involves parades and performances for locals and visitors to enjoy. Both of these events are also entirely family-friendly.

A body of water surrounded by greenery and rocks with small red buildings in the back
The best time to visit the Japanese Tea Garden is in the spring or fall

When is the best time to visit the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco?

The best time to vacation in San Francisco to see the Japanese Tea Garden is during a "transition seasons" of Spring (March to June) and fall (September to December). During these periods, the gardens have the most vibrant colors for visitors to enjoy.

You'll see more flowers in bloom between late March and May. October and November will showcase the leaves of many of the garden's trees changing colors.

Spring and fall also tend to be low seasons for tourism. If you visit during the week, it's unlikely you'll run into many crowds, so you'll be able to experience a more peaceful visit.

A large body of water with boats and buildings in the distance
Summer is the best time to visit San Francisco is you want to avoid the rain

When is the best weather to visit San Francisco?

San Francisco has pretty steady and mild weather conditions all year. However, the climate varies slightly from season to season.

Summer (June to September) has the best weather if rain is your biggest concern. The entire season goes by most years without measurable precipitation between June and September.

If you're more focused on ensuring temperatures are warm enough to walk around, fall (September to December) is the best time to visit. Daytime highs tend to hover between 64 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the nightly averages are at their highest in the fall, with temperatures around 52 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yellow and white flowers surrounded by greenery next to a white conservatory
Spring is the best time to see the flowers at the Botanical Gardens in San Francisco

When is the best time to visit San Francisco Botanical Garden?

The San Francisco Botanical Garden is a can't-miss attraction, especially if you're looking for romantic things to do in San Francisco with your other half! In terms of picking a time to visit, spring (March to June) is the best time to see San Francisco's Botanical Garden.

Notably, spring is the season when most of the garden's over 8,000 species of plants will bloom. Since it's also a relatively low tourist season for the city, you won't have to worry about running into large crowds in the garden. However, weekends can still be fairly busy. Therefore, for the most peaceful visit possible, plan your trip during the week.

The park opens daily at 7:30 AM., but most visitors don't arrive until around noon. Also, set aside between two and four hours to visit the garden without rushing.

A telescope next to a rock wall overlooking a city and mountains
Twin Peaks is best visited at sunrise or sunset

When is the best time to visit Twin Peaks, San Francisco?

Measuring over 900 feet in height, Twin Peaks create one of San Francisco's most famous landmarks. Climbing them gives you a one-of-a-kind panoramic view of the city.

Since this is an outdoor site, visiting in the summer (June to September) or fall (September to December) when the weather is warm and dry is recommended. However, no matter when you visit, try to head to the top of the hills around either dusk or dawn.

Going early in the morning will allow you to see the sun rise over the city, while the evening offers a dramatic view of the sun setting on the bay. Visiting on a foggy day is also recommended if you want a unique and almost spooky look at San Francisco from above.

Weather, Prices, and Crowds in San Francisco

A streetcar on the track with a body of water and mountains in the distance
Consider weather, prices, and crowds when planning a visit to San Francisco

Winter in San Francisco

Winter (December to March) is a pretty quiet month in San Francisco. Although over 800,000 people live in the city, you won't encounter many crowds since there aren't a lot of tourists in the area.

Plan a trip in January or February if you prefer to travel on a relatively tight budget. Airlines and hotels tend to lower their rates during these months to entice visitors to the city.

San Francisco rarely gets snow, but you'll want to prepare for rain throughout winter. On average, there are two days of rain per week, which can make the air feel a little colder.

Summer in San Francisco

Summer (June to September) is San Francisco's busiest season. More people can travel, so the city is full of tourists. Consider booking a tour if you want to see the sites without dealing with long lines. For example, joining a Golden Gate Bridge tour is a great way to bypass crowds when visiting this famous landmark.

If you want to visit in the summer months, make your travel plans early. Booking your flight and hotel reservations at least two months in advance will give you the best chance of finding good deals.

Summer's weather is mild but comfortable for walking around. It usually doesn't rain, and temperatures hover around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Nightly temperatures rarely drop below 51 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you want to explore San Francisco at night, summer is the perfect season to do so.

Fall in San Francisco

If you ask locals, they'll say fall (September to December) is the best time to visit San Francisco. The weather is warm, usually in the low 70s Fahrenheit, and there aren't many out-of-towners crowding the streets.

The weather and relatively peaceful streets make walking around the city easy and comfortable. As the weather is ideal for exploring, you could also experience some unique activities, like joining a San Francisco hidden stairways tour.

Fall also has some of the city's most exciting events. The Folsom Street Fair is held every September and takes over the Market District. Remember, the fair is intended for adults, so if you're traveling with children, attending isn't recommended.

Prices for flights and hotel rooms tend to drop after the first week of September. You can usually book an affordable trip to the city if you make your plans a month or two in advance.

Spring in San Francisco

Spring (March to June) is one of the best times to visit San Francisco. Daily temperatures hover in the 62 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit range, and it only rains once or twice each month.

Spring's nice weather means numerous events are held around the city. For example, the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is in April and celebrates Japanese culture while the cherry blossoms in the city are in bloom.

The San Francisco International Film Festival is also hosted in the spring. In late April, independent filmmakers worldwide screen their latest projects to movie lovers.

However, spring can be a busy tourist month. Weekdays are usually pretty quiet, but weekends and Easter tend to draw more people to the area.

Prices for hotels and flights remain pretty cheap throughout the month, but you'll notice them go up slowly as the season progresses. Booking a month or two before your trip will help you get the reservations you want at an affordable price.

In Summary

San Francisco has a lot to offer, from world-class food and art to events celebrating the city's diverse population. No matter when you visit, there's something fun and exciting to see and experience. However, this article should have given you an idea of the best time to travel for your needs.

The city's warmest temperatures are in the fall (September to December), so you can walk around without getting chilled. On the other hand, extroverts will love how busy the area gets in the summer (June to September) months.

Although San Francisco is an expensive city, booking a winter (December to March) trip gives you the best chance of finding good deals on flights and hotels. You can even book last-minute flights and accommodation during the season.

With any luck, this article has helped you figure out your preferences to ensure you have a great San Francisco getaway. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning!

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 WRITER Gabrielle loves all things travel and culture. She is originally from the USA, but she has lived in Italy for over a decade. She's always ready to pack her bags, grab her passport, and head out on an adventure!

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