What Is the Best Time to Travel to San Francisco?

Summer is the most popular time to travel to San Francisco, but if you want to avoid the crowds, you should visit in spring or fall.
Written by Heather Bernhard
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on Jun 01, 2022
If you’re dying to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, shop in Union Square, or just hike along the bay, the best time to travel to
San Francisco
will depend on your crowd tolerance, budget, and interests. Summer is the most popular time to visit, but spring and fall are when you’ll find the best deals. 
The Golden City is unlike any other city in California, but picking the best time to visit can be challenging. From big crowds to unpredictable fog, go at the wrong time, and your dream vacation may go up in smoke.
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The best times of year to travel to San Francisco

Finding the best time to travel to San Francisco depends on two main things: the crowds and the weather.  

Peak season: May to September

The Golden Gate Bridge on a foggy day.
The good: Many fairs and special events
The bad: Extreme fog, difficult to take good photos
The weather: Mid 50s to low 70s 
Summer is by far the foggiest season in San Francisco. Still, thousands of tourists head there every year, looking forward to some time on the
and fun in the sun.  
During the summer months, one of the biggest draws is the city’s countless concerts and festivals. Highlights include the
Haight-Ashbury Street Fair
San Francisco Jazz Festival
in June, the city’s famous 4th of July celebrations, and the
Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival
in August. 
Pro Tip San Francisco can be pretty chilly in summer, despite being on the California coast. Be prepared for a variety of weather conditions and pack accordingly.

Off-season: December to March

San Francisco sealions sleeping in the sun at city pier 39.
The good: Smaller crowds, cheaper lodging
The bad: Cold, rainy weather
The weather: Mid 40s to low-60s
If you’re looking to visit San Francisco on a budget, winter is the time to go. Hotels offer significantly lower prices during the colder months, and airline tickets will likely be cheaper, too. 
Bonus: you can also expect much thinner crowds with kids back in school.  
Worried that there won’t be much to do? Never fear: The Golden City still has plenty to offer when the temperature drops. Union Square,
Pier 39
, and
Ghirardelli Square
all have tree lighting ceremonies in December, and the city is known for its gorgeous Christmas light displays. 
If you want to spend the day indoors, you can hit up a
Golden State Warriors
basketball game or check out the
California Academy of Sciences

Shoulder season: March to Mid-May and September to November

Chinatown in San Francisco for the Autumn Moon Festival.
The good: Mild temperatures, lack of rain
The bad: More expensive lodging than winter, but still cheaper than summer
The weather: High 40s to mid-60s (spring) and low 50s to high 70s (fall) 
Spring and fall make up San Francisco’s “shoulder season”—i.e., between the high and low seasons. If you visit during these months, you’ll be missing the worst of the San Francisco crowds and get treated to some divine weather! 
Though not quite as much as during peak season, there is still plenty to do in San Francisco in the spring and fall. Of note are the city’s famous St. Patrick’s Day parade in March, the
San Francisco International Arts Festival
in May, and the
Sausalito Art Festival
in September.  
Looking for something out of the ordinary?
The Folsom Street Fair
draws a whopping 250,000 visitors every September and is intended for a mature adult audience.  

The cheapest time to travel to San Francisco

If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest time to visit San Francisco, go in the winter. Both lodging and hotels are bargain-priced—but be warned. Despite the great rates on travel, you’ll also run a high risk of cold (okay, cool) temperatures and rain.
If the cold weather doesn’t daunt you, winter is the perfect time to check out San Francisco’s hot
restaurant scene
or catch a play at one of its many

Find the best month for your visit to San Francisco

Ready to narrow down the right month to travel to the Golden City? Check out the table below to find the ideal time for your San Francisco adventure based on the activities you’re planning.
Best month to visit
Walk over the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is always open to walk across, but you may want to avoid fog season (summer) for the best views.
Pro Tip Search hashtags #hiddensf, #sfbrunch, and #igerssf to find some awesome hidden spots in the city.

How to find savings on car and rental insurance

Whether you’re driving to San Francisco or
renting a car
at the airport, it’s important to make sure you have a quality car insurance policy in place before you hit the road.
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