AOL Travel

San Francisco When To Go and Weather

Peak Season June - August
Summer in San Francisco is hands-down the most crowded time in the city—and can also be quite chilly, thanks to the fog and ocean air. (Yes, that famous Mark Twain quote about the coldest winter being a San Francisco summer has much merit.) Make sure to pack at least one sweatshirt or sweater, long pants and a scarf. Also note that San Francisco and surrounding areas have diverse microclimates, so it could be warm (80 is considered a heat wave here) and sunny in one neighborhood and dark and cold elsewhere. Hence, San Franciscans’ predilection for layers. Book your summertime trip as early as possible to ensure you get your first pick of hotels (see our picks for best San Francisco hotels). Ditto for popular restaurants that top your list (our choices for best San Francisco restaurants are here). 

Peak Season Things to Do in San Francisco: San Francisco Zoo (feeding time for animals is the best time to visit San Francisco Zoo), Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz IslandGolden Gate Park, California Academy of Sciences, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Japanese Tea Garden, Crissy Field 
Off-Season December - February
Winter is decidedly the least-crowded time to visit. (Caveat: Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year's are an exception to this rule, so plan accordingly.) Make friends with rain and wind, especially in December and January. However, temps don't usually dip below 40, and you're likely to score good deals on hotel rates during winter months. Make sure to pack sweaters and layers, a warm jacket, boots and a hat. Of course, an umbrella is a must. If rain doesn't bother you, visiting during tourist-free wintertime can be nice: You can take advantage of ballet and opera season, plus the Golden Gate Bridge is really cool surrounded by fog. 

Off Season Things to Do in San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Lombard Street, De Young Museum, Ferry Building Marketplace
Shoulder Season March - May; September - November
Spring is a lovely time to visit the Bay Area: The rain has moved out and the weather is temperate (50s and 60s) but you still need your layers. No question, though, September and October are the best time to explore because it's San Francisco's "real" summer, with abundant sunshine and warmer temps. Generally speaking, hotel rates may be a little better than peak summer rates, but not significantly. Pack your layers, shades and sunscreen and you're good to go. Again, book hotels and make restaurant reservations as early as possible. 

Shoulder Season Things to Do in San Francisco: Exploratorium, San Francisco Cable Car System, University of California Berkeley, Union Square, Coit Tower 

Monthly Averages

San Francisco, CA Weather Forecast

7-Day Forecast

  • Thu



    62  51

  • Fri



    65  52

  • Sat



    64  51

  • Sun


    Partly Cloudy

    61  54

  • Mon


    Partly Cloudy

    62  53

  • Tue


    Partly Cloudy

    65  53

  • Wed


    Mostly Sunny

    66  53