San Francisco, located on the west coast of the United States of America, is a dynamic city that draws visitors from around the world.
San Francisco lavishly rewards visitors with a plethora of activities that extend far beyond the clichéd tourist traps.
No doubt, San Francisco is rich with fabled museums and art galleries, beautiful urban parks, colorful neighborhoods, history-laden places, and international cafes, making it a well-rounded break full of culture, cuisine, and outdoor activities.
Summertime in the city can be unexpectedly cool due to the cold flow that runs down California's coast.
Unpredictable weather variations and the bustling summer tourist season make deciding when to visit San Francisco difficult. But don't worry, the city's beauty and character makes it an excellent option for travelers.
This well-thought-out guide will detail the best time to visit San Francisco by weather, costs, and events. Look below to find out more!
The Weather in San Francisco
San Francisco has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers, mild winters, and dry summers.
The chilly currents of the Pacific Ocean to the west and the water of San Francisco Bay towards the east and north have a considerable influence on the city's weather.
This, however, reduces temperature swings and generates warm year-round weather with little seasonal change.
As a result, the warmest months of the year are September and October, when the city gets to experience the so-called "Indian Summer" - abnormally warm, dry weather that occurs in various parts of the northern hemisphere throughout fall.
Seasons In San Francisco
During the winter season (December-February), the peninsula is often warm and rainy, cold and foggy. San Francisco's winters are marked by mild temperatures and rain.
And, while the temps do drop, it does not freeze or snow. The city is frequently shrouded in mist from the Pacific Ocean, adding to the cool aspect.
Winter highs average about 59°F (15°C), and over half of the year's precipitation occurs during this time. Average lows hover around 48°F (9°C), although the fog and damp weather make it feel a lot colder.
If you go to San Francisco in the winter, don't miss February's colorful Chinese New Year Parade, which features a flash of vibrant Asian culture in Chinatown.
2. Summer in San francisco
Summertime in San Francisco happens to be cool, windy, and frequently damp, in contrast to other regions of the country.
While California is often a warm and sunny state, San Francisco's water-bound peninsular location keeps the city relatively temperate, even in the summer.
Summer highs hover around 69°F (21°C), with temperatures dropping as low as 12°C, 13°C, or 14°C. With highs of roughly 71°F (22°C), September is the hottest month of the year.
The month of July tends to be sunny, and the afternoon sky in August isn't overly cloudy. Summer days can infrequently reach 80°F (27°C) or greater, though this isn't the usual.
During the warmer months, there may be fog or mist in the mornings and afternoons.
In August or the beginning of September, the fog starts to lift, bringing milder temperatures. This is the dry period in San Francisco, thus there will most likely be no rain.
Summer is also a terrific time for festivals, with many great outdoor celebrations, such as the North Beach (Little Italy) Festival street fair, San Francisco Pride, and others.
The weather in San Francisco is at its best in the fall. This season (September to November) is noted for its Indian summer, which delivers drier and milder weather with bright and sunny days.
The weather is frequently warmer than in the summer, with clear sky from Ocean Beach to the Bayside.
Average temperatures in September and October peak around 71°F (22°C), with a low possibility of both fog and precipitation. The days are bright and warm, while the nights are clear and crisp.
However, in November, the average temperature peaks around 62°F (17°C) and lower around 50°F (10°C). Fog and precipitation increase by around 2.14 inches (54mm), but the average temperature steadily decreases.
4. San Francisco in Spring
Spring, which lasts from March to June, delivers pleasant temperatures because it is San Francisco's wettest season. The first month of Spring has the most rain.
Spring in San Francisco can be pretty nice, and it is a terrific time to visit the city. Temperatures are normally in the 60s, and the rain decreases as the season continues.
In March, for example, average highs are about 63°F (17°C) while lows are around 50°F (10°C), with around seven days of rain. As May progresses, highs approach 68°F (20°C), with only a few days of rain.
Seasons for travel in San Francisco
As the temperature cools, San Francisco's low season for tourist begins in November and lasts until February ending or the beginning of March.
Winter in temperate climates is cold and damp. Although San Francisco winters are just mild by West Coast standards, hotel demand reduces significantly throughout the winter.
With the rain and wind chill, it can feel much colder compared to 52°F (11°C) which the average temperatures would imply.
Prepare for rain and fog if visiting in December, January, or February. On the plus side, you'll have galleries and museums all to yourself.
2. Shoulder season San Francisco
San Francisco's shoulder seasons are fall (September to October) and spring (March to May). This is considered the greatest time to explore San Francisco because it has fewer tourists as opposed to the summer months.
Fall is mostly dry, with comfortable temperatures, making seeing the city much simpler than having to struggle with fog, rain, and summer visitors during other seasons of the year.
Owing to the school semesters, families with children are unable to visit San Francisco, and fewer people opt to travel outside of the summer, regardless of the weather and expensive bills.
Despite having the greatest weather condition of the year in San Francisco, fall is surprisingly quiet. A variety of corporate meetings, events, and conferences bring some people to town, so hotel rates are not as low as they are in the winter.
3. Peak/high season
The high travel season in San Francisco runs throughout the summer months, beginning in early June and ending in early September.
Summers in this area are notorious for cold morning fog, which is likely to burn off in the afternoon.
During the summer vacations, tourists from all over the world flock to the area, and airfares, hotels, and other travel expenses skyrocket.
Regardless of whether the weather isn't ideal during the early period of the High Season, popular tourist destinations are crowded during this time.
A month-by-month guide to visiting San Francisco
There is no such thing as a bad or good time to travel to San Francisco. San Francisco is a popular tourist destination all year.
The ideal time to visit San Francisco depends on the events you wish to participate in as well as your budget.
Here are a few things to expect at every month you visit San Francisco.
1. January in San Francisco
San Francisco enjoys its rainy season in January, resulting in a quite peaceful and less vibrant city when people return from their vacations.
Although there may be some rain, the weather can also be absolutely clear, warm, and sunny, with beautiful blue skies. It is very unpredictable!
Temperatures at night are the coldest of the year, with lows around 45.7°F (7.6°C). Rainfall is abundant all through wintertime and can be heavy on a couple of days in January.
The average temperature is 51.3°F/10.7°C. Precipitation totaled 4.50 in/114 mm on average.
Events to attend
San Francisco Sketchfest, an acclaimed comedy festival exhibiting some of the country's top comedians; San Francisco Tape Music Festival; NOIR CITY Film Festival, which unfolds at the historic Castro Theatre; and San Francisco Beer Week are all events to attend.
Restaurant Week is another notable event, during which some of the city's most-known restaurants offer exclusive prix-fixe menus.
Dog enthusiasts can also experience the Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show, which has over 2,000 dogs from 175 breeds and is a fascinating event to attend.
2. February in San Francisco
February, while still in the rainy season, provides a means to enjoy low-cost accommodations and fewer tourists. For Valentine's Day, February in San Francisco boasts great temps and hugging weather!
It's also a great time to see the Chinese New Year activities and the blooming cherry blossoms throughout the city. Consider taking a whale-watching cruise while it's still possible to see whales off the shore.
Temperatures are substantially higher than in December and January, with daily highs reaching 60.2°F (15.7°C). Temperature is 53.9°F/12.2°C on average. Precipitation totaled 4.46 in/113 mm on average.
Events to attend
The Chinese New Year event and procession; the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition; and the SF Tribal and Textile Art Show, which features tribal art from the Americas, Asia, and Africa.
The SF Half Marathon & 5K is a fantastic chance to see one of the world's most scenic courses, with a route that extends through Golden Gate Park and the Pacific Ocean.
3. March in San Francisco
In March, San Francisco begins to warm up, heralding the start of spring across the city. There will be far fewer rainy days - unless it's an off-year, which, once again, is unpredictable!
During this season, there is a modest increase in hotel rates.
March is a shoulder month in regards to weather, with rain falling significantly from the start to the end of the month and temperatures continuing to rise.
March has the most variation of any month, with temperature fluctuations occurring daily. The average temperature is 55.1°F (12.8°C). Precipitation averaged 3.26 in/83 mm.
Events to attend
The Macy's Flower Show, a celebration of floral traditions; the St. Patrick's Day Festival, which includes one of the city's largest parades, live music, and authentic Irish cuisine; and the San Francisco Botanical Garden Magnolia Bloom event, which allows visitors to see the city's most beautiful magnolias in bloom.
Likewise, the Sonoma International Film Festival provides an exciting opportunity to see over 100 carefully selected films in cutting-edge locations within the vicinity of Sonoma Plaza.
4. April in San Francisco
As the amount of wet days decreases, the city grows warmer. The longer and sunnier days begin to raise people's spirits, and while prices may be higher, April remains a great time to visit.
April begins to seem much more comfortable, with just a few days of substantial rainfall on average.
Nights turn warmer, with average daily lows of 49.2°F (9.6°C). Temperature is 56.2°F/13.4°C on average while precipitation totalled 1.46 in/37 mm on average.
Events to attend
It is common to participate in spring festivities like the Union Street Easter Parade and Spring Celebration, which includes a bunny hop; San Francisco Salsa Festival, which includes dance competitions, breathtaking performances, and the chance to learn some salsa dance routines.
Furthermore, the International Film Festival provides an excellent platform for showcasing cinematic inquiry and growth, providing a wonderful chance for film industry discovery and innovation.
5. May in San Francisco
May is an excellent season to visit San Francisco, with bright skies and mild weather beginning in April. It is crucial to note, however, that the fog can last for several days.
May is a diverse month with unpredictable weather. The average temperature continues to rise, with highs of 64.3°F (17.9°C), but summer fog arrives at the end of the month, making it feel cooler and wetter. Temperature is 57.6°F/14.2°C on average and precipitation average is 0.70 in/18 mm.
Events to attend
Be sure to check out the Bay to Breakers, one of the most famous 12km races known for its course through San Francisco and the racers' outrageous, quirky outfits.
Carnaval is one of the city's largest public festivals. It includes feather-clad dancers, a procession, and South and Central American music beats, as well as foreign cuisine and arts and crafts events.
The Cinco de Mayo Festival and the SF International Arts Festival at the Fort Mason Centre for Arts & Culture are both held in May.
6. June in San Francisco
While some people associate summertime with hot climates, San Francisco, in particular, suffers an uptick in foggy days.
In San Francisco, June comes the heat. It also brings fog, so there will be days when you can't see the sun but can feel it!
June Gloom sets in, with heavy fog blanketing the city for the majority of the month.
Despite the fog, there is almost no rain in June, but the humidity and fog can make it feel damper than it is during the wet winter months. Average temperature is 59.6°F/15.3°C and average Precipitation is 0.16 in/4mm.
Events to attend
The street fair season begins in June, with notable events such as the North Beach Festival, SF Jazz Festival, Union Street Music Festival, Pride Festival, and Haight Ashbury Street Fair.
7. July in San Francisco
As the fog settles over the city, San Francisco's different microclimates cause temperatures to fluctuate from slightly warm to bone-chilling in a single second.
Layers of clothing are recommended while stepping out, especially since the cold does not stop crowds from assembling.
July happens to be the driest time of the year, with rain occurring just a few times.
Often, there is an overhanging of fog from June, making early July a bit unpleasant, but the weather improves by the end of the month, with daily highs exceeding 67°F (19.4°C).
Temperature is about 60.3°F/15.7°C on average and precipitation is 0 in/0mm on average.
Events to attend
July is jam-packed with festivals and Independence Day events, so keep an eye out for fairs and fireworks!
The San Francisco Marathon, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the Fillmore Jazz Festival, The Renegade Craft Fair, and the San Francisco Frozen Film Festival are among the major events that showcase independent films, documentaries, and live music performances.
8. August in San Francisco
August's weather is usually dry and warm, similar to July's. In August, summer tourism is in full flow, so expect higher pricing for flights and lodgings, as well as more crowds at major attractions.
August marks the beginning of the best climate season in San Francisco, which lasts through October. The skies clear, though there are times when the fog lasts a longer period, and the temperature reaches its peak.
Daily highs hit 68.1°F (20.1°C), with some days in August reaching the 80s (over 27°C). Temperature is 61.6°F/16.4°C on average. The precipitation average is 0.06 in/2 mm.
Events to attend
Noe Valley Wine Walk; Nihonmachi Street Fair, a celebration of cuisine, culture, and music of San Francisco's Asian and Pacific populations; San Francisco Street Food Festival; and Outside Lands Music and Art Festival are among the events to attend in August.
9. September in San Francisco
As September arrives, the weather in San Francisco improves. The city's legendary fog, "Karl the Fog," disappears, as the sun begins to shine. There will be less fog and milder temperatures all around.
The rising temperatures also signal the start of San Francisco's "Indian Summer," making September one of the greatest months to visit due to the beautiful weather.
Temperatures reach their peak with daily highs of 70.2°F (21.2°C) and a day or two above 90°F (32°C). Temperature is 62.7°F/17.1°C on average and precipitation is 0.21 in/5 mm on average.
Events to attend
The Folsom Street Fair is the world's largest leather and fetish event, and it is not for youngsters or the faint of heart. The San Francisco Fringe Festival features independent and unconventional theatre productions.
Labour Day Weekend draws a large number of people to the city to celebrate the end of summer. Other festivals include the Sausalito Art Festival, the Castro Valley Fall Festival, and Oktoberfest.
10. October in San Francisco
October boasts a pleasant climate and a variety of exciting activities and events taking place throughout the city.
Although October is normally clear in San Francisco, it does mark the start of the rainy season, so there may be some drizzles. Furthermore, accommodation prices are modest, and the local atmosphere is unrivaled.
Warm temperatures are expected to last the entire month. As winter approaches, expect a few wet days around the end of October. The average temperature is 61.5°F (16.4°C). The precipitation average is 1.12 in/28 mm.
Events to attend
October is Fleet Week in San Francisco, so you'll see military pride everywhere, from ship excursions to Blue Angels air demonstrations.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, San Francisco Barbecue Festival, and Castro Street Fair are among the other events. Halloween has been a big deal in the city. So, get creative with your costume!
11. November in San Francisco
Because November is a rainy month, pack your rain boots and jackets. The city is in full fall season mode, so don't miss the Christmas Is Coming sales, which run up to Thanksgiving!
Prices remain low as rain begins to fall and temperatures drop, and the holiday season sees fewer crowds, making it a great time to see the city's attractions.
Daily highs in November fall slightly below 60°F (15.6°C). Temperature is 56.6°F/13.7°C on average and precipitation totaled 3.16 in/80 mm on average.
Events to attend
The Dia de los Muertos festival in the Latino Mission District offers an opportunity to honor deceased loved ones and their legacy with a display of altars; The Great Dickens Christmas Fair; and San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest are all events to consider during this period.
In addition, the yearly Illuminate SF Festival transforms the night sky with light art installations.
It lasts from Thanksgiving till New Year's Day. So bring your camera and be prepared to tour the entire city's light gallery.
12. December in San Francisco
December is the wet season, so you should anticipate winter storms but not snow. As the temperature drops, the weather might turn rather cold, with chilly gusts, and prices are more likely to rise closer to the holidays.
San Francisco becomes an increasingly popular destination for travelers throughout the Christmas season due to its ice skating rinks, dazzling holiday lights, and shopping centers.
The Christmas and New Year's celebrations and fairs alone are reason enough to visit the city in December.
As December approaches, the winter season begins. It has daily lows of 46.1°F (7.8°C), making the evenings much cooler, and daily highs of 50°F (10°C) on certain days.
Temperature is 51.6°F/10.9°C on average. Precipitation totaled 4.56 in/116 mm on average.
Events to attend
Ice skating at the Union Square Ice Rink; the Union Street Fantasy of Lights; and the Parol Lantern Festival, a procession, and showcase of Filipino culture, music, and food.
Another famous event is the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, which is a nostalgic throwback to Victorian London and includes roasted chestnuts, costumed carolers, and handmade handicrafts for sale.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Is The Ideal Time To Visit San Francisco To Get The Best Deals?
To snag the best deals, consider visiting San Francisco during the winter.
Prices usually spike during the holiday season, but once that rush subsides, January often sees the lowest rates of the year due to decreased tourist traffic.
What Causes The Fog In San Francisco?
San Francisco's iconic fog arises when hot air over the city ascends, creating a low-pressure area.
This draws in the cool, moist air from the Pacific Ocean. When this moist air meets the warmer inland air, fog forms.
Is It Cheap To Visit San Francisco In July?
July falls in the midst of San Francisco's peak summer tourist season, which spans from June to August.
Due to the influx of tourists, expect to see elevated prices for flights and accommodations during this period.
When Is San Francisco's Rainy Season?
San Francisco experiences its rainy season from late November to early April, with the majority of the city's annual rainfall occurring during these months.
Your choices will determine the best time to visit San Francisco. Peak season is ideal for attending the Golden Gate Jazz Festival, Fireworks Over the Bay, Alameda County Fair, and Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival.
During the summer, all other tourist sites are open. If you are okay with the winter rain and chill, the months of December to February are the greatest for finding the finest deals.
Another inexpensive time to visit San Francisco is during shoulder season (September to November and March to May). Fall is especially intriguing because of Indian Summer, which occurs after Karl the Fog dissipates.
Whatever your thoughts are, San Francisco is a great city to visit. So, pack your luggage and prepare to enjoy the finest that San Francisco offers!