San Francisco in January

San Francisco in January featured image
Published on April 25, 2023

Visiting San Francisco in January is like nothing else, with the city coming to life with a buzz of enthusiasm.

Whether you're into cuisine, the outdoors, or the arts, you'll never run out of things to do in San Francisco. Get your belongings, grab a heavy coat, and come with us on a trip to San Francisco in the dead of winter.

Things to Do in January

San Francisco in January is a magical place with many fun activities to explore!

From hiking through lush landscapes and uncovering its cultural roots to experiencing the unique flavor, only the Bay Area offers - no matter what you choose, it's sure to be an adventure like no other. Get ready for your winter city break by discovering all SF can provide.

Concerts & Live Music

Concerts Live Music in San Francisco

With the turn of a new year, San Francisco has musically come alive! Large venues like Nob Hill Masonic Center and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium are brimming with big-name performances.

For those looking for something more intimate, check out The Fillmore or Café du Nord - both hosting packed shows all month.

Fans of classical music will also find that Davies Symphony Hall offers enchanting evenings in January too!

And don't forget to keep an eye open for all kinds of great comedy acts around town as well; this city has it all for live entertainment.

Drink Irish Coffee

Drink Irish Coffee

For an unforgettable winter experience, head to San Francisco in January and warm up with the classic Irish coffee crafted just as it was when first brought to America over 70 years ago at one of the city's iconic bars. Sip slowly while taking in all SF offers during this time!

See the Sea Lions at PIER 39

See the Sea Lions at PIER 39

Celebrate the return of Santa's aquatic helpers! Every January, sea lions flock to PIER 39 for their memorable holiday.

Come down and observe these fantastic creatures in all their glory as they settle back into their homes on San Francisco Bay.

Muir Woods in January

Muir Woods in January

How is it in Muir Woods in the dead of winter? At this time of year at Muir Woods, you may expect cold temperatures and gloomy skies.

It's one of the most stunning times of the year, though. Also, compared to San Francisco, we get around twice as much precipitation this month.

Rain is possible throughout your trip, so pack accordingly. The canopy of trees above will provide some shelter, but you should still carry an umbrella.

Take Part in the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k

If you like running and chocolate, this is the race for you! Golden Gate Park is where the race will start and end.

There will be chocolate at the finish line, but there will also be candy stations along the course where runners may pick up marshmallows, M&Ms, and chocolate chips, to name a few!

San Francisco to Yosemite in January

San Francisco to Yosemite in January

The month of January is also a great time to explore Yosemite. It is open all year and especially welcoming guests at this time.

Yosemite National Park has much more pleasant weather than San Francisco. The daytime highs are only in the high 40s, and the lows are in the high 20s.

It's also important to check the forecast, as this time of year typically brings approximately 17 inches of snow.

Free Day at the Botanical Gardens

Visit the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park on New Year's Day. 55 park acres have been dedicated to this living museum, home to thousands of plant species.

New Year's Day and January 9th are free days because they fall on the second Tuesday of the month.

Hike the Lands End Trail

Hike the Lands End Trail

This scenic path winds by flowering cypress trees and past the historic Sutro Baths and Cliffhouse on its way to providing stunning panoramas of the Golden Gate Bridge.

It's a terrific way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors, and it only takes half a day!

San Francisco Whale Watching in January

San Francisco Whale Watching in January

In San Francisco, you may go whale watching at any time of the year. But if you want to visit these incredible animals in the wild, January is one of the finest months to do so because they are most active during this period.

Despite the colder climates, this is the best time of year to go on tours for gray whale watching in the Pacific Ocean, specifically for Grey and Sperm whales.

The weather makes orca and Killer whales possible during this time of year. The Pacific Ocean is home to a wide variety of animals.

Dolphins, turtles, sea lions, sea otters, fish, and birds are just some other marine life you may encounter.

See San Francisco's Redwood Grove

Did you know that San Francisco is home to a tiny Redwood Park? Visit the grove next to the Transamerica Pyramid, conveniently located in the city's center.

It won't break the bank to take a few minutes to unwind here and snap a photo of the magnificent trees.

Walk the Golden Gate Bridge

Walk the Golden Gate Bridge

Walking across the Bridge on a sunny day is an exciting experience providing breathtaking panoramas.

Engage in lovely walking tours, and see the breathtaking vistas of the city and the ingenuity of this building.

Martin Luther King Jr. Festival & March

The Martin Luther King Jr. Festival and March are one of the most significant events of the month in San Francisco.

There will be things to do all through the weekend, with the bulk of them falling on the holiday Monday itself.

There will be a film festival, a health and wellness festival, and appearances by prominent political figures, among another sporting events.

The main attraction is a parade/march from the southern part of San Francisco to downtown.

A 1.5-mile "Marade" begins just south of Oracle Park. This event is a reenactment of the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

January Events in San Francisco

January Events in San Francisco

These popular annual events are favorites of locals and tourists alike.

  • The Edwardian Ball: This costume ball is difficult to describe but impossible to resist. There's dance, fantasy, steampunk aesthetics, and even some Edward Gorey threw in for good measure. They have multiple events, from afternoon tea to a formal ball, spread out over two days.
  • Chinese New Year: Dozens of San Francisco events mark the new year according to the Chinese calendar, including the largest Chinese New Year parade in the U.S. The parade typically occurs in early March, but the lunar holiday can occur anytime between January and February.
  • San Francisco Restaurant Week: Some of San Francisco's most fabulous restaurants offer you a chance to enjoy some fantastic meals at reduced pricing.
  • SF Sketchfest: The two-and-a-half-week-long comedy festival occurs at various venues throughout town.
  • FOG Design+Art: The FOG Fair showcases cutting-edge design, technology, custom installations, modern art, and architecture. Commissioned works, pop-up galleries, talks, and panel discussions will join great exhibits.

What to Pack When Traveling in San Francisco in January

Traveling in San Francisco in January

Several visitors from colder regions or average temperature mistake January in San Francisco for the height of summer and wander the city in shorts and T-shirts.

You should fight the impulse to speak like a local to avoid being pegged as a tourist.

Umbrellas are awkward to lug about on congested sidewalks and offer no protection from rain whipped up by the wind.

But a waterproof jacket with a hood is preferable for warmer clothes, particularly when the wind blows or in a crowded area.

Even though January is one of San Francisco's coldest months, a light to medium coat is usually sufficient on dry days.

In the mornings, locals frequently accessorize with mittens, a hat, and a scarf.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there snow in San Francisco in January?

On average, January rain in San Francisco totals between 1.8 and 6.7 inches (46 and 170 mm). Dryer years occur once every four years, while wetter years occur once every four years. There is no snowfall in this storm.

Should I visit San Francisco in January?

Daytime highs in San Francisco typically hover around 60 degrees in January. The mid-40s are typical overnight lows.

When other sections of the United States are covered in snow, you may enjoy the warm San Francisco weather here.


San Francisco is a fantastic place to visit in January. Whether you visit the bay area alone or with your friends and family, there are several unique things to do for everyone. Check out January San Francisco today for a life-long memory.

Hermillis Haden
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