San Francisco weather is not tropical by any means. Mostly, the weather trend is from 50 to 65 degrees, and it is not unheard of for the weather in SF to venture into the 70s and even 80s. The combination of fog and mild climate make San Francisco a city of clean air and nice temperatures. Even our colder days are pretty mild. But here’s a brief guide to enjoy San Francisco in comfort.
The major rule to remember: layers! Layers are a key part of spending any amount of time in San Francisco. Weather here changes not only from day to day but from neighborhood to neighborhood. San Francisco is known for having a run of sunny, gorgeous days, only to have fog sneak in one night. Not only that, but San Francisco can go from foggy at the beaches to hot by the time you get to the Castro. And, being the hilly city, San Francisco can catch a lot of wind. And even if the sun is out, the wind will still chill you. Tank tops, t-shirts, sweaters and light jackets will generally be plenty. Unless you come to San Francisco in winter, which tends to be the wettest part of the year, in which case, bring an umbrella, scarves, and hooded coats or jackets. When packing to come to SF, you might think you’re way over-packing. But rest assured, more likely than not you are going to need those layers. The fog may make San Francisco seem less desirable, but it has definite benefits. San Francisco’s air is very clean because of the fog, and it keeps our temperatures within a pretty mild range. So keep that in mind when coming to San Francisco: you will need layers, but it’s entirely worth it.
San Francisco has the wonderful habit of having a reasonably predictable climate, despite all its tricks. No matter what time of year it is, there’s a good chance of the weather being within the same temperature range. So as long as you bring clothing appropriate to San Francisco’s mild range, you’re well prepared. San Francisco’s weather is not always like it is on the postcards, but it is always a great time.
If you’re determined to visit San Francisco at its sunniest, the best time of year to aim for is mid September to mid October. While the rest of the country is plunged into Autumn, San Francisco experiences a gorgeous Indian Summer. Sunny and mild with a refreshing breeze, San Francisco’s Indian summer is a beautiful time to visit SF and get to know San Francisco on an outdoors basis.
San Francisco’s weather has a charm all its own. Amazing vacations aren’t just dependent on the weather; you can have a great time in San Francisco, rain or shine. Even if it’s cold and rainy, you can go shopping at one of our large malls, or go to a movie or a museum. But if it is sunny, you can expand your explorations to Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park, or one of San Francisco’s beaches. The weather doesn’t have to limit how much fun you can have. But it can affect which parts of the city you’re able to see and explore. It’s not fun to go thrift shopping on Mission in the rain, but it’s fun to go the theater or to a movie or a lunch instead.
This isn’t technically a weather issue, but bring comfortable shoes. Barring a fancy night out in San Francisco, comfortable shoes are a must to enjoy yourself here. No matter what you choose to do, San Francisco involves a lot of walking. If it’s visiting the tourist stops, like Fisherman’s Wharf or Haight Street, or if it’s shopping. Walking, and probably a lot of it, is inevitable.
Visiting San Francisco requires a minimum of preparation. You have got to pack layers for the chance of fog, and for the chilly nights. The sure fire way to have a great time in San Francisco is to be prepared with layers and comfortable shoes so that you can spend as much time out as possible and not be uncomfortable. San Francisco is a city you have to go out and experience, the kind of place you have to dive right into. So remember these tips, and get ready for your trip to San Francisco with them in mind. You will have a great time in SF, and your feet will not ache at the end of the day.