Answers from Our Experts (6)
You may be thinking that since San Francisco is in California, any time of year is a great time to visit — not so in this bayside city. Although San Francisco’s climate is mild year-round, the weather does vary seasonally. Winters are cool and rainy, but low temperatures rarely dip below the mid-40s. Summer in this city is a relative term; it’s not unusual to see people wearing knit hats to ward off the chill in overcast June and July. Time your visit between September and November, and you’ll be rewarded with glorious sunny days more typical of the Californian ideal. Bottom line is: No matter what time of year you are visiting, your suitcase better have a couple of sweaters in it.
October, November is the warmest time of year. If you come in the end of October, you get the end of harvest in the Napa Valley or Sonoma, and it gives you one other easy day trip. Then you can do West Marin — which I adore, if I didn’t work in Napa and San Francisco, I’d live out there — Point Reys, Stinson Beach North. I can kind of forget about south, but from here go across the Golden Gate Bridge, rent some bikes and go across up to the Headlands. You do the marina, Crissy Field, the Headlands, Golden Gate Bridge. If you do it by zone, then you’ll do something in South of Market, the Mission — you get Mission Chinese, Delfina, Bar Agricole.
I think the only time you can guarantee it’s going to be warm is the end of September and the beginning of October. It’s super nice at the end of September. That’s when the real summer comes in.
It totally doesn’t matter — you’re always going to be frustrated. It’s going to be 70 degrees at 1 p.m., and 40 degrees at 9 p.m., or vice versa. It’s never warm at night. The best time to come is February. There’s always this little hot flash in February. It’s really strange. If you come from a cold climate, February is usually pretty nice.
The best time to come to San Francisco is either April to May or August to October. The true summer months are always a little foggier here because it is warmer and it creates the steam off of the ocean, that's how we get all that fog. I like the fog. It'll be freezing when it's blowing in, but then when it settles, which is usually about 8 p.m., it's actually kind of warm, kind of a nice temperature. But it's not hot — a comfortable temperature. But if you want more sunshine, September to October, even into November, it's always pretty sunny.
It's always a surprise to vistiors to learn that San Franciso during the summer (July-August) is foggy in the city proper. Head an hour North, South, or East and you'll be in full sunshine. The best time to visit is late Spring---April/May or better, the fall---September/October, when fog is less common and the sunshine sets our beautiful city aglow.