Should You Visit San Francisco?

Is San Francisco worth visiting?

Yes, San Francisco offers many reasons for a visit. It's a coastal city everyone should explore, and our experience here was wonderful. We didn't want to leave. We first visited San Francisco in our early adult years and later moved to the city. During our time here, we fell in love with its dramatic hills and bay views as well as its eclectic and colorful neighborhoods.

Whether you're a traveling as a family, a couple, or a backpacker, this coastal city has a lot to offer. Any local will tell you what makes it special is the spectacular museums and terrific food.

It's often mentioned as one of the best places to visit in major publications, such as in Travel and Leisure's Best Places to Visit in 2023 - Big City Thrills.

San Francisco is a city that mixes incredible urban personality with striking natural beauty. It sits on the bay and makes full use of the many viewpoints provided by the hilly landscape. The city is a quirky and fun place that doesn't take itself too seriously. You'll find amazing urban hikes, award-winning restaurants, and diverse neighborhoods.

San Francisco, California San Francisco, California

8 Reasons to Visit San Francisco

1. Museums

The city's landmarks are as diverse as the people who live there. The most recognizable landmark is the famous Golden Gate Bridge, but visitors also enjoy seeing Alcatraz Island, the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as the small but fascinating Cable Car Museum.

2. Food

There are local dives as well as five star restaurants, with everything in between. Popular local dining experiences include sourdough bread bowls and Dungeness crab at Fisherman's Wharf, and dim sum in Chinatown. Head away from the touristy neighborhoods if you want to sample some of the more local restaurants around town.

3. Hiking

The city's hikes take in the dramatic views of the bay and city. Just outside of town there are also countless hikes through the Redwoods and along the coastline. Popular hikes in the area include Lands End, Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore, and Muir Woods.

4. Shopping

The city has excellent shopping from local vendors to recognizable brands. Union Square, Embarcadero, Fillmore Street and Haight Street are some of the best neighborhoods for shopping.

5. Beaches

Whether you're interested in surfing or simply taking in the dramatic views, the beaches of San Francisco will take your breath away. Some of the best beaches include Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, and Muir Beach.

6. Theatre Productions

The city has around a dozen theaters where you can enjoy musicals or plays.

7. Nightlife

It has a great nightlife with many local bars and trendy clubs. For the best nightlife away from the tourists, head to Valencia Street or Polk Street. If you want to be in a more touristy area, check out Union Square. Popular clubs in the city include Temple San Francisco, Monarch, and Audio Nightclub.

8. Music

Well known music venues include the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, and The Chapel.




Expert Advice from Local Travelers

We're asking our community members and registered users to contribute their experiences about San Francisco.

How can you save money during your time in San Francisco?

I took the Muni or the city bus whenever I could since they are cheaper than taxis and tour buses. I think you could also save by eating at some of the cheaper fast-food places in the mall or away from the tourist areas.

Michael
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Apr 7 2024

We used to live in San Francisco and the best way to save money is to buy multi-day transportation passes and eat away from the main touristy areas. Polk Street has a lot of great restaurants.

Beth_18
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Jun 3 2023

What was your favorite thing about San Francisco?

San Francisco has gotten a bit of a bad rap lately, but it's still a beautiful city with impressive architecture and quirky neighborhoods. It'll always be a special place.

Henry
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Feb 10 2024

There are so many amazing views in San Francisco. We took our kids there and even from the playgrounds you could see spectacular views of the bay.

Cal_girl
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Sep 18 2023

San Francisco has great neighborhoods that are fun to explore - like Chinatown, Embarcadero, and Haight Ashbury.

Abbey
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Jun 26 2023

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Is San Francisco worth visiting in the Summer?

Summer is the high season for travel in San Francisco, so expect more visitors and higher prices. This is an extremely popular destination, and in the high season it's busier than usual as this is when most people are able to travel. Expect large crowds of tourists, longer lines, and higher prices for hotels. On the other hand, you'll find that everything is open and you'll have a wide array of activities, things to do, and places to eat. Summer can be surprisingly cool in San Francisco, but this is still a popular time to visit. Don't forget to pack a sweatshirt!.

You'll find the weather to be very nice here during summer with average temperatures around 17°C (63°F).

Visiting the nearby beaches is one of the most popular things to do this time of year, so spend some time enjoying the waves and sand. The nearby hiking this time of year is a must-do, so take some time to get out on the trails, take in some fresh air, and enjoy the scenery. The activities of the city are numerous, and this is a great time of year to explore all of them. From family-friendly attractions to romantic getaways, as well as budget-friendly things to do, there's something for everyone. Famous landmarks, museums, tours, and more are all available. You'll also find it quite easy to get around on foot, because this is a very walkable coastal city, especially in the nice weather. You'll find plenty to do during summer, as you'll be able to lounge on the beach, take a hike, and browse through museums. Also, you can experience the big city activities and the nightlife.


Summer Weather in San Francisco
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
July 17°C (63°F) 2 mm (0.1 in)
August 18°C (64°F) 1 mm (0.1 in)
September 19°C (66°F) 7 mm (0.3 in)

Is San Francisco worth visiting in the Autumn?

This is the shoulder season for travel in San Francisco. As a very touristy destination, even in the shoulder season you'll see plenty of tourists when you visit. However, good prices and deals are to be found at this time of year.

You'll find the weather to be very nice here during autumn with average temperatures around 17°C (63°F).

Autumn is a great time of year to explore the numerous museums and landmarks around town. They are fun for the whole family as well great for couples. During this season it's fun to experience the gorgeous scenery, the famous sights and museums, and the big city activities. Also, you can go hiking and listen to some live music.


Autumn Weather in San Francisco
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
October 17°C (63°F) 33 mm (1.3 in)
November 14°C (57°F) 71 mm (2.8 in)
December 11°C (51°F) 68 mm (2.7 in)

Is San Francisco worth visiting in the Winter?

You'll find the weather to be very nice here during winter with average temperatures around 10°C (50°F).

The low season for travel in San Francisco is during the winter. This is an extremely touristy destination, so in the low season you'll still see plenty of other travelers when you visit, but less than other times of the year. Good deals are to be found on hotels and tours because it's not the best time of year to visit. Winter is still a moderate temperature so it's a good time to visit as well.

You'll like that you can take public transit easily in the winter, too. You can get around quickly while avoiding bad weather if needed. This is a great time of year to browse the museums, spend an evening at the theatre, and taste delicious cuisine. Also, you can check out the nightlife, the live music scene, and the big city activities.


Winter Weather in San Francisco
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
January 10°C (50°F) 96 mm (3.8 in)
February 12°C (54°F) 69 mm (2.7 in)
March 13°C (56°F) 69 mm (2.7 in)

Is San Francisco worth visiting in the Spring?

Spring is the shoulder season for travel in San Francisco. As a very touristy destination, even in the shoulder season you'll see plenty of tourists when you visit. However, good prices and deals are to be found at this time of year.

You'll find the weather to be very nice here during spring with average temperatures around 14°C (58°F).

The city this time of year is absolutely beautiful. Admire the gardens, parks, and fantastic architecture, too. You'll find plenty to do during spring, as you'll be able to find the best deals at the shops, spend time at the museums, and take in the beautiful scenery. Also, you'll be able to listen to some live music and enjoy an evening out.


Spring Weather in San Francisco
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
April 14°C (58°F) 31 mm (1.2 in)
May 15°C (60°F) 5 mm (0.2 in)
June 17°C (62°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)

Things to Consider Before Visiting San Francisco

Lots of Tourists
San Francisco sees a high number of visitors every year, which means you might have to wait in line and deal with large crowds during your visit.

The Cost
Depending on your budget, schedule, and travel style, San Francisco might be an expensive destination for you. You can find out the travel costs for San Francisco here or see if San Francisco is expensive here.

Related

What is San Francisco most famous for?

San Francisco is most famous for its striking bayfront setting, stunning urban hikes, quirky personality, and reputation within the tech industry. People visit this impressive coastal city for its great museums, food, hiking, and shopping. Also, it's known for beaches. Many people love the theatre productions, nightlife, and music, too. It is often described as quirky, eccentric, one-of-a-kind, scenic, beautiful, and outdoorsy.


What is the most famous sight in San Francisco?

The most popular sight in San Francisco is The Golden Gate Bridge. You can see prices and costs for this and other sights in San Francisco on our travel costs page.

Or, see tickets, activities, and tours for The Golden Gate Bridge and other attractions here.

How touristy is San Francisco? Is it a popular coastal city to visit?

San Francisco is a very touristy coastal city that attracts travelers from around the globe. Here are some of the most popular activities and tours. (Prices in US Dollars)


    • Take a Walk with a Storyteller! The Surreal San Francisco Tour.: $32
    • North Beach: Gourmet Ghost Tour in San Francisco: $99
    • Delicious Fun Food and History Tour of North Beach and Beyond!: $72
    • 3-Hour Private Group San Francisco Open Top Jeep Tour: $249
    • Craft Beer Walking Tour in San Francisco's SoMa District: $109
    • San Francisco Castro Mission Loop Tour: $65
    • San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour: $40
    • San Francisco Signature Lunch Cruise: $112

    How long should I spend in San Francisco?

    The ideal length of time for a trip to San Francisco is at least three or as many as seven days. Since San Francisco has a variety of activities such as shopping, museums, dining, and hiking, most people need this much time to see and do everything here.

    If you have a specific amount of time for your trip, see our advice about how much time to spend here: Should I spend 1, 2, or 3 days in San Francisco?, Should I spend 3, 4, or 5 days in San Francisco?, and Should I spend 1 or 2 weeks in San Francisco?.