The winds of change are always blowing in California’s City by the Bay. They bring the famous San Francisco fog and golden hours of light—along with talents and innovations from around the world. The neighborhoods are just as dynamic, and include the oldest Chinatown in North America, LGBT-leaning Castro, hippie Haight and Latin-infused Mission. Artists, too, have always flocked here for inspiration, bringing their own flavor and singing the city’s praises. “San Francisco itself is art,” novelist William Saroyan observed. “Every block is a short story, every hill a novel.” Singer Frank Sinatra quipped, “Now, there’s a grown-up swinging town.” “It’s an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco,” wrote Oscar Wilde in “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Perhaps that’s the greatest endorsement of all. Whether you disappear into the city for a day or a week, here’s what you need to know.
When to go
Each May, more than 50,000 runners and walkers don crazy costumes (or no clothes at all) and cross the city for the 7.46-mile Bay to Breakers race.
The famously cool weather makes for an unparalleled outdoor festival season, which peaks in August with Outside Lands: three days of indie, rock, hip hop and electronica music mixed with food, wine and art experiences.
Warmer temperatures mean it’s September—San Francisco’s closest thing to a traditional summer. Visitors and locals alike enjoy fewer crowds in October and beyond, when the Mission’s Día de Los Muertos festival celebrates friends and family members who have passed away.
Bring an umbrella to enjoy the mild temperatures and smaller crowds of a San Francisco winter, complete with picturesque ice-skating in Union Square and the colorful Chinese New Year Parade through historic Chinatown.
An active ride-booking and taxi network supplement a vast network of Muni streetcars, subways and buses. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) connects San Francisco International Airport to the Embarcadero and the East Bay with key stops along Market and Mission streets. For those who value tradition over speed, historic cable cars and picturesque streetcars still do their fair share of work downtown.
- To fit in among the diverse and accepting people of San Francisco, all you have to do is treat others with respect. You’ll encounter many different ways of life in your journeys through this city—so join locals in practicing a generous “live and let live” policy.
- Though the climate is temperate—winters average 51 degrees and summers average 64 degrees—the infamous microclimates make a trip across town a study in contrasts. Local weather app Mr. Chilly typically displays an average of 18 microclimates in the city. Weather has been said to differ as much as 9 degrees from block to block—and 20 degrees in a 5-mile distance. And then there’s the fog, which rolls in and out like the tide in many neighborhoods. Long story short: Wear layers.
- Liberal Berkeley and eclectic Oakland are just minutes from San Francisco on BART. Both are thriving, unique municipalities worthy of their own travel guides, but it’s worth noting that only San Francisco is referred to as “the City.”
The Radisson Hotel Oakland Airport is less than two miles away from Oakland International Airport and offers a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport. The hotel also offers guests all-day dining at RBG Restaurant, an on-site Starbucks, outdoor pool, and fitness center.
Located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area and just eleven miles away from San Francisco International Airport, the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson San Carlos, CA offers an ideal location for all San Francisco travelers. The hotel offers an outdoor pool, 24-hour business center, free Wi-Fi and fitness center.
Offering a perfect location for both leisure and business travelers in the Silicon Valley area, the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Sunnyvale, CA offers short drives to all of the popular attractions in the area. The hotels amenities include free hot breakfast, free shuttles to nearby businesses, a fitness center, a heated outdoor pool, and a 24-hour business center.
Just two blocks from the city’s VTA light rail and close to multiple business expos and trade shows in the San Jose area, the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson San Jose International Airport, CA is a pristine location for your travels. The hotel boasts an outdoor pool, hot tub, fitness center, free, hot breakfast, and a free shuttle to the SJC Airport.