Visiting San Francisco – Travel Guide

San Francisco is a major city in Northern California with a significant population for such a small area (nearly 7.5 million people living in the space of around 47 square miles). It comes in second only to New York City for the most densely populated city in the United States. It is also one of the top tourist destinations in the world (at the time of this writing it is ranked #33). Visiting San Francisco is a must for those looking to find history, art, culture and endless activities all in one spot.

The weather in San Francisco can range from sunny to foggy and can change without much notice. For your weekend getaway you might consider bringing a light rain coat with you just in case of some precipitation. September tends to be one of the warmer months but it isn’t uncommon to have cool evenings even during this time.

Things To Do

There are many tourist attractions that are recommended for those on a weekend getaway to San Francisco. Probably one of the most famous is the Golden Gate Bridge, an engineering marvel that just recently celebrated its 75th birthday. The bridge connects San Francisco with Marin county, a very scenic and beautiful side trip if you ever visit this city. It is probably one of the most photographed structures in the world, with many of the memorable and ideal pictures taken when the low rolling fog comes in.


Alcatraz or “The Rock”

Alcatraz is also a famous destination spot for visitors to San Francisco that was popularized by the 1996 Hollywood film titled “The Rock“. This old civil war era military prison that was acquired by the Department of Justice during the 1930s and introduced into the federal prison system for almost thirty years, housed big time criminals like Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly. Today, it is owned by the National Park Service and daily tours are offered to those looking to see how the prison and island was run during the time of operation. Just going there for the views of San Francisco city is worth the price of admission.

Museums in San Francisco are numerous and incorporate all the best of the city including the culture, sights and history. One example is the Cable Car Museum, which houses some of the original cable cars dating back to the 1870s. Cable cars were designed to alleviate the troubles that horses were experiencing during this time with hilly terrain and cobblestone  roads. They are still around today and are an iconic piece of history and culture that exist within the modern improvements the city has taken on during the last one and a half centuries.

Best Places To Stay

There are numerous boutique hotels in downtown San Francisco. These are smaller, but usually modern style hotels that generally are affordable options for people staying in an expensive area. Kimpton hotels operates several in the area, including the well known Palomar hotel. They even have an excellent pet friendly policy if you decide to bring your dog or cat along with you.

Several Hotels Have Amazing Bay Views

Several Hotels Have Amazing Bay Views

Some of the top hotels according to visitors to San Francisco are:

  • Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Clift Hotel
  • InterContinental San Francisco
  • Parc 55 Wyndam
  • The Westin San Francisco
  • The Grand Hyatt located at Union Square
  • Palomar Hotel


Events and Festivals

Most of the main events and festivals in San Francisco take place during the months May through December. This is by no means a comprehensive list but it just highlights a sampling of a few events and festivals that are offered in the city:

July– This month is packed with amazing music festivals including the Filmore Street Jazz Festival which is free to attend and takes place on 3 different stages, the North Beach Jazz Festival which is a five day event mainly held in the bars along Grant Street and features all different kinds of Jazz Genre musical artists, and the San Francisco Waterfront Festival which features the spectacular fireworks display over the bay on the Fourth of July.

Union Square San Francisco

Union Square San Francisco

August – The San Jose Jazz Festival typically attracts around 100k visitors annually. It is held in the middle of downtown San Francisco and would be an excellent weekend getaway for couples who are into the jazz scene. Also, if you enjoy Shakespeare, there is the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival held every weekend through September.

September – Features the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, where visitors get the opportunity to try wine and taste the world famous chocolate during the two day event.

October – Get ready for one of the worlds best jazz festivals. The San Francisco Jazz Festival is a 3 week event featuring over 30 concerts and top performers in the jazz scene today along with up and coming stars.

November and December – Several holiday festivals and events are covered during this time to include the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Ghiradilli Square and Macy’s Union Square, The Festival of Lights, and the Great Dickens Christmas Fair.