Seals lounging within city limits, America's crookedest street, and wild flocks of bright green parrots. It must be San Francisco. Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, and Union Square are favorites among visitors, and the newly rebuilt de Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences offer two more great reasons to spend a day in Golden Gate Park. But stick to the most popular attractions and you'll miss the heart of San Francisco, the reason people fall in love with it, despite the fog and high real estate prices. San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods, so find the time to explore, eat, and shop in areas such as Hayes Valley, the Castro, the Mission, Noe Valley, and the Marina. Visit San Francisco and you'll find the world. Get lost in the shops of Chinatown. Enjoy an aperitif on Belden Place, San Francisco's French alley. Treat yourself to a traditional Japanese soak at the Kabuki Springs & Spa in Japantown. Or twirl a forkful of pasta in North Beach. San Francisco knows that the way to a visitors' hearts is through their stomachs. The city lives up to its reputation as a food mecca with a delicious array of restaurants, year-round farmers' markets, and the Ferry Building Marketplace, featuring the edible wares of local food producers. With three airports within driving distance, there's a lot of choice when it comes to finding flights to San Francisco.
Choosing when to visit San Francisco, as well as deciding when to book, can determine the quality of the experience you'll have. Weather, crowds, and other seasonal factors play a significant role in how much your vacation will cost. In general, good weather and big crowds mean higher prices and lower availability. Nevertheless, as San Francisco is packed with year-round activities and mild weather, any time can be a good time. Typically, July and August have the highest citywide hotel occupancy rate, and business travel is at its height in September and October, when many of the largest conventions take place. These surges in visitor popularity reflect the American vacation system. With upswings during holidays and summer, hotels near popular tourist destinations such as Fisherman's Wharf will be booked up early. At these times, there will also be larger crowds at attractions, museums, and events. high season: May to October shoulder season: November to April