San Francisco is a unique city with a unique climate and a unique culture, which means that figuring out what to pack for San Francisco isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem.
San Francisco Packing List
Fortunately, we’ve put together a thorough San Francisco packing list; consult it as you fill your suitcase and before you go.
Bring along a tough little umbrella, because yes, it rains in the city even in summer. Make sure the one you add to your San Francisco packing list is handy and packable enough to fit in your purse or satchel.
Waterproof Sun Hat
When you’re thinking through what to pack for San Francisco, don’t forget a hat that works just as well for blocking sun as it does for keeping rain off your face, because you’re likely to encounter either form of weather while you’re here.
We know, you’ve got your phone—but this city’s scenery deserves a little better. So consider adding a higher-level picture-snapper to your San Francisco packing list—you’ll be happy to have it when you finally behold the Golden Gate Bridge in person.
An Extra Bag
Deciding what to pack for San Francisco? Keep in mind that you’ll almost certainly bring home lots more than you brought with you. SF has excellent souvenir options, and the local wine is worth toting home, too. Tuck Cotopaxi’s packable daypack in your suitcase so that you have a convenient way to lug home all the Ghirardelli chocolate you can carry.
Great for SF’s breeziest days, this handsome and easygoing outer shell will keep you comfortable whether you’re strolling Chinatown or hiking Land’s End.
With this city’s ardent devotion to environmentalism, you won’t want to be caught with a disposable water bottle in hand. Instead, add a BPA-free option to your San Francisco packing list.
Portable Phone Charger
You might think you’re all good if you charge up your phone overnight. But if you plan to be out for the whole day, mapping things out, taking pictures, and using travel apps like Lyft and Yelp, your phone won’t make it to the evening—unless you’ve got a portable charger. Don’t forget this critical item when planning what to pack for San Francisco.
The Bay Area is the home of Clif Bars (the factory is just over the Bay Bridge in Emeryville), and people here eat them everywhere they go. And for good reason: They’re easy to bring along, and keep you nice and powered up whenever your stomach starts to growl and a restaurant stop isn’t convenient.
Binoculars might not be your first idea when thinking through what to pack for San Francisco. But—especially if you’re a devoted birdwatcher, or if you’re planning to visit Alcatraz or AT&T Park—you’ll be glad you brought them along.
More from SmarterTravel:
- San Francisco Travel Guide
- 10 Best Hotels in San Francisco
- 10 Best Cheap Hotels in San Francisco
- The 10 Coolest Boutique Hotels in San Francisco
- 10 Must-See San Francisco Attractions
- The 9 Best Day Trips from San Francisco
- 10 Best Things to Do in San Francisco
- 12 Best Museums in San Francisco
- San Francisco Shopping: A Traveler’s Guide
- San Francisco Food: 9 Specialties You Have to Try
- 10 Best Cheap Eats in San Francisco
- 10 Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in San Francisco
- What to Wear in San Francisco
–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.