May in San Francisco: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Carnaval Parade in San Francisco
Bhautik Joshi/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

May's Big Holidays

In the United States, Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Use the California Mother's Day Guide to find some ideas Mom is sure to love.

The first big summer holiday, Memorial Day happens on the last Monday of May. Get some ideas for things to do.

San Francisco Weather in May

May begins the drier part of the year, with continued sunshine and even less rain than April.

  • Average High Temperature: 65 F (18 C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 51 F (11 C)
  • Water Temperature: 55 F (14 C)
  • Rain: 0.25 in (0.6 cm)
  • Rainfall: 4 days
  • Daylight: 14 hours
  • Sunshine: 10 hours
  • Humidity: 66 percent
  • UV Index: 8

If you want to compare May weather to other months, check the guide to San Francisco weather and climate. Before you make your final plans and pack that suitcase, check the San Francisco weather forecast a few days in advance of your trip.

What to Pack

Pack a mid-weight jacket, especially for evenings. Bring short-sleeved shirts and lightweight pants, with a warmer layer. For sunny days, a hat is a good idea.

Pack sunscreen and sunglasses. When the UV Index (amount of skin-damaging radiation) exceeds 6 to 7, you need both skin and eye protection.

May Events in San Francisco

It's a good thing I can make lists because I find so many fun things to do that I'd forget them all. These are a few things on my "That Looks Interesting" list:

  • Bay to Breakers RaceIt's one of the most popular 12K races in the country. It's also famous for the inventive costumes people wear while running (and for the few runners who wear nothing at all). The route goes from The Embarcadero, across town, through Golden Gate Park and ends at the ocean.
  • Carnaval San FranciscoIn case you can't get to Rio or New Orleans, San Francisco's parade features great costumes, beautiful people and lots of fun.
  •  Amgen Tour of CaliforniaA multi-day bicycle race like the Tour de France, it often passes through the San Francisco area, although not through the city itself.
  • How Weird Street FairThe name is a clue to what you might be saying afterward, but if you like funky and unusual, it's worth a try.

Things to Do in May

  • Watch a Basketball Game: Golden State Warriors play basketball in their new home in San Francisco's Chase Center, starting in 2019.
  • Go Whale Watching: May is the end of gray whale season and the start of humpback whale season around San Francisco. Find out how, when, and where in the San Francisco whale watching guide.
  • Attend a Baseball Game: San Francisco has one of the prettiest stadiums around. If the San Francisco Giants are playing at home, watching a game is a fun way to spend a few hours. We like to go to afternoon games because it's warmer than night games. Get the Giants schedule here. The Oakland A's play baseball across the Bay. See the A's current schedule here.

The annual events listed above happen every year, but they're not all that's going on in San Francisco in May. If you're looking for a fun concert, sporting event, or theatrical performance, check the San Francisco Chronicle's entertainment section.

May Travel Tips

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