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

Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco

TripSavvy / Melissa Zink

After the holiday weekend at the beginning of the month, San Francisco residents breathe a sigh of relief that peak tourism season has ended. That makes September the perfect time for you to visit, with excellent weather. And you won't have to fight your way through crowds of tourists everywhere you go.

Labor Day in San Francisco

Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September. To get some ideas on what you can do over the long weekend, check out these ideas for Labor Day fun in California.

San Francisco Weather in September

September is arguably one of the best months to visit San Francisco. Around this time, the city usually has clear skies (compared with the more foggy months) and warmer average temperatures than in July and August. It's also often one of the city's driest months.

  • Average High Temperature: 73 F (23 C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 56 F (13 C)
  • Water Temperature: 58 F (15 C)
  • Rain: 0.26 in (0.7 cm)
  • Rainfall: 1.7 days
  • Daylight: 12 hours
  • Sunshine: 9 hours
  • Humidity: 66 percent
  • UV Index: 7

If you want to compare September 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

With little fog and no rain, light layers will usually be plenty. And an extra jacket or layer will feel nice in the evening. Even though rainfall is generally unlikely, if your extra jacket is also rainproof, it can do double duty. And also pack sunscreen and sunglasses. When the UV Index (amount of skin-damaging radiation) exceeds 6 to 7, you need both skin and eye protection.

You won't need dress clothes unless you're attending an event that requires them. Even at most fancy restaurants, you can get away with jeans and a nice top. You might find a scarf useful in case it's extra chilly.

For women, add versatility to your wardrobe by packing dresses that look good with leggings or tights. They're easy to carry in your bag all day and slip them if it gets chilly or after dark. 

September Events in San Francisco

This diverse, cultural city offers a wide variety of events to check out all year, but here are some of the most popular happening in September:

  • Fringe FestivalIf you like the avant-garde, this one's for you, self-described as presenting exciting, uncensored, indie theater.
  • Autumn Moon FestivalThis fall festival celebrates the glories and mysteries of the moon.
  • Dragon Boat FestivalThe festival is one of the most important in Chinese culture, and the boat races are fun to watch.
  • Folsom Street FairYou'll see lots of leather (and lots of bare skin, too) at this festival that celebrates sexual diversity and freedom.
  • Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival: This one's a two-day chocolate celebration whose proceeds go to charity. Where the calories go, we aren't going to say.

Things to Do in September

  • Go Whale Watching: September is blue whale and humpback whale season around San Francisco. Find out how, when, and where in the San Francisco whale watching guide.
  • Visit a Beach: September's warmer temperatures and sunnier days make it an excellent time to check out some of San Francisco's best beaches.
  • Watch a Baseball Game: The Major League Baseball season runs through early October, and 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. 
  • Watch a Football Game: The San Francisco 49ers might be playing at home while you're there, but Levi Stadium is miles south in Santa Clara. Check the schedule on their website.

For a look at local events going on during the days you're visiting, check the San Francisco Chronicle's entertainment section.

September Travel Tips

  • Unfortunately, hotel prices will stay at their summer highs until after October, so book early to try and score better deals before they're gone.
  • Sign up for a free account with Goldstar to get access to discounted tickets for local performances and save on some San Francisco attractions.
  • Oracle OpenWorld happens in September. It’s one of the biggest conferences in SF taking up more than 200,000 hotel rooms and driving prices up. If you want to visit then, book your hotel as far ahead as you can.
  • Any time of year. you can use these tips to be a smarter San Francisco visitor who has more fun and puts up with fewer annoyances.
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