Flights to San Francisco
As large as it is small, the city of San Francisco takes up only about 47 square miles. As the most-densely populated city outside of New York, you’ll find colorful streets packed with people, a thriving dining scene and vibrant cityscape crowned with a wide variety of art and architecture.
Whether you’re stopping over en route to another destination or staying for a few weeks, you’ll find more to explore. At first glance, you’ll find tried and true favorites like the Golden Gate Bridge, colorful and sprawling Chinatown or any of the city’s popular art museums. From hunting down the perfect taqueria to taking a turn around Land’s End Labyrinth, you’ll discover even more as you keep exploring.
While the City and County of San Francisco sits at the tip-top of the San Francisco Peninsula between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific, flights land 20 minutes south (without traffic) at the San Francisco International Airport. You’ll find a sprawling collection of neighborhoods and regions to explore in-between.
Often referred to by its international airport code, SFO or San Francisco International Airport serves as a major North American hub and a gateway to both Asia and Europe. It serves somewhere around 50 million passengers annually, with three domestic and two international terminals. The airport’s AirTran train service circles the terminals and parking, moving passengers throughout their airport and connecting them with other transportation.
Of course, the airport offers a wide selection of shops and restaurants. But be on the lookout for the airport’s most unique offering, the Wag Brigade. The San Francisco Airport also offers The Wag Brigade, which brings trained therapy dogs to roam the terminals and greet weary travelers. Now that’s something to wag a tail about.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- From SFO, you can hop on BART or the Bay Area Rapid Transit rail service to San Francisco and surrounding counties. You can purchase BART vouchers in advance, opens in a new window
- Heading to San Jose? The Caltrain Commuter Rail offers service until 10 PM between San Francisco and San Jose. At different stops, it does intersect with BART.
- Many San Francisco Hotels offer airport shuttle service, so be sure to check with your hotel before paying for a shuttle, taxi or shared ride service
- Founded in San Francisco, both Uber and Lyft offer pick-ups from SFO and have a signed agreement with the airport, giving them permission to pick up passengers.
It’s simple, there’s much to love in San Francisco. From architectural styles to fusion restaurants, neighborhoods to natural wonders, sports teams to street art. Top it off with reliable public transit and the city’s cable cars, which make San Francisco easy to visit and even easier to love. Enjoy your time in this coastal jewel — each block brimming with technology, trends, art and food from around the globe.
For dining, start your stay in the Mission District — a popular neighborhood for San Francisco’s prosperous dining scene. Try regional staples like Al’s Place or La Taqueria, or even Foreign Cinema for a beloved brunch. For local cuisine or fusion flavors, stay and wander in the SoMa (or South Market) district. Of course, don’t miss out on San Francisco’s wide variety of Chinatown eateries. You’ll find Sichuan-style favorites like Chong Qing Xiao Mian, dim sum favorites including City View or Yank Sing, plus Chinese bakeries, wonton soup shops, cocktail lounges and restaurants serving Vietnamese cuisine.
ART AND CULTURE
San Francisco served as an art and cultural destination long before technology giants and clothing designers started sprouting up in the city. After World War II, the city contributed to the rise of “hippie” counterculture, the center of the Peace Movement and the beginnings of the LGBTQIA rights movement. Throughout various political climates and changes, the arts thrived here. Whether you’re seeking historic architecture like the city’s “painted lady” Victorian & Edwardian houses or exploring the recently-expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or “SFMOMA” or simply viewing the Mission Murals, you’ll find plenty to see.
It’s tempting to avoid the crowds at the tourist spots in San Francisco, but with stunning views and interesting activities, they really are worth a visit. Of course, a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge should be on your list — with its surrounding parks, it offers beautiful views of this iconic landmark. For family fun, explore Alcatraz and the Ferry Building Marketplace at Fisherman’s Wharf. Top it off with a trip to Golden Gate Park, a Central Park-style greenspace home to the de Young Museum, San Francisco Botanical Gardens, Japanese Tea Garden and Stow Lake.
ATTIRE (WHAT TO PACK)
Before you take a flight to San Francisco, check the weather for your final destination. Bring a raincoat in the winter and pack layers for whenever you visit. If you’ll be walking a lot, sneakers or flat boots are a must for the city’s hills, plus, they keep the morning and evening chill at bay. If you’ll be frequenting some of the city’s more upscale dining spots, bring evening wear with more formal shoes — but be ready to snag a cab, Uber or Lyft ride if walking is uncomfortable. No matter what, work your own style and be open to inspiration. This diverse city offers and array of styles and looks as unique as the city itself.
Before you hop your flight to San Fran, you’ll need to select a place to stay. Of course, lodgings are as infinite and varied as the city’s neighborhoods themselves - with everything from complete luxury hotels to boutique rooms to choose from.
If you’re seeking five-star accommodations in the heart of the city, try the St. Regis, the Ritz-Carlton or the Four Seasons. All offer sprawling properties, located conveniently for both business and recreational travel.
For more of a boutique feel with locations near popular San Francisco destinations, try checking in to Hotel Drisco or Cavallo Point. If you’re seeking more available rooms still close to the heart of the city, consider a stay at The Argonaut or Hotel Nikko.
For more intimate stays, book an Airbnb location - the company’s headquarters is in San Francisco, after all. You can even earn miles for your Airbnb stay. Otherwise, stop in for a stay at the Inn on Castro or at the Golden Gate Hotel. Both offer cozy rooms, and the Golden Gate Hotel’s known for its resident dog named Cookie and cat named Pip.
A cool spring or fall day - that’s what residents enjoy in San Francisco most days, year-round. The city enjoys remarkably little temperature variation, with lows in the 40s and highs in the mid-50s to 60s throughout most of the year. Though it experiences the occasional heat wave in summer months, cool winds from the Pacific and San Francisco Bay keep the city cool in the mornings and pleasantly warm in the afternoon. Interestingly enough, you’ll find that climate varies by neighborhoods. Some areas can be cooler or warmer depending on where it sits in the rolling city hills. Visiting in January-March? Don’t forget to pack a raincoat.