San Francisco in March marks the coming of spring with a month of generally mild and often sunny – if not windy – weather, making for the first of many periods ideal for exploring the unique nooks and crannies of this oh-so-photogenic city. If you’re looking to beat the crowds and don’t mind battling with the windchill and rain, March is the time to visit!
Visiting San Francisco in March
Average Temperature: 48 - 61°F • Average Rainfall: 10 days/mth • Average Sunshine: 9 hours/day
With spring on the way, the Golden City prepares to usher in its first shoulder season of the year, with somewhat of an upcurve in tourists expected throughout the season. Though you may find the city slightly busier than during the winter months, you should have no trouble still finding some great off-peak hotel deals throughout the month, as long as you book sufficiently in advance.
The transition from winter to spring may not be so evident in San Francisco’s weather in March. Throughout the month, temperatures remain somewhere between cool and pleasantly mild, with just enough regular sunshine to grab those ideal photo ops. Just be sure to wrap up against the inevitable windchill and pack an umbrella for the likelihood of at least two days of rainfall per week.
Things to do in March
Few trips to San Francisco would be complete without touring some of the city’s top landmarks. Topping the list are, of course, the crimson beams of the Golden Gate Bridge, followed swiftly behind by the Victorian Painted Ladies stationed along the eastern side of Alamo Square Park.
With the Golden City as sprawling as it is, you’ll likely want to find a way to explore without wearing out your feet too quickly. The iconic San Francisco Cable Cars can certainly see you some of the way, but nothing beats a Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour for getting you around the city’s top attractions comfortably and conveniently, with optional audio commentary in a selection of languages to boot.
History buffs visiting San Francisco in March will be no stranger to Alcatraz, famously the former site of many of America’s most notorious criminals, and now open for visitors to explore its chilling halls and the surrounding hostile landscape. If you’re looking for something a little on the tamer side, though, then the California Historical Society and the Contemporary Jewish Museum each offer valuable insights into the local cultures and history of both San Francisco and California as a whole.
If you’re looking for somewhere exciting to sink a few hours, then Fisherman’s Wharf should be just the ticket. Among this waterfront complex you’ll find the classic Musée Méchanique penny arcade and the popular Pier 39 shopping center, alongside a variety of charming restaurants, stores and cultural hotspots. Come at the right time and you may even come across the famous colony of playful, barking sea lions catching some rays in a huddle on the corner of the pier.
With the weather turning generally milder throughout March, you may be keen to spend a few hours exploring some of San Francisco’s serene green spaces. The lakes, gardens and trails of Golden Gate Park are undoubtedly the most popular, while Mission Dolores Park serves as a fantastic picnic spot with idyllic views over the city skyline. Be sure to explore the nearby Conservatory of Flowers and the Botanical Garden, too, to see what March has in bloom.
The Golden City’s undulating landscape, impressive skyline and stunning Bay make for some incredible photo ops, but never more so than when you can capture them all together. For some truly exquisite viewpoints, head to the beautiful art-deco Coit Tower for unobstructed panoramic views right down into the Bay. Alternatively, the Twin Peaks summit makes for a brilliant romantic spot to catch the sunset and sit beneath the stars for an evening.
Both families and the curious traveler alike are bound to enjoy the likes of the California Academy of Sciences, impressively housing a planetarium, aquarium, natural history museum and indoor rainforest under one massive roof. If that doesn’t quite scratch that itch, then the interactive science exhibits of the Exploratorium should do the trick – just be sure to visit later in the day if you’d prefer to miss the regular school groups.
What’s On in March
Berlin & Beyond Film Festival
Somewhat of a more niche offering for film buffs visiting San Francisco in March, Berlin & Beyond serves as a gateway for the public to see and experience the German-speaking world of cinema. For roughly a week in March, the festival organizes an extensive program of screenings from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and beyond.
Exploring the history, art, cultures and progress of these German-speaking regions, screenings take the form of everything from independent short films to impressive feature films and documentaries. The festival celebrates prominent filmmakers and screen talents from across the German-speaking world, sharing their work with an annual audience of over 7,000 keen film-goers.
Saint Patrick’s Day
Though few Irishmen would care to admit it, the USA is largely credited with pioneering St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as we know them today, with records as far back as the early 1600s placing St. Augustine in Florida as the potential birthplace of the modern Ireland-centered drinking party. And the nation has only doubled down on the festivities ever since!
San Francisco is no stranger to its fair share of hearty Irish fun, making it one of the prime places to be as March 17 rolls around. You’ll find no shortage of parties, pub crawls, cultural festivals and family-friendly activities throughout the city as thousands of locals and visitors go green for St. Patty’s. The city also hosts its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and block party the weekend beforehand, often giving the keenest of revelers the chance to party all over again!
Red Cross Gala
If you plan on being in San Francisco in March and enjoy any excuse to dress up, you’ll want to grab yourself a ticket to the annual American Red Cross Gala. Held each year to recognize and honor those in the Bay Area that have made a positive impact to help the American Red Cross, this popular fundraising event takes place in San Francisco’s impressive City Hall. Accompanied by the subsequent After Party, the gala promises an evening of cocktails, refreshments, live music, dancing and a general air of merriment.