San Francisco Vacations
View of Alcatraz
Your San Francisco vacation
Take one perfectly located peninsula, and mix in world-class dining, parks, culture and charm. The result? San Francisco, the City by the Bay. With a laissez-faire vibe dating back to the Gold Rush, this city boasts ethnic enclaves and an eclectic populace drawn to the beauty of the Pacific Coast. Visit hippie history in the Haight, or shop elegant Union Square. Take a cable car up Nob Hill, and swoon over colorful Victorians and Bay views.
Let Orbitz help you plan the perfect San Francisco vacation. With insider tips and top attractions, you'll get the skinny on Golden Gate Park, Chinatown and where to explore and eat on your San Francisco trip.
Best time to take a vacation to San Francisco
San Francisco's climate is mild year-round, so forget about packing wool -- or shorts. Daytime temperatures rarely rise above 75 or drop below 55. Summer is notoriously cool, with fog and chilly Pacific breezes, and neighborhood "micro-climates" can mean balmy conditions in the Mission District, but chillier conditions in the Outer Richmond. Summer is also peak tourist season, and late June's LGBT Pride Celebration Parade is one of the biggest in the country.
May, September and October have less fog and, locals contend, the best weather. December, January and February are the coldest and wettest months, while January brings the Chinese New Year's Parade.
Insider tips for San Francisco travel
Seward Street Slides
These concrete sliding tubes re-teach what you knew when you were six: Gravity is fun. Be sure to bring your own cardboard to slide on, though.
The Haight's perfect drinking/dining combo defines the term "gastropub": world-class artisan cocktails crafted with love, and a food menu to match.
A gift to hikers, bikers and diners. Enjoy this former military post's paths, restaurants and views on your way to or from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Ferry Building Marketplace
What looks like a tourist trap is actually a foodie paradise, with oysters (Hog Island), cheese (Cowgirl Creamery), a fantastic farmer's market and more.
Get your green bounty on. Rainbow Grocery really is what it's cracked up to be: an eco/organic/fair-trade heaven.
More on San Francisco from the Orbitz Blog
San Francisco Vacation Packages
Take a well-deserved break and lounge at this sharp hotel The Stanford Court Renaissance San Francisco Hotel has gone through a recent renaissance, and an ultramodern facelift has given it a prominent place in the city skyline. Leland Stanford's historic mansion... More
335 Powell Street Map
Save 40% on your stay, Breakfast Included
Legendary Union Square hotel combines comfort, class The Westin St. Francis is the only hotel that actually sits on Union Square. The main building dates back to 1904, and many public areas boast the ornate columns, intricate woodwork and other design elements from... More
500 California Street at Montgomery Map
Save 15% on your stay
Historic Nob Hill hotel blends old and new with top-notch steakhouse The past is new again at this circa-1926 hotel atop Nob Hill. Originally built as a bank, the property features classic stonework, stained glass and decorative touches. The lobby is adorned with... More
333 O'Farrell Street Map
Includes complimentary overnight parking
San Francisco's Union Square First Class Accommodations A 46-story building located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, the Hilton San Francisco Union Square hotel is one of the tallest & largest hotels in the entire city. This means many rooms offer breathtaking... More
Sophistication with an Asian flair and an indoor pool near Union Square Hotel Nikko feels more like Hong Kong than San Francisco. The lobby is spacious and stark, and rooms are minimalist in design. The on-site restaurant, Anzu, serves up Asian food with a... More
See the San Francisco sights from downtown and bay With rapid transport and international airport links, Parc 55 Wyndham Union Square hotel acts as a gateway for visitors to the beautiful city and bay of San Francisco. Bespoke wooden and marble furnishings adorn... More
Beautiful views of the city at historical, iconic Nob Hill hotel The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco opened in 1926 at the crest of Nob Hill and has been wowing visitors ever since. Visitors flock from all over the city to experience The Top of the... More
Sophisticated urban oasis with sweeping views in SoMa's Museum Row Formerly known as the Argent, the Westin San Francisco Market Street has been rebranded over the course of the last decade. The result: a sophisticated, urban oasis in the middle of what locals call... More
345 Stockton St Map
Shopping Package - Includes discount coupons
High-rise elegance only a block from Union SquareLocated a block from bustling Union Square, the 36-story Grand Hyatt San Francisco towers over many of the other hotels in the area. Elegance is the theme here, with an opulent lobby and floor-to-ceiling windows in... More
Convenience for business travelers and families in SoMa The 39-story San Francisco Marriott Marquis caters to two very different customers: business travelers and families. On the business front, the property sits mere blocks from Moscone Convention Center and... More
Flights to San Francisco
|New York||San Francisco||Sat, Jan 25 - Tue, Jan 28||$235|
|Los Angeles||San Francisco||Sat, Jan 25 - Tue, Jan 28||$98|
|Boston||San Francisco||Wed, Jan 29 - Sat, Feb 1||$298|
|Chicago||San Francisco||Wed, Jan 8 - Wed, Jan 29||$276|
|Denver||San Francisco||Tue, Jan 21 - Thu, Jan 23||$158|
|Washington DC||San Francisco||Wed, Jan 8 - Sat, Jan 11||$296|
|Seattle||San Francisco||Wed, Jan 22 - Sat, Jan 25||$98|
|Newark||San Francisco||Sat, Jan 25 - Wed, Feb 5||$278|
|Dallas||San Francisco||Wed, Jan 8 - Wed, Jan 15||$240|
|Minneapolis||San Francisco||Sun, Feb 2 - Sun, Feb 9||$218|
|Honolulu||San Francisco||Wed, Jan 22 - Thu, Jan 23||$339|
|Philadelphia||San Francisco||Wed, Jan 29 - Wed, Feb 5||$286|
San Francisco highlights
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
The world-famous Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see, but doing so is easy, considering the 1.7-mile-long orange behemoth can be viewed from many vantage points. Connecting San Francisco to Marin County, the bridge is the city's only northern exit and is part of U.S. Route 1 and California Route 1. A pedestrian walkway runs the length, and bikes are allowed. (Check posted signs for the appropriate side to ride on; the schedule varies.) Fort Point Overlook offers a primo spot to snap photos.
This golden nugget is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, plus the oldest in North America. Its entrance, called the "Dragon's Gate," is at Grant Avenue and Bush Street. Inside are 24 blocks of hustle and bustle, most of it taking place along Grant Avenue, the oldest street in San Francisco. This city-within-a-city is best explored on foot: Exotic shops, renowned restaurants, food markets, temples and small museums form its boundaries. Visitors can buy ancient potions from herb shops, enjoy a dim sum lunch or learn how fortune cookies are made.
Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
Constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, this beauty reflects the domed and columned temples of ancient Roman and Greek style. Its exhibition hall, which once housed Impressionist paintings, is now home to a state-of-the-art science museum, the Exploratorium. The Palace is also the site of countless weddings and film backdrops, including the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "Vertigo" and "The Rock." A lagoon lined with Australian eucalyptus trees surrounds the area, making a perfect family-photo opportunity.
Because of its natural isolation and the bay's cold, strong currents, Alcatraz housed Civil War prisoners, and years later, some of the country's most notorious criminals, including mobster Al Capone, the "Birdman of Alcatraz" and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. The prison closed in the 1960s, but the stories live on. Today, Alcatraz is partially a self-guided experience that you can do at your own pace. Advance reservations are highly recommended.
Golden Gate Park
One of the largest urban parks in the world, this three-mile stunner is filled not only with natural beauty but also a science museum, art museum, flower conservatory and more. The California Academy of Sciences houses an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and scientific research facility under one roof -- and a living roof, at that. Scale the deYoung Museum's 144-foot-high observation deck. The Japanese Tea Garden creates the perfect backdrop for munching fortune cookies, which were first created here in 1914.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Founded in 1935, SFMOMA was the first museum on the West Coast devoted to modern and contemporary art. Today, it continues that tradition, exhibiting and collecting works by modern masters and less-established artists. Audio guides, docent tours, interactive kiosks and public programs offer visitors diverse learning opportunities. SFMOMA's landmark building, just a short walk from downtown, displays a soaring atrium topped by a turret and oculus skylight. The MuseumStore features art books, design objects, furniture, jewelry and children's products.
Spanning Castro Street, from Market Street to 19th Street, is the world's first, largest, and most famous gay neighborhood. It has been a symbol of gay pride since the sixties and seventies, when figures like Harvey Milk established themselves as business owners and activists. One of the district's most notable sites is the Castro Theatre, a movie palace constructed in 1922 that is still one of the city's best. Other sites of interest include Twin Peaks, the city's first gay bar, and Hartford Street Zen Center, a small Buddhist temple open to the public.
San Francisco Cable Cars
Cable cars have been transporting people around San Francisco since the late 19th century, and they're a great way to get conquer the city's notorious hills while enjoying some of the spectacular views and diverse neighborhoods. At Powell and Market streets, a turntable serves as the starting point for two lines, the Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde. The Powell-Mason heads to Fisherman's Wharf, while the Powell-Hyde ends near Ghirardelli Square (hello, chocolate!).
This landmark square is the largest district of retailers, restaurants, galleries and salons in the Western United States. The recently remodeled site boasts granite plazas, light sculptures designed by artist R.M. Fischer and four grand-entrance corner plazas bordered by palms. Find clothing stores, from Banana Republic and Anthropologie to Prada and Yves Saint Laurent, and an assortment of antique stores, art galleries and beauty and health shops. More than 40 hotels are located nearby, as are a variety of restaurants, bars and clubs for late-night dining and entertainment.