Five Lifehacks to Beat San Francisco’s Summer Crowds

Heading to San Francisco this summer?

No doubt you are looking forward to seeing San Francisco landmarks like Yosemite National Park, Muir Woods, Napa Valley and the Golden Gate Bridge. Heads up! Ongoing downtown construction, anniversary celebrations of the Summer of Love and the surging popularity at our national parks makes smart planning critical for your 1- or 2-day San Francisco tour.

As we approach the 4th of July weekend, here’s some tips for getting the most from your visit.

1 – Be an early bird. Spots like Muir Woods (one of the national parks near San Francisco), Pier 39 and China Town are most congested in the afternoon. When selecting a guided tour, pick the one with earliest departure time. For the most popular sites, get started early, arriving when others are still having breakfast.

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2 – Be a brown bagger. Lunch near any San Francisco attraction is likely to be $$$$$ and time consuming. I advise guests to pack some food (your hotel concierge may do this for you!) and enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in your attraction.

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3 – Ride, don’t drive. Arranging a tour bus or public transit instead of taking a car means that everyone arrives safe and relaxed. Bonus: national parks and other attractions have special lanes, appointments or parking areas for buses. In Muir Woods, this can avoid time spent walking to the park entrance!

4 – Know where (not) to go. Most San Francisco visitors have only “guidebook” knowledge of our attractions. Just a little research (or asking your guide) about the lesser-well-known spots can pay big dividends. For example, see the Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Godfrey in the Presidio or enjoy a quiet hike in Yosemite on Valley Loop Trail away from the crowds at Mirror Lake.

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5 – Mid-week touring. Crowds are 30-40% larger on weekends. Plan your multi-day trip to San Francisco so you visit the most popular attractions during the middle of the week. Use the weekends to tour Monterey, the Mission District San Francisco or Golden Gate Park (which closes some roads for pedestrians on Saturday and Sunday).

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We look forward to seeing you this summer. San Francisco has never been better!