This past September I went on a week trip to California for my mom’s birthday. We did three days in San Francisco, one day in Napa Valley, and two days in Yosemite Valley. My San Francisco packing list was one of the hardest things for to plan for – as you may know, the temperatures vary quite a bit between the coast and further inland California.

Let’s just start off by acknowledging that I’m the type of person who absolutely dreads packing. I am your regular “leaves it until the night before and then packs her entire closet and still has ‘nothing to wear’ on arrival” girl. This time I made a genuine effort though, and I’m going to share here so that everyone can benefit from my preparedness. So without further adieu…

Packing List for San Francisco

Given that I saved a bit of money for this trip, I had to resist the urge to go out and buy 10 new outfits for every activity planned. My packing is largely what’s already in my closet – you would be shocked what you can find from shopping in your own wardrobe, especially when it comes to the clothes you’ll want for these two key tips…

#1: Pack layers

If there’s one thing I’ve heard from everyone and read everywhere, it’s that San Francisco is always cooler than you expect it to be. Our case was no exception! In the mornings and evenings there was a pretty chilly wind – though we may have seeen some abnormally chilly days.

September specifically sees a high of 71°F and low of 56°F (that’s a high of 21-22°C and a low of 13°C for all my fellow Celsius-ers out there). With this type of temperature flux it’s great to have items like a light jacket or shirt to put on or take off based on your activities and the weather. I almost didn’t pack a jacket, but I am so glad I did because it saved my life. It’s also a good idea to get a nice mix of 1-2 pieces from each clothing type – short/long sleeves, pants, etc.

Michael Kors Black Light Jacket
I had picked up a light Michael Kors jacket earlier in the Summer and it turned out to be the most essential item I packed!

#2: Pack basics

Packing the essentials goes hand-in-hand with packing layers. When you don’t have all the space in the world, it’s the easiest way to have well put-together outfits with minimal effort. I try to stick to neutrals – black, white, gray, denim – and if I want to add pops of colour I keep it to one or two pieces. Packing the basics means that you can combine different items and have a different look every time – not to mention your suitcase will be light as a feather! (or just under the baggage weight if we’re really being honest with ourselves)

Bonus tip: Pack good walking shoes

This tip is for anyone who needs a little reminder, and I can’t stress it enough! San Francisco is an amazing walking city and it’s very easy to keep going on forever without thinking about the walk back. I packed my black and white Adidas Originals and they fit perfectly into my wardrobe for the trip.

Adidas Originals

My San Francisco Packing List

  • A light jacket – I brought my black Michael Kors jacket – it’s a Spring/Fall jacket and it was perfect
  • 3 pairs of pants – black pants, white jeans and gray jeans
  • 3 short sleeve shirts – black, beige, and white & gray stripes
  • 2 silk tank tops – white and black (these are my two favourite basics! I wear them on their own or under shirts)
  • 3 light button up shirts – 1 plaid flannel, 1 jean shirt, and 1 black button up – you could definitely swap in cardigans or light sweaters here if that’s your style
  • 1 long sleeve shirt – striped black and white
  • 1 dress – for an evening out!
  • 3 pairs of shoes – my Adidas sneakers, black flats, and a pair of bootie-heels