What to Pack for San Francisco, California – Packing Light

San Francisco Packing Light List #packinglight #packinglist #travellight #traveltips

Black Tank • Topshop | Striped Long Sleeve • H&M | Patterned Top • Topshop
White Blouse • Mango | Kimono Top • H&M | Grey Pullover • Madewell
Turtleneck Sweater • Mango |  Chunky Cardigan • Madewell
Casual Denim • Blank Denim | Dark Denim • J Brand | Black Pants • H&M
Black Dress • Topshop | Coat • T Tahari | Wool Hat • Topshop | Scarf • Mauro Grifoni
Watch • Zappos | Sunglasses • Ray-Ban | Riding Boots • Frye | Sneakers • Converse
Dressy Boot • Lucky Brand | Purse • Sole Society | Clutch • Topshop

Whenever I hear the words San Francisco I immediately teleport back to 10th grade when I was obsessed with being a hippie. If I could have had a wish at that time it would have been to be born generations earlier so I could have attended Woodstock and enjoyed the Hippie movement in San Francisco.

I had obviously changed and I am glad that was one wish that didn’t come true 😉 but it is someplace that I would like to visit. It is the dream place and future goal of my friend (who was also my friend in 10th grade and shared the same wish). We used to make mixed tapes of late 60’s/early 70’s music and I think I still have one kicking around. The first track on it was called San Francisco.

“If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there”

San Francisco by Scott McKenzie

I received an email asking for some packing list ideas for a trip to San Francisco and San Diego that would be from a little before Christmas until after the New Year, so about 10 days.

Although the two cities are a little over 500 miles apart they are both within the state of California and both along the Pacific ocean coastline. This means that there is not a huge variation in temperature and that although it will be colder in San Francisco, the difference is not huge, so a coat should suffice to stay warm. This also means that you do not have to pack for two different climates which is a bonus.

I decided to include a tank for light wear or layering, a striped shirt, a patterned top for variety, a classic white blouse, a kimono jacket that transitions to a light coat over other shirts/sweaters (could easily be replaced with a blazer), two pullover sweaters in different colours and styles, and a chunky cardigan. The bottoms include two pairs of denim and black pants.

The denim should include a pair that is able to be dressed up like a dark denim and then a more casual pair in your favourite style like distressed skinnies, or boyfriend/girlfriend jeans.

A coat is a necessity when you are visiting places that may have warmer day time highs but drop significantly in the evening. For the shoes I was told that she had recently bought some white converse and riding boots which are perfect for travel, I love converse in both high and low styles.

They will both work for this occasion.  I also decided to add a pair of wedge booties with an open toe for a night out or instant dressier look to an outfit. This list includes 12 items of clothing, plus shoes, and accessories. The outfit ideas for this packing list will be in the next post.

I really hope that this is somewhat helpful in guiding you to what to bring. Have a great holiday vacation in San Francisco and San Diego!

If you like this post you can find more packing lists and outfit options in my:
Packing Light Series 
What to Wear Options

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Sara is the founder and creative behind livelovesara. A George Brown College Fashion Styling Graduate, she provides advice on finding your personal style regardless of age and budget. She is always on the hunt for the perfect wardrobe piece and is a vintage and thrifting enthusiast who can't wait to share her newest finds. She is also trying to learn French.


  1. As a Cali girl, transplanted to Palm Beach, Florida, I loooove this travel set. Perfect for both north and southern CA winter with easy, put together looks and just a little Cali boho meets urban hip. Many pieces I already own! Fabulous and frankly timeless imho.

    • Thanks so much! I love to hear feedback on what is working and what isn’t. It keeps me on the right track 🙂

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