What to do in San Francisco During the APEC Summit

What is the APEC summit?

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, or APEC summit for short, is a meeting of leaders from 21 member economies to discuss economic cooperation and regional integration. It will run from November 11th to the 17th, 2023. This year, the summit is of particular interest as it marks the first in-person meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders are set to meet on Wednesday during the APEC summit, where they will discuss a range of issues including trade, climate change, and regional security. The APEC summit serves as a platform for its member economies to work towards common goals and address shared challenges. Looking ahead, the APEC 2023 summit is scheduled to take place in San Francisco, where leaders will come together at the iconic City Hall to continue the conversations and collaboration that drive the economic prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. 

How will APEC impact San Francisco?

The upcoming APEC Summit will have a significant impact on San Francisco, particularly in key areas such as Nob Hill, SoMa, the Bay Bridge, Market Street, and around the Moscone Center. With tight security measures in place, residents and visitors can expect detours, cordoned off areas, and increased traffic around the city. The San Francisco Police Department will be enforcing security zones, particularly around the summit venue, with potential protests and demonstrations also affecting the downtown area. Public transit, such as Muni and SF Paratransit, may experience delays or route changes due to the security measures in place. As a result, commuters and residents are advised to plan their travels accordingly in the lead-up to and during the APEC summit. While the event may bring economic benefits to the city, it will also require the coordination and cooperation of local authorities and the public to ensure a smooth and safe experience for all. 

How to enjoy the city during the summit

  1. Go north of the Golden Gate: While the APEC summit may be causing some road closures and traffic delays, you can still enjoy the beauty of the area north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Head to the Marin Headlands for stunning views of the bridge and the San Francisco skyline.
  2. Golden Gate Bridge: Even with the summit taking place, you can still enjoy walking or biking across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Just be sure to check for any reroutes or closures before heading there or take advantage of public transit. Parking near the Golden Gate will be closed as well through the 18th.
  3. Head westbound: If the APEC summit has caused any reroutes or area closures, consider taking the opportunity to explore the westbound areas of San Francisco. Head to Ocean Beach for a relaxing day with an ocean view or explore the vibrant neighborhoods of the Sunset District.
  4. Visit the Legion of Honor: Visit the Legion of Honor museum to enjoy its impressive collection of art and stunning architecture. Located in Lincoln Park, the museum offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and is likely to be unaffected by any summit-related traffic.
  5. Reroute: If you encounter any closed roads or detours due to the APEC summit, use it as an opportunity to explore alternative routes and discover new hidden gems in San Francisco. Consider taking public transportation or walking to different areas of the city to avoid any summit-related traffic. 
  6. Escape the city: Take a scenic drive or find a new hiking location that keeps you outside of the city for the day or week. 

How to avoid road closures

  1. Plan your route in advance: Before traveling in San Francisco during the summit, check the latest updates on closures or detours and plan an alternative route if necessary.
  2. Stay informed: Keep an eye on local news and traffic reports to stay informed about any changes in traffic conditions.
  3. Use public transportation: Consider using the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) MUNI or other public transportation options such as BART to avoid increased traffic congestion.
    Avoid the affected areas: If possible, try to avoid the areas near the I-80, Golden Gate Bridge, and other locations where detours are expected to occur.
  4. Allow extra time: If you must drive through the city during the summit, plan ahead and build in extra time for potential delays due to increased security measures and tourism.
  5. Follow instructions from authorities: Pay attention to any instructions or detours provided by law enforcement or traffic control officers to navigate around blocked streets. Check if you live or work inside a security zone as those areas will further complicate transit.
  6. Consider working remotely: If feasible, consider working remotely or adjusting your travel plans to avoid the city during the summit to minimize potential disruptions. It is currently set to rain during the summit, so it may be in your best interest to focus on rainy day activities as well. 

Remember that the Secret Service and local authorities may implement additional security measures and area closures during the APEC summit, so it’s important to stay informed and plan accordingly. The areas around Moscone Center will be most heavily impacted with security checkpoints for foot traffic and bans on city street parking. You can also check out ABC7 San Francisco’s day by day timeline for more information on when and where events are happening.

Places to go during APEC

In honor of the summit, many arts and cultural centers throughout San Francisco will be launching special events and discounting ticket prices.

  1. Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco: Explore their group exhibition of different artistic styles. 
  2. Asian Art Museum: Discover Asian art and culture through the museum’s extensive collection. The museum currently has a fascinating art exhibition by Takashi Murakami.
  3. International Art Museum of America: Admire both the deep history of art with their permanent collections as well as ancient Chinese art now on display.
  4. Yerba Buena Gardens: Relax in this urban oasis and attend special events and performances during APEC.
  5. Golden Gate Park: Discover the many attractions within the park, including the Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, and the Botanical Garden.

This is only a handful of events going on during APEC, to see the full lineup, check out San Francisco’s APEC Arts and Culture website for more. 

Impact on San Francisco Chinatown Tourism

The presence of world leaders in San Francisco for events such as the APEC summit will have a significant impact on tourism in San Francisco’s Chinatown. With the influx of visitors and dignitaries, there is increased attention on the historic neighborhood, leading to a boost in tourism and economic activity. As a result, San Francisco’s Chinatown, located near the downtown area where many of the APEC events take place, will experience an increase in visibility and foot traffic.
Notably, the proximity of Chinatown to important areas such as Fifth Street, Fremont Street, Fourth Street, Sutter, and Stockton further amplifies the impact of APEC on tourism in the neighborhood. Visitors attending APEC events or exploring the city’s streets are more likely to venture into Chinatown, contributing to its vibrant tourism scene. Overall, the presence of world leaders in San Francisco for events like APEC has a positive impact on Chinatown’s tourism, boosting awareness of the neighborhood and attracting visitors from around the world, but you may want to skip the area if you do not have the patience to handle the increased traffic. 


The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco will make navigating the city tough, but with careful planning, you can have a successful and exciting time in San Francisco next week!