This summer in San Francisco was extraordinarily sunny, which made its rooftop bars, immaculate beaches, and lush restaurant patios even more alluring!
However, does that imply that when the sun goes down, so does the fun? No, not in San Francisco!
When the night falls in The City, the fun and number of things to do remain high. If you’re looking for the best things to do in San Francisco at night, you’re in the right place.
This post is dedicated to helping you discover some of SF’s best nighttime experiences. From escape rooms to comedy shows, there is no shortage of fun things to do here at night.
Here’s a sneak peek at some of San Francisco’s best things to do at night:
- A Sunset Cruise Is A Great Way To Take In The Views
- Tour San Francisco In A Cable Car Night Tour
- Be Entertained At Comedy Clubs
- Get Spooked On A Ghost Hunting Tour
- Roller Disco In The Church Of 8 Wheels
- Explore Museums After Hours
- Go Clubbing
- Try an Escape Rooms
- and much more… see below!
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1. Catch views of The City on a sunset cruise
A leisurely sunset cruise on San Francisco Bay is the perfect way to round off an eventful day in SF. The Oakland Bay Bridge, the Alcatraz Island, and the Golden Gate Bridge can all easily be seen when sailing past them during one of the many sailings offered by various tour companies.
If that sounds like your idea of fun, the following are some of the best sunset cruises options:
- Straight to the Gate: Sunset or Twilight Cruise on San Francisco Bay – With your reserved tickets, skip the wait and get straight to the gate. As background music creates the mood, unwind and let the moment take you!
- San Francisco Bay Sunset Catamaran Cruise – At dusk, take a cruise across San Francisco Bay to take in the city skyline as it morphs into the night. You’ll sail by Alcatraz Island, pass the Golden Gate Bridge, and perhaps even embrace a little romance on this spectacular hour and 50-minute trip with an experienced skipper at the helm.
Pro Tip: Whatever cruise you decide to take, don’t forget to pack a jacket because it can get rather chilly at night when you’re on the water.
2. Tour San Francisco in a cable car night tour
One of the best ways to see San Francisco’s landscape covered in twinkling lights is on a nighttime trip by vintage cable car! Not only is a cable car ride scenic, but if you pay attention, you can actually learn a lot as your guide shares exciting information about the area.
Visit well-known San Francisco locations, including Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square, the Financial District, and the Embarcadero.
Cable cars run daily from 7:00 am to 10:30 pm and the trips usually take about an hour and 30 minutes. Rides typically include a professional guide and a driver, so you would always have their full attention.
The three cable car lines provide an adrenaline-pumping journey up and down high slopes:
- The Powell & Hyde route starts at Powell on Market Street in Union Square and concludes at Hyde and Beach Streets in Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Additionally, departing from Market and Powell, the Powell & Mason stops at Bay and Taylor Streets, a few blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf.
- The California Line travels up Nob Hill from the end of Market Street (at Drumm St.) to Van Ness St.
Looking to pass through Fisherman’s Wharf? Fisherman’s Wharf is accessible through the two lines that leave Powell and Market Streets; however, they travel in opposite directions to reach there. Choose the one that interests you the most!
To learn more, check out:
- Hornblower Classic Cable Cars – Their fleet of 20 famous Cable Cars is used all year long for some of San Francisco’s most popular events and their visitors’ private charters.
The fleet has been in operation for more than 60 years and is still San Francisco and the Bay Area’s primary option for transportation. They run open-to-the-public and exclusive charters in San Francisco.
3. Get your laughs in at a comedy club
Like many other big cities in the US, San Francisco boasts many entertaining comedy clubs that can complete the night with smiles and laughter. Among the many comedy clubs include the following:
Punch Line, a little theater with 200 seats that is among the most adored comedy clubs in San Francisco, has featured such star-quality headliners as Jay Leno, Wanda Sykes, Zach Galifianakis, and Whoopi Goldberg.
The location is exquisitely decorated, the wait staff is efficient, and the enticing food and robust beverages sustain hours-long laughter sessions. Additionally, from every vantage point, you can see the stage well, framed by a stunning Cubist mural of San Francisco.
Check out the Punch Line Comedy Club if you want the conventional standup comedy you see on HBO specials.
When visiting San Francisco, if you want to catch the greatest names in comedy, this comedy club’s star-studded roster has you covered. The standup comedians who have performed on Cobb’s stage have included some of the funniest A-listers around, including Sarah Silverman, Dave Chapelle, Robin Williams, Ellen DeGeneres, and Dave Chapelle.
The entire bar and dining menu are available as patrons enjoy the comic’s every hysterical emotion thanks to excellent sightlines from every seat. If improv or group skits by comics who are still learning their craft are not your thing, stay with Cobb’s Comedy Club’s tried-and-true lineup.
4. Get Spooked On A Ghost Hunting Tour
Murders, mystery, and mayhem have a long, dreadful history in San Francisco. These incidents serve as the basis for the exciting and entertaining ghost excursions in SF!
On a typical ghost tour, you can find yourself strolling around Chinatown to discover its enigmatic past, strolling through the Haight to learn about its ghost stories, or even going to Alcatraz at night to experience one of the city’s most haunted locations.
Here are two really popular tours:
- Haunted SF: Ghost Hunting, True Crime and Mystery – As you walk through the city’s nighttime streets with a personal EMF detector, hear about everything from Gold Rush cemeteries to paranormal activity and unexplained deaths in the heart of San Francisco.
- San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tour – Walk about one mile with your guide who shares stories of the ghosts, unsolved crimes, and hauntings that linger in the neighborhood of Pacific Heights. You’ll take scenic streets lined with Victorian architecture, and get great views along the way.
If you’re visiting in the fall, there are two additional special excursions that are available throughout October in honor of Halloween. One is a Segway tour by Electric Tour Company, which will take you through some of our top districts’ dark, secret lanes. The other is a unique tour of City Hall that SF City Guides provides.
Because it only happens once a year and is quite popular (and it’s free!), do arrive early.
Although the stories are terrifying and dark, the majority of these tours are educational and not designed to shock you too much. You will learn more about the people and locations that make this city one of the most spooky in the US from all of them!
5. Rollerskate Disco At The Church Of 8 Wheels
Visit the Church of 8 Wheels for a night of quirky and retro dancing and rollerskating!
If that sounds like your idea of fun, you can spend Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights with locals living out your roller disco dream in a former church.
You don’t need to bring your own skates—you can rent some for a small fee—and you don’t need to be an expert because lessons are offered on Fridays and Saturdays before the skate night parties.
To learn more about the schedules and activities, visit the Church Of 8 Wheels website, and embrace the Church’s goal of bringing skating joy to everyone!
Church of 8 Wheels is a super fun date night spot because you’ll be able to skate hand-in-hand with your significant other while listening to live DJs spin classic funk and disco tunes!
One of the most unique things about this one is that it’s more of a locals-only activity that is less well-known to out-of-towners, so it’s a terrific opportunity to dance and party with locals.
Church Of 8 Wheels is located in the heart of the city, just a few blocks from Alamo Square Park.
6. Enjoy The Exploratorium After Hours
Even while the Museum of Modern Art, Asian Art Museum, California Academy of Sciences, and de Young Museum are all excellent choices during the day, there are museums that are equally as awesome during the nighttime.
The Exploratorium, for example, is one of those! During their After Dark Thursday Nights, the entire museum is outfitted with eye-catching light shows, fog machines, ambiance, and more.
And even though the Exploratorium is one of the most well-known museums to take children to, they also do a great job putting on carefully curated adult events, including live music and guest lecturers.
7. Enjoy California Academy of Sciences After Hours
Every Thursday from 6-10pm, the California Academy of Sciences opens its doors for NightLife, a museum party with a different theme each week.
With two house DJs and a bar in addition to the daytime exhibits (including the rainforest room and the planetarium), there’s a lot to see and do at night!
8. See a magic show at the Marrakech Magic Theater
The Marrakech Magic Theater is an intimate performance space that has been welcoming Bay Area residents and visitors for more than 30 years. This hidden gem of a theater features Jay Alexander, a master magician, mentalist, and comic.
One of the best things about this magic show is how small and intimate it is. There are no more than ~50 people inside the theater at a time so that the magician can basically interact with every person there. When I went, I was called on stage twice–that’s how small this theater is!
The main magic show runs around 75 minutes and involves sleight-of-hand magic tricks, unbelievable feats of mentalism, as well as some old-fashioned comedy.
There are showtimes on Thursdays to Sundays. Tickets are $55-65 and can be booked online here (we booked on Goldstar too and the check-in process was seamless).
A nice assortment of Moroccan-inspired cocktail drinks and appetizers are available for purchase before the show.
We recommend showing up 1 hour early for the pre-show hour, where you’ll be able to enjoy your drinks and light bites as Jay goes around each table to perform tableside card tricks!
Getting there early also means you’ll get to sit closer to the front, perfect for those who want a more immersive experience (you will likely also be called on to participate!).
9. Explore the North Beach neighborhood
North Beach is one of the culturally richest, most-loved neighborhoods in San Francisco! A buzzing neighborhood steeped in Italian heritage, you can find many restaurants and shops, as well as bars, hole-in-the-wall establishments, and independently owned coffee shops.
This neighborhood boasts some of the most entertaining urban walks in the city. Along Columbus Avenue, you will find the highest density of Italian cafes in San Francisco.
If you can get a seat at the casual seafood restaurant Sotto Mare, I’d highly recommend a meal there. Two other notable food joints to check out: Golden Boy Pizza and Betty Lou’s!
After dinner, it’s time to hit the bars! You can easily walk around the neighborhood and find a multitude of buzzing bars to pop into.
Broadway, the nearby “red light district”, has some really cool old-fashioned neon signs that light the neighborhood up at night. Stop by Sam’s Pizza & Burgers for one of the city’s best late-night classic burgers.
10. Get an Irish Coffee at its birthplace
Steps away from Ghirardelli Square sits The Buena Vista Cafe. Little known fact, the Irish Coffee was actually born here back in 1952!
On a regular day, The Buena Vista serves around 2,000 Irish coffees—up to 2,500 on a busy weekend day. These Irish Coffees are made the legit way, with Tullamore Dew. Come try one for yourself!
11. Enjoy “Wing Wednesday” at Teeth
Looking for a place to eat in San Francisco on a Wednesday night? Look no further than Teeth in the Mission District, where they’re serving up wings at a great discount.
This popular spot is known for its delicious food and lively atmosphere (you can’t beat good music, beer, and cheap wings), so you’re sure to have a good time. And with wings priced at just $0.50 each, it’s an affordable option for a casual night out.
12. Challenge yourself with an escape room
Looking to challenge yourself with an escape room in San Francisco? Well, I’m happy to tell you there are a plethora of escape room options in SF.
These interactive live adventure games will require players to team up to solve puzzles in order to escape the room within a set time limit. This is a great way to spend a few hours putting your heads together and wracking your brains for hidden answers.
Head to one of many escape room companies in San Francisco including The Escape Game, Palace Games, Reason, EscapeSF, and PanIQ Escape Room.
Get tickets to one of our favorite venues–Escape Game SF–here!
13. Soak in cityscape views at night
SF is gorgeous during the daytime, but it’s equally as gorgeous at night. For pointers on where the best viewpoints of the city are, check out this post:
14. See a musical or play in the Theater District
Musicals and plays are a great way to spend an evening in San Francisco. There are many different options to choose from, so you can find the perfect one for your taste.
San Francisco’s Theater District offers a wide variety of award-winning shows such as Hamilton, An American in Paris, Book of Mormon, and much more at venues like the Orpheum Theater, Curran Theater, and Golden Gate Theater.
Whether you want to see a classic musical or a new play, there’s sure to be something playing in San Francisco that you’ll love. Check out the latest offerings here.
15. Enjoy a sunset dinner cruise
Looking for something to do out on the San Francisco Bay at night? Why not try a sunset dinner cruise? You’ll get to see the city from a different perspective and enjoy a delicious meal at the same time!
There are several companies that offer sunset dinner cruises, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Prices vary depending on the company and the type of cruise you select, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $180 per person, depending on the type of food served.
For an extra special night out, we like the San Francisco Premier Dinner Dance Cruise — you’ll want to get your tickets in advance to secure a seat on the yacht cruise!
16. Get cocktails at a speakeasy or a themed bar
Ready for a speakeasy-inspired dining experience? Head to The Pawn Shop! Right behind an inconspicuous door in an old pawnshop are good food, creative cocktail drinks, and funky music. Once you get past the doorman, you’ll be greeted by one of the great mysteries of San Francisco!
A hidden tapas bar with a one-of-a-kind menu and an extensive wine list! Trust me, the food is really good here.
To access The Pawn Shop, you will need to find the golden phone at 993 Mission Street. Pick up the phone and speak with the funny pawn master and he’ll let you in.
While it’s not required, it’s even more fun if you bring something to pawn/sell at the pawnshop in the front! Don’t forget to make your reservation!
Alternatively, you can head to a themed bar or two. A few really fun tiki bars worth checking out include:
- Tonga Room
- Smuggler’s Cove
- Pagan Idol
- Bamboo Hut
17. Visit the Asian Art Museum at night
On Thursday nights at the Asian Art Museum, you’ll encounter an wide array of virtual events to stimulate your mind and educate you–from creative events with artists and writers to short film screenings, innovative music, and more.
Check out their lineup of upcoming programs and mark your calendars!
18. Go Clubbing
San Francisco’s museums may sharpen the intellect and provide intriguing information to take home, but very few activities engage all five senses as dance does!
San Francisco’s got quite a few dance clubs, including the likes of Folsom 1015 and El Rio. Here are just a few of the many fun clubs in San Francisco:
This dance club typically has a full house. Live bands play on the weekends, salsa is popular on Sunday, a world dance party is well-received on Friday, rock ‘n’ roll performs on the weekends, and punk and rock nights occur on Wednesdays.
You may also find special events featuring arabic music, global music, dancehall, hip-hop, outdoor film festivals, cabaret performances, and fundraisers for regional nonprofits during your trip dates.
If that isn’t enough, there is a pool, ping-pong, shuffleboard, and weekly BBQs! All in all, El Rio is a fun place to visit in the nighttime, even if you’re not in the mood to dance.
Go to The Make-Out Room in the Mission District if you want to get your body moving but don’t want to spend two hours getting dressed and carefully putting on a face full of makeup. They know that a dance club needs three things to be successful: loud music, strong drinks, and lots of room to move around.
You can enjoy one of the numerous top-notch restaurants in this foodie neighborhood after spending a sunny day in the Mission (which usually always has less fog than the rest of San Francisco) before going to the Make-Out Room’s well-loved happy hour. Dance the night away after that!
The DJs who spin pop, hip-hop, and R&B from the 1990s to now are known for their dancey, feel-good nostalgia at Club Raven, Raven Bar’s biweekly Friday and Saturday night dance events.
The venue’s top and lower levels are divided into two dance floors, with resident VJ Mark Andrus playing music videos above.
Burlesque dancers, live bands, experimental DJs spinning to mind-bending visuals, and four dance floors are part of the varied roster at this expansive SoMa lounge, which has two stages, seven bars, and four dance floors.
But Bootie SF, DNA’s iconic Saturday night event, is its most prominent feature. This long-running monthly dance event is all about the mashup, which combines musical tunes in a super fun, dancy fashion.
If you’ve never been to a Bootie event, you have to go once to see the debauchery and fun with your own eyes! It’s truly a judgment-free zone!
19. Catch a drag or cabaret show at the Oasis
If musicals and plays are not your things, there are other options! Two other popular things to do at night in SF? Cabaret and drag shows.
Oasis is one of the best places in town to catch a cabaret or drag show. The talented performers always put on a great show, and there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a laugh or a night of dancing, Oasis is the place to be.
Check out their events calendar to find something that piques your interest!
Aside from this venue, there are a few other venues to experience drag and cabaret in the city:
- The Stud
- Aunt Charlie’s Lounge
- Hamburger Mary’s
20. Enjoy wine or date night at Foreign Cinema
Despite its misleading name, this local hangout spot is not actually a movie theater–but it doesn’t mean they don’t show movies there!
This restaurant theater serves California-Mediterranean cuisine in a romantic setting while a film plays in the background.
With a massive wine list (we’re talking massive, go see for yourself) and super unique architecture, this neighborhood staple remains popular among locals. The “cinema” aspect stems from the classic/contemporary films that are projected on a huge screen while you eat.
Make sure to make a reservation before showing up!
Don’t Miss These Limited Time Events In San Francisco
The FRIENDS™ Experience: The One in San Francisco
Immerse yourself in the world of FRIENDS™ like never before with interactive set recreations, like Joey and Chandler’s apartment, Monica and Rachel’s kitchen, and Central Perk. Now that’s what I call kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck fantastic!
Check out the FRIENDS Experience site to learn more and book your tickets.
Space Explorers: THE INFINITE
The only immersive expedition to take you on an awe-inspiring interactive journey to space! This hour-long collective immersive experience takes guests on an interactive journey aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
After immensely successful runs in Montreal, Houston, and Tacoma, Space Explorers: THE INFINITE finally reaches the San Francisco Bay area!
San Francisco: Twilight Cruise
On this 2-hour sunset sail, you’ll cruise past the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Tiburon, Angel Island and the storied island of Alcatraz in style! There’s no city in the world that sparkles quite like San Francisco.
Share a few drinks with friends on this special sunset cruise – it’s a fabulous way to finish a day of sightseeing. You’ll see the city’s natural and urban scenery from a whole new perspective. Hop on board from sunset to twilight and enjoy views to die for!
Have a few days to dedicate to San Francisco?
If you plan on hitting up a number of museums/attractions, you should consider getting a version of the Go City San Francisco Pass. It’s a really great way to see what you want to see while saving a bunch of money!
The Go City All-Inclusive Pass is really great for travelers who want to see as much as possible while they’re in San Francisco. With the Go City San Francisco All-Inclusive Pass, you can choose between a 1, 2, 3, or 5-day pass that will give you free admission to 25+ museums and attractions. This includes the following:
- California Academy of Sciences
- Escape from the Rock (Alcatraz cruise tour)
- Aquarium of the Bay
- The Walt Disney Family Museum
- Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus 1-Day Classic Tour
- All-day bike rentals
- and a bunch more good stuff not listed here…
If you don’t plan on visiting a ton of different attractions, Go City also has an Explorer Pass which will still save you a lot of money. With the Explorer Pass, you’ll pay one flat fee for a 2,3,4, or 5-choice pass. You’ll then have 60 days to use it. There is also no need to pick attractions ahead of time, simply choose attractions as you go! Passes start at $55 for 2 choices.
No matter which pass type you pick, you’ll ultimately save far more with these passes compared to buying separate attraction tickets!
Where To Stay In San Francisco, CA
There are tons of lodging accommodations in San Francisco ranging from budget-friendly to outright luxurious. Hotels tend to cost a lot more in SF compared to other urban cities, so take care to do some research before settling on an option.
In order to save you time and money, I want to help you minimize the need to Uber/Lyft everywhere. As such, I’d recommend staying in a neighborhood that’s relatively central to everything. I recommend staying in or near the following neighborhoods: Mission District, Hayes Valley, The Castro, and Union Square (Union Square is where you’ll find most hotels are located).
Here are some hotels I recommend checking out, organized by neighborhood:
Hotel Nikko San Francisco – Hotel Nikko San Francisco features beautiful modern accommodations with a bar, on-site restaurant, fitness center, swimming pool, and a terrace. You’ll be super close to a ton of public transportation options.
San Francisco Marriott Marquis Union Square – This downtown San Francisco hotel offers a fitness center, restaurant, and luxurious rooms with panoramic views. As with other Marriott hotels, this one is equally as modern and spacious.
Handlery Union Square Hotel – This San Francisco hotel is in Union Square, a 5-minute walk from the Powell Street cable car line. It features an outdoor pool and modern, spacious rooms. Guests will also have access to a fitness center one block from the hotel and an on-site sauna. Handlery is located 0.5 miles away from Chinatown and 1 mile away from North Beach.
Noe Valley / Mission District
Noe’s Nest Bed and Breakfast – Located in a charming Victorian house in San Francisco’s central Noe Valley neighborhood (near the Mission), Noe’s Nest Bed & Breakfast serves a generous daily buffet breakfast and offers guest rooms with free WiFi. Seriously, the rooms are so charming and the breakfast is just delightful.
1906 Mission – This San Francisco bed and breakfast features a modern, environmentally conscious design. Each room is designed with the environment in mind: energy-efficient lighting, re-purposed building materials, and free organic toiletries are provided. Do note that these rooms have a shared bathroom.
Hayes Valley Inn – While this is not the most central option, I added it to this list because of its simple charm! I stayed here a few years ago and had a wonderful, homey stay! Hayes Valley Inn is just 5 minutes’ walk from attractions such as the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House and San Francisco City Hall. Guests can easily discover local boutiques, art galleries and cafes. Do note that these rooms have a shared bathroom.
Beck’s Motor Lodge – Beck’s features charming, bright, and modern rooms. It’s located only steps from the city’s historic cable car lines with direct access to Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square. Dolores Park and San Francisco’s Mission District are just 15 minutes’ walk away from this motel. A number of antique shops, cafes and unique stores are located in the neighborhood. This is one of the rare hotels that offer free parking!
Looking for more San Francisco travel tips? You may also like:
- 60+ Free and Affordable Things To Do In San Francisco, California
- 4 Days In San Francisco, California: The Ultimate SF Itinerary
- 8 Best San Francisco Neighborhoods To Visit (And What To Do Beyond SF!)
- 40 Best Weekend Trips From The San Francisco Bay Area
- 27+ Unforgettable Things To Do In Sonoma County, California