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19 Fun Date Ideas in San Francisco

Katelyn van Sligtenhorst
Latest posts by Katelyn van Sligtenhorst (see all)

These date ideas in San Francisco put the spotlight on a city practically built for romance and are sure to show any couple a good time.

We’re taking you through 19 of our favorite activities, from mouth-watering explorations of the local culinary scene to adrenaline-pumping outdoor adventures, from unmissable cultural highlights to simple, scenic vistas.

The Golden City dazzles with its steep streets, eclectic architecture, hippie culture, and a practically endless list of unique attractions. 

In such a bold and diverse city, romance can be discovered around every corner! Here are some date ideas to make this city your next romantic getaway in California!

19 Fun Date Ideas in San Francisco

So what are you waiting for? Pick your favorite idea from this list, or mix and match a few to build the most swoon-worthy day of sightseeing for two.

1. Watch the sunset at Battery Spencer

San Francisco, California is one of the best places to visit in February in the USA

It’s pretty much mandatory that all romantic date night ideas in San Francisco involve a viewing of one of the city’s iconic sunsets.

Although there are plenty of vistas to choose from, Battery Spencer has our hearts for its postcard-worthy amazing views of the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, Baker Beach, the Marin Headlands, Alcatraz Island, and the bay.

It’s no coincidence that proposals are frequently witnessed here–this spot is about as romantic as it gets!

Be aware that it can get windy and a bit chilly, so bring hair ties and a jacket.

Alternatively, watch the sunset on a 1.5-hour catamaran cruise! It’s an incredibly romantic anniversary date idea!

2. Have a magical movie night at Foreign Cinema

Chocolate mousse at foreign cinema in San Francisco

With nothing but string lights and the night sky above, the outdoor courtyard at Foreign Cinema provides an utterly dreamy San Francisco date night venue.

The featured film changes monthly, and screenings start at dusk. Show up early to snag good seats and a bite to eat. 

Their decadent Mediterranean menu features delicacies like caviar, duck breast, fresh oysters, and award-winning Spanish wines.

There are also murals, vintage movie poster collections, and art exhibitions to explore onsite.

3. Stroll hand in hand through the San Francisco Botanical Garden

Japanese garden at golden gate park, San Francisco, California

Within this urban oasis at Golden Gate Park, you can admire tranquil ponds, sprawling lawns, a magnificent redwood grove, and more than 8,000 different plants from around the world.

Visiting January-March? You might be able to catch one of the country’s largest magnolia collections in bloom, full of spectacular pink flowers! (You couldn’t ask for a better backdrop for a romantic photoshoot).

The price of admission includes a complimentary 90-minute walking tour with a Garden Docent who will explain what’s currently in bloom. These are not run daily, so check the events calendar before you go.

Other active date ideas for pairs, like dance classes, art workshops, and yoga in the gardens, are also offered!

4. Go for a romantic moped ride

Blue retro scooter parked on a street of San Francisco, California, USA

There are plenty of ways to get around San Francisco–metro, cable car, or even tackling the steep streets on foot if you dare. 

But nothing says romance quite like a breezy spin through San Francisco via an electric moped.

Simply download the Revel app, find a scooter nearby, and off you go. (Please note: Drivers should have an active license and clean record). Whoever is riding in the back, make sure to hold on tight!

For a particularly scenic trip, we recommend driving through The Presidio or along Embarcadero Waterfront, but be sure to make a detour to Coit Tower in North Beach for jaw-dropping views of San Francisco.

Pro tip 1: For more gorgeous views of San Francisco, head over to Twin Peaks!

You can rent per minute or opt for ½-day or full-day passes.

Pro tip 2: It’s a bit touristy, but a fun date idea in San Francisco is to take the cable car from downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf.

5. Enjoy seafood and skyline views at Waterbar

Few date ideas in San Francisco are as luxurious as a visit to this elegant, oh-so-ambient restaurant on the San Francisco Bay.

Waterbar’s menu spotlights “fresh-caught, sustainably-sourced fish and shellfish,” as well as the largest selection of oysters on the West Coast.

You’ll have trouble deciding which view to linger on–your date all dressed up, or the sweeping panorama of the waterfront, Bay Bridge, and Treasure Island ahead.

6. Get inspired at Clarion Alley

Alternatively, if a cheap date idea in San Francisco is more your speed, look no further than the Clarion Alley Mural Project.

This narrow alleyway in San Francisco’s Mission District is home to a colorful explosion of art, graffiti, and powerful political messages–more than 200 works to wander through!

This sightseeing spot is free, although donations are welcome and go towards the art collective’s social, economic, and environmental justice projects, community initiatives, and the support of local artists.

Pro tip: You could go to the nearby Mission Dolores Park for a picnic afterward.

7. Go for a dip at Black Sands Beach

Black Sands Beach in Marin Headlands on a sunny day, north San Francisco bay area, California

Seclusion, sunshine, and sweeping views of the Bay Area coastline can be found just 20 minutes from downtown.

Wooden steps lead down to a mile-long stretch of beautiful black sand, where you can set up towels, an umbrella, and perhaps a picnic lunch to enjoy with your special someone.

Part of the beach is clothing optional, so feel free to ditch the bathing suits and skinny dip if you really want to send sparks flying on your beach date.

Pro tip: When the weather’s nice, arrive early because the small parking lot can fill up—this is actually an excellent morning date idea, don’t you agree?

8. Share Latin American small plates at El Techo

Many of the best date ideas in San Francisco revolve around eating and one of them is chowing down the incredible offerings of El Techo

Seeing as this city is a foodie’s paradise, many of the best date ideas in San Francisco revolve around eating.

In that regard, the platos, postres, and craft cocktails at El Techo are hard to beat. And they’re not even the only attractions! 

This romantic restaurant also boasts incredible rooftop views of downtown.

Snag a table and order a handful of dishes to split. Highlights include the chips and salsa, fried plantains, and quesadillas. As for drinks, their signature Margarita del Techo is a must-try.

Pssst: Head over to Off the Grid in Fort Mason on Friday for food trucks.

9. Spark some friendly competition at The Detour

Sampling a flavorful flight at Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. is one of the fun Houston date ideas

Drinks, food, and fun will bring out your inner child at San Francisco’s premier neighborhood arcade.

Fun-loving couples can spend the evening competing over vintage video, arcade, and board games, with a Pan Pacific menu full of small bites and pizzas to keep you fueled up.

The Detour also hosts an array of events each night of the week, from board game nights on Wednesday to Thursday trivia (with prizes!).

10. Walk down Lovers’ Lane

Lovers' Lane in San Francisco

As the name suggests, this oh-so-romantic spot is a must-visit for couples in San Francisco. The route was once used by soldiers on their way to town to meet up with their sweethearts.

Today, the easy 0.6-mile path meanders through wild blackberry bushes, historic military housing, and towering forests of eucalyptus, cypress, and pine.

Nearby, the “Wood Line” art installation is a whimsical, winding path made from salvaged tree trunks.

Also, the nearby Crissy Field is a lovely place to walk along the water.

The wider Presidio National Park boasts more than 25 miles worth of hike and bike trails, so outdoorsy couples can make a whole day of it.

11. Paddle out on Stow Lake

Couple boating on Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California
FiledIMAGE / Shutterstock

A romantic rowboat ride blows all other San Francisco date ideas out of the water. I mean, we’ve all seen The Notebook, right?

The tranquil waters of man-made Stow Lake have been hosting lakeside loungers and boaters since 1893, providing San Franciscans and visitors alike a respite from the busy city.

You can rent a rowboat for $26/hour, or opt for a pedal boat for $32.50/hour. Got dogs? Your furry friends are welcome to join you on this date for a small extra fee.

The boathouse also features a small café, where you can sip on a coffee or indulge in fresh, locally-sourced meals.

12. Find your favorite red at San Francisco Wine Society

One of the best fun date ideas to try out is going out on a wine tasting

California is known for being prime wine country, and San Francisco is home to dozens of award-winning wine bars.

For an intimate, romantic tasting, it doesn’t get much better than the exposed brick walls, fireplace, and low lighting of Wine Society.

Settle into plush armchairs and select from a globetrotting list of reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines. Or opt for one of their tasting flights, like the “Be a Better Lover” spread of reds.

For true oenophiles, why stick to a city tasting? The iconic Napa Valley is just an hour’s drive from downtown, and you can easily make a day trip straight to the source.

13. Hike the Lands End Trail

Hiking the Lands End Trail at sunset, San Francisco, California

This is one of the romantic date ideas in San Francisco for outdoorsy couples, and it’s no mystery why.

After all, breathtaking vistas await at every bend along this 3-mile loop trail tracing the San Francisco coastline–sheer rocky cliffs, shipwrecks, military memorials, and some of the best angles of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Break a sweat by doing it all at once (about a 1.5-hour trek), or take your time and indulge in detours, lookout points, and perhaps a romantic picnic along the way.

We recommend stops at Mile Rock Beach, Point Lobos, and the abandoned Sutro Baths.

4. Catch a concert at The Fillmore

The Struts in concert at The Fillmore in San Francisco
agwilson / Shutterstock

Where better to dance the night away than at one of the city’s most venerable music venues?

The Fillmore first opened in 1912, and has served as both a dance hall and a roller-skating rink throughout its storied history. 

Legendary artists across many genres, like the Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin, have all graced the Fillmore stage.

See who’s in town during your visits and snag a pair of tickets to watch even more music history unfold before your eyes.

15. Marvel at the masterpieces of the Legion of Honor Museum

Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco, California

San Francisco is a cultural hub, with 50+ museums found across the city. But date night pairs particularly well with fine arts, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Legion of Honor–an extensive collection of priceless pieces from around the world.

Both their permanent installations and temporary exhibits never fail to impress. Couples can get lost among famous works like Rodin’s “The Thinker” and Monet’s “Water Lilies.”

There are also regularly scheduled events, like organ concerts on Saturday afternoons and docent tours five days a week.

Pssst: The Young Museum at Golden Gate Park often has special exhibits.

16. Go stargazing at Strawberry Hill

Sure, the City by the Bay is more known for its fog and finicky weather, but there are a number of secluded spots where you can escape the light pollution and see stars.

Strawberry Hill is our favorite for couples. Picturesque, quiet, and away from all the crowds, love is sure to be in the air here.

To get more up close and personal with the night sky, try visiting the San Francisco State University Observatory instead, which is free and open to the public on select weeknights. 

Although it’s not as intimate, they do boast three telescopes and docents on hand to help.

17. Say cheers at Black Hammer Brewing

One of the romantic date night ideas in San Francisco is going on a beer tasting  trip

No list of romantic date ideas in San Francisco would be complete without a stop showcasing the city’s impressive beer scene.

Black Hammer Brewing near Union Square brings together everything we love about the Golden City–creativity, beautiful spaces, and good energy galore.

Here, they focus on small-batch production of lagers, ales, and hard seltzers, and also feature a menu of small bites like empanadas and fresh pretzels.

We recommend the Sparkle Pony, their flagship Belgian blonde ale, or the DDH Cuddle Puddle, a hazy IPA with tasting notes of pink guava, passion fruit, mango, lime, and lychee.

Of course, a tasting flight is a great way to sample as many innovative brews as possible. Bottoms up!

18. Grab ingredients for a romantic dinner at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Sampling local produce at the Burlington Farmer’s Market is one of the best things to do in Burlington, Vermont

Since 1993, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market has been spotlighting the best local sustainable growers, producers, and chefs.

Pick a recipe together, then spend your morning getting lost among the many rows of fresh produce, baked goods, and artisanal goods.

Once you’ve gathered all the ingredients, head back to your accommodation to cook a meal together and share it over candlelight.

The market runs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday year-round, rain or shine. You can also find ready-made dishes and cooking classes here!

19. Hop aboard a psychedelic party bus

We have to wrap up our list of date ideas in San Francisco with an activity truly fitting of such a one-of-a-kind city.

As you may know, California (and this city in particular) has a strong hippie culture that has carried over to the present day.

So dress in your best tie-dye, grab your special someone’s hand, and take your seats on the vintage, hand-painted “Magic Bus.”

With classic tunes and a mobile movie theater on board, this tour will send you time-traveling back to the 1960s, tracing through a history of Beatniks, the Summer of Love, and more moments of counter-culture.

Final Words on San Francisco Date Ideas

We hope this article inspired you to pick your epic date idea and have a wonderful time with your date in San Francisco, one of the best spots to visit in California.

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