15 Fun Things To Do At Night In San Francisco

While San Francisco is stunning and vibrant during the day, it has a distinctive appeal at night. What is San Francisco like after dark? Let’s find out the best things to do at night in San Francisco in this guide.

See the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a famous landmark ranked as one of the world’s most photographed bridges and among the seven wonders of civil engineering.

There are many things to do here, so you can join a cruise, or just relax and enjoy. For photos, head to Fort Point, the Point Bonita Lighthouse, or Fort Baker.

Golden Gate Bridge at sunset in San Francisco.

Join the San Francisco ghost hunt 

Have you ever gone on a ghost search in San Francisco, scanning eerie streets, alleys, and neighborhoods using a personal EMF detector that was provided? Not just ghosts, either.

When you tour the city with a ghost hunter, you’ll discover its spookiest mysteries and legends and learn about anything from Gold Rush cemeteries to eerie happenings and mysterious deaths as you stroll through its night streets.

Be ready for an exciting ghost tour, and make sure you:

  • Explore San Francisco’s mysterious past to discover where its most infamous haunted locations are.
  • Hear thrilling tales based on verified research. Discover the strange and fascinating history of your area.
  • And who knows, you might even catch a ghost (Catch-and-release is only allowed in San Francisco. Please refrain from bringing our spirits home with you).
Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

Take the Alcatraz night tour

Visitors to the national park can get a close-up view of life with maximum security and minimal privileges at Alcatraz.

This former federal island jail once housed criminals, including gangster Al Capone. 

The island, which served as a military fort in the 1850s, was also the birthplace of the Native American “Red Power” movement and the location of the first lighthouse on the West Coast, which has since been replaced.

Among its numerous attractions are gardens, tidepools, nesting birds, and breathtaking bay views.

Alcatraz prison island in San Francisco.

A tour of Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can stop at Boudin Bakery, and then a trip to Alcatraz Island.

Here, you can tour the former prison as dusk falls over the bay, sounds like the ideal plan for a fun evening in San Francisco.

Hop on a nighttime sightseeing bus

This upcoming night trip is perfect for unwinding while taking in San Francisco’s lights as you pass Chinatown and North Beach.

You can see much of what San Francisco offers in two hours with these suppliers:

Big Bus

Take a 1-hour night bus tour to see San Francisco from a different angle.

Explore areas like Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero, Chinatown, and the Financial District with live commentary.

To fit your schedule, there are several tour departure times available. Shuttle service from Union Square until the end of the tour is complimentary!

Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

SF Love Tour

On a colorful Volkswagen bus from the 1970s, discover San Francisco’s hipster culture and hippy past.

On this San Francisco Love Tour, which visits Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, North Beach, the Castro, the Mission, downtown, and other locations, you may take in the city’s illuminations.

Listen to ’60s hits while touring the residences of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Grateful Dead.

To shake some beaded drapes, dig your shoes into some cool shag carpet. There are just six maximum seats on each bus, so first come, first serve!

Board a dinner cruise

A superb dinner cruise in San Francisco will make the occasion memorable, no matter what. You can enjoy a night of dining and San Francisco skyline views with friends and family.

If you cannot imagine how the cruise is, let us help you: start a date night with a tasty, exciting twist.

Observe the sun sinking as the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge are illuminated by city lights.

After that, enjoy a three-course sit-down meal with live music that includes appetizers, salad, your choice of entrée, and dessert. Sounds great?

Cruising the river is one of the best things to do at night in San Francisco.
Enjoying a dinner cruise is one of the best things to do at night in San Francisco.

Explore Chinatown

Chinatown in San Francisco, which spans 24 city blocks, is the oldest in North America. With good cause, this area is one of San Francisco’s most visited tourist destinations.

Exploring the streets and lanes, looking through the stores, and savoring authentic Chinese cuisine are all enjoyable ways to spend a day here. Chinatown has more visitors than the Golden Gate Bridge. Can you believe it?! 

Chinatown in San Francisco.

People have varied ways of exploring Chinatown. Grant Avenue, a charming tourist route with most businesses, attracts many people.

Others stray into the numerous intriguing side streets and tiny lanes, where the most genuine activities of the neighborhood take place. Best way? Why not both?

Don’t miss the city’s best dim sum restaurants, galleries, tea shops, and karaoke bars here.

Chinatown is a thriving district with an abundance of stores, boba shops, and restaurants, stretching from the Dragon Gate to China Live. Not to mention, in a city with many hills, it is one of the most walkable districts.

View San Francisco Bay from a helicopter

This helicopter tour lets you explore San Francisco’s most desirable neighborhoods even if you don’t have much time. 

Fly over the city, and its well-known sights, such as Coit Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, and the neighborhood’s Half Moon Bay.

Also, you’ll see Alcatraz Island without having to take a boat, which is excellent for seasick tourists. 

Select a flight time at any time of the day. For convenience, this trip provides bottled water, so there is no need to bring yours.

Best things to do at night in San Francisco.

See a Broadway show 

Do you know that before moving to Broadway, plays were frequently staged in San Francisco?

San Francisco is where many well-known Broadway productions first debuted. They include American Idiot, Fences, Legally Blonde, Mama Mia, and Wicked, to name a few. 

There are numerous top-notch theatrical venues in San Francisco, with a long history of being a strong theater community.

Shows that have already been successful on Broadway frequently travel to San Francisco on tour and perform at either the Golden Gate Theatre or the Orpheum Theatre. 

Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.
Watching a performance at Orpheum Theatre is a must!

Visit Exploratorium After Dark

Looking for new nightlife options in San Francisco? At Exploratorium After Dark (age 18+), say yes to something novel and deviate from your typical routine.

Exploratorium After Dark is a new and fascinating date-night option that features special guests, a fog bridge, a huge kaleidoscope, stunning light shows, mind-bending mirrors, and more.

Programs are carefully curated every Thursday night to pique your interest and alter your perspective. Let thought-provoking guest speakers, fantastic music, cutting-edge movies, and unique activities spark limitless conversation for you.

Everything from superpowered insects to virtual cosmic voyages will be available.

In addition to offering fresh experiences every week, After Dark presents incredible recurrent events every month.

Have a night out at North Beach

The neighborhood of North Beach in San Francisco is constantly alive with activity, from the many tourists who visit the area’s historical landmarks to those who indulge in its exciting nightlife.

The renowned North Beach district has two sides. There is the area that draws tourists and out-of-towners hoping for a wild Saturday night out.

Then there is the other side, which has a rich history that includes the Barbary Coast and the Beat Generation’s center. Little Italy is popular with bars that won’t let you down.

North Beach area at night in San Francisco.

Go to the escape room

Families, groups of friends, lovers, and anyone else eager to try something new will enjoy the escape game in San Francisco.

The game’s idea is straightforward, but the execution is your team must cooperate in deciphering clues and solving puzzles as you move through a series of intricately crafted chambers.

You can play as a prospector looking for a lost gold trove, a spy ordered to rescue a stolen picture, or an unjustly accused prisoner determined to escape jail in one of the exciting adventures available.

Keep your wits about you and stay focused; you only have an hour to get out of here.

Once your team has triumphed, you’ll be in the perfect location to celebrate with a meal in the Financial District.

Explore the underground comedy scene

The first thing you’ll notice about San Francisco’s comedy culture is that it’s just as diverse as its inhabitants and distinctive districts.

You can find various humorous genres and cultural origins in San Francisco, such as stand-up, laugh-out-loud improv, and amusing monologues throughout the city.

San Francisco’s “everything goes” attitude and self-deprecating eccentricity make the humor here all the more approachable and delightful.

San Francisco humor is absolutely unique due to this blend. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the variety of alternatives for a fun night out in San Francisco because there are so many different comedians and comedy clubs.

Listen to live music

The live music and concert scene in San Francisco is among the greatest in the nation.

The schedules for some of the largest venues include the Masonic, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, The Fillmore, Warfield, and Slims.

You may find San Francisco concert lists for events at the Great American Music Hall, The Independent, and a few of the best performances at other locations across the city.

Along with hosting live performances, SF hosts several significant music festivals each year, including Outside Lands, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and others. 

Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

Take SF cable car 

You can travel up San Francisco’s high hills by cable cars, a well-known historical icon worldwide. Here are some insider tips for riding an SF cable car:

  • You should position yourself facing the bay for the most incredible views. 
  • For Powell cars’ eastern side, it’s the right side if they are going from downtown and the left side if they are leaving the Fisherman’s Wharf region.
  • Wait for it to pass before you cross the street after getting out of the cable car. Although drivers are constantly paying alert, they can’t maneuver to avoid hitting you, so be careful!
  • If it’s raining, cable cars can sometimes be delayed. When the tracks are delayed, it takes them more time to slow down. Simply keep it in mind if you’re on a schedule.
SF cable car in San Francisco.

Enjoy the retro roller rink

Have you heard about the excellent roller disco close to the Painted Ladies? The Church of 8 Wheels, a 120-year-old abandoned church that houses San Francisco’s most dedicated skaters, is the ultimate hidden gem.

Before a backdrop of stained-glass windows depicting Jesus and the Virgin Mary, you can fly around the rink in disco music and neon lighting!

FAQs about San Francisco nightlife

What is the nightlife like in San Francisco?

I believe it’s varied. Depending on your taste, you can feel different ways. But for us, it is vibrant, modern, and fabulous!

What area of San Francisco is best for nightlife?

Consider Chinatown, North beach, Union Square & Theatre District, and Polk Street. Spend some time in these places and come back to tell us where you love the most.

What are the best late-night bars in San Francisco?

For those who feel like they’re just getting started, San Francisco bars close at 2 am, which may be a big letdown. Thankfully, there are several locations where people may keep having a good time. These late-night pubs in San Francisco keep you leaving before dawn. DNA Lounge, The End Up, and Monroe are a few of our recommendations.

Can you walk around San Francisco at night? Is it safe?

Not just in San Francisco, you should be aware when walking in certain neighborhoods at night. 

​​Is there any area to avoid in San Francisco at night time?

Even though it’s pretty safe to wander around at night in most parts of San Francisco, there are some places you should stay away from. Parts of the Mission district and the Tenderloin neighborhood are among them.

Hope this article helps you look for activities you may love while traveling. Please let us know your favorite nighttime experience in San Francisco in the comment.

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