Welcome to San Francisco’s premier nightlife guide.
On this page, you’ll discover the vibrant and varied nightlife scene in San Francisco. You’ll find the perfect venue for you and your preferred night out. Whether you want to go all-out clubbing or if you’d like a more laid back dinner and drinks with a view, we’ve got your covered.
A small introduction to San Francisco, California
San Francisco or officially known as the City and County of San Francisco is the financial, cultural and commercial hub of Northern California. Being home to 883,305 people and covering an area of about 121 Km2, the city is regarded as the 4th most populous city of California. With a high concentration of population living on the north side of the city, San Francisco is the second most densely populated city of the United States.
San Francisco came into being on June 29, 1776, when Spanish colonist established Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís near it, all of the above named after St. Francis of Assisi. In 1856, the city became a consolidated county. It then became the birthplace to the United Nations in 1947.
Economically too, the city is not also far behind, with seventh-highest income county in the United States as of 2017 and a per capita income of nearly $120,000. The city is a commercial hub to the California state. Owing to such financial and economic importance, San Francisco was ranked 16th globally and third in the United States of America on the Index of Global Financial Centers as of March 2019. Because of such a high economic and financial importance, San Francisco is also the headquarters of major banking institutions and various other technology-related companies such as Dropbox, Reddit Gap Inc., Fitbit, etc.
Being a popular tourist destination, San Francisco is widely known for its cool summers, steep rolling hills, fog, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, out of which the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, and its Chinatown district are the most prominent.
Tourism is one of the city’s largest and prominent private-sector industries, responsible for more than one out of seven jobs in the city. The city’s frequent representation in film, music, and popular culture has made the city and its accompanying landmarks recognizable globally. In 2016 alone, it attracted the fifth-highest number of tourists of any city in the United States. With more than 25 million visitors arrived in San Francisco in 2016, the city added US$9.96 billion to the economy that year. With a large network of hotel infrastructure and a world-class facility in the Moscone Center, San Francisco is also a renowned destination for annual conventions and conferences.
Although the Union Square, Financial District, and Fisherman’s Wharf are renowned globally in the City, San Francisco is also famous for its numerous culturally rich neighborhoods anchored around central commercial corridors throughout the city to which residents, visitors, and tourists can walk. Because of such characteristics, San Francisco is ranked the second “most walkable” city for tourists, visitor, and locals in the United States. Many neighborhoods feature an unusual blend of businesses, restaurants, and venues that satisfy both the daily needs of local residents and also serving many visitors and tourists.
Exploring about the nightlife of the city, which will our main focus throughout the article, San Francisco’s most of the neighborhoods are filled with boutiques, cafés and nightlife such as Union Street in Cow Hollow, 24th Street in Noe Valley, Valencia Street in the Mission, Grant Avenue in North Beach, and Irving Street in the Inner Sunset. This mixed approach especially has influenced the city and is beneficial and convenient for the visitor because they can get to see the diversity of the city.
The Nightlife in San Francisco
If you are heading to San Francisco to enjoy the glory of Night here, don’t worry we have got you covered. Because coming straight to the city with no prior exposure or information can really waste your time and money, which would be your worst nightmare here in the city. Because San Francisco offers a spectacular variety of activities that one can enjoy in the night. There are some of the famous bars, lounges, and dance clubs for partying hard. The city has all sort of activities like night tours, dinner cruises, late-night museums, rooftop bars, and much more, keeping in mind the diversity of people coming here.
The extraordinarily exotic cocktails and the unique freshly brewed beers from the renowned bars of San Francisco would tease you to visit the city again and again. In the same context, it is worth to mention here that San Francisco is equipped with some of the finest and lavish bar restaurants which could be enjoyed to have a great leisure time with your friends or partner. You can head to such nightclubs and restaurants in San Francisco to enjoy some hip-hop, disco, and more music genre from dusk till the sunrise. We have come up with a list of some of such places in the forthcoming sections of this article so you never miss the best of such places whenever you visit San Francisco. Apart from the drinking experience, there are some of the activities or the places which could be visited at the night time which could really enhance your nightlife experience of San Francisco City. Following are some of the areas where you can enjoy rich and premium nightlife entertainment with your friends or a partner:
Alcatraz Night Tour
Love the echoes of the islands? Or love the mesmerizing sound of the sea? This night tour offers a premium experience of a boat ride. More specifically, the Alcatraz Night Tour provides a more intimate, personal and engaging Alcatraz experience. This tour includes a personally guided boat tour around the island. This guided tour extends from the dock to the main prison building. The experience also offers several special programs and presentations that are offered only at night. Visitors may choose to attend one or two during the course of their evening to have a sheer understanding of the whole place. Overall, you can enjoy a sunset, a romantic boat ride to the island and breath-taking and mesmerizing views of San Francisco as the night falls, which is a truly exceptional and wonderful experience in its sense.
Admiring the city from above
With the sun going down, there are many great places around San Francisco where you can enjoy the mesmerizing view of the skyline. Some of the famous and the most visited spots in the city include the Coit Tower which opens until 5 or 6 depending on the season but you can also enjoy from the base of the tower in worst case, the top of Lombard Street by cable car or go to the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill and have a drink at the bar. The experience will provide a beautiful and romantic view of the whole city so that you can’t resist admiring the city.
Broadway show is the most famous and renowned show of the Theatre District. San Francisco’s Theater District offers a wide array of award-winning shows such as An American in Paris, Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Fun Home, and much more to watch and admire. San Francisco Theater is termed as the best theatre to learn about what’s on and where to hop in. if you aren’t interested in music then there are several dancing performances that you can also choose from. Located in the neighborhood are many of the exotic and great restaurants and bars to fulfill your food and booze needs, so be sure to spend some time munching in such places before or after hopping into the theatre.
Sightseeing night tours
The wonderful mesmerizing lights of San Francisco is the main thing which really puts life in the nightlife of the city. These vivid and vibrant lights of the city really create a moody and romantic environment throughout the city. There are 3 bus companies that currently offer night tours of San Francisco city. All the bus tours are fairly similar in nature in terms of the route they take and the neighborhoods they visit, but they as to the duration and the price they offer.
You can take one of the renowned nightlife tour option i.e. Gray Line Tours which is also the cheapest and shortest option, as they offer a tour that is just 90 minutes long. Big Bus Tours offers a mid-range option and full 2 hours of sightseeing throughout the city. The service also accompanies a live guide narration of San Francisco’s most beloved and renowned sights. The buses normally visit the Chinatown, Financial District, Alamo Square, North Beach, Nob Hill, and Embarcadero.
Chinatown is a great neighborhood to visit at night and in the day as well. There are services available that offer a daytime tour of Chinatown for those who would prefer to visit then, but it’s relatively a more fun area to explore after dark. Offering a Chinese street vibe, Chinatown has some of the best Chinese food in the country, so it’s a fantastic place to visit for dinner also. It’s also fun to just wander through the colorful streets that provide Chinese looking vibe to it and do a bit of shopping.
Best Bars in San Francisco
As we dig deeper into the nightlife and its entertainment and specifically stepping into the domain of adult entertainment we have some of the swankiest and renowned Bars in San Francisco, which can really impress you with some of their fresh brews and mixology. You can enjoy guzzling craft beer, fancy cocktailing, margaritas by the pitcher and freshly brewed wines in various bars of the city. With many of the options available in terms of craft bars, rooftop bars, speakeasies you can enjoy your night till the sun come up. There are a wide array of bars spread among the city so no matter what neighborhood you are in you’ll see one nearby. Owing to your booze needs we’ve come up with a list of some of the swankiest and finest bars in the city so you don’t find yourself in the hassle of looking or searching for them:
Located at The Tenderloin, Café Royale is nestled between the seedy Tenderloin and ritzy Nob Hill neighborhoods. It has a great selection of local brews, such as “Inception” by Triple Voodoo, which is very hard to find on tap anywhere else in town. The surroundings are covered with the art of local photographers and painters, and cool jazz on Sundays always draws an eclectic and friendly crowd. It offers a Sushi Tuesday which is now quickly becoming a staple classic. The crowd is young and friendly, and the bartenders have an ample amount of knowledge to guide you through their extraordinary menu. If you want good beer, the selection which is also guided by versatile bartenders and a look at an up-and-coming San Francisco hotspot, then you should definitely head to Cafe Royale.
Located at 2124 Market St, San Francisco, Blackbird is a rustic-modern bar equipped with lounge seating for creative cocktails, craft beer, happy hours & pool. Blackbird’s mission is to really capture the essence of this bar: “Ever Classic, Never Stuffy, welcome to the Bird.” The bar features artisanal craft beers, local wines, and handmade cocktails, in fact, it offers everything that you could expect in a bar. The bar also offers a weekday Happy Hour from 5-8 features which give a discount on their special wines. In other words, the bar has packed something for everyone. The specialty of the bar is barrel-aged cocktails, such as their most famous 4-6 week oak-aged whiskey. The drinks or cocktails offered here are blends nicely with their Deviled Ham or Smoked Trout. Overall, it would be a great option for you to enjoy a night out.
Located at North Beach, at this mid-20th century San Francisco landmark, the bar’s patrons order at the same bar top as did the free-spirited Beat poets of the 1950s and 60, thus providing a vintage look to it. The lingering historic charm vibes delight visitors as they knock back local brews and specialties like Bohemian Coffee and The Jack Kerouac. The crowd here is eclectic and engaging, while warm decor and inviting nooks to create lovely places to hang out and chat. You’d be amazed to find a better “people-watching” bar in all of San Francisco, as Vesuvio draws in both tourists and locals in similar numbers. All in all, it’s a great bar to make new friends or hang out with the old ones.
Located at Mission District, Trick dog is a trendy place to hang out packed in a converted warehouse with an array of craft cocktails & eclectic small plates. Just like its renowned food items, a hamburger in a hot dog bun, it also brings the same exoticness and greatness and refreshing attitude towards its drinks and overall ambiance. If you want to feel how the tech property has pushed San Francisco right up to the edge, Trick Dog surprises on that edge with wild glee every night. Located in an enormous two-level warehouse with classic lighting and 50’s office-style metal and vinyl-upholstered chairs, Trick Dog has been successful in capturing the urban hipster feel that has claimed the Mission District. The cocktails are not only great in taste, but they also offer out-of-towners a tour of San Francisco from their bar seats. From “The Castro Theatre” (with Black Grouse Scotch) to “Sutro Baths”, Trick Dog cocktails are all named after iconic San Francisco sights. Overall, definitely a great sight for great drinks and wonderful sightseeing.
Located at Haight-Ashbury, Alembic Bar offers classic handcrafted cocktails & an inventive bar food menu in a fairly lit, rustic space with booths. Given how quickly trends come up and fade in San Francisco, the fact must be appreciated how Alembic Bar has been brewing beers and wines since years and now have become trendsetter itself. Most famous is the “Sazerac,” a New Orleans classic that features whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters, sugar, and according to the bar – “a glass rinsed with a green bitter liquid that shall remain nameless.” Known tremendously for its whiskey, The Alembic also serves up fantastic food. The bar is going to be expanded, therefore be ready to experience some new dishes and cocktails on the menu too.
Best Bar Restaurants in San Francisco
When you are out and about enjoying cocktails in San Francisco, chances are pretty high that at some point you’re going to crave for the deliciously exotic food. San Francisco’s restaurant scene is killing it since long, but sometimes you just want to go to a neighborhood bar, watch the game, and chow down on some delicious food. Fortunately, there are a bunch of bars slinging good eats alongside good and tasty drinking options. With San Francisco’s culinary senses continuing to grow and innovate and surprise the residents and tourists, it’s no wonder that restaurant bar programs are a great option to hang out. From modern and luxurious concept and classy to solid neighborhood institutions, San Francisco’s bar restaurants are some of America’s best places to eat and hang out. And for a city that likes to drink a lot, it’s no surprise that they’re quickly becoming drinking spots in their own way. What you can do is to pick a bar that also serves food, so this way you will never even have to leave your bar stool whenever hunger teases you. Therefore, to fulfill your desire, we’ve got you covered with a list of San Francisco’s best bar foods good enough to eat on the go:
Pied Piper Bar and Grill
Located at Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel Elegant, the Pied Piper Bar and Grill is a wood-paneled restaurant serving specialty cocktails & American fare. Every city needs a bar that can connect to the inspiring history of the city, and San Francisco’s this restaurant does just that. Inspiring its name from the famous Parrish painting that adorns the bar, the Pied Piper, located in the historic Palace Hotel, is most renowned among locals and the tourists visiting the hotel. Drinks are pricey but the ambiance and vibe maintained there, is absolutely fantastic. If you’re in the mood for a cocktail, try the classic Boothby Cocktail, named after William Boothby, a former bartender at Pied Piper. No doubt, he was an original “mixologist” before the term became uber-hip. Speaking of setting up the trends, if you’re in the mood for a beer, sample the crisp and clean Pied Piper Bock.
The Broken Record
Located at 1166 Geneva Avenue, The Broken Record is a Laid-back, cash-only bar known for its soul food menu & spacious outdoor patio “Hood Grub” in the back of The Broken Record has some of the best and affordable bar food in town. You can choose from “bites,” like tater tots with curry ketchup, or wings made with Mary’s organic air-chilled drumettes and spicy sauce, or plates like the tater tot poutine, a meatloaf sandwich on a Dutch crunch roll, or a Moroccan spiced pot pie. Even though it’s legit bar food, the meat is all sustainably and ethically raised, the produce is all organic. Overall, the bar can really satisfy your craving for great food and booze.
Located at the Market Street, Orbit Room is a Laid-back Market Street locale serving clever handcrafted cocktails to an eclectic crowd. The bar food at this place is everything you want and so much more. The totchos — nacho-style tater tots with house-made pico de gallo, cheddar & mozzarella cheese, house-pickled jalapeños & serranos, and sour cream — may be the best totchos in all of SF. Additionally, Orbit Room offers hand-tossed pizzas on weekends, and awesome and tasty specials such as meatball sliders on meatball Mondays, street-style taco Tuesdays, chicken in waffle Wednesdays, and Tiki Thursdays. You can, without any hassle, to go there and enjoy the food and drinks.
San Francisco Athletic Club
Located at 1750 Divisadero Street, Athletic Club is full bar plus wines on tap & a couple of dozen big-screen TVs make for a fun vibe at this sports bar. The walls are effectively covered with flat-screen TVs showing pretty much any sport you could ever desire to watch. Moreover, you can get literally a bathtub full of beer. And finally, it’s one of the few sports bars in San Francisco with a gigantic food menu that even includes healthy options like poached salmon salad and veggie chili. These are some great options, but you can also crave for the Southern-fried, crinkle-cut pickle chips served with house ranch, the four different types of hot dogs, and the classic ballpark pretzel with house honey mustard and stout cheddar sauce. Overall, it’s a great option in terms of food with a touch of some great options in terms of drinks.
Located at 2209 Polk Street, Bullitt is a Local bar that offers cocktails & top-shelf liquors on tap, additionally brunch, sandwiches & gourmet bar food. Everybody loves a bar that offers great drinks and has awesome food specials, which is why Bullitt cannot be forgotten. You can enjoy $1 tacos on Tuesdays, 25-cent wings on Wednesdays, and $5 totchos on Thursdays. No matter what day of the week you are hopping in, you can’t go wrong with the wake & bacon grilled cheese offered with a fried egg on top or a bucket of fried chicken. Feeling hungry? You could also take the “Don’t Fear the Reaper” challenge — all you have to do is eat four death wings made with Carolina Reaper chilies, the spiciest chilies on earth, in five minutes without drinking any liquid. While this may seem fairly easy but it will really make you go through a disaster. If you can stomach it, you’ll get your entire order of wings, plus two shots a drink. Overall, a great and adventurous place to enjoy the night.
Events in San Francisco
Living in San Francisco means there is always something new and innovative to try, taste, and experience. Foodies can enjoy beer tastings and sushi making classes while workout enthusiasts can take yoga classes on the beach or join a run club in Alamo Square Park. Hop on a party boat under the bridge, immerse yourself in a sound bath, or hit up an EDM show. Take your outings to the next level with these San Francisco events. San Francisco’s events calendar is loaded with fun and unique activities every day of the year. Attending a couple of these will make your trip a truly unforgettable experience.
Those looking for an adrenaline rush won’t be disappointed with the wide range of festivals held throughout the year in the city. These events include different kind of festivals, sporting events, concerts, wine tasting events, and street fairs. We’ve come up with a list of best events that you can enjoy on your tour so that you won’t miss anything excited:
Theater & Broadway Shows
San Francisco is an absolute killer in terms of theater events. It is chock full of amazing shows. Each year, you can find hundreds of performances from romantic comedies to dark dramas. Be sure to explore the city for all such shows to really make your experience unforgettable.
The city is home to the second largest Opera setup in North America. They started grossing in 1923 and continue to perform to large audiences every season. Every year, you can see several classic performances such as The Flying Dutchman, The Barber of Seville, and Falstaff. Newer collaborations are also scheduled including The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and Dolores Claiborne.
Mavericks Big Wave Surf Competition
It is one of the top 20 San Francisco California USA Events and Festivals which takes place at any time from the beginning of December to the end of March, that too with only a 24-hour prior notice, the world’s greatest big-wave surfers descend upon the frigid waters of Half Moon Bay for the chance to ride “the most dangerous waves in the world.” Mavericks is a winter destination for some of the world’s premier big wave surfers, and the world-famous, invitation-only contest. It was first held in 1999 and now being held every winter, depending on wave conditions.
Chinese New Year Festival and Parade
Recognized as one of the top ten parades in the world by the International Festivals & Events Association, the Chinese New Year Parade and Festival in San Francisco is the largest celebration of Asian culture outside Asia, illuminated parades in the USA. Attracting thousands of fans every time, the parade features a wealth of elaborate costumes and floats, traditional “lions”, the ever-popular 270-foot Golden Dragon operated by over 100 men and women, along with the fireworks and the presentation of the new Miss Chinatown USA and her court.
St Patrick’s Day Parade
Held in mid of March, it is one of San Francisco’s most popular festivals for more than 160 years, and the largest event on the west of the Mississippi, Shaky Town’s St Patrick’s Day Parade attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually and has become one of the main and renowned events of San Francisco. Thousands of participants join in to praise the Irish culture including everything from Irish singing to traditional poetry along with more than a hundred colorful floats, Irish dance troupes, and marching bands.
San Francisco Flower and Garden Show
Widely recognized as one of the largest, world-class garden festival of its kind in the western United States, the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show has been a popular event for over 27 years. Apart from the usual attractions of the garden show, this event in Shaky Town also features garden seminars on a range of topics from lawn cutting to flower arranging, book signings by top garden experts, a popular marketplace with over 200 vendors selling everything from gardening tools to plant seed, and a special educating and entertaining, fun-filled children’s garden called Sproutopia. All in all this event can really polish your gardening skills.
Big Sur International Marathon
Ranked as the number one marathon in North America in “The Ultimate Guide to Marathons” and recently has been named the world’s best destination marathon by Runner’s World. The Big Sur International Marathon is regarded as one of the top three marathons held in America. It is the largest rural marathon in the world with more than 4,500 participants, the Big Sur International Marathon is also regarded as the most naturally beautiful because the course goes along the Pacific coast through ranches and prestigious redwoods, which makes the marathon more adventurous.
Make sure you visit the numerous events and festivals held throughout the year in San Francisco, including the ones mentioned above. It is interesting to notice that these festivals really help a tourist or visitor to understand and blend in the culture of San Francisco. Not only it provides a great experience to the culture of the city but can also prove to be a great source of entertainment for the tourists. That is why one should, along with the other famous and renowned hotels, bar and restaurants of the city, try to visit such festival to truly experience the real feel of the city.
Best Nightclubs in San Francisco
San Francisco is a city of activities and fun places. There are more restaurants and nightclubs per capita in San Francisco than any other U.S. city, so eating out is almost a whole new and entirely separate field in this food-crazed town. But few people pursuits dancing as compared to other activities. Giving yourself over to the beats, the lights, and the energy is a total release. When want to let your inner soul feel such release, we’ve come with a list of some of the best dance clubs in San Francisco. Top DJs get your foot moving, and other patrons ensure that there’s plenty to see along the way:
Tonga Room Hurricane Restaurant & Bar
The Tonga Room offers dancing, drinks, great Asian cuisine, and a great ambiance, including a simulated tropical rainstorm that shakes things up every twenty minutes. Wide windows provide views of the mesmerizing cityscape and live music and dancing take place nightly. This renowned restaurant and bar also host a well-attended happy hour with its own special buffet. Order up a tropical cocktail, see what tasty treats are available, and relax after a long day. Leave time to explore the historic Fairmont Hotel, which houses the Tonga Room. This hotel is like a museum for San Francisco history, so the Fairmont alone is worth the trip.
If you’re looking for something of high-end dance spot with a social and mingle scene that keeps introductions and greetings flowing head to this hip hangout. Clubbers dress their best suiting, eager to be part of the lively scene. There is an ample amount of dance space in two separate areas grants patrons the opportunity to groove to house, hip-hop, salsa, and club tunes. Occasionally, live bands regale folks as well. Three bars make scoring a drink pretty easy, and a multi-level lounge leads into a number of VIP rooms and private cabanas. If you’re roaming in the Financial District of San Francisco and feel the need to get your foot moving, head to Club 525.
This late-night spot draws all types because of its large space, which includes two dance floors where DJs really know how to mix up songs. Funk, house, Hip-hop techno and rock can all be heard on different days, and theme nights expand the options, as you’ll find if you stumble across ’80s retro night or a fetish event. Generally, the music can be found in the front room and the more experimental stuff in the back. There is also a large bar that makes getting a drink fairly painless. Cat Club is beloved by locals and as well as tourists, so check it out if you really want to feel the nightlife of San Francisco.
The Make-Out Room
If you really want to dance but don’t feel like digging in the options for hours, head straight to The Make-Out Room. They understand the simple logic for a successful dance club which is loud music, stiff drinks, and plenty of space to jump around. The Make-Out Room can be the great moment of a full-day in the always popular Mission neighborhood. After you’ve enjoyed a shiny day in the Mission, you can enjoy one of the many world-class restaurants in this food-crazed district including the Make-out Room for its most popular and renowned happy hour. After that, dance the whole night away till the sun shines again.
Club 26 MIX
26 Mix still keeping up the standards, functioning as a social place for professionals. DJs mix it well up too, spinning tunes of nearly all genres house, techno, downtempo, jazz, and reggae. Drink specials and happy hours please crowds hopping in the bar, and non-dancing customers can also enjoy their night out by trying their luck and hand at vintage video games provided by the club. This club has a somewhat gritty vibe to it, definitely recommended more for a younger crowd due to its small space pumped full of loud, amplified music. But if you’re in the mood of some hot and exotic food with drinks and a cheering dance club be sure to hit it up.
To conclude the whole article, it can be said that San Francisco is a supreme house of bars, restaurants and loads of fun things one could ever think of. To overcome your boozing needs the city, no doubt, has some of the finest breweries. You can enjoy your drink with the mesmerizing architectural beauty of the hand-crafted bars and their decor.
Moreover, to really bump up the entertainment game, the Vegas has covered you with plenty of the festivals and events that one can attend throughout the year. We have already established, how these festivals can really help you grasp the culture of San Francisco and to understand the norms and believes of the people there.
To give you a feel of what a nightclub really mean in San Francisco we also went through a comprehensive list of Nightclubs that further refines your experience of the San Francisco Trip.
All of the experiences above work together to make your trip memorable. A perfect and balanced blend of the above-identified activities can really boost your experience and make your trip unbelievably memorable for you.