20 Things To Do In San Francisco At Night

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San Francisco is well-known for being the financial and cultural hub of Northern California, but that does not tell the city’s full story. The Golden city is beautiful and alive during the day, and it also delivers a different kind of charm at night. San Francisco at night offers city lights, exciting events and fun activities that makes it a city everyone wants to visit.

If you are looking for activities to fill your time after dark, tick these 20 things to do in San Francisco at night off your list.

San Francisco At Night

Top 3 San Francisco Night Tours

20 Things to Do in San Francisco at Night

1- Go on an Alcatraz Night Tour

san francisco at night alcatrez internal
A night tour of Alcatraz is a chilling attraction in SF at night.

Alcatraz Island is one of the most famous attractions in San Francisco and is well-known for its day tours, but most people aren’t aware that there are night tours.

Evening tours run twice daily, at 5.55 pm and 6.30 pm, Monday through Thursday.

Alcatraz also hosts seminars and lectures in the evenings, in addition to the guided tours led by professionally qualified National Park Rangers.

The historical island is only a short boat ride from the city centre and offers tourists a peek into the city’s past and some of the city’s most renowned criminals.

Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis were Alcatraz’s most notorious criminals.

Alcatraz was a federal correctional facility from the 1930s through the 1960s and is one of the most famous landmarks in California as well as a highly visited USA landmark.

The island has also served as a military fortress and prison.

Alcatraz is at Alcatraz Island National Park Service Golden Gate National Recreation Area Fort Mason, B201 San Francisco. You may like these two Alcatraz experiences:

  • Escape From The Rock Alcatraz cruise – Learn about the history of Alcatraz while cruising around the island.
  • Alcatraz night experience – Wander around spooky Alcatraz at night on a cellhouse tour after a guided walk through Fisherman’s Wharf.

2- Go On A Dinner Cruise Along the Bay

san francisco at night Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge lights up in San Francisco at night.

The Golden Gate strait connects San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean, and the expansive bay is an impressive natural harbour.

So taking a boat ride around the bay when the city lights up at night is a perfect way to appreciate just how beautiful it can be.

The view of the San Francisco cityscape and the Golden Gate Bridge after dark is a scene that will stick in your mind.

Here’s a dinner and dance cruise for a lovely evening in San Fran. 

3- Hit the Live Music Scene

San Francisco has an abundance of places to listen to live music.

Rickshaw Stop, The Hotel Utah Saloon, Black Cat, Biscuits & Blues, and The Chapel are all top spots for a drink and to listen to local musicians.

These informal venues have a roster of upcoming musicians, and you can buy tickets at the door.

The Regency Ballroom, The Fillmore, The Independent, Great American Music Hall, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, and the Warfield are great options if you’re looking for concerts.

4- Go Bar Hopping in North Beach

best things to do at night in san francisco North Beach
North Beach offers lots of cafes and bars for a fun time in San Francisco at night.

North Beach is San Francisco’s ‘Little Italy’, with a rich Italian heritage and historic bars.

Kick back at the famous Vesuvio Café and enjoy the Bohemian vibe that has attracted many literary figures throughout the years.

Pop into the Comstock Saloon and order a drink at its original 1907 mahogany bar or hang out with the locals at 15 Romolo, which has a retro jukebox and cosy couches.

Enjoy the Italian-American culture, hearty food and relaxed atmosphere in North Beach’s old pubs. Explore like a local on this combined walking tour of Chinatown and North Beach

5- Go On a Ghost Hunt Walking Tour

where to go in san francisco at night the golden city
The San Francisco skyline at night is a gleaming golden city.

When you take this ghost tour in the Pacific Heights area, you’ll learn about frightening stories from San Francisco’s history and pass by sites that people claim are haunted.

Walk around at a leisurely pace with your guide, who will tell you about the haunts, unsolved crimes, and paranormal activity that remain in Pacific Heights’ mysterious realm.

On this ghost tour, you’ll go past picturesque streets dotted with Victorian buildings, taking in the scenery and taking in the sights.

6- See the Palace of Fine Arts

places to go in san francisco at night Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts takes on a mysterious glow and is one of the beautiful spots in San Francisco at night.

A San Francisco monument with a magnificent dome and curving columns, the Palace of Fine Arts lights up like a fairytale castle at night.

The building is in a park in the Marina District in San Francisco’s northern outskirts and is a lovely spot for unwinding and relaxing.

It’s one of just a few structures from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition that have survived.

The government intended it to be demolished after the exposition as it was a temporary construction, but residents loved it so much the city of San Francisco chose to keep it.

Palace of Fine Arts is at 3301 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123. These tours will take you there:

7- Rock Out at the Fillmore Auditorium

The Fillmore Auditorium is a well-known music venue in San Francisco with an exciting history.

Built in 1912 as a dance hall, it later became a roller rink and then a concert venue, hosting legendary rock and heavy metal artists.

Prince, James Brown, The Cure, Santana and Jimi Hendrix have performed at the Fillmore.

Take a look inside the arena to soak up where the contemporary age of rock began and the hippie counterculture took shape.

There’s a bar on the general admission floor.

Fillmore Auditorium is at 1805 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94115.

For more things to do in USA read:

8- Gaze at the Bay Bridge Lights

san francisco skyline at night Bay Bridge
Bay Bridge and San Franciso skyline at night.

Since 2013, the Bay Bridge has had a lovely light display that has become an iconic sight in San Francisco at night.

These lights shouldn’t be confused with The Bay Lights exhibit, which is part of the Illuminate SF light festival held yearly from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

The Bay Lights were designed by Leo Villareal, a world-renowned light artist, and are illuminated every night in the city from dark to morning.

The Oakland Bay Bridge is at Highway 80 West, San Francisco, CA 94105. Here’s a San Francisco night cruise you might like

9- Watch a Giants or Warriors Game

Seeing a Giants or Warriors game at night is a popular hobby among San Francisco residents who love watching Bay Area clubs compete in baseball and basketball.

Giants games are reasonably priced, while Golden State Warriors games can be a bit pricey.

Even so, seeing a Giants or Warriors game (or both) while in town is a fun thing to do in San Francisco at night and a chance to learn about the Bay Area’s sporting culture.

Warriors games are played at Chase Center, 1 Warriors Way, San Francisco, CA 94158. Giants games are at Oracle Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107.

10- See a Drag Show or Cabaret

San Francisco’s cabaret and drag shows are creative and entertaining, thanks to the city’s lineup of eccentric characters.

San Francisco is a theatrical city and this is one form of theatre that the city excels at.

Drag shows are everywhere, ranging from famous drag brunches that are packed to the max on weekends to drag and cabaret dinner performances.

Oasis, a SOMA location that was initially a bathhouse, is a fantastic spot to check out San Francisco’s drag culture and has shows every weekend.

The bar is known for its fantastic cocktails and energetic performances that are both entertaining and amusing.

OASIS is at 298 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103.

11- Dine At Foreign Cinema

Foreign Cinema is a restaurant in the Mission District that is a magnet for movie buffs.

The cinematic-themed restaurant has old movies streaming on the rear walls and decorated with creative touches like chandeliers fashioned from old headlights and chairs made out of seatbelts.

Watch classics like Lawrence Of Arabia while you eat and enjoy the excellent food and buzzy atmosphere.

Foreign Cinema is at 2534 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110.

12- Visit A Museum

Several museums in San Francisco conduct evening activities.

The Exploratorium transforms into an adults-only scientific experiment during the ‘Exploratorium at Night’ monthly event.

There’s a bar, disc jockey and all permanent scientific exhibitions are open to the public.

It’s a fabulous way to relive your childhood in an adult kind of way.

Activities take place on the first Thursday of every month, and tickets sell out quickly, so plan early.

The de Young Museum, Asian Arts Museum and California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park are other popular venues for nocturnal activities.

Exploratorium is at Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111. California Academy of Sciences is at 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118. Skip the line and pre-book your ticket here

13- Rollerblade at the Church of 8 wheels

Go rollerblading at the Church of 8 wheels, a retro roller rink in a repurposed church.

Have a groovy night of old-school fun as you move to the funky vibe under neon lights while DJs entertain with 70s music.

This is one of the most fun and unconventional activities in San Francisco that you’ve probably never heard about.

They offer public skating sessions, rentals and lessons.

Church of 8 Wheels is at 554 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94117.

14- Fill Yourself with Awe on a Treasure Island Night Tour

best views in san francisco at night
A bird’s-eye view of San Francisco at night.

Another way to see SF at night is to join a Treasure Island night tour.

This artificial island was built in the 1930s and provides enjoyable activities like biking, drinks, and vineyards during the day, but you’ll want to explore it at night for stunning photographs.

You can see the San Francisco night skyline clearly from here, with fabulous views of its dazzling lights.

Treasure Island is at One Avenue of the Palms, Room 111 Treasure Island. San Francisco, CA 94130.

15- Visit the Orpheum Theatre

The Orpheum Theatre, formerly the Pantages Theatre, is in San Francisco’s Civic Center neighbourhood and has been operating since 1926.

The theatre was one of several theatres owned by Alexander Pantages and was built by architect B. Marcus Priteca.

There are numerous Broadway shows on the schedule, but if musicals aren’t your style, there are other dance and opera events to pick from.

Orpheum Theatre is at 1192 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102. You might like this Double Decker Tour of San Francisco

16- Thrill yourself with a Cable Car Ride

things to do in san francisco at night riding the cable cars
Riding a cable car is one of the fun things to do in San Francisco at night.

Take a journey across San Francisco up and down the city’s slopes, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and through streets with lovely views.

Don’t miss the ride on the world’s last manually-operated cable car system and one of SF’s most recognisable icons.

17- Go On The Love Night Tour

This two-hour trip is a fun tour in a 70s Volkswagen bus outfitted to look like it did during the hippy era.

The trip is limited to only six people, so you’ll get to bond with one another while learning about the city.

The tour covers several iconic spots, including Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marina District, Golden Gate Park, Haight and Ashbury and Little Italy.

Join the tour here.

18- See the City Sights at Night on a Segway

Segway tours are another fantastic way to explore the city at night.

Glide around the streets and breathe the crisp evening air as you explore the city.

Electric Tour Company offers 2.5-hour tours through ‚ÄčNorth Beach, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Electric Tour Company is at 757 Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94109. Book your Segway tour here

19- Explore Chinatown

chinatown san francisco at night
There’s lots to see and do in San Francisco’s Chinatown after dark.

San Fran’s Chinatown is at Grant Avenue and Stockton Street, the oldest Chinatown in North America.

It is also the most famous and largest Chinatown outside of Asia, spanning 24 blocks.

Wander around Chinatown for delicious and authentic Chinese food, visit a temple and soak up the vibe.

Take this Chinatown night walking tour to explore through the eyes of a local. 

20- Find Hidden Spots On A Scavenger Hunt

san francisco views at night
A sparkling city view of San Francisco’s night skyline.

One way to explore hidden corners of the city is to go on a scavenger hunt.

It’s a fun activity that will provide you with a mental and physical workout while challenging your intellect and creativity.

Operation City Quest operates scavenger hunts where you use your smartphone to locate more than 150 things across the city.

As you travel around, you’ll discover sculptures, monuments and other places of interest in San Francisco.

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Christina Pfeiffer Travel Writer
Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.