Fun Date Ideas San Francisco: Date Spots By Neighborhood, Occasion: Date Nights, First Dates, Outdoors, Drinks, Hikes, Walks, Coffee, Games, Bars, Romantic Restaurants

As a professional photographer and dating consultant in San Francisco, I have scouted many areas for photoshoots, lifestyle images, branding sessions, date ideas and backgrounds for headshots and portraits. It’s my job to create photos with the best conversation starters and iconic locations that invite people to learn more about my clients whether it’s for dating profiles, press releases, business profiles or personal branding efforts. Click here for press coverage in the NYTimes, SFGate, ABC7News & more.

When it comes to restaurants, bars, cafes and other date ideas, San Francisco has a range of options to satisfy any need (well except maybe good rooftop bars). In any case, I have compiled an extensive list of places for first date spots, fun unique date ideas and romantic restaurants in the city. Come back and check out this list as it will be updated regularly with new openings and new tips. 

San Francisco Date Ideas: Fun Date Ideas, Romantic Things To Do, Date Night

If you are new to town, don’t get out much or are unfamiliar with a neighborhood, planning a date can be difficult. Private events, noisy bars, crowded cafes with nowhere to sit, sold out shows and more are the last things you want to encounter on a first date.

As an online dating photographer and consultant here in the San Francisco Bay Area, my offerings go beyond photos to include wardrobe, bio/prompt critique, photo analysis, conversation starters, app strategy and first date ideas. If you are looking for social distancing date ideas, check out my other list.


Cavallo Point Lodge, Sausalito, Marin County

Cavallo Point Lodge, Sausalito, Marin County – View Golden Gate Bridge, | Marin County Tourism Photographer

Fun Places To Go, Date Ideas In San Francisco 

Here are my favorite places around San Francisco neighborhoods for nearly every occasion, lifestyle on those early dates.

Please note there are many, many other places I recommend beyond those listed below including more intimate locations, seasonal or weekly one-off events, hidden gems and date ideas beyond early dates – these are exclusively available for my clients.

For my Marin County, Sonoma and Napa date ideas scroll to the bottom of the page.

For more tips on online dating first date etiquette, read this post:

Lolo – Mission District

This is a fun, social restaurant and bar serving up interesting, Mexican dishes.


Li Po Cocktail Lounge

If you don’t like Chinese Mai Tai’s, well I cannot help you.

Andytown Coffee + Salesforce Park Walk 

Snowy Plover Drink (Pellegrino, crushed ice, espresso, brown sugar-based syrup and homemade whipped cream) is a great choice on a warm day in the city. There is even a mini-tram ride to reach the park as well as a center courtyard area with board games and snack bar with beer and wine during select times.


Church of 8 Wheels, Alamo Square

Fun, festive, funky rollerskating rink inside a converted church.


Radhaus: Bavarian Biergarten – Fort Mason

Limited outdoor seats are actually less coveted than the indoor seats which feature big, beautiful window views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge.


Land’s End Hike, Labyrinth

Scenic hikes that lead to the Legion of Honor, Labyrinth and beach, this set of trails is popular for outdoor dates.


Mr. Tipple’s, Live Jazz – Civic Center 

This popular jazz club is no longer a secret for locals in SF. Come early and have backup plans because this place fills up.


San Francisco Crosstown Trail


Club Deluxe – Haight-Ashbury

Great live music venue often overlooked on the Haight. With rotating but monthly repeating bands, this place has music all day long in 3 hour sets. Band to check out here is Barrio Manouche (flamenco gypsy jazz) and can’t go wrong with the fresh squeezed greyhound drinks.


Buena Vista Cafe – Fisherman’s Wharf / Pier 39

Upgraded coffee from Graffeo and handmade whipped cream make Irish Coffees the perfect drink when you realize you underdressed and are freezing cold with your family on vacation. A destination place even for locals.


Ocean Beach Walk / Golden Gate Park Bike Ride on Sundays

A large section of the park is off-limits to cars making it easier to ride bikes around the park. Stops to see the Bison as well as a stop at Park Chalet or Trouble Coffee or bites at Hook Fish are a great way to round out a date.

First Date Spots San Francisco


High Treason, Inner Richmond Wine Bar

Cozy, industrial chic wine bar playing vinyl, serving craft beer and small bites with ample space without seeming pretentious or stiff. A neighborhood favorite that is great for first dates and date night alike.


Fool’s Errand, NOPA

This social, fun wine bar also features an incredible craft beer selection, outdoor seating and cheese & charcuterie plates alongside canned fish options for your liking. 


Tofino Wines, USF

Known for their retail business, this spacious natural wine spot has tables, bar seats and ample lighting up front. 2 beers on tap and a few random offerings in the fridge coupled with cheese, meat and tinned fish offerings make this a good date spot or convenient spot to meet up with friends. 


Breck’s, Inner Richmond

This casual corner coffee shop a good amount of outdoor seating is located next to Arsicault, features Verve Coffee and has great prices on wine and beer on tap. They also have a few small plates as well including cheese/charcuterie board, avocado toast, sandwiches. 


Boba Guys Boba Tea + Hayes Valley Neighborhood Walk

Lots of boutiques, murals, green space and a biergarten make this area a popular place to walk around.


Holy Water Craft Beer Bar and Cocktails – Bernal Heights

Craft beer bar and cocktail bar, this establishment does both well which is rare even in San Francisco. The favorite cocktail on the menu is the Zombie (limited to two person). If you like a good stiff cocktail, this is the drink for you.


Philz Coffee Truck Marina + Wave Organ – Marina Green / Crissy Field

Great area to walk and explore on a clear day. Views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the San Francisco skyline.


Victorian House Tour + Ice Cream Bar Sundaes – Cole Valley

Many of the popular Victorian homes are located on Waller, Cole and surrounding streets of the Upper Haight and Cole Valley. After a long walk, there is nothing quite like a refreshing sundae or scoop of ice cream at this old school ice cream bar.


Spark Social SF Drinks, Food and Games – Mission Bay

For those that like games, food trucks and people watching, this is a popular date spot. Activities include mini-golf, fire-pits and areas to watch sporting events.


Bear vs Bull Cocktail and Craft Beer Bar, Alamo DraftHouse – Mission District

Bars like this make going to the movies tolerable. A great craft beer selection as well as delicious cocktails in this dimly lit bar at the Alamo make it a destination place worth checking out. Don’t forget to check out the arcade games upstairs while there.


San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer’s Market

There are endless sampling of food and snacks at the Farmer’s Market as well as the permanent vendors in the building. Some favorites are the empanadas and pork buns. If craving Blue Bottle, go to the outside location for shorter lines.


El Techo Rooftop – Mission District

This popular destination in the Mission fills up quickly on weekends and after work on warm days so plan ahead. With great margaritas, this place is the place to be when temperatures hit 70 and skies are clear in the city.


Blackbird Cocktails – Castro

This unpretentious cocktail bar is a perfect place for first dates.


Dandelion Chocolate Tour – Mission District

For you chocolate aficionados, Dandelion offers chocolate samples, chocolate beverages and tours (these fill up fast so make reservations in advance).


Padrecito – Cole Valley

The upstairs bar area is a cozy spot which fills up on evenings and weekends. Favorites here include the margaritas, chips+salsa and the duck tacos.


Jackson Place Cafe – Jackson Square 

Hidden exposed brick courtyard cafe only open during business hours during the week. Popular among coffee breaks with colleagues, investor meetings and first dates.


Absinthe – Hayes Valley

Mostly known as a neighborhood restaurant, this is one my favorite places in San Francisco whether grabbing a pre-show meal, having a New York dinner snack (cocktail and fries), meeting with friends or people watching during the Dickens Fair and Edwardian Ball this place is pretty versatile and classic.


Samovar Afternoon Tea – Yerba Buena Gardens

Nothing beats rainy day tea from this location. Also, great for warm days outdoors as well.


Alembic – Haight-Ashbury

Great bar in the Haight known for the cocktails, craft beer selection and bar snacks. I am a big fan of bars with small, shared plates for snacking or larger plates if you get hungry – having options is key. Dimly lit and a variety of areas to sit including the back and side booths for a more intimate feel.


Peacekeeper, Russian Hill

This new spot features fun cocktails, communal tables and upstairs seating for some great people watching. 


Blue Bottle Coffee and Downtown San Francisco Architecture Tour

A do-it-yourself walk will reveal how much effort your date planning skills.

San Francisco Date Night Restaurants – Romantic Date Ideas In SF


Foreign Cinema, Mission District

Quintessential San Francisco restaurant with a beautiful interior and fun, cozy bar area for drinks and bites.


Bix, Jackson Square

Another classic restaurant, this place has a beautiful alley set up for outdoor dining.


Chapeau, Inner Richmond

This timeless San Francisco restaurant is not only a neighborhood staple but a destination place for those seeking something more relaxing than downtown spots that are a bit louder.


Kokkari Estiatorio, Jackson Square

Another San Francisco favorite, come with an appetite.


Bellota, Design District

This newer Spanish restaurant is a great date spot with fun, social romantic vibe in the bar area.


Zuni Cafe, Hayes Valley

Classic San Francisco restaurant with beautiful industrial interior feel, classic dishes and classy vibe. The 1 hour chicken is a must so be patient and enjoy your time there. 


Tosca Cafe, North Beach

After a few changes in ownership over the years, this rustic establishment with dimly lit vibes is back open. Their house cappuccino cocktail is a crowd favorite, but bites at the bar are fun too if you want something more casual.



Kitchen Istanbul, Inner Richmond

This place has blown up since the Chronicle did a story about them, but even before that, this place had a buzz from wine professionals in the industry. From natural wines to varietals from far away places, this is a place not to be missed.


Romantic Things To Do In San Francisco

Aside from dinner places, San Francisco is filled with great date ideas year-round or during seasonal occasions. These are often overlooked by tourists as they are particularly enjoyed by locals and even then, locals forget about these timeless classics given all the hype around new openings, celebrity chefs etc. Clients of mine receive access on places to go, best times to visit, what to order, strategy on getting best seats in the house and other customized date ideas based on their lifestyle.

Additional Date Ideas: East Bay, Marin County, Napa, Sonoma, Peninsula and South Bay

East Bay Date Ideas (Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda)

Napa and Sonoma date ideas

Marin County date ideas

Silicon Valley, San Jose, South Bay & Peninsula Date Ideas

Best San Francisco Happy Hours (2021):


About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle.

In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally. 

Dating App FAQ's  |  Online Dating Resource Guide  |  How To Be Successful With Dating Apps

San Francisco Happy Hour List: Bars, Restaurants, Drinks, Food, Hotels & More

Available only to existing clients. This is the most comprehensive list out there.

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